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Our Alumni at work

By Patrick Nelson

Charista Pratiwi … “I call Australia home and I call Bali home” Charista Pratiwi … “I call Australia home and I call Bali home”

Sometimes the difference between life and death can be a matter of a few brief moments and a few short metres, as CHARISTA PRATIWI discovered on Bali’s darkest day, 12 years ago. Had it not been for a timely phone call from a friend, Charista would have been in fatal proximity to Kuta’s Sari nightclub late on the evening of 12 October 2002, the night of the Bali bombing. Charista’s decision to accept an invitation to join friends for coffee in another part of the popular tourist district was a fortuitous one. In the years since, she has completed high school, migrated to Australia and graduated from Charles Darwin University. Charista now works for an accounting firm in Darwin and serves as president of the NT Chapter of the Indonesian Students Association.

How did it feel to graduate with an accounting degree from CDU last year? Describe the ceremony and how did you celebrate the occasion?

After three years of studying for a Bachelor of Accounting, graduation gave me a great sense of joy and accomplishment. The graduation ceremony was well-planned and well-prepared, which helped me enjoy a perfect ceremony. I celebrated my graduation with dinner in a nice restaurant with friends and family who have supported me through my journey, for which I am thankful.

What prompted you to come to Australia and how did you end up living in Darwin?

I had extended family living in Australia. Through their eyes, I gained an understanding of the opportunities and the way of life Australia had to offer. It was for these reasons I followed in their footsteps. I left Bali for Melbourne, where I had family, but struggled with the cold climate. Fortunately an old friend told me about Darwin and its climate, which is ideal for me. I explored this option and ended up enrolling at CDU.

You completed a Diploma of Management and Hospitality before your Bachelor of Accounting. What was the most memorable experience?

I remember planning for a gala dinner night in support of the charity, Camp Quality. We prepared three-course meals for more than 100 guests. It was a huge challenge to plan for this event but the night was a big success, which was a big relief and very satisfying. I also appreciated the opportunity to work with a large and diverse team led by our lecturer Tim Francis.

How has graduating from a Bachelor of Accounting helped you in terms of your career pathway?

An accounting qualification has opened the door into the accounting profession. I consider myself fortunate to have secured a job with an accounting firm in my first interview, as my studies drew to a close last year.

You were born, raised and schooled in beautiful Bali but now call Australia home. Why live in Australia?

I call Australia home and I call Bali home. During the five years in which I have lived in Darwin I have mixed with Australian culture while still holding on to my Balinese/Indonesian culture. Australia is a safe place to call home.

You were in Legian Street, Kuta, on the fateful night of 12 October 2002, moments before two fatal explosions. What do you remember?

I heard the “boom” of an explosion and my first thought was that it may have been a really bad car accident. This was followed by people screaming and wounded people ran past us, crying for help. There was a sense of panic in the air. Then the horror of what we had just witnessed hit us so we ran home for safety. I had never been in the middle of such a horrible situation. The screams have haunted me for years and I wish I had never experienced this awful event.

Recently, you were elected President of the NT Chapter of the Indonesian Students Association. Tell a little about this association and how it makes a positive difference.

The role of the Indonesian Students Association is to protect Indonesian students who are studying overseas. Our main function is to provide a network among Indonesian students, facilitate self-development, guidance and mentoring and help Indonesian students adapt to Australia as home away from home. We also operate as a social and cultural group in the broader community.

What is the best advice you have received and who offered it?

My Mum once said: “Your destiny and your future is not written on your hand, but it is made by your own hand.”

Who or what inspires you?

My inspiration is my life. Every aspect of my life has helped me learn how to fall and how to rise above any circumstance. In this world no one is perfect. Everybody has their positives and negatives. I take each person’s positives as an inspiration.

What’s next for Charista Pratiwi?

I plan to pursue accounting as a profession. I anticipate enrolling in the Graduate Diploma of Chartered Accounting next year.