University of Melbourne awardees receive Student Engagement Grants

Australia Awards Logo
Monday, August 26, 2019 - 10:00
  • Australia Awards
  • Indonesia
  • Malawi

The Student Engagement Grant program supports student-led initiatives which create positive change in the community.

The University of Melbourne’s Student Engagement Grants program supports initiatives led by students in their local, national or international community. They enable the implementation of activities which create a constructive community impact, and which address important social, economic, environmental or cultural issues.

The recent round of grant recipients includes one Australia Awards alumna and five current awardees. The Student Engagement Grants will assist the awardees in implementing their diverse projects, which focus on the areas of youth empowerment and public health.


Annirrahmah, Master of Development Studies, Indonesia

Social Startup Sprint

Annirrahmah’s initiative, Social Startup Sprint, is a youth empowerment project that provides young Indonesians with social entrepreneurship training. The aim is to equip youth with skills and character-building values that will enable them to empower their local communities. Annirrahmah developed this initiative together with several students from Victorian institutions, including University of Melbourne awardees Siti Mahdaria and Bram Putra.

With the support of a Student Engagement Grant, Annirrahmah will implement Social Startup Sprint in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. In September, 30 individuals will be selected to receive mentorship from entrepreneurs and will visit local social enterprises to learn about product prototyping and testing. The training program includes practical workshops and online modules for participants to develop their skills in product design, critical thinking and social awareness. Social Startup Sprint concludes with a pitching and networking night to connect participants with professionals from a diverse range of industries.

Together with her co-founders, Annirrahmah is passionate about youth empowerment and the positive impact which social enterprise brings about. She seeks to create a supportive community where young people can build the confidence to become changemakers.  


Barnev Theodore Roosevelt Soukotta, Master of Development Studies, Indonesia

Youth Power: Youth Civic Engagement Project in Ambon City

Theodore’s project seeks to increase youth civic engagement in Ambon City, Indonesia. His initiative centres around three main ideas: capacity building, knowledge of local and international issues, and collaboration among youths. Theodore shares, “I always feel that young people should be empowered because they have great potential in making significant changes within their community.”

A Student Engagement Grant assisted Theodore in delivering his project to 30 student leaders from 15 high schools across Ambon City in July. He designed a three-day program in which participants gained a deeper understanding of volunteerism and Sustainable Development Goals. They explored their strengths and passions and learned more about various social causes by connecting with local organisations and communities. On the final day, individuals developed their own campaign for a social cause and found ways to implement this on a small scale in their schools.

Theodore hopes that this initiative may serve as the pilot project and catalyst for other regencies in Maluku province to implement youth engagement projects. He believes that creating a comprehensive approach to youth empowerment is a powerful tool for change, in which young individuals will grow not only personally but will be able to positively impact their local communities.


Dwi Astuti Dharma Putri, Master of Clinical Research, Indonesia

Tackling Mental Health Issues: Connecting Care

Putri is a medical doctor working as a research assistant at Central Hospital-Sardjito, Yogyakarta. She is currently undertaking a Master of Clinical Research to achieve her dream of becoming a Principal Investigator in a clinical research centre.

Through her medical work, Putri became aware of the prevalence of mental health issues in Yogyakarta, which are further exacerbated due to cultural stigma and limited access to information on referral and funding services. Putri’s project seeks to provide this valuable information to those associated with mental health care - immediate family members, caregivers, community cadre and health providers. Her aim is to improve mental health awareness and its comprehensive management.

Putri received a Student Engagement Grant to travel to Yogyakarta in July, where she conducted a one-day educational program. Sessions were designed to raise mental health awareness through an exploration of the causes and early detection of mental illness, the referral system, national health insurance, and rehabilitation. Putri will also work on community-based rehabilitation, with the aim of enabling recovering individuals to more effectively reintegrate into society.


Fitriana Murriya Ekawati, PhD (Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences), Indonesia

#CareforHDP: empowering primary care providers to provide better care for hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) and raising awareness of HDP among pregnant women

Fitriana is passionate about improving pregnancy care in Indonesia. Inspired by her own experience of receiving pregnancy care in Australia, Fitriana dedicates her PhD research to improving #careforHDP for women in Indonesia. One of her dreams is to save women from preventable deaths caused by hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, the second largest cause of maternal mortality in Indonesia.

Fitriana expects that her project can bring significant impact to wider communities. She will travel to Yogyakarta’s Bantul District between August to October to teach general practitioners, nurses and midwives about evidence-based HDP management, from screening to long-term follow up in primary care. She will also work with midwives to implement health promotion programs, aiming to raise awareness about HDP among pregnant women in three public primary care clinics.

Fitriana is an Australia Awards Scholarship alumna and her PhD is now supported by the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education. She is currently working at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Universitas Gadjah Mada, as one of the pioneers of primary care research in Indonesia. She believes that her experience of studying and networking in Australia will significantly enhance her professional career.


Jennipher Phiri, Master of Public Health, Malawi

Promoting Sanitation: Building a Pit Latrin at Balaka District Hospital

“As a public health practitioner in the making, good health of the community is my priority. With a focus on the stream of epidemiology and biostatistics, I’ve come to realise that our environment affects our health, either negatively or positively.”

This was the intention behind Jennipher’s project. Through her previous hospital work in Balaka District, Malawi, she noticed the absence of toilet facilities for outpatient services, which forced individuals to resort to relieving themselves wherever they felt they could. Jennipher realised that this severely compromised the sanitation of the working environment and increased potential risk of infections and diseases.

She applied for a Student Engagement Grant in order to give back to the community she serves and created the idea of building a pit latrin at Balaka District Hospital. This would enable patients to receive care in a cleaner and safer environment and would play a part in improving the general health of the community. Jennipher collaborated closely with the district management team to organise the building site and latrin construction, and travelled to Malawi in July to supervise the completion of her project.


Zulfikar Ihyauddin, Master of Public Health, Indonesia

HERD Immunity: Health Workers' Counselling Training on Addressing Parental Vaccine Hesitancy

Through his studies and work as a medical doctor, Zulfikar notes that vaccine hesitancy is an emerging public health issue. He believes this may be a reason as to why vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks are now more frequent, and realised that health workers are rarely explicitly taught how to counsel vaccine-hesitant parents.

Zulfikar’s project intends to deliver an intensive training program in Mataram, Indonesia, for primary health care workers who work predominantly with the implementation of vaccination in the community. The aim is to equip participants with adequate counselling skills, and Zulfikar has partnered with the Indonesian Paediatric Society (IPS) West Nusa Tenggara branch and Yayasan Capella Project Indonesia in order to deliver this program. The one-day training will consist of lectures by IPS staff and workshops designed for 80 participants across 11 primary health cares in Mataram.

Upon completing the Master of Public Health, Zulfikar plans to follow his calling as a researcher, lecturer and paediatrician. He has been tremendously inspired by his own lecturers who make significant contributions to the community by devoting their careers to improving public health. Zulfikar is confident that change can occur through education, research and community-based policies, and is passionate about working to create a health-literate Indonesian community.

Other information

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