New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

Virtual Public Health Study Tour

Lochlin Hamer is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from Deakin University. Lochlin undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour in July 2021.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake this virtual program?

I used to study Indonesian in middle school. After going almost six years without any academic involvement in Indonesia, I was excited to find an opportunity that would allow me to reconnect with the country.

I moved schools right before I was meant to go on a study tour to Indonesia, so to be able to make up for that by doing a virtual tour was great in my opinion.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Why do you think the NCP is an important initiative?

I did receive the NCP grant. I think it is an important initiative because it encourages Australian students to connect with the surrounding global region. I believe this enables a higher level of global citizenship and respect.

Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual program?

Aside from the $25 Uber Eats voucher (ACICIS Student Award) that allowed me to have a great meal whilst in hotel quarantine, I believe the most rewarding part of the virtual program was the friendships and social connections that were made. I am especially thankful for my friendship with Harun (UI Student Buddy).

Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual PHST?

For me, I found the time zone difference to be quite a struggle since I was studying from the United States. As such, there was a 12 hour time difference that often resulted in me finishing the program at 2am each day.

Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this virtual tour?

Given the cultural sensitivity and complexity, I found sexual and reproductive health to be a public health issue that I have become more interested and aware of. I find the challenges associated with sexual taboo very interesting from a cultural perspective. Moreover, I am interested in the sense that I would be curious to see what measures are taken in future years to address this area of public health that people are often too afraid to openly talk about.

Aside from this, I became more aware of the public health system in Indonesia. In particular, I gained more awareness about the Universal Health Coverage, as well as learning about the role of Puskesmas and Posyandu.

Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?

The virtual field visit to the World Mosquito Program site was my favourite because it showed the dedication that ACICIS staff have toward delivering this program – Mbak Khansa fed mosquitoes for 20 minutes! She had red marks all over her arm, and her arm was itchy for a while.

From a more academic perspective, I found that this virtual field trip was great in the sense that I learned more about how science can be used to combat the spread of dengue fever. I found it especially interesting how Wolbachia is used and bred through mosquitoes so as to mitigate the spread of DHF.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?

I believe that I was able to get a better insight into Indonesian culture. This was done through cultural cooking and dance classes, as well as engaging with Indonesians. All public health issues were examined through an Indonesian cultural lens, so that students could fully examine and appreciate the complexity in some public health issues – particularly sexual and reproductive health.

Q: Why it is important for Australians to learn more about Indonesia and vice a versa?

Because our countries are so close to each other. Indonesia is one of Australia’s closest neighbours. I feel that we should be seeking to understand our neighbours rather than remaining distant from them. I think that Australia and Indonesia working together and learning more about each other’s country will be significantly important in furthering the development and global standing of each nation.

Q: Did you enjoy discussing public health issues with the Indonesian students? 

The main topics that my group discussed were non-communicable diseases and universal health coverage in Indonesia. I found that discussing public health issues in Indonesia with people that have grown up in that country with the specific experience and insight was great for further developing my understanding and appreciation for the complexity and nuance of some public health issues.

Q: How do you think the Virtual Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?

It provided a greater level of insight into wider health considerations, which I believe will assist me in evaluation and decision-making processes as I work in the development of sport policy – especially so long as sport sits under the department of health in my government.

Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?

Yes. I think it was a great program that discussed and evaluated real-world issues in one of Australia’s closest neighbouring countries.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?


Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual PHST in three words:

Challenging. Rewarding. Semangat.