At ACU we value community engagement as a key means of advancing our mission in serving the common good and enhancing the dignity and wellbeing of people and communities. It is integral to our teaching, learning and research. As part of this mission, we’re committed to ensuring that all ACU staff have the opportunity to make a contribution to their community that is feasible and meaningful to them, and that meets community needs in a way that is valuable and respectful. 


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What is community engagement?

ACU defines ‘community engagement’ as activities that build capacity and affirm human dignity through sustainable and reciprocal collaborations with communities who experience disadvantage or marginalisation. Learn more about the principles that guide our community engagement and why it is so important.

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Browse community engagement opportunities

ACU Engagement work with our community partners to identify their needs and provide a range of community engagement opportunities for staff. Browse our listing of CETR approved opportunities to find one that’s right for you or your team – whether it’s tutoring, packing food or serving meals.

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Community engagement time release (CETR)

As an ACU staff member, you have the opportunity to share your knowledge, expertise and skill with community by applying for community engagement time release to participate in approved community engagement activities during your normal work hours.
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Read the CETR policy

This policy has been developed to support staff to participate in community engagement activities and outlines time release arrangements during normal working hours.

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Your questions answered

How do I apply for CETR? How does ACU define community engagement? Get answers to your frequently asked questions and make the most of your community engagement opportunity.

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Team building through community engagement

Working together to contribute to the common good, address social justice issues in the community, and help those experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation can be a great team-building exercise. Many of our community partners accept groups large and small.

The Office of the General Counsel and Governance Directorate teams came together to participate in a community engagement opportunity that saw them partner with The Big Issue to undertake The Big Issue Challenge.

The day saw them breaking into teams and travelling to the Sydney CBD to support The Big Issue vendors. The objective: to sell as many copies of the magazine as possible. 

Armed with their creative sales strategies and bright, eye-catching marketing materials, the experience took the teams out of their comfort zones, but also gave them a unique chance to undertake an empathy-building exercise. Staff were put in the shoes of someone experiencing significant disadvantage seeing first-hand how passers-by treat them. 

"Perhaps the most confronting element of The Big Issue Challenge was dealing with being ignored on the street. Many people walked straight past us, avoided eye contact or tried hard not to engage.” said Dr Diane Barker, General Counsel and Director of Governance.

Community engagement - The Big Issue

The Office of the Vice-Chancellor and President (OVCP) travelled into Sydney’s western suburbs to participate in a community engagement opportunity at Foodbank NSW and ACT. Foodbank operate with a staff of approximately 100 employees and over 3,000 volunteers. In NSW, they distribute approximately 200,000kg of food each week and rely solely on volunteers to do this.

Together with other volunteers, the OVCP team packaged an enormous 1,347kg of oranges, 2,415kg of apples, 750kg of mandarins and 2,436kg of potatoes that were made immediately available to Foodbank’s network of community based non-profit partner organisations that serve individuals and families in need.

Sheyana La Brooy, Senior Communications and Administration Officer in the OVCP, said this about her experience on the day:

“It was rewarding to think that the food we packed could be reaching hungry mouths within the week! What was most impressive was to see that Foodbank is a well-managed, innovative and efficiently-run organisation meeting a real and immediate need in the community. The smallest of details have been addressed to ensure nothing goes to waste. This experience also provided a valuable opportunity to work with colleagues and interact with like-minded individuals from other institutions. Whilst our work was but a small part of the operations of Foodbank, it is a collection of such small parts working together that makes the whole operation run successfully. Many hands make light work and it is clear that this coming together of individuals is key to the success of Foodbank in feeding the hungry.”

The team enjoyed the opportunity so much that they have since returned for a second engagement day and are continuing to strengthen their ongoing relationship with Foodbank.

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“We are lucky to work for an organisation that values contributions to our local and broader communities.” 
Daniel Van den Hoek
Lecturer in Clinical Exercise Physiology in the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Brisbane

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Community giving allows staff and students to connect to a need within the community through donating goods.

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Learn more about ACU Engagement, including our mission to provide meaningful engagement opportunities and how to contact us.

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Partner with ACU

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