Award for Outstanding Community Engagement

Student Award Winners

2015 Mr Lachlan McGinness

The 2015 Student Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is awarded to Mr Lachlan McGinness, for outstanding leadership in community engagement over the last five years. He has displayed exemplary leadership across a wide range of community engagement initiatives including youth groups, music ministry, Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Holiday programs for children from low socioeconomic backgrounds, the National Youth Science Forum and programs promoting gender equality in physics.

The diversity in Mr McGinness' community engagement and his exemplary leadership is a compelling expression of the University's mission and identity. He has developed a framework of engagement across a range of issues with different people and partners. These engagements are sustainable and importantly, replicable across ACU campuses and Faculties.

As an initiator of these community engagements and through his extensive community networks Lachlan has fostered a range of inclusive and diverse partnerships. One referee commented that "he have achieved remarkable things, in his academic life, in his personal life, and in the way he engages various communities. I have been astounded, not only by the amount that he has undertaken, but at the high level in which it is achieved".

Lachlan's professional and personal growth reflects his outstanding community engagement leadership. Importantly, ACU students live the mission of the University as participants in these engagements by developing relationships with people across different generations and cultures.

2013 Ms Lay Lay Moo, First Year Bachelor of Nursing student, Brisbane campus.

2013 Student Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is awarded to Lay Moo, a First Year Bachelor of Nursing student at ACU's Brisbane campus for her work as co-ordinator with Footsteps for Burma to increase local awareness of the needs of the peoples of Burma, in raising $10,000 to build a new school in Mae Tha Raw Ta Village in the Karen state, and in assisting the organisation to make the most effective use of financial help towards building the new school and to manage transportation of educational resources into Burma.

The winner of the 2013 Student Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is Ms Lay Lay Moo, a First Year Bachelor of Nursing student at ACU’s Brisbane campus.

The award recognises Ms Moo’s community engagement as a co-ordinator with Footsteps for Burma, an organization that raises awareness of the needs of refugees from Burma, and of the plight of ethnic minorities within Burma itself, through community events such as the Ride for Refugees bike ride at Nundah, Brisbane. She has helped to raise local awareness of the needs of the peoples of Burma bringing together the Karen community in Brisbane and its many Australian supporters.

Reflecting on ACU's fundamental concern for justice and equity, Ms Moo writes: "My aim is to help men, women and children live a more dignified life by assisting to meet the needs of food, medicine and education."

Through her relationships with the Brisbane community and people on the ground in Karen State, Burma, Ms Moo is working to keep existing schools operating and to encourage the building of new schools. In 2013 she was instrumental in raising $10,000 to build a new school in Mae Tha Raw Ta Village.
Her language skills and local knowledge have kept Footsteps for Burma in touch with the pastor in the village, enabling the organization to plan the most effective use of financial help in building the new school and the logistics of transporting educational resources into the country.

"My community involvement with Footsteps for Burma this year has had a profound effect on my approach to learning and my studies at ACU," writes Ms Moo. "As I have been given opportunities through Footsteps for Burma this year, my confidence in several key learning areas has improved…. My work with this ministry this year has cemented my passion for one day being able to return to my country of birth and make a real difference in the lives of the many men, women and children who need the comfort only a qualified nurse can bring."

Footsteps for Burma:

2012 Ms Catherine Shuttleworth, Co-founder of SeeBeyondBorders

Ms Catherine Shuttleworth's SeeBeyondBorders (SBB) receives the 2012 Australian Catholic University's Student Award for Outstanding Community Engagement.

Ms Shuttleworth, a Master of Educational Leadership student, is co‐founder of SeeBeyondBorders, a powerful education initiative that is improving access to quality education for children in Cambodia. Founded in Australia in March 2009, SBB uses a Teach the Teachers model where Australian teachers train Khmer primary teachers in Cambodia. SBB has a three tiered approach based on teacher education, development of school infrastructure and support for local families trying to educate their children. SBB involves 286 Khmer teachers and 75 Khmer mentor teachers in three districts in Cambodia.

This award recognises Ms Shuttleworth's community engagement, which has been highly successful in offering communities in Cambodia pathways of hope based upon integrated, holistic and sustainable education and community engagement. SBB's vision is for Cambodian children to be given new opportunities through education. SBB gives local communities access to improved education by direct participation in a number of projects in which local and overseas people including teachers support each other and enrich one another's lives.

Ms Shuttleworth's exemplary community engagement is underpinned by her professional and personal growth through working with her peers to address seemingly impossible odds to rebuild Cambodia's devastated education system. She has inspired and brought hope to numerous families experiencing poverty and with whom she has worked over many years. Her leadership and outstanding contributions have touched the lives of many Australians who have followed her path as SBB volunteers.

For more information:

2011 Ms Irene Mayo, Bachelor of Nursing (Honours) student, North Sydney Campus

Irene Mayo

The winner of the 2011 Student Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is Ms Irene Mayo, Bachelor of Nursing (Honours) student from the North Sydney Campus.

The award recognises Ms Mayo's community engagement as a volunteer and leader with Gawad Kalinga (GK) projects, which been highly successful in lifting communities out of extreme poverty in the Philippines and other parts of Asia through an integrated, holistic and sustainable engagements.

Irene Mayo

Irene Mayo

Since 2007, working in the Philippines she has engaged and served alongside the poorest of the poor communities through activities such as the building of homes, child and youth development and farming and agriculture.

Since 2009, she has also been the leader of GK's 'Partnership Management Group', which builds relationships and awareness of the GK movement in schools, universities and corporate businesses across Australia. Of note are the new and innovative ways she has developed to present GK to various target markets helping to inspire them to be engaged with poverty eradication.

Ms Mayo's exemplary community engagement is underpinned by her personal growth from volunteer to leader. She have inspired and brought hope to hundreds of families experiencing poverty with whom she has worked over many years. Her outstanding contributions locally have also touched the lives of many Australians who have followed her path and are inspired by her leadership.

2010 Ms Tahlia Seymour, Bachelor of Nursing student, St Patrick's Campus

Ms Tahlia Seymour

Ms Tahlia Seymour, a Bachelor of Nursing student at St Patrick's Campus, has worked as a volunteer in Cambodia with Lighthouse Orphanage, Love in Action (Children's Home) and Missionaries of Charity (Orphanage) and with street kids. Her commitment has been exceptional, representing sustained and creative individual community engagement over five years.

Ms Seymour's fundraising, which is explicitly directed to supporting and sustaining medical, educational and practical interventions, has changed the lives of Cambodian children, while her experiences in Cambodia have increased her own spiritual, social and professional development, and her commitment to nursing and to helping others achieve their best.

2009 Mr Will Waugh, Business student, Brisbane Campus

Will Waugh

Mr Waugh, a Business student at McAuley at Banyo, has been involved in setting up a chaplaincy program for young people at Eagle Junction State School and has also supported the Chaplain at St Margaret's Girls' School. He is committed to working with faith-based organisations to build relationships and community and has been involved in many ACU campus ministry projects. Mr Waugh has become even more convinced of the central importance of mutual respect and genuine trust in community engagement and in young people's faith development. Read more >>

2009 Ms Kirra-Jai Atkinson, Bachelor of Theology student, Melbourne Campus

Kirra-Jai Atkinson

Ms Atkinson, a Bachelor of Theology student at St Patrick's Campus, has been engaged with community, professional and human rights organisations on a voluntary basis for many years. She has sought to inform and effect changes in social justice and human rights, social inclusion, public policy, health inequalities, education and training and welfare rights. Ms Atkinson exemplifies the transformational nature and impact of community engagement. Read more >>

2008 Ms Maria Boulatsakos, Bachelor of Exercise Science student, Strathfield Campus

Ms Maria Boulatsakos as a clown

Ms Maria Boulatsakos has been involved in numerous community engagement initiatives, taking great pleasure in her work and in making people smile. Since becoming a Children's Entertainer, Ms Boulatsakos explored unique opportunities in the community working at a number of charity events and entertaining sick kids at a children's hospital. Her diverse experience has included volunteering at an American summer camp for children with behavioural, learning and emotional difficulties and at an Edmund Rice holiday camp for disadvantaged Indigenous children in Central NSW. On campus at ACU National, Maria coordinated the "Make Poverty History" project at Strathfield and volunteered her talents as a clown during the 2008 Orientation program. She has also spoken about Social Justice Projects on a University DVD, assisted with a "Shadowing Program" and volunteered at the "SpiritAlive Fest" during World Youth Day. The selection panel considered the outcomes of Ms Boulatsakos' engagement to be exceptional, with impressive support documentation and longevity of involvement.

2007 Ms Coni Forcey, Bachelor of Social Science student, Melbourne Campus

Ms Coni Forcey

Ms Forcey is passionately concerned about the environment and the effect of climate change on people and their lives in the future. As Co-Founder and Co-President of the (Melbourne) Bayside Climate Change Action Group (BCCAG), with a membership of around 450 families, Ms Forcey has demonstrated engagement at a number of levels including government, business, local council, community groups and local residents. BCCAG has made significant progress in achieving its objectives, having a positive effect on reducing the impact of climate change. Most notably, they organized a human sign on Sandringham Beach, with over 2,500 local residents and 13 local schools participating to form the message "Halt climate change now!", featured on Australian and International websites. Ms Forcey was interviewed in an episode of ABC Catalyst for making a significant impact through her community work in raising awareness of climate change and working to educate her local community. BCCAG has also organised Public Forums, a No Junk Mail Campaign, and Solar challenge. Through BCCAG and subsequent activities, Ms Forcey has helped to promote the community's concerns about global warming at the local, state and national level. She takes a positive attitude and shapes activities that encourage individual and collective action. Council considers the group a key collaborative partner in the development of Council initiatives to reduce the community's greenhouse gas emissions.