Janelle Smith undertook the Public Health Study Tour in July 2019 as part of her Masters degree at Curtin University.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Public Health Study Tour?
I decided to undertake the program due to my interest in Public Health and my intrigue to learn about health issues in a South East Asian country. I was already enrolled in both a Graduate Diploma of Health Promotion and a Master of Public Health and hence, the program seemed like a perfect opportunity to gain some university credit and to gain a greater understanding of Public Health in Indonesia.
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the PHST?
I found the PHST experience rather challenging, but only in ways in which I feel added to an enriching learning experience. I had already learnt so much with regards to Public Health and Health Promotion theory, however, the most challenging aspect was the discovery the major gap between theory and real life health promotion strategies. I gained a greater understanding of the impact of traditional and cultural norms that impact the ability to implement strategies. This was an important learning experience, however, I found it challenging to comprehend that certain health issues could not ‘just’ be fixed simply. Often highlighting a type of health inequities that I had yet to witness in real life.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this tour?
I am now more interested in gender equality and family planning as a result of the tour. I believe these issues go hand in hand and in Indonesia they are very complex issues that require patience and empathy to tackle to make an impact.
Q: Which was your favourite field trip?
My favourite field trip was the hospital visit in Jakarta, where I was lucky enough to attend a drug dependency unit. I feel privileged for the experience that I got, as it helped to continue to provide me with an altered perspective on those who use drugs. This particular experience was instrumental in placing a public perspective behind public health issues, which I feel is a really important lesson. I will be forever grateful for this experience.
Q: How do you think the Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
I look forward to a career in Public health and I already know that the experiences I had on the PHST are instrumental in framing my values and ethics moving forward into the profession. It has provided me with a level of cultural sensitivity that I would struggle to get within my studies and these lessons will place me in a good position when working with communities of diverse backgrounds in my future.
Q: What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?
Within the seminar series I gained an insight specifically into the health systems of Indonesia and the set-up of the governments, which its understanding is critical for developing an appreciative perspective on the methods in which Indonesia uses to tackle health issues.
Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?
My favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia was interacting with the locals and learning about the Indonesian culture. I really appreciated the diversity that was so common across the country, particularly on the Java island, it was inspiring to see the different cultures and religions co-existing in a respectful manner.