Award for Outstanding Community Engagement

Staff Award Winners

"Walk in my Shoez": community engagement, social justice and community television

Dr Diane Charleson, Coordinator, Bachelor of Media Communications and Mr Al Noveloso, Media Technical Manager from the Schools of Arts, Victoria, have created Walk in my Shoez in collaboration with Channel 31, Melbourne, Church and community groups bringing together ACU students, individuals and organisations to amplify the voices of community members affected by disadvantage and social isolation.

Over two years ACU Bachelor of Media Communications students worked closely with eight community organisations of their choice including Ondru, Multicultural Ambassador A.F.L., St Vincent de Paul, The Jesuits, Artful Dodgers, A.J.M.E., Better Men, Roadhouse and Open Table to showcase community engagements and their associated social justice issues to the wider community through Channel 31's broadcast television and via social media.

This engagement is inextricably linked to the University's Mission. In terms of teaching and learning the project has formed the basis for a new unit in the Bachelor of Media Communications, Media Productions and Social Justice, designed by Dr Charleson. In 2014, Dr Charleson created a further unit aimed at community engagement called "Event Production for the Community".

This exciting community engagement brings the community and students together in an innovative collaboration to use media to champion social justice issues especially for individuals and communities experiencing marginalisation and disadvantages.

Walk in my Shoez has developed a framework that works across different issues with different people and partners and as such is sustainable and, importantly is replicable across ACU campuses and Faculties.

ACU student's reflections have shown that participation in Walk in my Shoez has fostered a long term commitment to community engagement which has the potential to be reflected in their future media work as graduates.

2013 Ms Mary Campbell, Relations Coordinator, Institute for Advancing Community Engagement, Fitzroy campus and Dr Tim Moore, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Canberra campus

The joint winners for the 2013 Australian Catholic University's Staff Award for Outstanding Community Engagement are:

Ms Mary Campbell: Women for Women in Africa, Kibera, Kenya

Ms Campbell has been involved with the people of Kenya since 1999, and especially with the Kibera community in Nairobi, in a collaborative educational relationship with Women for Women in Africa (WFWIA), of which she is co-founder. The Kibera community provides the history, knowledge and skills to ensure that its needs and priorities are being addressed, and that its aim of becoming self-sustaining is achieved.

WFWIA offers a wide range of education that has grown organically from the expressed needs of the community and has educated over 2000 people since its establishment. It provides primary, secondary, vocational and adult education as well as practical education in hygiene, child-care, crafts, business skills, diet, health issues such as pregnancy problems, family planning, HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention and on matters such as abuse and rape.

Ms Campbell's work is a valuable expression of ACU's mission and identity and of the Church's teaching on social values, bringing hope to the people of Kibera especially to its women.

The Wanawake kwa Wanawake Community Centre in Kibera was opened on December 4, 2013 by the Australian High Commissioner for Kenya, and next year will mark the tenth anniversary of WFWIA.

Women for Women in Africa:

Dr Tim Moore, Carers Australia and the St Vincent de Paul Society

Dr Moore has undertaken pioneering and ongoing work with young carers, as founder of the St Nicholas Young Carers Program with the St Vincent de Paul Society. His involvement in research into young adults as carers, their access to services, the impact of caring upon their education, and their care for a parent, often with a drug or alcohol problem is a compelling expression of the University's commitment to justice and equity. This research work encourages celebration of a young carers' contribution to their families and the community, but also recognition of their own vulnerability and isolation. Dr Moore has also worked for recognition of their right to equitable treatment in accessing and undertaking university education.

His years of advocacy for carers and for people with disabilities have contributed to the passing of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill, and has been recognised by Prime Ministers Gillard and Abbott. Dr Moore's work has given him personal knowledge of the positive expression of love and commitment of families to each other through caring for a loved one with disability, and the determination to extend that commitment to the general community and to enable people with disabilities to enjoy the opportunities of life to the full.

Carers Australia:
St Vincent de Paul Society:

2012 Ms Naomi Wolfe, Academic Co-ordinator, Jim-baa-yer and Mr Mark Mahony, Library Technician, Strathfield

The joint winners for the 2012 Australian Catholic University's Staff Award for Outstanding Community Engagement are:

Ms Naomi-Cathryn (Naomi) Wolfe, Indigenous programs

Ms Wolfe has been effective in establishing Indigenous Higher Education programs that provide significant community engagements for the benefit of Indigenous and non‐Indigenous communities particularly in the local area. These programs include: The Black, White and Brindle Conversation Hour: Jim‐baa‐yer Reconciliation Prize; Strong Sistahs and Deadly Brothers; and Koorie Study Night (KSN).

Ms Wolfe's passion, as seen through these programs, enhances the building of community relationships that promote both community engagement and the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives within ACU and in the broader community. These innovative and inclusive programs create opportunities for staff, students and the community to explore and reflect on Indigenous issues in an engaging setting that has a direct impact on learning, teaching and research. Ms Wolfe's community engagement brings ACU's Mission alive through the encouragement of learning and understanding in ways that are supportive, nurturing, and responsive to identified needs. Ms Wolfe's community engagement also builds personal and community capacity.

For more information:

Mr Mark Mahony, Benjamin Andrew Street Library

Mr Mahony is the Library Support Manager for the Benjamin Andrew Footpath Library. He is responsible for the library's more than sixty locations, including homeless shelters, refuges, prisons as well as being involved with homeless and disadvantaged people at the weekly Street Library in Sydney's Martin Place.

The Library fosters literacy and promotes the dignity of the human person by providing nourishment for the mind and soul. The Library specifically targets indigenous literacy through its partnership with the Aboriginal Medical Service and literacy‐based events for indigenous school children at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence.

Mr Mahony represented The Footpath Library in the mutually beneficial partnership with ACU's Clemente Australia in 2012. Through the partnership, the Footpath Library publicises Clemente Australia to homeless people.

Mr Mahony's work with The Footpath Library leads to greater social inclusion and offers vulnerable people the opportunity to reach their potential through social and intellectual engagement and new possibilities for learning.

For more information:

2011 Ms Susie Davies-Splitter, "Hearts in Harmony", Melbourne Campus

Ms Susie Davies-Splitter

The winner of the 2011 Staff Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is Ms Susie Davies-Splitter, "Hearts in Harmony" from the Melbourne Campus (McAuley at Banyo).

The "Hearts in Harmony" program is an ACU initiative, partnering with Atherton Gardens, Independence Australia (a not-for-profit organisation that works with people with disabilities) and Abigroup Limited.

Since 2010 Ms Davies-Splitter has worked tirelessly to develop and produce "Hearts in Harmony" community events and the "Hearts in Harmony" community choir.

Ms Susie Davies-Splitter

This award recognises her outstanding community engagement based on her love and sharing of music. The unique feature of her community engagement is her person-to-person engagements based on deep respect for the other's dignity. Children, youth, ACU students, the elderly and people on the margins of our society all join in community to experience the joy of music which unlocks creative potential and brings hope for a better tomorrow for all.

"Hearts in Harmony" has built sustainable community capacity and social capital and has facilitated the building of happy and healthy communities, inclusive of all.

Ms Susie Davies-Splitter

Hearts in Harmony aims to bring people together from a range of backgrounds and abilities and create happy and healthy communities through music. The event also provides ACU students, practicing teachers and arts practitioners an opportunity to see how the creative arts can be successfully shared and implemented at a community level.

"Hearts in Harmony" has built sustainable community capacity and social capital and has facilitated the building of happy and healthy communities, inclusive of all. Read More >>

2010 Dr Tracey Sanders, Senior Lecturer, School of Arts & Sciences, Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo)

Dr Tracey Sanders

The award to Dr Tracey Sanders recognises the way in which she has, through drama and storytelling, facilitated ongoing community engagement of marginalised groups such as older Australians and other people who are disadvantaged, including presenting the distinctive ways such engagement and hope are integral to the story of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

Since 2008, Dr Sanders has worked with Clemente students, with Australian Catholic University students and seniors at The Golden Years Seniors Centre at Nundah, and the Sisters of St Joseph (Queensland) to produce a series of performances, culminating in the story of Mary MacKillop, which was performed in Rome in association with the canonization in 2010. Dr Sanders' work gives the marginalised a 'voice' and documents their lives as archival treasures. Through shared artistic collaboration, research, teaching and learning, she develops new ways to view faith, spirituality and community, and offers life-changing experiences to those who participate.

2009 Dr Janelle Young, Senior Lecturer, Language Arts, School of Education Brisbane

Dr Janelle Young

The award to Dr Young recognises her collaborative work with Rotary International - District 9600, which includes 69 Rotary Clubs in South East Queensland, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Dr Young developed the literacy project, Tales from a Dilly Bag, with the principal aim of working with young Indigenous children to enhance their literacy abilities. This community engagement project and the associated scholarship are informing the teaching, learning and assessment in undergraduate units in the School of Education (Qld). Read more >>

2008 Dr Ann Gervasoni, School of Education, Victoria

Dr Ann Gervasoni

Dr Gervasoni worked to assist financially disadvantaged children to learn mathematics by developing a partnership between ACU staff, students and The Smith Family, resulting in a community-based Maths Club for children, which has grown into three separate Maths Clubs. She has assisted pre-service teachers to assess the children and produced learning plans to help each child. Dr Gervasoni has also worked to build community partnerships for a Clemente Program in Ballarat through initiating, building and extending partnerships between agencies and institutions. Since visiting Baucau, she has worked to support the growth of Friendship Schools, and community projects in East Timor, culminating each year in the annual Friendship Schools Forum which brings together school leaders from Ballarat schools, and members of the East-Timorese and Ballarat communities. Her broad experience has also involved coordinating a lecture to raise awareness of social injustices experienced by the East Timorese. The selection panel was impressed by Dr Gervasoni's very comprehensive work, variety of experiences and ability to bring people together.

2007 Dr Lindsay Farrell, School of Arts and Sciences, Queensland

Dr Lindsay Farrell

Dr Farrell has demonstrated a genuine commitment to community engagement through a range of different areas involving art over a considerable period of time. His work has been reciprocal, enriching the University community while engaging with the broader community. He has displayed enormous creative energy in his activities using art to engage with many diverse groups, including his work with the Prison Fellowship, Indigenous Art Exhibitions, International Aid Development programs, and refugees. Dr Farrell's support of an ACU All Arts program has broadened opportunities for disadvantaged children. His involvement with the Art from Inside exhibition has become an important feature of the University's profiling of social justice for prisoners, and his connection with Indigenous Art Exhibitions has contributed to the University's engagement with Indigenous issues. His work is extensive and represented in many other programs and initiatives.

2006 Dr Klaus Serr, School of Arts and Sciences, Victoria

Dr Klaus Serr with Masters students at Addis Ababa University

While teaching at Addis Ababa University (AAU) in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2005, Dr Serr became concerned about the extreme poverty he saw around him in urban Ethiopia. On discovering that there was only one food kitchen in the country, Dr Serr arranged the setting-up of a second food program in Ethiopia and through his students at AAU and a network of community organisations, implemented a major distribution of 1000 food parcels in the five poorest districts of Ethiopia's capital. The on-going food program has provided impetus for further programs through the involvement of the local community, as well as the Lion's Club (Ethiopia), the Ethiopian Catholic Church, and the Missionaries of Charity. This work together with an ongoing commitment to community engagement over a considerable period of time contributed to Dr Serr being selected as the 2006 Staff Award recipient.

2005 Ms Judy Fromyhr, School of Arts and Sciences, Queensland

Ms Judy Fromyhr

A voluntary administrator and assistant conductor of the ACU Queensland Choir (and former McAuley College Choir), Ms Fromyhr has made an exceptional contribution to local and international communities. Her inclusive engagement builds the self-esteem and creative drive of adults from all walks of life. Through Ms Fromyhr the Choir, made up of students, staff, alumni and ACU friends, regularly performs at ACU events and public concerts. Ms Fromyhr also instigated the successful "Evening with the Arts" and "Variety of Voices" concert series. Judy conducts two children's choirs and is the principal organiser of the Young Voices Festival that brings together early childhood choirs from in and around Brisbane. As an Early Childhood Music Program coordinator at ACU and in the wider community, she has opened the opportunity for many children and their families to take part in music activities.

2004 Associate Professor Denis McLaughlin, School of Educational Leadership, Queensland and Ms Marjorie Campbell, Yalbalinga Indigenous Unit, Strathfield (shared)

Associate Professor Denis McLaughlin

Associate Professor Denis McLaughlin was involved over an extended period in a range of community engagement activities concerned with building the capacity of higher education institutions in developing countries. His initiative in developing the capacity of such organisations in South Africa, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Virgin Islands was instrumental in enabling these communities to offer courses in effective leadership, particularly for the Catholic Education sector. His enormous energy and his readiness to work in very challenging and diverse contexts was greatly appreciated by those who further developed their own capacities while jointly delivering units and courses. Associate Professor McLaughlin also facilitated fund raising for such courses to be offered and encouraged staff to be sensitive to the cultural and social realities of these countries.

Ms Marjorie Campbell with Kaiowa lady and child

Ms Marjorie Campbell displayed a genuine commitment to inform and facilitate learning between Indigenous Australians and the wider community nationally and internationally. Her work with participants in emergent programs within Australia and overseas showed that her discussions with people had a profound and empowering impact on the participants from Australia, Britain and Ireland. Ms Campbell's work in immersion programs extended to Brazil where she had the opportunity to communicate with the non-Indigenous people regarding the importance of communicating at a spiritual level as a means of assisting Indigenous people to feel valued. The work of Ms Campbell extended beyond the immersion programs to fund-raising within and beyond ACU. Her involvement with the Redfern community continued beyond an offer of support and guidance to engaging them with other community organisations.

2003 Dr Janet Currie, School of Exercise Science, North Sydney and Dr Peter Howard, School of Education, Strathfield (shared)

Dr Janet Currie

Dr Currie (image left) and Dr Howard (image below) gave evidence of sustained community engagement and had a contagious interest which resulted in others becoming involved in their initiatives. They very explicitly addressed social and ethical issues which were consonant with the University's mission. Clear evidence was provided regarding the benefit of the community engagement activity for the people involved, the wider community and also for the University. Dr Currie's volunteer work and engagement focused around the Strollers program which contributed to the well being of new mothers by encouraging personal fitness. The formal program addressed the general trend of reduced physical activity in new mothers. The program was focused in social economically disadvantaged areas and sought to proactively reduce the incidence and severity of postnatal depression.

Dr Peter Howard

Dr Howard was involved over an extensive period of time in a range of community engagement activities. This included work with the St Vincent de Paul Society, Indigenous communities across NSW and an advisory role in a range of committees, including the General Ministries Committee of the Christian Brothers of St Mary's. His work inspired members of staff to become involved in the Clemente Education for the Homeless Program. The contageous affect of his enthusiasm on others was attested to by a staff nominee who said that their involvement in the Clemente Program was prompted by Dr Howard's much greater involvement, interest and enthusiasm in engaging with the community in ways that addressed social and enthical issues. Evidence was provided on Dr Howard's role in providing avenues for the community to engage mutually with the University.

Award for Outstanding Community Service Winners

The winners below were recipients of Community Service Awards which preceded the Community Engagement Awards.

2002 Dr Valda Dickinson rsm, School of Education, Strathfield

Dr Valda Dickinson rsm was involved in outstanding and generous community service since she began her work at Mount Saint Mary College, a predecessor of ACU, and exhibited sustained service for 27 years. Her generous and self sacrificing contributions were said to have brought to life members of very diverse and marginalised communities. While in Chile, Dr Dickinson experienced first hand the needs of people on the margins of Santiago. During her three year's in Northern Kenya, Dr Dickinson worked with women in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, affirming their self reliance and dignity and developing sustainable networks of community workers. Dr Dickinson promoted the involvement of others in community service through offering courses in cultural awareness and community service as well as organising immersion experiences for teachers going to Thailand, Nepal, India and Pakistan.

2001 Ms Cheryl Rasmussen, School of Arts and Sciences, Brisbane

Ms Cheryl Rasmussen

At the time of nomination, Ms Rasmussen had been heavily involved in service to the community for over 20 years. A volunteer member of the Pine Rivers State Emergency Service, Cheryl held the positions of Deputy Local Controller and Senior Instructor for Queensland. During her many hours of volunteer service, Cheryl was involved in numerous SES activations, trained members, managed the unit and contributed to the wider community within the capacity of the Metropolitan District Training Support Unit. In addition to her work with the SES, Cheryl was also a member of the Counter Disaster Planning Committee for the Pine Rivers Shire Council and member of the Australian Institute of Emergency Services. The selection panel recognised Cheryl's valuable contribution to the community in times of distress and considered her work exceptional in characterising the service aspect of the University's Mission.

2000 Ms Rosemary Williams, Counsellor / Counselling Psychologist, Melbourne

Ms Rosemary Williams

Ms Williams was presented with the award in recognition of her work as a volunteer psychologist-in-residence at the Regina Coeli Community for Homeless Women, providing invaluable assistance to women in need. Volunteering at the Regina Coeli Community since 1989, Ms Williams displayed a strong personal commitment to community service and to the University's Mission. Her contribution to the Regina Coeli Community included the production and editorship of a quarterly newsletter, Taking It Like A Woman. The Centre Coordinator applauded Ms Williams great gift of her time, expertise and discernment in preparing the regular newsletter, described as "a rich repository of our shared life in this community". The newsletters contained moving and inspiring stories which gave a face and voice to homeless women. The Australian Psychological Society also recognised Rosemary's contribution to homeless women, granting her the 1999 Elaine Dignan Award.