Bright ideas for Indonesia

07 August 2020

Belonging to a small community in Eastern Indonesia, Garry Rosario da Gama never imagined that he’d come to Australia to study. Now, having just finished Crawford’s Master of Public Policy, he’s keen to do more research on Australia’s Higher Education Contribution Scheme, and even propose a similar program to the mayor of his hometown.

After two weeks of quarantine, Garry is now back at his job as a public servant in Indonesia’s Sikka district, but it was his previous role as the head of the governmental section in a subdistrict office that inspired him to take up further study.

Having heard of Crawford’s reputation as outstanding public policy school, he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to come and study here.

However, he never dreamt of actually making it to Australia or receiving the prestigious Australia Awards scholarship, with only 250 awardees having the chance to study in Australia every year.

“I worked on annual planning and budgeting in my previous role. So, studying at Crawford was the best option for me to expand my knowledge, skills and expertise in designing excellent public policy.

“Belonging to such a small community in Indonesia, I always thought I had very limited choices and opportunities in terms of work and study. I never imagined that one day I could even study abroad, especially in Australia. And then I was chosen for the Australia Awards scholarship from around 9,000 applicants all over Indonesia at that time.”

Studying public policy at Crawford taught him how to identify policy issues and propose better policy solutions, and how to implement and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of those policies.

Doing his degree by coursework, Garry is now keen to apply his knowledge to local issues, and further develop his research skills.

“At Crawford, I learned how to think critically when responding to social problems, and look at issues from several perspectives with the aim to choose the best policy.

“I really want to research topics such as the link between decentralisation and female participation in eradicating malaria in several districts in East Nusa Tenggara Province (the province that I live in). I also want to look more closely at the implementation of Australia’s Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) policy, because the local mayor has a similar program running in my district but with different procedures. By gaining deep understanding of HECS, I would love to propose this great policy to the mayor with some adjustments considering our district context.”

Thinking about his time in Canberra, Garry said that he particularly enjoyed exploring nature, and the many different types of food the city has to offer.

But what really stuck with him was how friendly and forthcoming people were and his time spent living on campus.

“I loved hiking up Black Mountain, cycling, and taking pictures of Canberra’s landscape. The pictures that I took even got framed by an international photography organisation.

“People in Canberra are so lovely, friendly and diverse in terms of cultures, ethnicities, and religions. Living in Toad Hall has allowed me to become a better human being. I have learned so much about various cultures from living in this diverse environment.”

Garry looks back at his time at ANU fondly, and wants to encourage people to come and study here. He even enjoyed it so much that he’s already looking into coming back to do his PhD.

“By sharing my experiences, knowledge, skills and expertise that I got at ANU, I hope I can change my district for the better. I just started a social project called ‘Kuat Kita Bersama Project’ – a platform for collaboration to inspire, motivate, encourage and empower others to improve Indonesia.

“I also hope that I can inspire others to follow their dreams and motivate them to study at ANU.

“I just started work again today in my office, but to be honest, I am already looking at doing my PhD at ANU.”

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