Powerful student work with community partners creates real-world impact

Published 19 February 2019
Hannah Rowles Arts student Hannah Rowles

When Southern Cross University Arts student Hannah Rowles signed up for a Community Engagement Project, she experienced first-hand the impact her partnership with the Anti-Poverty Network QLD had on the local community.

Hannah is one of hundreds of Southern Cross University students teaming up with businesses and community organisations through liveideas.org.au to address community-identified needs through tangible projects.

“Last year we organised two successful Community Days in Logan, bringing service providers and support systems with people in need, and I have since joined Anti-Poverty Network QLD as a volunteer to plan more community events as they continue to grow,” Hannah said.

Having known what it’s like to face struggles after becoming a single mum at age 19 and trying to make ends meet while living beneath the poverty line, Hannah felt compelled to help those experiencing poverty in her region of Brisbane. As a cultural studies major, now aged 31, Hannah was thrilled when she found a match with the Anti-Poverty Network QLD on the Live Ideas online noticeboard.

The Community Day brought together migrant services, dental services, legal aid, Life Without Barriers, social workers who specialised in housing and homelessness, retail and fast food workers unions, a food bank and a community barbeque.

The event warranted a mention in Parliament in 2018 from Senator Andrew Bartlett, who described the community day as providing opportunities for people experiencing hardship to connect with support, organised entirely by volunteers. Logan Council has also supported a raise to Newstart, and Ms Rowles is planning a third community day to be held in Inala.

Live Ideas Coordinator Dr Kristin den Exter said Southern Cross University founded the innovative Live Ideas platform in 2014 and is calling for more business and community partners to get on board with the successful initiative to collaborate with students on real-world projects to create community outcomes at liveideas.org.au


Networks and study transformed

While Hannah is planning to move into a Masters of Social Work following her undergraduate degree, her focus for now is wanting to help people doing it tough in the system.

“The Anti-Poverty Network has just grown so much and we’re going to continue to grow and make a difference and a lot of it is due to Southern Cross University and the Community Engagement Project unit and Live Ideas,” the 31-year-old said.

 “Working with Anti-Poverty Network QLD was a non-stop learning experience where I got to see my classroom project blossom into a meaningful experience that made a real difference in the lives of 80 community members seeking guidance in a safe space.”

Live Ideas Coordinator Dr Kristin den Exter is inviting potential community and industry partners to submit projects that create win-win opportunities for students and organisations.

“Southern Cross University recognises the importance of providing real-world learning experiences for students that meet the needs of our communities. Partners are able to work with passionate students, with fresh skills, who are ready to make a difference,” she said.

Media contact: Jessica Nelson 0417288794 or scumedia@scu.edu.au