Before enrolling at ANU, Kate participated in a program that allowed her to experience life as an Asian Studies student for a day. Having studied Indonesian since primary school, Kate knew that an Asian Studies degree at ANU was the only option she was interested in. “The teachers at what was then the Faculty of Asian Studies were such wonderful and fascinating people, and I wanted to be a part of that,” says Kate.
As part of her Bachelor of Asian Studies, Kate majored in both Indonesian and Japanese, but also enjoyed the wide ranges of courses that helped set her up with the skills to live and work in Asia.
After graduating with Honours, Kate began working on a series of Australian aid projects across Indonesia before commencing on a USAID project called Kinerja, which focuses on improving public services in health and education in Indonesia.
“I've now been in Indonesia for almost five years - I spent a year in Sulawesi as an Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) with the Indonesian Women's Coalition, then as an Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) with Aisyiyah in Jakarta, and again as an AVID with Kinerja for a year in their health section. I now work full-time with Kinerja.”
In addition to her full-time work with USAID, Kate runs an independent project called Menghitung Pembunuhan Perempuan (Counting Dead Women), which collates figures on women murdered in Indonesia. She describes the project as “an attempt to highlight the high level of violence against women in Indonesia, and to encourage the government to improve services for survivors and develop prevention programs.” Kate’s hard work on this project has been featured on the ABC.
“The analysis skills I learnt at ANU help me to be critical in what I read, and the research skills help me identify cases that fit into the project.”
Kate’s work allows her to “speak Indonesian every day, meet inspiring people, fight for women's rights, eat delicious food, and travel throughout the country.” And while helping tackle domestic violence is a commendable achievement and one that Kate finds highly fulfilling, she says the best thing she does is through her work with USAID, assisting in the facilitation of women’s leadership training programs in Papua. “Watching 30-plus women learn, grow, and become advocates for change is the best feeling.”