Under-resourced community organisations in the Lismore, Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour area will have the chance to make use of the expertise, experience and energy of Southern Cross University staff and students through a new program, organised by the Southern Cross University Regional Gateway (SCURG).
SCURG has established a student community engagement program, Students Making a Difference (sMAD), to connect under-resourced community groups and organisations with the university.
Development officer, Mr Justin St Vincent Welch, said groups that needed help with particular projects could be linked to students and staff in the university. The projects could then be carried out either on an individual basis or by multi-disciplinary student teams.
“At the moment we are working with Lifeline Northern Rivers. They have expressed a desire to have some information technology work done, including website development and also an interactive CD-rom. We are also negotiating to get a television ad made and this will incorporated that into the School of Arts humanities media program. Lifeline is also interested in gaining student assistance for a business-related feasibility study.”
Mr St Vincent Welch said the community-initiated projects would be incorporated into the curriculum and be supervised by participating academics who would ensure a quality outcome. The projects will be designed to fit in with the existing timeframes for study.
The projects can cover a wide variety of subject areas including psychology, health, business, planning, information technology and multimedia and visual arts.
“The university wants to extend its engagement with the community and contribute to the region, not just as a place of scholarly learning and research but also as a social resource.
“The level of experience, knowledge and expertise that’s contained within the staff and the energy, enthusiasm and innovation of the students is an amazing resource and it’s being under-utilised in the community. Essentially we want to try and offer assistance to organisations that don’t have huge amounts of money.”
Mr St Vincent Welch said the collaborative projects had mutual benefits for community organisations and students.
“Students will benefit enormously through their exposure to real-world experience. This sort of experience can develop and enhance skills in planning, project management, negotiation and communication - the community organisations, on the other hand, come away with quality outcomes for their particular projects.”
Potential projects will be registered on the SCURG website, http://gateway.scu.edu.au, where they can be accessed by staff and students. Groups interested in registering should contact Justin St Vincent Welch on 66269250 or Ros Derrett on 66203150.
Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.