CQUni Knows Kris
Diploma of Work Health and Safety, Bachelor of Accident Forensics
I’ve always been interested in how things happen, why things happen and why they work. Accident Forensics is a really good avenue for that because you don’t just look at the accident in isolation, you look at the systems behind it; you look at everything that leads into it.
I stopped studying after high school because there was nothing that I wanted to do. I got into the aviation industry and that really sparked my interest. There are a lot of systems and safety reporting in place, and it got me interested in what they actually do with those reports once they’re submitted. I was then introduced to the world of safety investigation and from there I found this degree through CQUni. It was like a match made in heaven – it was just what I wanted.
The bachelor degree introduces accident investigation and modelling, and you can specialise in road, rail, air and industrial environments. My degree focuses on transport and safety science within the realms of aviation. The improvement of safety is the driving force behind every single person who does the degree.
It’s really fascinating to study all of this and then take what you’ve learned, disseminate it and use it to prevent accidents in the future. It’s multifaceted, hands-on and theoretical. There’s a lot of thinking outside the box. You follow set procedures, but then you have to be able to look at things in isolation and link them to understand how one thing affects another.
It’s a very diverse degree that can take you anywhere really. The golden apple of the industry is working for the ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) which covers aviation, rail and marine industry investigations. There’s also risk, safety and OHS consulting, various major incidents police units, plus different areas within mining. The only limit is your imagination.
I chose CQUni because it’s my home uni – I grew up in Rocky. It’s the only uni that offers this degree. It’s the best decision I made because it’s inclusive and accessible, which is great for work: I can work full time and study full time. I wouldn’t be able to study if I didn’t have that flexibility because I don’t have a set roster. As a cabin crew member with Virgin Australia, I work all hours of the day, any day of the week, so I need to be able to have the flexibility with my study to fit around work so that I can continue to pay my bills.
I have found myself writing assignments in the middle of a flight! That’s one of the really great things, how the flexibility allows me to do things on the fly. And having campuses in all the cities around the place means that on an overnight, I can actually go out to a campus and use the resources, or if I’m there in the mornings I can participate in a lecture.
Accessibility and inclusion is absolutely vital. Studying via distance education, the video and online learning technologies allow you to participate in lectures in real-time, even though you can’t be at the campus where the lecture is being delivered from. It helps us have interaction with the lecturer and build on the community.
I’ve never felt like I’m an online student because of the community and how everything is online. Studying through Moodle, you have to be online whether you’re on campus or not. So it’s that common meeting place, and then when you have residential schools you get to meet the people you know from online. You build relationships and networks with people, and the further you get into it, the more close-knit it becomes. It feels more like a family than a group of students.
We have a Facebook group for the course and any time there’s an accident, whether it’s a boat that sunk or a US Army plane that crashed, it goes up on there. Everyone posts comments about what they think happened – there’s a lot of drama and interest but we use modern techniques to base our theories on. It’s not just conjecture; we apply the techniques that we’ve been taught and analyse the situation objectively.
The staff and the faculty are amazing. They’re accessible. They’re friendly, they’re knowledgeable and they’ve got a world of experience. We have one of the largest schools in the University and one of the largest faculties. I think we worked out we have about 800 years’ worth of experience, both domestically and internationally. We’ve got some big names in the safety science realms. The safety team is second to none.
Doing Accident Forensics is not just a degree, it’s a community of people who have common interests and goals who communicate. Even months after they’ve left the degree, we have alumni who still talk to us. The community spirit that CQUni has and the resources that it commits to making study successful, no matter what the challenge, help if you reach out and take the first step.
Once I graduate, I want to do a Bachelor of Occupational Health and Safety, then the Master of Advanced Safety Science Practice, followed by a PhD while working in industry. The long-term goal is to work in industry and then go into academia or part-time consulting.
CQUni has been a life-changing part of my journey which has opened my eyes. I’ve become so involved in different facets of the University, and it’s shown me that there’s a real career here and something that I want to be part of.