Australia Awards update - scholars and fellows
 
Welcome to the first ever newsletter from the Australia Awards team specifically developed for Australia Awards recipients studying in Australia.

You will have received this eNewsletter via your Student Contact Officer, but in the future we would like to email you directly. To allow us to do this, please subscribe here.
 
For many of you this is the first time you have lived and studied in Australia, so this edition will focus on sharing the experiences of some of our awardees currently studying in Australia, information about our state and territory capital cities and stories from an amazing Australia Awards alumnus.
 
For future editions, we would like to tailor this eNewsletter to include information that will be of particular interest to you. You can tell us what you would like to see in future editions by sending through your suggestions here.
 
We also invite you to send through stories and photos of your experiences as an Australia Awards scholar or fellow. Please submit your stories and/or photos here.
 
We hope you enjoy this eNewsletter!
 
Cheers
 
The Australia Awards team.
 
 
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.

 
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, and to be a participant in the Australia Awards Leadership Program.

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, 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 gender-based violence, 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.
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Australia Awards scholar reaps benefits of holiday work placement program


Australia Awards scholar, Saidi Mkwawa, has discovered valuable insights into mining that directly benefit Tanzania. Based in the far west of Australia in a small town named Kalgoorlie, his eyes were opened to the process of extracting gold from ore on a recent vacation placement at a west Australian gold mine as part of his Master of Engineering Science (Metallurgy) at Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines.
In his home town of Tanzania, Saidi works for the Tanzania Minerals Audit Agency within the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.
He has been in his role of Senior Mineral Auditor (Senior Engineer) for almost 11 years and is responsible for observing and recording the production and exportation of minerals from large mines. His role is quite specialised and he has not previously had the chance to see the full process of extracting minerals
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Howeve
r, during his two-month placement at the Mount Magnet Gold Processing Plant, Saidi’s role as Metallurgist Trainee gave him an opportunity to operate all the equipment in the process plant, where he gained valuable experience and knowledge. Saidi gained a good understanding of the full refinement process - from the crushing of ore to the smelting stage of gold bars (bullion).
In Tanzania, Saidi is stationed in gold rooms and because he spends all of his time in the gold rooms to observe and record necessary information, he is not aware of what has occurred in the process plant in the stages leading up to the smelting and delivering of the bullion bars.
“As a metallurgist you need to understand the full extraction process from crushing, grinding, leaching and finally smelting, to fully report not only on the amount of bullion bars delivered, but also what minerals remain in the tanks. This holistic understanding enables me, as an auditor, to provide the Government with more robust data. From this data, the Government can better understand the profit margins of mines for taxation purposes,” Saidi said.
Saidi has now returned to Curtin University to complete his studies. He is grateful to Curtin University, Ramelius Resources and the Mount Magnet Gold Processing Manager Augy Wilangkara, for helping to secure this vacation placement as a Metallurgist Trainee. Saidi’s work experience with Mount Magnet Gold Process Gold Plant has provided him with a level of skills and experience he would not have gained from only completing his Master’s degree.
Saidi’s story demonstrates the true value in providing professional development opportunities for Australia Awards scholars and fellows, to provide them with first-hand experiences that they can take home at the end of their studies to embed in their own places of work.
The Australia Awards are prestigious international scholarships and fellowships that are supported by the Australia Government. Find out more at www.australiaawards.gov.au.
The image below provides a pictorial example of the gold extraction process.
 
 
 
 
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hs_event.jpgTwo Australia Awards Scholarship recipients from Indonesia were presented with the inaugural Hadi Soesastro Prize on 24 February 2014 by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, at Parliament House in Canberra.
 
Diana Setiyawati and Bimo Wijaynto were awarded the prize to supplement their academic program, which is offered to only two Australia Awards scholars annually.
 
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.
 
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In 2004, Nepali citizen and Australia Awardee Madhu Marasini, graduated from the Australian National University (ANU) with a Masters of International and Development Economics. A decade later, Madhu is now Chief/Joint Secretary  International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division of the Ministry of Finance in Nepal, leading the direction of foreign aid to finance development projects in Nepal’s prioritised sectors. He also continues to promote the benefits of the Australia Awards and in his role as a high-achieving alumnus, recently participated in the selection of 39 Nepali Australia Awardees for the 2014 intake.
The benefits of Australian Government scholarships in supporting the development priorities of countries through educational opportunities have been acknowledged by Mr Marasini, who said that “the Australia Awards have changed my thinking and improved my confidence level. This opportunity was an eye opener too. I hope future scholarships to Nepal will help create a good pool of talent in Nepal, and develop people who can really contribute to the economic development of this country.” Following on from this comment, Mr Marasini was kind enough to spend some time answering questions related to his time as an awardee, which are shared below.
What are the achievements you are most proud of so far?
I have institutionalised the Aid Management Platform (AMP) in the Ministry of Finance, which is now a public portal on aid data in Nepal. Today, anyone living in any corner of the world can access Nepal’s aid information from their own home. This will not only help enhance aid transparency but also assists in augmenting aid effectiveness. Nepal’s AMP now has become an exemplary tool. Many aid recipient countries have been visiting Nepal to learn from our experience.
Likewise, when I was working for the Inland Revenue Department, I worked to introduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) system in Nepal for the first time. I am happy to see that now the VAT is one of the major sources of revenue for the Government of Nepal. The VAT system, as well as my work establishing the Anti-Money Laundering Department, has paved a stronger way for tax reform in Nepal.
What do you think are the main development priorities for Nepal, and what changes would you like to see in Nepal in the next decade?
Nepal's infrastructure has room to grow. Building infrastructures of power and roads are critically important. Economic growth cannot be achieved, and employment cannot be generated, without the availability of electricity and road connection. Nepal should focus on utilising its abundant water resources to produce electricity and boost export. Tourism is another sector, where we have the comparative advantages too. Similarly, as over 70% of the population still live in farming communities, enhancing agricultural productivity and promoting commercialisation of agriculture is another critical priority.
Thinking back to your time as an Australia Awardee, what did you gain from your experience in Australia?
I gained self-confidence, an understanding of multicultural values and expanded my contacts and networks. I have been able to apply the knowledge and skills that I had learned at ANU to my job. The teachers were superbly helpful, and the Aussie people were very friendly. After finishing my Masters at ANU I gained a promotion to the joint secretary level of the Government. That is just one step behind becoming a Secretary of the Government of Nepal.
What kind of friendships and professional connections have you maintained since your return to Nepal, and how have these benefited you?
I am in constant touch with friends from other countries who have been working in the ministries of finances, foreign affairs and other multilateral and bilateral development organisations such as Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and DFAT. We exchange views from time to time on the issues related to economic and social development in our respective countries and at the global level too. I have also been maintaining regular contact with some of my professors from ANU. Their emails encourage me to take challenges and apply new knowledge into my work.
 
  
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The New Colombo Plan offers Australian undergraduates new opportunities for prestigious scholarships and

grants for study and internships/mentorships in the Indo Pacific region.
 
The New Colombo Plan 2014 pilot program was launched at Parliament House on 10 December 2013 by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Julie Bishop MP, in the presence of the (then) Governor General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, who is Patron of the initiative.
 
The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo Pacific in Australia and strengthen people-to-people and institutional relationships, through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduate students in the region. Internships will be integral to the New Colombo Plan, with the aim of ensuring students are work ready, have professional connections in the region and can link their study experience directly to career opportunities.
 
As future Australia Awards alumni, you may have a role in welcoming New Colombo Plan scholors to your home country. Find out more about the New Colombo Plan pilot here.
 
 
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In late 2013, Australia Awards farewell events were hosted by tertiary institutions across the nation, to farewell graduating Australia Awards recipients.
The University of Sydney hosted the New South Wales farewell event and produced this fabulous video showcasing the highlights from the day.
 
Current Australia Awards scholars and fellows can look forward to attending similar events as they progress through their studies.
   
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Want to know what is happening in a capital city close to you?

Scroll down to find the capital city closest to you and the social media sites that will help navigate you to the fabulous adventures you could have in each city!
 
 
 Australian Capital Territory

The VisitCanberra website offers brochures, maps and information on current activities happening in the Nation’s capital. You can also follow them on Twitter @visitcanberra and Facebook and Instagram @visitcanberra. 
 
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 Sydney

Sydney.com is the website to go to for all things Sydney, including accessing some great deals to attend festivals or climb the Harbour Bridge! Sydney tourism has numerous social media accounts including Twitter @sydney_sider, Facebook and Pinterest.
 
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 Melbourne

VisitMelbourne provides information on events and attractions both in Melbourne and throughout Victoria’s regions. You can choose to download self-guided itineraries to see the very best of Melbourne’s lifestyle and attractions, to accessing special offers for weekend trips out of this city. Follow VisitMelbourne via Twitter @Melbourne and Facebook.
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 Brisbane

VisitBrisbane shares the top things to do in the sunshine state’s capital, which includes winery visits, free yoga sessions in the park and twilight markets. Follow them on Twitter @visitbrisbane and Facebook.
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Adelaide

The Adelaide tourism website is wrapped up in the State’s official tourism website SouthAustralia.com. Recently voted as one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 must visit cities for 2014, Adelaide regards itself as a perfect host city that loves to party. Check out their Twitter feed @southaustralia for some amazing photos taken by travellers, as well as their Facebook pag
e.
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Perth

To the far west of the country is Perth and WesternAustralia.com is a one-stop online resource for all events  and experiences within this picture perfect hub, and beyond. Follow their Twitter handle is @WestAustralia and like their Facebook page to keep up with the fabulous adventures you can have in the west.
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Hobart

Travelling to Hobart is an adventure in itself as you must travel by boat, or fly, to reach the capital of Tasmania. The DiscoverTasmania website provides you with all the information you need on exploring this region’s divers and beautiful destinations. DiscoverTasmania have an amazing Instagram account and you can find them on Facebook.
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Darwin

Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, is a melting post of people and cultures that prides itself in its unique and friendly laid-back lifestyle. TourismTopEnd is the website you want to visit for maps, accommodation and things to do in the City and beyond. Their twitter handle is @TourismNT and you can find them on Facebook
 
Last updated: April 24, 2014