Elena Williams

PhD candidate


MA (ANU); BA (Hons) (University of Sydney); BA (UTS Sydney)

Contact details
02 6125 4065
Room: 4.10
Building: Hedley Bull Building

Elena Williams commenced her PhD in the Department of Political and Social Change in February 2020. Her research examines the long-term impact of DFAT’s higher education and public diplomacy initiatives on the Australia-Indonesia relationship, with a particular focus on student mobility and the New Colombo Plan (NCP).

Prior to commencing doctoral studies, Elena worked in gender and development roles with Oxfam Australia, Reconciliation Australia and UN Women Indonesia. Between 2013 – 2017 Elena served as Resident Director with The Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Study (ACICIS), facilitating New Colombo Plan-funded study programs in Indonesia and lecturing in development studies. Since returning to Australia, Elena has worked as a higher education consultant and held roles with AFS Intercultural Programs Australia, Asia Society Australia, The Victorian Government’s Department of Education and Training, and The University of Melbourne.

Elena holds a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (Gender Studies) from The Australian National University, a BA Honours degree in Indonesian Studies from The University of Sydney, and a BA Communications and International Studies (Indonesian) from The University of Technology Sydney. Fluent in Indonesian, Elena regularly volunteers as a ‘Go Global’ Literacy Ambassador with the Asia Education Foundation, as a mentor with the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association, and is a past participant of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP, 2007 -2008). Elena currently serves as a board member with Balai Bahasa NSW, The Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth (CAUSINDY), and with DFAT’s Australia-Indonesia Institute.

Thesis topic

‘Illusions of Transforming Australia-Indonesia Relations through Student Mobility: A Critical Examination of Australia’s New Colombo Plan as “Soft Power”'


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