Matauka McLeish is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from Curtin University. Matauka undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour in November 2021.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake this virtual program?
I wanted to build my public health knowledge, and found the program being virtual was a great opportunity for me to do it. Additionally I love to learn about different cultures, and how others live and deal with issues all around the world, this tour was a perfect opportunity for me to do so.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Why do you think the NCP is an important initiative?
Yes, I did receive a NCP, as a mature age student with family commitments, the grant gave me an opportunity I otherwise would never get to have.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual program?
It felt like such an honour to hear from the speakers, and their first hand experiences and expertise was amazing.
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual PHST?
Working for long hours at a computer was very draining, I did have a few issues with understanding some of the speakers in the seminars.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this virtual tour?
I’m very interested in the maternal health issues Indonesia faces, I would love to learn more on this area, and see what the future hold within this area, especially with issues such as COVID.
Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?
The World mosquito program, I loved how the program is run and the benefits such a program as made to the community. It was also great to see how Australia helped achieved the breeding program.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?
Yes, each speaker and tour gave a great aspect to Indonesian culture. From the language classes, the seminars and even the cooking class. All aspects of the tour were infused with a cultural aspect. Learning about the history of Indonesia and the people and different cultures all made for a wholistic experience together.
Q: Why it is important for Australians to learn more about Indonesia and vice a versa?
Australia and Indonesia have always had a close relationship due to the close proximity. I think it’s great to learn about other cultures and the issues the face, this could help strengthen relationships.
Q: Did you enjoy discussing public health issues with the Indonesian students?
Yes this was a great way to learn from each other. We had great discussions and comparisons on the cost of medical services in Indonesia and Australia especially around mental health facilities. We presented on tobacco use and how it continues to be a public health problem in Indonesia. We also looked into initiatives in place to address the harms of smoking.
Q: How do you think the Virtual Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
It’s made me more aware of the different ways countries and cultures handle public health issues and the many various factors that influence and inhibit change both positive and negative.
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
Yes, 100% why not. It’s just a great experience I think everyone should undertake.
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?
Apa Kabar (My Indonesian teacher always made me feel welcome when she asked how I was doing).
Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual PHST in three words:
Fun, interesting and mind-opening