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A year with Sustineo in review - Dr Asenati Chan Tung

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Dr Asenati Liki joined Sustineo one year ago as a senior researcher. In this short time she has contributed to a range of Sustineo’s projects, often drawing on her extensive experience living and researching in the Pacific. Sustineo’s Ellis Mackenzie sat down with Asenati to ask a few questions to get to know her better.

You’ve just completed your first year with Sustineo (congratulations!). What have the highlights from this year been?

Being part of the Sustineo team that won the Pacific Labour Facility (PLF) project to conduct a baseline study on Australia’s Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). I’ve never worked in a multi-dimensional project involving so many stakeholders and communities, so it’s exciting to be part of this work. It’s an important opportunity for Sustineo to provide insights on how the PLS is experienced by different stakeholders including Pacific workers and their families. Personally, the project has helped me to reconnect to the Pacific Islands, where I’ve lived and worked before moving to Australia.  

As part of this project, a highlight of a different nature was being able to catch the last flight out of Samoa after fieldwork, when COVID-19 hit! The incredible coordination of my urgent repatriation by the Sustineo team is something that I will always remember and be grateful for.  

What has been your biggest learning experience?

Multi-tasking is an important feature of Sustineo’s daily work. This is a flexible work style that I think today’s professionals can embrace. Different projects have specific objectives and timeframes, so I’ve learned to always be ready to take on an ‘unfamiliar’ task. As you do, you learn new things, become a bit more creative, and continue to build on skills you already have. In the context of COVID-19, the ability to adapt to the changing nature of work has never been more critical. I’m just grateful to be in the right workplace at this time.     

What are you most proud of from your time at Sustineo?

Being part of the amazing Sustineo teams working on three Pacific-related projects in 2019-2020:  Civic Knowledge and Citizenship Engagement in Solomon Islands, the Graduate Outcome Survey for the Fiji Higher Education Commission, and the Baseline Study on Australia’s Pacific Labour Scheme. With these projects you realise that they shape you to some extent. For example, your understanding of the dynamics of new development programs for the Pacific increases but it’s also rewarding to know that you are contributing through applied research to those programs. The fact that we have a very supportive team here makes a lot of difference, and I’m very proud that our team’s success is really a sum of each member’s effort and contribution. 

Tell us something we don’t know about you.

I play the guitar and ukulele. I started to play the ukulele when I was 8 years old, and I was so good at it that my father bought my first ukulele for Christmas!

What can we expect from you over the next year? 

I really hope to be involved a bit more in gender-related research work in Australia and the Pacific Islands. I have a lot to offer in that area, and it’s a matter of having the right opportunity to do that at the right time. 

… And I could help any Sustineo-ite who wants to learn how to play the ukulele or guitar :)


Find Asenati at LinkedIn or contact her at to talk about Sustineo’s work.