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

Virtual Public Health Study Tour

Nyanta Parashar is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from The Australian National University. Nya undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour in July 2022.

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

I had seen the ACICIS VPHST in an email from ANU at the beginning of 2022. I decided to undertake this program as it was an opportunity to learn more about the health system in Indonesia. I was super excited that I was able to take part in the program, despite it being virtual. I was fortunate enough to live in Jakarta for three years and while I was there, I decided to learn Indonesian. I have always been interested in Indonesian culture and language, so this program would be an opportunity to continue studying this field.

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 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. I vehemently believe that the NCP is an important initiative as it encourages young Australians to learn about the culture, ideologies, and languages of Indonesia. This initiative will allow more Australians to become aware of events happening to our neighbours and become more interested in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. I hope that this initiative will allow more exchange of students and job opportunities between Australia and Indonesia.

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

The most rewarding part of this program was our discussions. As participants, we could connect the information from our readings to the information we learned from our lecturers, as well as the information/observations from our UI buddies. This way, if I had any thoughts or doubts on a particular topic, I had access to immediate support from numerous experts and people available to talk to during the VPHST.

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

The most challenging aspect of the tour was that it was online. During the VPHST there were some difficulties, but I believe that the most challenging process was connecting to my peers through Zoom. Unlike at university, we were unable to connect and meet in person and the lack thereof made it more challenging to create meaningful bonds.

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

I have become aware of a variety of public health issues in Indonesia through the VPHST. I am particularly more aware and interested in the sexual and reproductive health in Indonesia. This is due to the difference between the public health policies in Australia and in Indonesia, I find that the influence of religious leaders is so important when coming to these conclusions. I hope that Indonesia can expand the current policies regarding the distributions of contraceptive methods to include young adolescents, as this demographic is at the highest risk of being susceptible to STIs and unwanted pregnancies.

Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?

My favourite virtual fieldtrip was to the Yakkum Rehabilitation Centre in Yogyakarta. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the expansive facility, in conjunction with the number of modalities that were available for vocational education and training. I absolutely loved speaking to the workers at the very cleverly named coffee shop “Brewbagi”, as they were so passionate and friendly about what they were doing. Moreover, I was delighted by the inclusion of a workshop dedicated to the designing and production of prosthetics and orthotics for their patients. It was so cool to see the work and time being taken to make these much-needed tools

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

Yes, definitely! I was able to learn about Indonesian culture during this program through varying interactions including discussions with ACICIS staff and UI buddies, learning from the information and experiences of our lecturers and the readings provided. In saying that, this program has not just informed me of Indonesian culture, it has also informed me of Indonesian cultural and religious beliefs with specific regards to public health.

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

By exposing young Australian and Indonesian minds to each other’s cultures, ideologies and mindsets allows for the development of an open and inclusive perspective, which is beneficial for future relations between Australia and Indonesia.

Q: Did you enjoy discussing public health issues with the Indonesian students? If yes, can you describe your experience? What topics did you present on in your groups?

Yes, I did enjoy discussing public health issues with UI students. I found that this helped my understanding of the topic, as I was able to listen to the observations and experiences of UI students. The topics that I presented in my first group was regarding the levels of healthcare available in the Indonesian healthcare system (BPJS Kesehatan), I specifically focused on primary health care, which includes the use and availability of Puskesmas and Posyandu. In my second presentation, the group presented the definition and a specific example of non-communicable diseases. My group chose to discuss the number one cause of death in Indonesia, strokes, which includes the current prevention and treatment strategies.

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

The VPHST has definitely influenced my previous thoughts on my future career and education. After participating in this intensive course, as well as, having a good understanding of Indonesian I hope to one day work in Indonesia in the field of health. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of exposure to both government and non-government initiatives in this program that assist the prevention and promotion of public health issues. I hope to continue to learn more about these organisations in Indonesia, and hopefully work with these organisations in the future.

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

I would recommend this virtual program to my friends, as I believe it is a great opportunity to become more in touch and aware of the public health systems and issues in Indonesia.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?

My favourite word in Indonesian is the word “semangat”! We used this word so often during the VPHST, and I believe it really helped all of us feel motivated and ready for every day of those two weeks of intensive learning.

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

Insightful, exciting, and interactive!