Does international community engagement help ACU students?

Published: Wednesday 6th April 2016

Does international community engagement make ACU students more employable, improve leadership and communications skills, and make them become better practitioners in their disciplines?

ACU is seeking to find out the answers to these questions through new research, which will determine the changes that occur in students that have travelled to Timor-Leste and participated in ACU’s community engagement projects.

The projects include the Future in Youth (FIY), an innovative community program that engages children and youth in Baucau through soccer, and the Train the Trainer program, which helps educate village health workers.

Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Professor Karen Flowers said the research will provide real evidence that ACU’s international community engagement projects play a powerful role in the student experience.

“We will all be undertaking research to assist us in determining the changes that occur in these ACU students in the areas of leadership, communication and cultural competence,” she said.

“These are some of the skill sets that have been identified to assist students in being more employable and better practitioners in their disciplines.”

The Train the Trainer program in Baucau in 2015 involved eight students from the School of Nursing Midwifery and Paramedicine.

Staff and students from ACU together with local village health workers and some local clinic staff  ran a six-day clinic to about 45 locals working in the health care system.

The ACU team also led an advanced course for those locals that had already completed the initial program in the last few years.

“It was a very successful few weeks for the Train the Trainer program in 2015,” Professor Flowers said.

In 2016 the ACU team has combined the efforts of the Faulty of Health Sciences under the  "Healthy communities in Baucau" project, with staff and students from the Schools of Exercise Science, Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, and Allied Health participating in a range of activities in Baucau mid year.

Professor Flowers said the research will endeavour to determine if these programs are assisting ACU students in developing these beneficial skills sets, beyond their specific curriculum, which will hopefully make them more employable in the future.