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

Public Health Study Tour

Linda Benyunes is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from University of Technology Sydney. Linda undertook the Public Health Study Tour in November-December 2022. Linda is studying Bachelor of Health Science.

Q:Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS Public Health Study Tour?

The ACICIS program is the opportunity to apply all the acquired knowledge built up throughout my degree in relation of population health in the context of a foreign health care system. For me it was like making sense of all my years of learning and doing so in challenging environments. I could not hope for a better way to complete the Professional Placement subject required in the final year of my Bachelor.

Furthermore, I saw the program as an opportunity figure out which direction I could take professionally. I wanted to be inspired.


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

I am so grateful to have received a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. Being a mature student involves a great deal of sacrifices at many levels, and it is very challenging to sometimes make both ends meet. The grant covered for a significant part of the total expenses. It contributed to keep my mind at peace from a financial point of view. I could focus on my learning experience stress-free.


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

The tour is shaped in a way that students gain insight of the Indonesian healthcare system, population’s health challenges, while familiarising with the local culture and history…all in only two weeks!

During the tour, our days were filled with seminars, field trips, Bahasa classes, pre-readings. Dealing with tight schedules was challenging. My days stretched from 5.30am until 10pm (if not later) because I incorporated daily workouts to keep physically and mentally healthy.


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

I have become more interested in issues related to sexual & reproductive health, and HIV, which tap into a big range of other intertwined issues.

I also become aware of the innovative strategy in place to fight dengue fever, using the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes. Truly fascinating and of a great ingenuity.


Q: What was your favourite field trip? 

My favourite field trip was the visit to the World Mosquito Program in Yogyakarta. The NGO works towards protecting the community from mosquito-borne diseases using the Wolbachia method.

The very interactive fieldtrip gave me a fascinating insight in the program. I was able to see how pivotal it is to engage and work with communities when it comes to communicable disease control and prevention.

The trip at the WMP was memorable as I volunteered to feed mosquitos…yes, I offered my right forearm, letting hundreds of “farmed” Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes feasting on it!

I guess I can modestly say that I have contributed to the fight against dengue fever…


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

It makes me consider a career in public health, in the field of sexual health, HIV control.


Q:What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?

I enjoyed the level of expertise of each speaker. They demonstrated kindness, patience, and availability. I also appreciated the reasonable duration of each seminar. As I explained earlier, our days were full. I liked that each seminar was 45min to 60min long.


Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?

The people I have met were all welcoming and as enthusiastic as I was.  I fell for their kindness and delicate personalities (whether from ACICIS or not).

Now that I am aware of the numerous challenges they have been facing, I admire the resilience and tenacity of the Indonesian people.