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

Development Studies Immersion Program

Nicole Lucas is a 2019 New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipient from Murdoch University. Nicole undertook the Development Studies Immersion Program at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Semester 1, 2019.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Development Studies Immersion Program (DSIP) ?

I was at a point in my life where I wanted to find meaning and that to me meant finding a different path and finding my passion so that I could make a difference in my community. I know that I make a difference in the work that I currently do, but I felt that it was time to really explore what it is that I want to do with my life.

Then, early in 2018, I received an email from Murdoch University about the DSIP program and all that it entailed. With an eagerness for change, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out just what Community/Sustainable development meant to others in the world.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia? 

Yes, it made a huge difference to my experience in Indonesia. I was able to partake in extra curricular activities such as visiting waterfalls, travelling around Indonesia and I was also able to purchase a computer for use during my program as my previous one was old and outdated.

Q: How will the DSIP influence your future career or study?

The DSIP provided me with direction. I was give the opportunity to intern with Yayasan Rumah Energi to learn about the Indonesian Biogas program. Yayasan Rumah Energi provided me with training on how to build a biogas digester to make biogas for cooking and lighting, as well as bio-slurry for organic fertiliser production so that I was able utilise these skills back home. I will hopefully be building a digester in my home soon!

Q: How does development in Indonesia differ to what you’ve seen before? 

Learning about the village in Bantul was the best experience. The village that I visited will be the first to fully embrace the sustainable methods of biogas and organic farming. They are using cow manure and some quail manure for input into the digester for biogas production and are eliminating the use of wood or LPG from cooking as well as lighting. They are then using the bio-slurry as an organic fertilizer and pesticide in their rice fields as well as for their mushroom farm. They are also producing fish food for their large tanks of catfish. Whatever fertiliser or food is left over will be sold for additional income. Everything is being utilised to produce energy, fertilizer, food and income.

This type of development is different to what I have experienced in Australia. Compared to Indonesia, Australia has not fully grasped the utilisation of biogas in this way. To be able to witness how these digesters make a difference to the lives of these villages is inspiring. I was also fortunate enough to attend a government stakeholder meeting around the use of the digester production and to learn about how they are made. Seeing the end product and the reactions of the users was the best experience and allowed me to experience the full circle of implementation.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Yogyakarta?

I liked to go to the movies and cafes and spent time with the other students. I also travelled to other parts of Indonesia when I could.

Q: Are you undertaking an internship or student community service (KKN) while in Indonesia? 

As part of the DSIP program I was required to find an organisation to intern with and ACICIS had an NGO fair where we could meet NGOs or organisations that may be suitable for this requirement.

When I first went to the NGO fair I was instantly attracted to the idea of biogas and bio-slurry usage in Indonesia through the (BIRU) Indonesia Domestic Biogas Programme. But at the time, I was just settling into a new country and just moved into a kos with other students I had connected with. When I found out that I would have to move from the neighbourhood I was currently staying at.

Towards the end of our DSIP fieldtrips (week 5) we went to visit Yayasan Rumah Energi (YRE) at the Rumah Ilham site in Jogja. After some discussions with Pak Willem, it was evident that there was potential for me to intern with YRE in Jogja – I was rapt!! The idea of interning with an NGO that was passionate about making a difference by living sustainably and striving to address many of the sustainable development goals was an NGO I wanted to intern with.

Rumah Energi works for the Indonesian community by being a national organization which focuses on developing and disseminating the renewable energy application. Since November 2012, Rumah Energy has been consistently introducing and marketing household-scale biogas through BIRU (Domestic Biogas) program in collaboration with 50 partners in 10 provinces throughout Indonesia.

Through implementation of its various programs, Rumah Energi has proven to the Indonesian people that biogas technology is highly effective in improving

  • community access to clean energy,
  • access to high quality organic fertilizers
  • access to multi-purpose waste processing facility.

My tasks varied from day to day, but the most consistent task was to observe and learn as much as I could so that I can replicate the good work YRE are doing with the BIRU biogas digesters at home.

I travelled to villages in Bantul where, in their efforts to continually search for better storage methods, I witnessed a digester that had modifications made to it. I witnessed villagers wanting to use biogas to the fullest, but also having issues with lighting – by visiting them I could see the impact that biogas was having on their lives.  My internship with YRE was one of the best experiences of my life. The relationships I have built will be long lasting.

Q: Favourite Indonesian food/place to eat:

Sate Ayam was my favorite food and my favourite place to eat was Svarga and Yamie Panda.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Tidak apa apa – it is ok!

Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your Semester so far?

Travelling with friends I went to Bali and I also travelled to Jakarta for the weekend to vote in the Australian Election.