Students make a difference with Indigenous groups

Students make a difference with Indigenous groups

A UOW program is helping students tackle real-world business problems and improve their job prospects.  

UniVative Woolyungah pairs students from a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds with local indigenous organisations to solve problems in their businesses while learning about Indigenous issues.

Throughout the year, UniVative teams have worked with the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service, Fred’s Bush Tucker and Warrigal Employment to research issues identified by each organisation and develop creative and innovative recommendations. 

Public health student Grace Norton was part of the team that helped the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service sort out its “administrative nightmare” in securing consistent funding for its health programs.

The team discovered more than 30 grants were available IAMS from a host of sources - from mental health to wage subsidies - and compiled these into a user-friendly database. 

“We hope that our research and report will be an ongoing help to the Indigenous business we were partnered up with,” Grace said. “It made a big difference having a genuine situation we were presented with to undertake.

"Knowing we were striving for the best outcome possible for the community we were helping added a sense of drive and motivation.

“I am passionate about health issues and public health as an overall and this along with learning about Indigenous health in my first semester gave my an interest in the area, which triggered my initial involvement.”

As part of their report, the team commissioned artwork by local Torres Strait Islander Zachary Bennett-Brook

A second team worked a proposal for an Aboriginal Employment Expo, the Warrigal Aboriginal Careers Expo, to bridge the gap between the local Aboriginal community and their non-Indigenous counterparts with employment.

Team leader Liam Crook said they investigated the viability of the expo in the Illawarra, developed a proposal for how it could  be organised and a plan for community engagement. 

“The report is one of the first steps towards creating an annual event which has the potential to change the lives of the local Aboriginal community forever, and we hope that our findings can contribute to the great change that will come from the Aboriginal Employment Expo,” he said.     

Mardella Bassett, Faculty Career Consultant Science, Medicine and Health, said while the students learn from each other, the most important part was that everyone learned about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

“The students determination and drive to do well was amazing, but the maturity displayed by all teams to turn a simple brief in a very short time frame into a business report that can be implemented by the host organisations is extraordinary.”