Australia Awards sample eNewsletter
Welcome to the first edition of our eNewsletter for 2014. At the end of last year I reflected on the amount of work that had been delivered throughout 2013. From the looks of things, 2014 promises to be just as busy.
In early January, the Australia Awards Office officially became the Scholarships and Alumni Branch. Our Branch is now part of the Public Diplomacy and Communication Division, led by First Assistant Secretary Rob Tranter. Previously, Rob worked with the Australian Agency for International Development, most recently as the agency’s senior executive responsible for Australia’s aid program in the Pacific. Rob has first-hand experience with the Scholarships program and brings a wealth of knowledge about development and the Australia Awards. I look forward to working with Rob on the Australia Awards program in 2014 and beyond.
If you have any queries in regards to articles in this edition of the eNewsletter, or have suggestions for articles (we love to promote the achievements of our awardees and alumni!), please email them through to scholarships@dfat.gov.au.
Cheers
MaryEllen

MaryEllen Miller is the Assistant Secretary of the Scholarships and Alumni Branch within the Public Diplomacy & Communications Division
 
Two Australia Awards Scholarship recipients from Indonesia were presented with the inaugural Hadi Soesastro Prize on 24 February by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, at Parliament House in Canberra.
Diana Setiyawati and Bimo Wijaynto were awarded the prize—a supplementary award offered to only two Australia Awards scholars annually—which will supplement their academic programs.
 
The prize honours the memory of eminent Indonesian economist, the late Professor Hadi Soesastro, who died in 2010, and was one of Indonesia’s foremost public intellectuals. Professor Soesastro was also an Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University, where he received an honorary doctorate in 2009. Until his death in May 2010, Professor Soesastro maintained close personal and intellectual ties with Australia.
 
The prize offers study assistance of up to $25,000 for a male and female Australia Awards Scholarship recipient from Indonesia who is undertaking high level research and skills development at an Australian University.
PhD candidate Diana Setiyawati was recognised for her work on Developing recommendations for training curriculum for psychologists working in primary health care in Indonesia. Diana’s work will have a positive impact on the development of mental health services in primary health care settings. Her 11 recommendations have already been endorsed by key stakeholders in Indonesia.
 
Due to the imminent birth of her child, Diana was unable to attend the ceremony but her PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Harry Minas, from the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, accepted the prize on her behalf and gave her speech.
“I would like to think that Professor Hadi Soesastro would have agreed that promoting good population mental health is both good development practice and good economics,” Diana wrote.
Bimo Wijaynto’s doctorate on Indonesian personal income tax microsimulation: tax base construction, revenue, distribution and compliance analysis (case study of Income Tax Reform 2008) was awarded for its role in shaping Indonesian tax reform through his impact simulations.
“This is a very big surprise for me, and thanks to this, I can complete my impact simulations and modelling. I’d like to thank the Australian Government for both this prize and the support given to me for my Master’s degree though the Australia Awards,” Bimo said.
Australia Awards are building an engaged and influential global network of leaders, advocates and change-makers who contribute to the social and economic development of their home countries. The Awards also develop people-to-people links at the individual, business and government level between Australia and its regional neighbours.
Australia invests in two complementary scholarship schemes to support the significant education cooperation and people-to-people links between Australia and Indonesia: the Australia Awards and the New Colombo Plan.
 

 

The latest group of Australia Awards Scholarship recipients with disability have been mobilised for Semester 1, 2014. This is a great achievement.
Forty-three people with disability were awarded Australia Awards Scholarships in the 2014 intake. Thirty-one of these awardees have now been mobilised successfully to seventeen different tertiary institutions. The remaining twelve will be mobilised for Semester 2, 2014 or Semester 1, 2015.
These mobilisations have involved a great amount of time, enthusiasm and commitment from Posts, Desks, Managing Contractors and Institutions. The Scholarships and Alumni Branch would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their efforts over the last five months.
 

Annual Reports for 2013

Institutions are reminded that the Annual Reports for 2013 are due to DFAT by 31 March 2014.

In addition to being a contractual requirement, the Annual Reports are a great way for tertiary institutions to tell us about the initiatives that have been implemented to improve the experiences of awardees, as well as some of the outstanding achievements of awardees over the previous 12 months. We also encourage tertiary institutions to use the Annual Reports to provide feedback on any areas of concern they may have.
Further information, including the 2013 Annual Report template and the 2013 Key Performance Requirements Reports, were sent to institutions on 27 February 2014.
Please submit your reports to scholarships@dfat.gov.au.


Travel expenses in OASIS

Thanks to all tertiary institutions who submitted payment batches on time for the January invoicing round. Through this invoice round it has come to our attention that a number of travel expenses were entered into OASIS prior to the actual travel dates. To ensure compliance with the Financial Management Act, tertiary institutions are reminded to enter travel expenses in OASIS only on or after the travel date.

For Completion Travel, tertiary institutions are reminded to enter these expenses in OASIS as soon as possible and before the end of the next pay period from the scholarship end date.

For enquiries on expenses in OASIS please contact Scholarships and Alumni Branch at scholarships@dfat.gov.au


 

Updated Policy Handbook released

The revised Australia Awards Scholarships Policy Handbook was released on 31 January 2014 and is now available on the Australia Awards DFAT website as well as on OASIS. The Handbook incorporates advice from the Australian Government Solicitors on privacy issues relating to the management of welfare and critical incidents.
The Handbook also introduces a number of changes including a policy modification to suspension travel. From 1 February 2014, awardees are permitted to use their reunion travel entitlement in advance to fund their return home trip while on suspension. In the absence of a reunion entitlement, DFAT will fund the return trip. Awardees already on suspension are not entitled to a reimbursement. Scholarships and Alumni Branch has provided further advice on the management of this new arrangement in the near future.
Additional changes provide clarification on a number of sections including Scholarship Conditions, OSHC, Debt to the Commonwealth, Disability and Completion Travel.
 
The Australian Government is providing $19.7 million to support the latest round (Round 14) of Australia Awards Fellowships.
Fellowships will be delivered through 78 individual Fellowship programs, supported by 36 Australian host organisations including government agencies, universities, private organisations, NGOs and industry bodies. Funding to Australian host organisations is via grants provided by DFAT.
Australia Awards Fellowships provide senior officials and mid-career professionals from developing countries with the opportunity to undertake short-term study, research and professional development within Australian organisations. At the same time, they strengthen links between organisations in Australia and developing countries in our region.
This latest round of Fellowships will build capacity in a variety of sectors including: enhanced HIV advocacy and research in the Asia-Pacific; border management and people movement in Indonesia; sustainable fisheries management in the Indian Ocean region; and skills training for educators in the Pacific.
Since 2007, this investment has engaged an influential network of approximately 7680 leaders from across the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean who now have strong links to Australia.
Australia has an enormous amount of experience to share with our neighbouring countries, and Australia Awards Fellowships are an ideal way to share that expertise and make a difference to the lives of people overseas.
A list of successful Australia Awards Fellowships funded through the latest round is provided on the DFAT website here.
 
More than 300 undergraduate students from 24 universities across Australia will soon depart for study destinations in the Indo-Pacific region under the Australian Government's $100 million New Colombo Plan.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Education Minister Christopher Pyne, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Brett Mason, recently announced 24 universities had been successful in their applications for New Colombo Plan pilot program mobility grants to support students commencing study programs in Semester 1, 2014.
The first Australian students funded under the New Colombo Plan will undertake study programs in Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The students will undertake study experiences ranging from semester-based and short-term study to teaching practicums, research, field studies and clinical placements.
Programs being funded span a wide range of academic disciplines from law, health and education, language and culture to science, technology and engineering.
There has been a high level of support from universities for the New Colombo Plan, with many applying for the first round of mobility grant funding.
The approach of the New Colombo Plan, encompassing both formal study and internships, will help equip Australian university students with the skills and experience needed to engage with the dynamic Indo-Pacific region, deepening relationships both at the individual level and through expanding university, business and other stakeholder links.
Students also have the opportunity to apply for 40 prestigious New Colombo Plan scholarships for longer-term study of up to a year.
The Government has committed $100 million in new funding over five years to implement the New Colombo Plan. The program will be rolled out more broadly across the region from 2015.
Tranche Two mobility grants are open for applications, closing 21 March 2014, for study in second semester, 2014 and first semester, 2015.
Nominations and selection processes for the 2014 NCP scholarships commenced in February and applications close on 28 March 2014.
Please refer to the New Colombo Plan website for more information www.dfat.gov.au/new-colombo-plan or contact the New Colombo Plan Secretariat at ncp.secretariat@dfat.gov.au

 
Getting to know Rob Tranter

Who are you and what is your role?
My name is Rob Tranter and I’m the First Assistant Secretary for the Public Diplomacy and Communications Division.
I am responsible for DFAT’s Scholarships and Alumni, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary & Media Branches.
 
What did you do prior to this?
For the past 17 years I have worked with the Australian Agency for International Development in a variety of senior program, policy and human resources roles. Most recently, I was the senior executive responsible for Australia’s aid program to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands and advised on the integration of the Australian aid program into DFAT, as part of the Integration Task Force.
I have also served overseas as an Australian diplomat in Port Vila and Jakarta.
 
What excites you about the work that the Scholarships and Alumni Branch is undertaking?
Scholarships have a long history in contributing to Australia’s foreign affairs and development interests. International scholarships are a priority for this Government and it’s exciting to be heading up the division responsible for supporting people-to-people linkages, through our scholarships, fellowships and alumni initiatives – alongside DFAT’s broader public diplomacy, communications and outreach efforts. I’ve had a long involvement with the Australia Awards through my work in our Pacific aid program and know the important contribution this investment makes to supporting future leaders in our region.
 
Tell us a little more about the newly created Alumni Engagement Unit
The Alumni Engagement Unit will be responsible for setting the strategic direction of engagement with international alumni who have studied in Australia. This includes alumni who have benefited from Australian Government scholarships through to private, non-award students. As you can imagine, hundreds of thousands of international students have studied, networked and experienced our wonderful country, and continue to do so. This Unit will focus on supporting and facilitating Australia's connection with these alumni, promote their achievements and strengthen the bilateral ties between Australia and the alumni's home country.
 
Who is Rob Tranter when he’s not at work?
Like our Australia Award scholars, I’m battling through my studies, hoping to complete a Masters in Public Policy this year. And I’m trying to deliver on my New Year resolutions of more exercise and reading. Our Labrador Oscar is pretty happy about getting more walks in. But there’s no time for reading until I finish the Breaking Bad box set I got for Xmas…
 

 
Gender-based violence in Cambodia and the role that local authorities play in addressing this issue will be the focus of Australia Awardee and PhD candidate Soheang Pak’s research over the next four years.
Having arrived in Australia just in time to participate in Sydney’s Australia Day festivities, Shoeang took time out to give us an insight into her previous experiences and hopes for the future.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Soheang Pak and I am 31 years old. I was born in Kampong Cham province, Cambodia and moved to Phnom Penh when I was eight.
My undergraduate degrees are in Public Law and Business Administration. Studying these fields helped develop my interest and passion in Law and Public Policy.

What did you do when you graduated?
Not long after graduation, I challenged myself to apply for a Japanese Development Scholarship, which I was awarded in 2005. This would be my first opportunity to travel (and study) overseas, which was very exciting for me and my family! I spent nearly three years studying Law and Public Policy at the Yokohama National University and this experience introduced me to the benefits of international studies.

What motivated you to apply for an Australia Award?
After returning from Japan, I worked for several organisations, mainly as a researcher. My field of interest began to focus on governance and gender equality and has helped to crystallise the two questions that I am determined to find evidence-based solutions for:
1. Why is gender-based violence still widespread and pervasive in Cambodia?
2. How can the whole society bring hope and support gender based violence victims?
In order to answer these questions comprehensively, I need to expose myself to a rich academic environment where I can interact with international experts who have experience in the field. So, applying for an Australia Award to continue my research in Australia, with a high quality of education, and one of the most successful countries in ensuring gender equality (based on the Human Development Index) was a logical next step for me.
Additionally, the University of Sydney and their Department of Sociology and Social policy offer a unique and dynamic approach to research in a number of fields, including gender. The courses combine studies of theory, research and application of policies to real world issues. The Sociology Program emphasises a historical and comparative approach to the study of social life and applies research and theory to contemporary social issues. I am very excited to begin my funded research at such a prestigious tertiary institution.

Tell us about what you hope to achieve as an Australia Awardee
On completion of my studies in Australia, I believe I will have achieved at least three of my goals. The first goal is that under support from my academic supervisors, my research skills will be strengthened. The second goal is that in-depth understanding about my proposed topic will be enhanced and this will lead to more comprehensive answers for my questions. Finally, through the Australia Awards Leadership program, I will develop strong networks and mutual understanding with many professionals within the University of Sydney and beyond, and also with other international and domestic students.
 
Soheang provides some background to her research
According to Cambodia’s Rectangular Strategy and National Strategic Development Plan, women are the backbone of the national economy and society. However, as measured by the Gender-related Development Index and the prevalence of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Cambodia has the lowest level of gender equity in Asia. This affects almost a quarter of women in Cambodia and it makes these inequalities even worse. The proposed research attempts to identify the challenges in the process of delivering supports to female victims of GBV, and also offers an appropriate solution to this problem. It is expected that when the proposed solution can be implemented, almost a quarter of the labour force from women will be added in the market, and Cambodia will then be able to compete with neighbouring countries. As a result, Cambodia’s economic performance will be improved.
 
Following on from the success of the state and territory Australia Awards Farewell Events in late 2013, we would like to thank the University of Sydney for producing this fabulous video from the event and showcasing the Awards.
Last updated: April 17, 2014