Elena Williams is a higher education consultant and PhD researcher within the Department of Anthropology at the School of Culture, History and Language.

Elena’s research interrogates how the impact of DFAT-funded study abroad programs to Indonesia has been felt by Australian students studying there, and by Indonesian communities hosting them. By speaking directly with students and host communities, asking them to define and reconceptualise what the ‘impact’ of study abroad means to them in their own lives, this project sheds new light on what constitutes ‘people-to-people’ relationship building, from the lived experiences of those directly involved.

Prior to commencing doctoral studies, Elena worked for more than 10 years in education and development roles in Indonesia, including as the Indonesia-based Resident Director for The Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) between 2013 and 2017, managing study abroad programs in Indonesia funded through DFAT’s New Colombo Plan scholarship scheme. She has worked as a consultant in learning abroad roles with The University of Melbourne, The Victorian Department of Education, and The University of Sydney. She regularly publishes and presents on Australia-Indonesia education issues, and in 2021 co-edited a special edition of Inside Indonesia about student mobility during the pandemic.

Elena holds a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (Gender Studies) from ANU, an Honours degree in Indonesian Studies from The University of Sydney, and a BA Communications and International Studies (Indonesian) from The University of Technology Sydney. Elena currently serves on the boards of DFAT’s Australia-Indonesia Institute, and the ANU Indonesia Institute, and is a panel member for Australia Awards Indonesia’s scholarship selection committee.

In April 2022, Elena was invited by DFAT to present at the 2022 National New Colombo Plan Summit about her research on Australia-Indonesia student mobility and public diplomacy. In 2021, Elena was awarded the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific’s Ruth Daroesman Graduate Study Grant in recognition of her research on the Australia-Indonesia relationship.

Fields of expertise



How invested are we in understanding our ASEAN neighbours? 

In Melbourne last week, Australia and ASEAN celebrated 50 years of partnership through the second ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.…

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