This kind of project sees us partner with several organisations to address a broad research question on a systemic or 'big' issue affecting areas of the community sector.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that these are especially challenging times. Usual services and programs have been disrupted, organisations are finding themselves stretched, and in many cases, without the support of their regular volunteers.

The SESU would like to acknowledge these challenges by partnering with a number of organisations to activate a broad project in 2020 that will have impact for several organisations.


Research questions

To facilitate this process, we have developed a list of research questions that address systemic or ‘big’ issues that we have identified. Some questions respond to circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, while others are much broader in focus. If any of these research questions speak to the needs of your organisation, you are welcome to use your EOI submission to vote for one of these questions.

These questions have not been endorsed by the Advisory Group as projects for the SESU in 2020. You are, of course, welcome to suggest your own broad-ranging research question via the EOI form.

  • What impact has COVID-19 had on community organisations?
  • What could we do differently if a similar situation arises in the future and how could governments have responded differently?
  • What are the implications for services and their clients when they re-open their doors?
  • What do we need to do to make sure people experiencing homelessness and others who do not fit into the mainstream community do not miss out on essential services in a situation like this?
  • The view of the deserving and un-deserving has been challenged by current government policy responses to COVID-19 and the view that many are unemployed through no fault of their own. As a result more appropriate and humane economic policies have been introduced around income and housing protection to ensure people are not at risk of experiencing homelessness due to loss of income. An unexpected effect of this policy response has been to challenge the usual view of people experiencing homelessness as un-deserving. What remains to be seen is whether will we revert, post-COVID-19, to a view of people experiencing homelessness as un-deserving. Has COVID-19 made us more or less inclusive in our attitudes to those in need?
  • In light of the economic changes the government has introduced, will COVID-19 change people’s view of the role of government and of social services they would not have otherwise had to engage? 
  • Much social services work is undertaken by Catholic services; however, the Church’s method of governance is not readily understood in the wider social services field. How do we make sense of the different forms of governance apparent between faith-based and secular social services organisations?
  • How is the Church made relevant to different groups of people?
  • We are increasingly seeing a trend in Australian churches where elderly clergy are handing governance to lay groups. How do we make sense of the shifting governance happening across Australian churches?
  • How do we respond to the large generation gap and different language being spoken in the churches?
  • What makes a Catholic social enterprise Catholic and how is that attractive to young people?
  • What are the blocks to innovation and creativity in the churches?
  • What do people encounter when using the mental health system?

Submissions for the 2020 round of Expressions of Interest (EOIs) closed on 1 July.

We invite you to consider applying for the 2021 round of EOIs which will open in due course.

For 2020 EOI submissions, read on for more information about the next stages of the application process.

What happens once you submit an EOI?

Submission of an EOI is the first step in the application process.

All 2020 submissions will be assessed by the Advisory Group in July 2020. SESU staff will advise you of the outcome of your submission after this date.

The Advisory Group will be guided by a set of underlying principles:

  • Does the project address a broad or systemic issue that faces multiple community organisations? (For sector projects)
  • Does the project align with the ACU Mission?
  • Does ACU have the academic expertise/capacity to undertake the project?
  • Does the project add value to the issue being raised and/or to the organisation/sector?
  • Does the organisation have the experience to contribute to the issue?
  • Will the project have measurable impact?
  • Will the project engage with clients/end-users?

If your EOI proposal or research question is successful, SESU staff will engage you in the second stage of the application process, which is scheduled to occur in August 2020. The second stage will involve working with you to develop a project plan and budget. 

Project plan

The project plan will outline the aims and intended outcomes as well as the research design and methods of the project.

Project budget

Project budgets will consider the costs of undertaking a project and may include: 

  • Salary costs for academic staff undertaking the project
  • Special equipment costs
  • Travel costs associated with data collection
  • Incidentals associated with data collection

The examples given here are not exhaustive, nor will all examples be applicable to every project.

As outlined in the Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Policy, it is expected that the partner will normally contribute a minimum of 50% of the actual cost of undertaking the project. For projects that involve more than one partner organisation, the cost of the 50% contribution will be negotiated between partner organisations. In exceptional circumstances, unfunded projects will be undertaken (i.e., fully funded by ACU) where the project is strongly aligned with ACU’s Mission, the need is urgent, and the stakeholder does not have the capacity to contribute to the project. Recommendations for the approval of unfunded projects can only be made by the Advisory Group and approved by the Vice-President of ACU.  

Research Ethics

Depending on the nature of the proposed project, SESU staff may be required to gain research ethics approval for your project before it can commence. Research ethics refers to ethical conduct in research, including the protection of research participants. Universities are required to seek ethics approval for research that involves interactions with human participants or their data.

Learn more

Partnership agreement

A signed partnership agreement between ACU and your organisation is required before the project can commence.

Child Protection Policy

Promoting the safety, wellbeing and dignity of children and vulnerable adults is consistent with ACU’s Mission and values. All children and vulnerable adults who interact with University members on ACU’s site or in the wider community have the right to feel safe and be safe. In line with our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of all children and vulnerable adults, we will ask you to provide a copy of your organisation’s child protection policy if you are an organisation that works with children.

Learn more about ACU’s work in the area of safeguarding children and young people


If you have any further questions, please contact us.

Email SESU

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