March 2024

In this edition, learn about our call for community research proposals and our tips for preparing your application before the March deadline! We share the findings from two of our recently completed projects that explore how Catholic agencies are responding to the prevalence of family violence and an alternative model of suicide prevention that is effective in building resilience amongst people experiencing suicidality. We also share our latest journal publications, news, upcoming events and more.

Learn more about SESU

Partner with us on research to meet your needs: Applications are closing soon!

We help organisations grow their research capacity and make positive social impacts. We want to hear from organisations about the research they want to do, especially where it will support people experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation.

ACU's Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Unit (SESU) is now accepting applications for community-initiated research projects. If successful, you will work closely with ACU academics on the research to produce practical resources for your organisation.

Applications close on Tuesday 12 March at 6pm AEDT. All organisations with a majority of their trade dedicated to the social good can make an application.

Hear from one of our partners, Ms Shana Challenor, CEO of Suicide Prevention Pathways, about her experience of working with the SESU to evaluate the Talk Suicide Support program:

Engage with our two application streams:

Organisation-specific projects

Submit a proposal for research specific to your organisation to inform, shape, evaluate or grow your organisation's programs or services.

Learn more

Sector projects

Submit a joint proposal for a multi-partner research project to address a systemic or larger issue that affects several organisations in the community sector.

Learn more

Our 3 top tips for preparing your application

1. Unpack the 'why' of your project

Why does your organisation want to undertake the research project?

We ask about the context of the project in our application form. So, tell us how the project energises your organisation and how it fits in with your mission, strategic goals and priorities.

When telling us about the outcomes you're looking for, include clear and specific examples of how you think your project will benefit or make an impact for specific groups of people, your organisation's work and/or the sector.

2. Be clear about the focus of the research

When considering the intended objectives, think about exactly what you want to know from the research. Are there one or two questions you specifically want the answer to?

Tell us also about what the research looks like to you. Do you have specific expectations for the research?

Are you wanting us to speak to a particular group of people to collect their impressions or experiences of something?

Even though our researchers will work closely with you to design the project in more detail, if you're successful, knowing upfront your intentions for the research is really helpful to us in assessing the applications.

3. If you are joining forces with other organisation/s, tell us about your working relationship and the roles each organisation intends for themselves in the project

You have the option to submit a joint application in both project streams. Sector projects must be joint applications given the focus on addressing systemic or large issues for multiple agencies in the sector, but organisation-specific projects can also be joint applications. For example, two organisations may choose to partner together on a shared program or initiative, which doesn't affect other organisations.

It's important for us to know how your organisations are connected, how long they have been working together, how their missions align and the shared goals they have for the project.

We also recognise that different organisations might play different roles in the project based on their connection to the research topic, and if that's the case, we'd like to hear how you see it unfolding.

If you would like some specific advice about your project idea, don't hesitate to contact us at: We also have some great resources on our website to help you get started, so we recommend reading our FAQs on preparing your EOI.

You can find more helpful pointers in this video:

Keeping people safe: How catholic agencies are responding to the scourge of family violence

Caritas Australia
, Catholic Social Services Australia and Catholic Health Australia teamed up with the SESU to explore how Catholic agencies respond to and prevent family violence.

Through surveys and interviews across the globe - Australia, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Lebanon and Papua New Guinea - we captured a range of services provided by the Catholic agencies, areas of commonality across their work, and potential future areas of collaboration or research.

Feedback provided by CEOs and frontline staff shed new light on the range of family violence services offered by Catholic organisations, staff experiences of delivering much-needed services and how many saw the institutional Church and its Catholic Social Teachings as providing benefits to their ability to respond to family violence.

The findings also point to challenges that affect agencies working in this area, such as a lack of knowledge about the family violence services other Catholic organisations provide, the stigma of discussion about family violence, and perceptions about the Church which may be a potential barrier to uptake of Catholic support services.

Recommendations were developed for Catholic agencies to work with Church stakeholders to further collaborate in advocacy and educational campaigns (such as to reduce stigma around accessing social services for support) and promote their work to the wider community, governments and donors. We also found that it is important for Catholic agencies to develop mechanisms to share best practice services, strategies, and resources among themselves.

The report is now an advocacy tool for the sector to increase awareness of and opportunities to support the unique work of Catholic agencies in family violence service provision.

This large interdisciplinary research brought together researchers from ACU's Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and School of Theology - Professor Susan Broomhall, Dr Mary Noseda, Dr Jae-Eun Noh, Dr Clare Davidson and Ms Harriet Steele.


Evaluating an alternative model of suicide prevention: A community-based outreach model of care that builds resilience

Suicide is one of the most preventable public health issues in Australia and around the world, yet it remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 14 and 44 years. The demand for suicide prevention services grew further in Australia because of the increased psychological distress people experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suicide Prevention Pathways partnered with the SESU in 2020 in response to their 50 per cent increase in requests for support following the outbreak of COVID.

The project aimed to evaluate the impact of Suicide Prevention Pathways' Talk Suicide Support Service, which offers a non-clinical alternative to suicide prevention in South-East Queensland for those at risk of suicide aged 15 years and over and for their support networks. Through surveys and interviews with clients, staff and stakeholders, the evaluation examined the program's effectiveness in achieving its short- and longer-term goals to help participants stay safe by enhancing their self-awareness and increasing their resilience to manage future crises.

The evaluation found that Suicide Prevention Pathways' Talk Suicide Support model offers people experiencing suicidality a flexible, community-based service that supports them in improving their wellbeing and reducing suicidal thoughts and behaviours. We found a high level of satisfaction amongst service users, as well as the stakeholders that refer into the service.

Current and past clients reported that they found safety planning comprehensive in addition to connecting them with community supports. Upon exiting the service, they reported increased self-awareness about their suicidal thoughts and behaviours, felt more equipped to manage future issues, and presented less to hospital emergency departments. Staff believed the non-clinical setting was a strength and appreciated that they could be client-centred rather than excessively risk-averse when coaching clients.

The Talk Suicide Support model, which is based on lived experience and an outreach model of care focussing on safety, self-awareness and capacity-building, appears to fill an important service gap between crisis response, and clinical and brief interventions that are focused on de-escalating the immediate crisis.

In a sector that is dominated by services that primarily focus on aftercare and postvention, Suicide Prevention Pathways provides support to those contemplating suicide prior to an attempt, as well as providing aftercare and ongoing support.

The evaluation identified the potential for the program to further increase its engagement with target at-risk groups, including men, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, people from CALD backgrounds, and LGBTIQ+ people.

The findings provide an evidence base demonstrating the model's effectiveness which Suicide Prevention Pathways will share with the sector to inform best practices in suicide prevention support.

Dr Sera Harris, formerly of ACU's School of Allied Health, led the project in collaboration with our partner.

Read our latest journal publications


The journal, Health & Social Care in the Community published several findings from our community-initiated research project with community service organisations to understand the experience of people who sought relief during the COVID-19 pandemic in NSW. Focusing on service users' lived experiences, and the community service workers who were attempting to meet their needs, provided an opportunity to hear from groups who are not regularly given a voice in research. The open-access article shares some of the findings specifically on the experience of refugees and asylum seekers who sought assistance during COVID. We wish to congratulate Dr Sebastian Trew from ACU's Institute of Child Protection Studies, Dr Jen Couch from ACU's School of Arts and Humanities, and Dr Jillian Cox and Ms Vivien Cinque from ACU Engagement on the article! They worked tirelessly with our partners over a three-year period to deliver this research.

In another recent publication, Transform: the Journal of Engaged Scholarship, issued by Engagement Australia, featured the SESU as an innovative, institutional approach to community-led research in the higher education sector. It is hoped that by sharing the SESU model in this forum, the open-access article by Dr Jillian Cox, Ms Vivien Cinque and Dr Matthew Pink, will inspire other institutions to consider their institutional commitments to community-driven research.

Media coverage of our recent projects

Catholic Church Urged to Enhance Response to Family Violence: A Collaborative Study Reveals

Church agencies at the frontline of family violence call for greater whole-of-church response

Church agencies at the frontline of family violence call for greater whole-of-church response

Agencies want more Church involvement in fight against family violence

Pandemic Stress Not Over for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Revealing Australia's Modern Hospitaller Tradition History

The poor are our masters: The Order of Malta - Melbourne Catholic

New Research Projects to Support Outreach Programs in Australia and Overseas

What's coming up?

Accelerating employment for migrants and refugees in Western Sydney

In March, two Employment Accelerator events will be held in Parramatta and Blacktown in Western Sydney to assist migrant and refugee job seekers to transition into direct employment. These events follow a successful accelerator event held in October in Blacktown where nearly 250 migrants and refugees met with 15 prospective employers across the health and care, construction, transport and logistics, and retail sectors.

The event sped up the usual job seeking process - by directly giving job seekers opportunities to interview for or express interest in current job vacancies on the day. Job seekers grew their employment networks, received advice on recognition of prior learning and feedback to support them in their employment journeys.

One job seeker, Asraa Al Saadi, shared her moving story with Nepean News here

Service providers in Western Sydney are encouraged to share the two upcoming Employment Accelerator events with any of their job-seeking migrant or refugee clients:

If any service providers in Western Sydney wish to promote their own vacancies at the Employment Accelerators, they can register here.

These events are run by the Sydney Greater West CALD and Migrant Employment Working Group, comprising of many organisations across a range of industries in Western Sydney - education, social services, and government. ACU has been an active member of the working group, committed to improving employment outcomes for migrants and refugees in Western Sydney.

These events and the working group were recommendations of the SESU's community-based research conducted last year in partnership with SydWest Multicultural Services. The full research report can be found here.

ACU celebrates historic Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement

ACU has become one of the first Australian higher education institutions to receive the new Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

ACU and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) were announced in late 2023 as the inaugural recipients of the new Classification for Australian universities.

The historic announcement makes ACU one of the first universities outside the United States to receive this significant classification.

The classification recognises the significant efforts made by the University to establish community engagement as essential to ACU's core work. The Classification assesses universities' efforts to make continuous improvements to further their work with communities in mutually beneficial ways. Universities that are classified in community engagement demonstrate a deep and pervasive commitment across their institution to engaging in reciprocal partnerships with communities for the public good.

Read more here.

I am an ACU academic, how do I become involved with the SESU?

Once applications from organisations are shortlisted by the Advisory Group, we will open a call for EOIs to ACU staff.

You'll be able to see if your expertise, skills and experiences would make you a good fit for the upcoming projects.

This will happen in April, so keep an eye out!

Academic workload allocations will be given to successful academic staff to support their work on the project.

How else can ACU support you?

Could ACU provide support to your organisation in areas other than research?

Do you have volunteer opportunities or programs ACU students or staff could support with? Or do you have clients who may not have had or completed a formal education and would like to?

ACU Engagement supports partnerships with community for positive social outcomes. Read on to engage with some of ACU's flagship community engagement programs.

Our staff give time and expertise to community organisations through our community engagement time release policy

ACU is committed to providing our staff the opportunity to contribute to their local communities, especially in ways that benefit people experiencing disadvantage or marginalisation. We provide staff the option to dedicate five of their workdays in support of non-profit and community service organisations.

To discuss the support you need, please contact the ACU Engagement team.

Become involved in the Clemente program and support learners within our communities who are pursuing a liberal arts education

Learning and teaching partnerships, Clemente Australia, 2023

The Clemente Australia program is celebrating 20 years of participation, partnership and learner success, providing opportunities for people within our communities to engage in university-level liberal arts education to empower their lives and transform their communities.

Join us as a volunteer: A key to the success of the Clemente program is the involvement of our volunteer learning partners who help students to achieve their learning goals. Both the students and the volunteers learn from their experiences and interactions with one another. Clemente learning partners come from a variety of backgrounds—education, community and business. Learning partners bring with them diverse, rich life and career experiences and skills. Become a learning partner.

Join us in partnership to support and facilitate our programs: Critical to the Clemente Australia program are our long term, sustainable and reciprocal partnerships with community organisations. Together, we work to build program reach and meet student needs. ACU invites community, government and business organisations as our partners through contributions of time, talent, influence, and/or resources. Partner with Clemente.

Clemente Australia acknowledges with thanks, its current partners- CatholicCare Victoria, The City of Ballarat, The Ballarat Foundation, Federation University, St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra and Goulburn, St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland, Sisters of Mercy, Micah Projects, City of Yarra and Mission Australia, Surry Hills Sydney.

Join us as a student: Clemente Australia encourages people aged 18-80 to restart their education through the program. We welcome students from all backgrounds and communities who have experienced barriers/challenges in their lives that have interrupted their education or prevented them from achieving their learning goals. If you would like to refer a student or to discuss student recruitment please contact the Clemente team who will connect you with a program near you.

“Before starting Clemente, I had lost faith in myself and my abilities. This course helped me gain self-confidence again. The critical thinking skills I learn really helped me to deal with some of my anxiety issues in life.” (Clemente student)  

If you are interested in learning more about the Clemente Program at ACU either as a Partner, a Volunteer, a Learning Partner or as a student, please contact the Clemente team.






Mobile Community Café, Agg St Thornbury
The Australian Catholic University (ACU) and the Order of Malta Community Hub

The Community Hub is an ACU and Order of Malta community-engaged outreach collaboration with marginalised communities within the Darebin LGA in Melbourne, Victoria. 2023 has proven to be an exciting year as the Community Hub has continued to grow and flourish through its community cafes, Read to Learn primary school program and the introduction of community/student collaborations through student placements, that have focussed on food literacy. The intended outcomes for the Community Hub are to increase social and civic engagement, reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing through engagement and empowerment in activities designed by the community.

Our mobile community cafés at Agg Street public housing estate and at the Reservoir Neighbourhood House provide informal and safe, social spaces for people to meet, to share food and engage in informal conversations and selected activities, with others within their local communities. Hosted by ACU students and Order of Malta volunteers, the community cafes are well received by the community as opportunities to build greater connection, belonging and social inclusion.

The Read to Learn program was launched in Semester 1, 2023 at Preston North East Primary School to assist the school in building the reading capacities and good study habits. Children selected for the program may not have the opportunity to read at home with their parents, sometimes because their parents speak English as a second language. The 9-week program is offered each semester. Students participate in 18 hours of after school tutoring with Order of Malta volunteers and ACU community engagement placement students as tutors. The Read to Learn program is making a positive contribution to the school community with demand to join the program exceeding the number of positions available.

As we progress into 2024, the Hub is growing its community capacity building activities in collaboration with community members, community organisations and the involvement of ACU students as part of their professional placements. We are delighted to introduce into the Hub, the first community-engaged outreach activity to improve food and nutrition literacy.

If you are interested to know more about the ACU and Order of Malta Community Hub, please do not hesitate to contact Anna Vandierendonck, Project Officer, ACU & Order of Malta Community Hub, ACU Engagement


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