I visited our Aquinas Campus this week in Ballarat to look at the commencement of works to relocate two heritage houses on site to collocate with two other properties, extending facilities for Education.
This move has been long in planning and together with the extension to the Pell Centre (to commence in coming months), part of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the redevelopment of the Chapel (works for tender this month) will enhance the overall level of amenities.
For those who have not visited the Aquinas Campus, it is set amidst beautiful gardens with heritage buildings and the local team abounds in hospitality. A large number of the Aquinas team joined me for a very informal and welcoming morning tea.
We have also been looking at ways to further support the Clemente Program Fitzroy, a socially supported, community embedded, university education program for people who have experienced multiple levels of disadvantage.
This program, also available at some of our other campuses, has been locally successful on many levels. It is a partnership between ACU, CatholicCare and Lander & Rogers, delivering to students subjects in the Humanities. Spanning over four semesters, students who complete the course graduate with a Certificate of Liberal Studies.
At the end of this year 24 students will have graduated. 12 students have continued their study towards an undergraduate degree at ACU (Melbourne).
We regularly celebrate with the students their milestones, hear their stories and come together with our learning partners and cross sector community networks, to jointly create a learning model that reflects social inclusion in an environment where students may develop.
Later in the year we are part of a wider local collaboration to launch a community art program to raise awareness of homelessness and isolation, things that many of our students have experienced.
A number of the Clemente students have volunteered to participate in the program and I will report on this further as it unfolds early next year.
Our local contact person is the indefatigable Mary Campbell, Relations Coordinator within the Institute for Advancing Community Engagement (+61 3 9953 3381).
At the end of week eight of second semester, both of our Victorian Campuses are intensely busy and looking to the future as we embrace the more immediate challenges of spring graduation and exams.