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Peter Susanto, 15 years old – volunteer and studying to become a doctor



In this week’s episode, Josh is talking to Jerusha Mather who was a Winner in the 2021 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards for Victoria.

Jerusha Mather is a PhD student at Victoria University investigating strength training and non – invasive brain stimulation. Her research was funded by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. She is a recipient of the Bridge Create Change Award and the prestigious L’Oréal -UNESCO Women in Science mentee program. She was also an outstanding finalist in the Women’s Agenda Leadership Award (in the health category) and is a profound motivational speaker and poet who recently published her poetry collection ‘Burnt Bones and Beautiful Butterflies”. She is also a leading disability activist particularly for medical students with a disability, inclusive immigration, and accessible packaging and fashion.

The Australian Academy of Sciences acknowledged her as one of the STEM change maker. Her portrait is hung on Questacon (the National Science Centre) as one of the outstanding female role models in medicine. Her petition on change.com regarding increasing accessible packaging received over 13,000 signatures. In her spare time, she enjoys music and travelling.



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Welcome to the podcast. My name’s Annette. If you’re a new listener, thank you for joining . And if you’re a listener who’s listened before, you’ll have heard my voice. But this is my  first week as a podcast guest. So I’m super excited. Our podcast is all about positive stories,  and we highlight each week one of our winners or finalists from the 14 award programs that we run every  year and have been doing since 2003. So we have got lots of amazing people that we have already  listened to and chatted to and lots more to come. So I hope you enjoy this week’s episode.  Let’s get right into it. My guest today is an extraordinary young human. He’s totally passionate and committed to making a difference in the lives of others so much. So the judges chose 15 year old Peter Santo as a finalist in the 2021. Northern territory. Young achiever awards for the Somerville community service award. I mean, you listen to his story, you won’t believe he’s only 15. After completing the Code club program in 2016, Peter volunteered at Code club to share his coding knowledge. He’s a member of the NT association for the education of the gifted and talented, and he actively assists new members. He set up a free mini library with help from the Darwin, city council, and mentor the team for the first Lego league competition. Thank you for joining us on the podcast, Peter, and welcome

[00:01:29] Peter

here. Thank you for inviting me here. Miss Vawser. I have, I feel like I’ve had a very nice welcome so far.

[00:01:38] Annette

Well, you’re an extraordinary young man and you’ve, you’ve featured in a lot in your years. It was a year ago since you were a finalist in the twenty twenty one awards.  What have you been doing since then?

[00:01:51] Peter

Well, since then, I think the main thing that I’ve done is started Uni, which has been very exciting. So when the awards were held, I think I was in year 12, approaching the end of year 12. So we did all of our exams, finished the VCE and now I yeah, I’m in uni, I’m studying the Bachelor of clinical sciences slash medicine course of the Northern territory medical program of CDU and Charles Darwin, University and Flinders University. And I’m finding it pretty exciting. We’ve been learning lots of things. I’ve got chemistry practicals some pathology practicals as well. So that’s good for my application and I’m really enjoying it. The Uni life is really nice as well, since I’ve gone to meet so many new people, people who are here in Darwin, domestic students who are all my classmates and also some international students as well. So I’m going to broaden my horizons, even though it’s only been like three weeks or almost four weeks since I started.

[00:02:59] Annette

Yeah, that’s amazing. So your 15 first year of Uni studying medicine. Well, I imagine most of your other students, fellow students are a little bit older than you.

[00:03:13] Peter

Yeah, they’re all 18 basically. Some of them are a bit older if they started a bit later and some of them are slightly younger, maybe like 17 and waiting for their birthday, but they will like year 12 age or Uni student A’s and above while I’m still 15. So that’s about year 10 age, but I think apart from the fact that one they can drink and two that they can drive the cars and have the freedom of also driving wherever they want. There’s not much difference between us. We’re all good friends and I think we all have the emotional maturity to treat each other as equals, which I found is really enjoyable and really nice.

[00:03:54] Annette

Oh that’s, that’s good to hear. That is good to hear. Now are you still volunteering with your sister? So you were selling Indonesian slicks and donating profits to an

[00:04:03] Peter

orphanage. Yeah. So that’s actually, well the main thing that we are nominated for the awards for was the project, my sister and I have been doing independently, which is raising funds for different causes actually. So we started doing like selling Indonesian food in 2015, actually I was only nine years old. It’s hard to believe.  So the first three years, we just go every Sunday because our parents wanted us to learn skills in terms of people service and how to speak to other people. And also just like how hard it is to really like run a business. They want us to see what that life is like. And then I remember the first time that we went, we only sold like watermelon juice that my mum and my dad made. And yeah we, we went to lots of people, some people, I think a lot of really sort of sympathy for us. It’s a really young. And so I went home and I was actually crying. My job was nine years old. So yeah, I was crying. I was really sad because we hadn’t achieved any of the goals I wanted to do. So I was feeling a bit disheartened, but we, we kept at it.  So my parents sort of encouraged us to keep doing it because they knew that really a start up phase for any business is always going to be sort of a dusting. Although of course, after mentioned that what we’re doing is not business. We’re raising funds, of course, for the different sort of charities and causes and they encouraged my sister in law. So we kept at it. We and I got to really see how I should change maybe how we could change our recipes or how we talk. So that we could basically sell more and get people to be more invested sort of in what we’re doing in the cause I learned a lot of Public speaking skills. That’s for sure. And I also learned a bit about social bravery because I myself am a bit of an introvert. I guess I had to just go out there and talk to these random people who I’d never seen before on the foreshore because it’s scary, definitely at the start. Yeah, we go, we got used to it. Afterwards. We saw that people, they like watermelon juice because it’s hot and all. And of course it’s always hot and steamy. It is. Yeah, people like Indonesian food, even more actually. So my grandma decided that she wanted to try Indonesian food and get us to sell it as well. Yeah, people really like that. I think because you’re such a multicultural community in Darwin, people really wanted to try out our food. And of course we make it cheaper as well because the aim is for my sister and I to learn and also to raise money for to help other people as well.

[00:07:08] Annette


[00:07:08] Peter

amazing. Yeah. I

[00:07:10] Annette

love you. I love your words.  Social bravery.

[00:07:14] Peter

Yeah, I think I don’t, I don’t really know how else to put it, but hopefully hopefully that to convey my message

[00:07:22] Annette

that I have a very supportive family.

[00:07:24] Peter

Yeah, definitely. My mom, my dad and my grandma and my sister of course have everyone’s been really supportive and we’re, I’m really lucky to have a family like that, I think. And grandma, especially, she’s the one who got us on this track of selling the Indonesian food. And she shared all of our recipes, even if, even though myself, I’m really quite bad at cooking, she persevered so that I would know how to like, pass on the family’s legacy of food because of course, foods are really important. Aspect of all cultures

[00:08:01] Annette

really? Yes. So, so did your grandma teach you to cook some of the

[00:08:06] Peter

recipes? Yeah, yeah, because grandma at the start, although we only had like really young. So we didn’t know how to cook any of the things that we actually selling. But then once I turned like 12, I think Oscar, how can you teach me and she agreed and even for all of this hard work of a pretty long time. Now I know how to make the, especially rice balls with and then some Palm sugar and coconut, called upon in Indonesian. That’s the thing I make every week. It’s my responsibility. Now,

[00:08:41] Annette

what’s the best, what’s the best seller?

[00:08:44] Peter

It’s those that call upon because people like them the little green balls, they’re warm and they’re oozing with all this Palm sugar inside them. So they have really nice mix of creaminess. Like with the coconut, the pan then adds a nice deep flavor. And we also have the Palm sugar set

[00:09:02] Annette

also. Oh yes. Will you give us the recipe that we can put on the show notes?

[00:09:09] Peter

That I think

[00:09:10] Annette


[00:09:10] Peter

secret. It’s a secret because a magician never shows the tricks I think. And I, they have to ask grandma for permission anyway, but she’s, yeah, she really likes to cook grandma and she likes to spread the happiness through food using food as a method to spread joy really for other that she’s really enjoyed taking part in our project as well, and if anyone at home wants to make up on, you can search a lot of KTLA, E P O N. Yeah, you could sign a K L and doesn’t have an E at the start. And yeah, you can search up the recipe and try it yourself.

[00:09:51] Annette

Sounds good. All right, I love cooking so well. I’ll get onto that and have a bit of a go. Might not be as good as grandma if we don’t have the secret recipe, but we’re giving back to the awards when you were announced.  Actually let’s go back even further. How did it feel to find out that you were nominated?

[00:10:10] Peter

I felt it was quite a surprise to me, really. I didn’t. I did not know that I’d been nominated actually.  So I was really surprised also happy that people are really noticing the work that my sister and I have been doing over the past couple of years and sort of inspired me to keep working at it and even to improve in our own service. I guess what we do in terms of our selling our food because I look for better ways to reach out to people and also better ways to serve speak so that my speaking would be better and people would be so more inclined to buy our food. And I think yeah, I was really happy about it.

[00:10:57] Annette

Yeah, that’s awesome. Has becoming a finalist being announced as a final since it helped you in any way?

[00:11:04] Peter

I think it’s the main thing is that it really help in terms of knowing how important being committed to helping other people is and the fact that it can have such an amazing impact on other people. I think that’s really helped me to clarify that I in my mind that I want to become a doctor so that I can, you know, help people and hopefully I want to travel, hopefully hopefully travel and be able to give, give medical care to people who may be as fortunate as us in Australia.

[00:11:41] Annette

Yeah. And I think that’s wonderful. Have you had to overcome any hurdles

[00:11:46] Peter

far from the story that I shared at the start of our first few outings into all the way back all those years ago when I cried because we couldn’t sell our food. I think we’ve also had the sort of hurdle of juggling selling and our fundraising with everything that happens in life.  Of course, my sister and I were really busy people. He does piano and violin and she also swims and I swim. I play badminton Uni now, of course we also had models. Actually I play piano as well. And in addition to that, last year when we became finalists, actually I was in year 12 of pool, so I had lots of exams to study for. And I also had like tests like the you had to get into medicine as well. And sometimes the timing wasn’t exactly apt, I guess, but I, I knew in my heart, especially after having been nominated, that it was something that we should go through. And I just changed my schedule a bit and also I researched a bit into how to better manage my time. And that’s, yeah, it’s rapid rewards really sticking, sticking to what I was doing

[00:13:07] Annette

as managing your time is so important, isn’t it?

[00:13:09] Peter

Yeah, I learned that definitely in year 12, it’s some of the exams and I was very busy, but I if I did my best, I think

[00:13:20] Annette

I follow a Great time management lady called Kate Christie. And she believes in blocking your time so that you do a block of work and filter out any sort of interruptions. And then you go on to the next thing and I found it really helpful.

[00:13:38] Peter

Oh, I’ve yeah, I’ve never heard of her actually.  But through the some of the things I read like self-help books or things like no, not this time, agent, but things like the charisma myth help me so that I could become more confident and hopefully have a better charisma. Of course, when speaking to people on the force front, trying to sell food to them. What else was there? Also like Dale carnegie’s book, I forgot what it’s called, but that was also quite helpful for me. I think

[00:14:10] Annette

it’s self-help books are very good. Also on self-help books, do you have any words of wisdom for our listeners?

[00:14:16] Peter

Oh, I don’t really think I have any words of wisdom. I think I just, yeah, I go by and I see the wisdom of others and  I try to incorporate it into what I do, I guess I think be kind, it’s a bit cliche, but the kind of thing is a good one. And also you have have high standards, it’s important that you have high standards for yourself, especially so that you can keep being the best you that you can be. Oh

[00:14:45] Annette

awesome. I don’t think there’s anything else that we don’t know about you that you have noticed. But is there a little fun thing that you, you do or something that you like that’s really just particular to you? It’s

[00:14:57] Peter

purple. Oh,

[00:14:59] Annette

yeah.  So when people see me, they associate me with purple. Although some of the listeners, I don’t actually have any people on at the moment, but I have purple

[00:15:08] Peter

nails nails. Yeah. I know this that start though.

[00:15:12] Annette

Is this something that’s a Peter people go Oh that’s Peter. I

[00:15:18] Peter

don’t really think there’s anything like special I guess I. I would hope that people would have a special a bit of a special place in their heart for me. But I yeah, don’t really. I’ve never really considered myself to have something that’s for civically, belongs to me. I’d hope that we could share it with everyone. If I have a passionate so that everyone can become involved in it.

[00:15:40] Annette

Well, I think you’re very committed and you’re very enthusiastic and I don’t know that you get very much sleep. But I do get

[00:15:48] Peter

a little sleep this morning though I had a morning training for swimming. So I guess wake up pretty early, but usually I try to take it. So

[00:15:57] Annette

what time was that? Did you get up

[00:15:59] Peter

for 20? Yeah, for 20. And then I spent like 20 minutes warming up and then going to the pool. The good thing is it’s only five minutes away since it’s really close and like cliff and we know I swam and then we finished at like six, 30 or 6:45 ish. And then I’ve been doing my homework and studying. Of course, it’s very important studying before we had this interview

[00:16:30] Annette

and also are you doing a swimming for just fitness or are you competing at club

[00:16:36] Peter

level? Well, in the past I used to compete. But nowadays of Uni. Well, since year 12, actually I’ve only been swimming for fitness. For the most part I try my best, of course, I think it’s if you’re going to put time into something like this should have been my wife actually. So if you’re going to put time into something, you should try your best in that and do your best in it as well. All spontaneous actually, I only just thought about that.

[00:17:04] Annette

That’s good, that’s the best thing.  So that’s what I that’s what I like about the podcast is it’s just little little snippets happen. Do you have any times when you feel like it all gets too much or you feel a bit low ? And if so, what is it to do? To get yourself back on track, I

[00:17:22] Peter

think. Yeah, the sums were, feels sort of hopeless sometimes, I guess. Especially during tough times like this, I know a lot of people have been affected by coronavirus and myself. I’d.  The good thing is we weren’t really affected much by coronavirus in the end, but like I had my own study, I guess in terms of studying for year 12, what difficulties is that for sure. Well, I felt quite down, but I think the main thing was that I first contacted some of my network. It’s good to have a network of people that you can fall back on. And the, especially my family I was talk to and I’m really open with them. And we talk about like how we can tackle whatever the issue was. And then we also try to do self-analysis, I guess of what we should do to fix this. And they showed hope, I guess they basically showed hope when I felt that things were hopeless. And I think that’s my sort of philosophy for dealing with disappointment.

[00:18:31] Annette

Yes. Your friends and family, I think we, we forget how  much we, we need them and we should, you know, rely on them to fall back on them because they’re always there for something. Yeah. And we’ve got two awards programs that are running in the Northern territory once the young achiever awards, which of course you were involved in. And then the other one is the community achievement awards, which is not age limited. It’s for the old people. Would you recommend our listeners to try to nominate someone in the

[00:19:00] Peter

territory? Yeah, definitely. If you, if you know someone that you would like to nominate or who has done a really good job in their community, I think you definitely should. And I’d recommend it to all of the listeners out there because I think it will you may not know it, but you can have a really big impact on this person who’s or this organization who is trying to improve the lives of other people.

[00:19:27] Annette

Yeah, it’s so true, we hear it all the time that people were so honored to be nominated. And it’s amazing for us in the office and our judges. When we see like 300 nominations come in and you go, wow, like there are so many people doing so many Great things. And we just love to find them and hear their stories. Obviously have them on the podcast where we can, but the nominations for the awards is a Great way of recognizing people. And if I can let people know, you just go to awards Australia dot com, click on community achievement awards. Are the ones that are coming by boycotting in May, and you can refer someone, so you don’t have to spend a long time. You can just give us their name and contact details, and then we’ll get in contact with them and help them complete a nomination. So I encourage everyone to do that. Now we’re almost finished here, although as far as the goes fast, doesn’t it? Do you have a favorite memory of the awards in 2021?

[00:20:26] Peter

I think my favorite memory was probably getting to meet the people who the other people who are nominated. We actually said my dad and I, we went to the awards ceremony. We sat at a table with two kids from Alice Springs who are about my age. So the older who had started a gardening sort of business and the help the community there as well. That was interesting to see how on the two opposite poles of the Northern territory. Like both of us were all doing. We were all doing pretty Similar things. Actually I thought this was really cool to see and there was a good sort of feeling of companionship that I got

[00:21:07] Annette

from that. Yeah. Yeah. It’s Great when I finally get to meet each other and that they really are a good night.

[00:21:14] Peter


[00:21:15] Annette

we’re just getting ready for the young achiever awards in Northern territories in two weeks time for the 2020 awards. So I’m based in Melbourne, but I’ll be up there in the territory and I always love visiting Darwin.

[00:21:29] Peter

Yes, Bill, I think dylan’s a Great place and people don’t like the weather usually, but actually I think the weather is perfect for me. You never get dry lips and don’t Now,

[00:21:41] Annette

where can people come and say here is the markets that show up? Well,

[00:21:47] Peter

well we actually just go around on the nightcliff foreshore. So from the jetty and then down from there. And we just, you know, we just walk around on Sunday, evenings, Sunday afternoons and evenings as you try to get there around 5:30 and start. Yes, not going around to people. I always say to our customers that we’re healthier and we also faster than mcdonald’s and all of the other fast food services and even maybe cheaper as well. Like in terms of value for money.

[00:22:24] Annette

You’ve got an older pet. Yeah. Now if anyone wanted to connect with you online, just to, you know, give you some good vibes. Are you on LinkedIn or

[00:22:35] Peter

Instagram or something? Nah, I don’t have a phone either. I don’t own the phone actually. And that’s been looking to say, consternation, but some people have always been concerned, especially my friends, because all of my friends have mobile phones and like all this iPhone 13 and like the Samsung Galaxy purr. But I yeah, I think it’s a nicer life to live without being behind the screen all the time. And that’s what I’ve told them, and I think I conveyed my sentiment pretty well.

[00:23:08] Annette

That’s amazing. Good on you. I love the integrity. Thank you, Peter. An absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast. You’re such an inspirational, good on you, and good luck with your medicine degree. I know you’ll study hard and will be Great to hear from you in a couple of years to see. See what you’re doing with your

[00:23:27] Peter

degree. Thank you.  Before we finish, I actually wanted to add a bit more about like what my sister and I have been doing in terms of the fundraising. If that’s OK, if you really

[00:23:38] Annette


[00:23:38] Peter

for it. Yes. So tell the listeners out there from I was going to another big story, the tale of a how we started and everything. So of course we started selling our food and then we got from watermelon juice, resolve shifted to Indonesian food. And in the first, like three years until 2017, my sister and I just give the money to our parents and they just give it away to charity like Red Cross. Or what’s the other one? The shield one, our salvation Army that’s it. Yes , I had a bit of a mind blowing, therefore you’re tired and waking up too early. Yeah. So they’d give it to Red Cross or salvos and my sister and I wouldn’t really be involved apart from the selling.  And the turning point was when we went to Indonesia went back to like, my mum’s home city in like December, I think so also it given the money to charity from that year. And I saw that there were all these children who they were not school. They were just selling on the side of the roads, like on this busy congested roads and the weaving in and out of traffic, selling things like prawn crackers. Similar to what we sell actually. But they were looking quite like malnourished, and they looked it was the show, the Great spirit, I think, but they also, you could see that they were in a really good financial condition even. So we were lucky, of course we’re from Australia. And so I was a bit bewildered by what exactly like had, have had happened those thinking to these kids. And so I asked my mum why, like, why aren’t they at school? So my mum told me that it’s likely that their families like in a bad financial condition. And of course, lots of people live under the poverty line in Indonesia. And because of that, I knew that and of donating, like just donating the money to charity, we should be more active. I think I like the idea of being more active in terms of the kindness that we bring. So going from that, I felt inspired and I said to my mom, why don’t we go to an orphanage in my mom’s hometown one that we usually passed when we were on the way to like, different places because it was in the middle of the city. And so my parents said, sure, and they sort of set us up with the Indonesian version of the Salvation Army who ran that orphanage. And so at the end of the next year, after working hard to raise a lot of money, we were able to donate, donate some of the money to the charity so to the likes of organization. But I think what was even nicer was the next time we were in Indonesia. At the end of the next year, we bought all these chocolates food and some English books as well. So and toys for these kids in the orphanage only like four or five years old and we went there and we got to meet them. We were so welcomed by them. And the people who managed the orphanage as well. And we really got to see a more human side of the of poverty and also of how we can help other people. And I think there was a lot nicer than just like giving away the money to charity. And not really being able to see the impact they can have on other people.  And especially because it was children that were so happy to finally have someone who would be there for like a couple of hours and to sort of interact, interacted them because a lot of the time like people are too busy, of course, living their lives to sort of Be there for these children and, and so we did that for that year and also in  2019. And then of course, in 2020, and then of course covid hit. So at the end of 2020, we decided that because we couldn’t go to these children, we were going to do something in Australia because we also wanted to, of course, help people in Australia as well. And of course, the major thing that had happened just in that year in 2020 was apart from covid, the bushfires in South Australia, Victoria and new South Wales Queensland, even. And so because my sister and I were born in Adelaide and we lived there for a decent amount of our childhood, we decided that we wanted to help the people in kangaroo island specifically because they lost while they lost a lot of what they had like resorts and a lot of the economy was really badly hit. And so we decided we would donate to the men’s shed in kangaroo island because we sent out seven appeal, I guess, to any charities that needed help. And so we got to them personally, at the end of the year after donating our money, we got to personally meet like online, of course, because of the people at the men show them what they were doing to help rebuild like one metal sheet at a time. Their community and I thought once again getting to meet the humans behind who were helping was really heartening experience. And then I could go on and on about this fellow just cut straight to the point. So at the end of 2021, we decided to give the money away to the Fred hollows foundation because my sister wants to be an ophthalmologist and she grows up. So we thought it would be really nice and they also realize that because of covid over like the past year and a half or even almost two years, basically there’s been a huge lack of health services for the eyes and Ophthalmology. Because people who do it in like less privileged countries from Australia and like people from America or Canada or the UK for example, they weren’t able to go to these countries. So a lot of people would have missed out on health Care that could have a preventative health Care that really could have saved their eyesight. So we wanted to, we wanted to help those people

[00:30:06] Annette

who go this and

[00:30:09] Peter

I think that’s, that’s the basis of my sort of way of Oh my mother and ideal of how we should contribute to our community, which is really feeling the Human connection between ourselves and people who might be even on the other side of the globe.

[00:30:30] Annette

Well, that’s an amazing story. Excuse me, listeners, because I just had a little coughing attack. Oh, did. Oh, it’s just such an amazing story. Really. I just can’t imagine how much time you’re taking to do to do all that. We thank you . So thank you very much for being on the podcast and sharing a story. And yeah, look forward to hearing more from you, Peter.

[00:30:55] Peter

Yeah, thank you, Miss sir. Hopefully I wasn’t too boring to all the listeners out here. And yes, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to sort of put out my story and to let my sister in law are doing and my family. And I was doing a be known to all the listeners as well.

[00:31:15] Annette

That’s wonderful. Thank you for your time. Have a good day.

[00:31:18] Peter

You too. Enjoy your day.

[00:31:20] Annette

Well, I hope you enjoyed our chat with Peter. He was really interesting, wasn’t he cut him off a bit to too short because I had a coughing fit. It’s not polite anymore to be coughing. Is it so it was he handled it very well, but so sorry about that folks. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, I’d really love it if you would write us and obviously subscribe.  But a review would just be amazing. We’ve got five star reviews and that’s really cool. But we don’t have as many as I’d like. And the more you give or the more reviews we have, then the easier it is for all the people to find our podcast. It puts us up higher on the visibility ranks. So it would be a Great service to us if you could do that. And if you don’t know how, I feel a little how to guide on our website. So you go to awardsaustralia.com/podcast forward slash podcast. And then there’s a little how to hyperlink there. Always if you’ve got feedback, you can email me at annette@awardsaustralia.com and otherwise have a brilliant day and thank you for listening bye.