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Open eyes: How SCU graduate is making a difference


Anne-Louise Brown
12 March 2015
Rebecca Latimer’s goal was simple – to improve the lives of others.

For this reason, after completing her Bachelor of Social Welfare at Southern Cross University, she decided to continue her learning, enrolling in the first Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) cohort.

On Saturday Ms Latimer will graduate, ready live to her dream.

She will be one of 125 students from the Gold Coast campus celebrating the completion of their studies at a ceremony at the Tweed Civic Centre.

She said the education she received at the University had changed her life.

“When I started studying I’d been in the workforce for a long time but it had always been about money. I wanted to move beyond that and chose to study social work,” the 42-year-old mother-of-two said.

“Through the program I was lucky enough to work with the Brisbane-based organisation Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT). The organisation specifically works with refugees from all around the world, including asylum seekers medically evacuated from Nauru, Christmas Island and Manus Island, who have experienced and fled torture and trauma.

“It was one of the most confronting but rewarding things I’ve ever done. I know this is what I want to do and Southern Cross University has given me the grounding to be effective and successful.”

Social Work lecturer Dr Lester Thompson said the Masters degree was focused on giving students exposure and experience with clients from a range of diverse social and multicultural backgrounds.

She said the graduation of the first cohort of students was a milestone for the University and would be celebrated on World Social Work Day, which falls on March 17.

“Such cross-cultural work prepares the graduates of SCU with capabilities for work in a variety of Australian and international contexts in the pursuit of social justice for disadvantaged and disempowered clients,” Dr Thompson said.

Students from the Schools of Arts and Social Sciences, Business and Tourism, Education, Environment, Science and Engineering, Health and Human Sciences, Law and Justice and the Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples will graduate at the ceremony, with two graduands to be awarded their PhDs.

Gold Coast Hospital and Health Board chair Ian Langdon, who has held a range of academic positions and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, will speak at the ceremony. Awards will be conferred by the Chancellor Mr Nick Burton Taylor AM.

The ceremony will be held from 10am (Qld time) on Saturday March 14, 2015, at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre on the corner of Brett and Wharf streets, Tweed Heads.
Photo: Southern Cross University graduate Rebecca Latimer said having the opportunity to work with refugees has changed her life.