Community engagement projects

Community Engagement Grant Scheme Projects

2017 Grant Recipients

Autism Friendly Communities – investigating the ingredients

  • Project lead | Dr Sim Lau
  • UOW partners | Dr Pippa Burns
  • Community partners | Corrimal Chamber of Commerce, ASPECT South Coast School, Autism Spectrum Australia

CEGS 2017 Recipients - Autism Friendly CommunitiesThis project aims to make the Corrimal Community the first autism friendly community in Australia. Autism is a life-long condition that impacts the social, communication and sensory abilities of 1:63 Australian school children. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) South Coast School (SCS), the Corrimal Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Wollongong research team will work in consultation with the business owners and individuals with autism to develop an audit tool that will enable owners to make informed adjustments to their environment to become more accessible to members of the Wollongong community. The usefulness and impact of this audit tool on people with autism, their families and the business owners will then be evaluated.

The project will have immediate local significance, by building personal efficacy in business owners to make their shops, health care and other essential services inclusive to all customers in the local area. Furthermore, there is potential to have significant impact at a local, state, national and international level since the audit tool will be individualisable thereby empowering any business owner to become an Autism Friendly environment. While friendly communities have been created for other conditions, such as dementia, we are unaware of this ever having been done for people on the autism spectrum.


Refinement of the Life Happens Resource for High Risk Target Groups

  • Project lead | Associate Professor Kate Senior
  • UOW partners | Laura Grozdanovski
  • Community partners | Illawarra Women’s Health Centre

CEGS 2017 Recipients - Life Happens ResourceLife Happens is an exciting, art based game used to explore young people's understanding of sexual health, sexual risk and decisions regarding their relationships. The game has now been used across Australia and internationally and is highly regarded for providing a safe space for young people to have detailed discussions about sensitive issues.

In collaboration with the Illawarra Women's Health Centre, we will be modifying the game to address issues of relationships and domestic violence with two key target groups who have been identified as high risk in the local community; young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; and women with an intellectual disability. The project is meeting a need for these young women to have access to a more appropriate, relevant and sophisticated learning around critical life issues.


Supporting refugee farming initiatives: from Mildura to Mingoola and Meroo Meadow

  • Project lead | Dr Natascha Klocker
  • UOW partners | Dr Olivia Dun
  • Community partners | Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development International, Sunraysia Local Food Future/Food Next Door, University of Newcastle, Gary and Diana Schiller, private land owners

CEGS 2017 Recipients - Supporting refugee farmingThis project is at the forefront of a groundswell of activities unfolding in regional Australia that seek to broaden opportunities for refugees outside major cities. It seeks to capitalise on a successful pilot refugee farming initiative in Mildura, by extending its learnings to Meroo Meadow (Nowra) and Mingoola (northern NSW). The Food Next Door (FND) project (Mildura) arose via a collaboration between researchers from the University of Wollongong, the University of Melbourne, former refugees from Burundi and Sunraysia Local Food Future. While many refugees face employment challenges in Australia, they often have extensive farming experience from their countries of origin, and a desire to continue farming post-migration. To date, the Federal Government has not put strategies in place that make the most of refugees’ existing skills as farmers, despite implementing a rural and regional refugee resettlement programme.

Our previous research described Mildura’s Burundian community as landless farmers because they are unable to afford farmland in Australia. Food Next Door successfully matched these former refugees with donated, unused farmland – on which they were able to grow and harvest a successful crop of maize. Positive outcomes included improvements in the former refugees’ well-being, sense of belonging and broader community connections. The success of our work in Mildura attracted publicity, leading farm owners in Meroo Meadow to approach us with a desire to do something similar. We were also approached by the Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development International, with a request to evaluate their refugee resettlement initiative in Mingoola, which has led to on-farm work for former refugees from the Great Lakes region of Africa. The current project seeks to respond to this demand. Through this project we hope to effectively demonstrate the farming knowledges and skills of former refugees, and to provide evidence of a groundswell of demand in this space: both from former refugees who want to farm, and from farm owners who want to donate land. Consolidating evidence from Mildura, Meroo Meadow and Mingoola will enable us to develop a robust evidence base around the stages involved in successfully setting up and replicating such projects; and to build a policy case regarding the benefits of refugee farming initiatives.


Project ADVOCATE (Awareness of Domestic Violence On Campus At Tertiary Education)

  • Project lead | Dr Michelle Eady
  • UOW partners | Ms Kelly Lewer, Dr Rebekkah Middleton, Mr Kenton Bell, Dr Alison Rutherford, Dr Sharon Crozier-De Rosa
  • Community partners | Domestic Violence New South Wales, Women’s Health New South Wales

CEGS 2017 Recipients - Project ADVOCATEProject ADVOCATE will create an online professional development opportunity for university academic staff to enable better understandings of and support for university students who have experienced domestic violence. With the overarching support of Domestic Violence New South Wales, and Women’s Health New South Wales along with support of academic staff from University of Newcastle and University of New South Wales, this resource will be developed in collaboration with Women’s Health Centres’ professional staff. Upon completion of the professional development, university staff will be provided with a certificate, digital badge, and an ‘ADVOCATE’ sticker for their office door to indicate their participation. Data will be collected to inform the creation and evaluation of the online resource.

Project ADVOCATE brings together experts from across the University of Wollongong; involving researchers from the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, and professional staff including student support advisors and counsellors. The project will also foster linkages between the University of Wollongong, University of Newcastle and University of New South Wales as well as community engagement partnership with the Illawarra, Hunter and Leichardt Women’s Health Centres.

Current Projects

Creating a mentoring network to support parent advocacy for children with additional needs

  • Project lead | Dr Amanda Webster, School of Education
  • UOW partners | Dr Amy Conley Wright, Dr Jane Warren
  • Community partners | Noah’s Shoalhaven, Autism Education Services

Parents of children with additional needs often have to advocate for their children to ensure that they receive the best and most appropriate care and education. In order to support parents, this project will develop and implement a program to establish a community network of parent advocacy mentors.

Breaking bread, breaking barriers

  • Project lead | A/Prof Karen Charlton, School of Medicine
  • UOW partner | A/Prof Karen Walton
  • Community partners | ALL Sustainable Futures Inc., Albion Park Rail Public School, Nowra East Public School, Nowra East Public School, Jerrinja Local Aboriginal Land Council

It is estimated that 1 in 7 children in New South Wales go to school without breakfast, making concentration and academic success difficult. This project aims to rescue food destined for landfill from supermarkets, and use to it redress disadvantage in schools and support student education.

Retrieving lost community stories: linking regional archival photo collections using advanced visual technologies

  • Project lead | A/Prof Lei Wang, School of Computing and Information Technology
  • UOW partners | Dr Lupin Zhou, Ms Clare McKenzie, Mrs Kerry Ross, Dr Glenn Mitchell
  • Community partners | Illawarra Historical Society, Wollongong City Council

This project aims to support the way that the community connects with local history by innovating community access to digital archival photo material. This project will link local photo collections through new technology in order to preserve local history.

Volunteer legal support for refugees in the Illawarra

  • Project lead | Dr Niamh Kinchin, School of Law
  • UOW partner | Prof Nan Seuffert
  • Community partners | Wollongong City Council, Illawarra Multicultural Services

This project aims to address the legal support needs of refugees within the Illawarra region through a structured volunteer program. This will include training for volunteers, local lawyers and UOW law students to assist refugee families with legal and administrative support.

Developing online resources and videos to support community based multi-sensory room

  • Project lead | Dr Sim Lau, School of Computing and Information Technology
  • UOW partners | Dr Rose Dixon, Dr Pippa Burns, Dr Andrea Garner, Ms Allison Cameron
  • Community partner | CareWays Community Inc.

Multi-sensory rooms offer controlled environments to promote intellectual activity or encourage relaxation and can be modified to benefit those with disabilities or dementia. This project aims to develop online resources accessible to community organisations and families who are considering developing a multi-sensory room.

Recent Projects

History of Wollongong in 101 Objects

  • Project lead | Dr Glenn Mitchell
  • UOW partners | Dr Henry Lee and Josie Stuart
  • Community partners | Illawarra Historical Society

This project has created new historical interpretations of Wollongong, improved access to existing materials and created new resources. History of Wollongong in 101 Objects provides an online public history of the city that enhance community engagement in Wollongong’s history.

Ask Illawarra Shoalhaven: Collects community knowledge

  • Project lead | A/Prof Louella McCarthy, School of Medicine
  • UOW partners | Dr Michael Jones, Dr Mark Freeman
  • Community partners | North Kiama Neighbourhood Centre, Local Community Services Association, Australian Social Investment Trust/Department of Family and Community, Participation and Inclusion/Department of Family and Community, CareWays Community

“Ask” trains and supports volunteers from across the region to engage with the community in conversations about their aspirations for their communities. This knowledge is collected and used by local communities to support further in-depth conversations and local action on issues of concern to the communities. Read the full story at Illawarra Mercury: Residents asked to share their view.

Mogo and Mudji (Dhurga for friends)

  • Project lead | Ms Jaimey Facchin, Campus Manager Batemans Bay
  • UOW partners | Ms Anne Snowball, Mrs Michelle Rush
  • Community partners | Mogo Primary School

Mogo and Mudji (Dhurga for friends) provides a better understanding of local Indigenous culture by engaging in educational activities with local primary schools. Pride in culture plays a vital role in shaping people’s ambitions and choices. This project utilises educational field trips and resources to highlight the importance of valuing the cultural skills and knowledge of Indigenous people.

Budbili Mudjingaal (Possum rug friends)

  • Project lead | Mrs Michelle Rush, Woolyungah Indigenous Centre
  • UOW partner | A/Prof Bronwyn Carlson
  • Community partners | Warradjah Aboriginal Programs, Ross Consultancy, Killalea State Park

Budbili Mudjingaal project encourages staff and students to bond as they create a possum skin rug based on research of cloaks made by Dharawal people. Creating this rug not only creates a bond between community, students and staff but it also fosters a supportive and healthy work environment which will enhance work standards.

Walbanja possum cloak educational resource package

  • Project lead | Ms Jaimey Facchin, Campus Manager Bateman’s Bay
  • UOW partners | Ms Kerryn Hopkins, Ms Lesli Kirwan, Prof Amanda Lawson, Ms Anne Snowball
  • Community partners | Walbanja Guungara Baraan Group, Doolagarl Dreaming Consultancy

The Walbanja Possum Cloak represented a significant step in the revitalisation of local Aboriginal cultural heritage, and the UOW Batemans Bay campus was honoured to host the cloak by the Walbanja Custodians. Educational resources that accompanied the cloak supported the knowledge sharing and educational awareness of local Aboriginal cultural heritage throughout the wider community. This project has paved the way for future community interactions which will benefit all partners. View the full story of the Walbanja possum cloak at the UOW newsroom: Ancient traditions find pride.

Bringing languages back to the community

  • Project lead | Dr Anu Bissoonauth-Bedford, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry
  • Community partners | Keira High School, Kiama High School, The Illawarra Grammar School, Smiths Hill High School

The Bringing languages back to the community project has returned languages to the community by sending University students as language ambassadors to mentor local high school students. The program promoted language sharing and helped further strengthen community links between secondary and tertiary educational institutions.

Please Read To Me-literacy support project for Indigenous children

  • Project lead | Dr Martina Sanderson-Smith, School of Biological Sciences
  • UOW partners | Dr Pippa Burns, Mrs Michelle Rush, Dr Joanne Buckskin, Ms Kate Roggeveen
  • Community partner | Illawarra South Coast Children's Book Council of Australia

The Please Read to Me-literacy support for Indigenous children project, targeting Indigenous children in the early childhood and primary age bracket, raised awareness of the importance of encouraging and promoting the joys of reading with children. The project was undertaken in consultation with aboriginal services and organisations and key contacts within aboriginal communities. The project complemented literacy programs in pre-schools, schools and child care centres and community centres.

Research-led framework and on-line toolkit for developing inclusive community music

  • Project lead | Dr Lotte Latukefu, School of Arts, English and Media
  • Community partners | Wollongong Conservatorium, Wollongong City Council, Illawarra Folk Club

This project documented best practice in community music making and developed a user friendly online tool kit to help individuals or councils plan to develop a comprehensive community music program. This tool kit gave an overview of the methods involved and offered guidance on how to undertake each stage.

InCuisine - an inclusive dining experience

  • Project lead | Mr Shawn Burns, School of the Arts, English and Media
  • UOW partners |Ms Jo Stirling, A/Prof Karen Walton, Dr Lyn Phillipson
  • Community partners | Shoalhaven Business Chamber, IRT, FOCAS Shoalhaven, Centre for Health and Community Engagement

InCuisine has created the foundation to create an inclusive dining culture in the Shoalhaven. It has given profile to the voices of those with disabilities, created a report on their (perceived) barriers to eat in local restaurants and communicated with restaurants in the area in order to create more inclusive dining experiences. Read the full story at South Coast Register: Eating out another challenge for disabled.

Last reviewed: 31 October, 2017