Vice-Chancellor awards for Outstanding Community Engagement

The 2013 Recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Community Engagement are:

2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is awarded to Connecting Schools and Communities through Supported Playgroups in Schools Project: a program from the Faculty of Education, Ballarat Campus, focused on strengthening community capacity in the Ballarat region by providing children and families with access to supported playgroups in five local primary schools.

2013 Staff Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is a joint award:
Ms Mary Campbell, Relations Coordinator, Institute for Advancing Community Engagement, Fitzroy campus, for her work in health and wellbeing initiatives of Women for Women in Africa in Kibera, Kenya; and

Dr Tim Moore, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Canberra campus, for his work supporting family carers in Australia through his involvement in Carers Australia, assistance in the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, foundation of the St Nicholas Young Carers Program, and research into the work of young carers.

2013 Student Award for Outstanding Community Engagement is awarded to Ms Lay 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.

About the awards and their recipients
Connecting Schools and Communities through Supported Playgroups in Schools Project, Ballarat (Connecting Schools) is an innovative community capacity-building program conducted by ACU’s Faculty of Education at Ballarat campus and its many partners: the Catholic Education Office Ballarat, Ballarat City Council (Best Start), Playgroup Victoria, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and five regional primary schools from both State and Catholic sectors.

Dr Karen McLean, Lecturer in Education/Curriculum from the Faculty of Education at Ballarat Campus, is to be applauded as a leading contributor to the success of Connecting Schools, facilitating the development of the project and research into its effectiveness, liaising with the many partners involved, building community pride in the project, and enabling the supported playgroup concept to spread to other schools in Ballarat, with an increase in attendance numbers and regularity of attendance.  

Since its inception in 2011, Connecting Schools has developed and strengthened the partnership of the University, state and local government bodies, schools and community agencies. Dr McLean’s involvement has included research into the effects of supported playgroups that will continue in 2014. Her work enables the partnership to evaluate its achievements formally, and has strengthened the already exceptional community co-operation and capacity in Ballarat. Research findings will have the potential to underpin the replication of Connecting Schools in other regions in Victoria.

Connecting Schools aligns closely with ACU’s mission and identity, working collaboratively with all stakeholders to serve the common good by supporting families in marginalised and disadvantaged communities. It offers assistance with parenting, education and service provision, and builds a strong sense of community connection. In addition, it contributes to the preparation of highly competent ACU graduates through their experience of leadership, of working with families, and of the social and ethical dimensions of their lives as professionals in the community.

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 ACU’s mission and identity and of the Church’s teaching on social values, bringing hope to the people of Kibera, and 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.

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 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 have 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.

2013 Student Award for Outstanding Community Engagement. 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.”

The awards will be presented at appropriate graduation ceremonies in 2014.

Further background on these awards and information on previous recipients of the Outstanding Community Engagement Awards will be found on the University’s website at the following link: