For over fifty years Australia has welcomed students from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to study at our tertiary institutions on government scholarships. An important premise behind the scholarship program has been the hope that the connections with Australia developed by these students will be long-lasting and mutually beneficial to Australia and partner governments. Sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade via the Australia Awards program, the research project, ‘Scholarships and Connections’ investigates the life stories and experiences of over 100 students from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea who were sponsored for Australian-based tertiary study from 1950s-2010. 

By recording the personal experiences of scholarship recipients and investigating their networks of influence, this research deepens our understanding of scholarship programs and whether or not they produce outcomes that are consistent with the objective of building mutually beneficial linkages between Australia and partner countries. It examines whether the outcomes are enduring or change over time.

The project is especially interested in the experiences of former scholarship-holders in positions of leadership and any networks and ongoing connections they have with Australia. This research provides a better understanding of the personal and professional networks of scholarship alumni, and encourages the sharing of experiences.

The interviews will be permanently retained in appropriate repositories and drawn on for use in biographies, radio and television programs, internet applications and educational curricula for schools and leadership programs.

This research promotes the values of historical research and scholarship among Indonesians and Papua New Guineans and points to the value of oral testimony from past and recent generations of mobile students for current generations facing important challenges and choices.



Jemma Purdey and Ben Lowe, Contemporary Histories Research Group