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Engaged students, staff applauded at CQUniversity Australia Opal Awards

Published:17 November 2016

Staff and students across CQUniversity Australia were recognised with Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement at ceremonies held simultaneously at all University locations on November 17. Pictured (from left) are Mackay student award recipients Claire Kelly (Engaged Service Learning award for Project Fiji), Melissa Parter (ESL award for Community Engagement and Volunteer Activities), Erin Daly (Engaged Internal Service award) and Jodie Stanley (ESL awards for Startup Weekend and Mentor Blaze and Get Your Health in Check projects).

A mass-shooting exercise to train Paramedic Science students, the delivery of affordable spinal rehabilitation services to Central Queensland, and strategies to help Olympians manage jetlag have all garnered prestigious CQUniversity Australia Opal Awards.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Campuses, Narelle Pearse, said CQUni received a record number (50-plus) quality nominations for this years’ awards.

“Our Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement recognise our staff and students for the tireless and selfless ways in which they’ve given back to their local communities and beyond,” she said.

Ms Pearse said engagement was embedded in CQUni as one of its five official core values.

“Engagement ultimately strengthens the fabric of our University,” she said.

“Whether it’s through research and innovation, education and training opportunities or providing external service – such as committee/board membership, project involvement or sharing the University’s facilities and assets – our staff are committed to finding ways to link  in with local community to yield mutually beneficial outcomes.

“CQUni is proud to be the most engaged and inclusive university in Australia, and the Opal Awards are our way of appreciating, recognising and rewarding staff and students for their valued efforts.”

Opal Award winners were announced at ceremonies held simultaneously at all CQUni campuses across Australia on November 17.

All winners were presented with a certificate, with those in the first three categories listed below receiving an opal pin and a $2500 grant to further their engagement activities.

Opal Award winners are:

Engaged Education and Training award: Annual Inter Emergency Services Multi-Casualty Exercise 2013-2015 (by Paul Oliveri and Anthony Weber).

Held in both Cairns and Rockhampton, this simulation involved 30 casualties, an “active shooter” and potential chemical contamination to train CQUni Paramedic Science students how to prioritise and treat casualties under challenging circumstances.

The activity was supported by Capricornia Helicopter Rescue Service, State Emergency and fire and police services.

Engaged Research and Innovation award: Late Night Competition and Jetlag Prior to the 2016 Olympic Games Australian Olympic Swimming Team (by Dr Charli Sargent and Professor Greg Roach).

Using the principles of chronobiology, CQUni researchers developed behavioural interventions – involving avoidance and/or exposure to sunlight – to speed up the body’s ability to adapt to a new time zone.

This breakthrough protects the wellbeing of elite athletes by allowing them to avoid sleeping tablets to treat jetlag symptoms prior to competition.

Engaged Service award: CQ Spinal Assessment and Rehabilitation Service (CQSARS):  A Physiotherapy Referral Pathway with the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (by Samantha Swain, Dr Anthony Schneiders and Helen Bourne).

Waiting lists for patients with spinal pain wishing to see a physiotherapist at Rockhampton Base Hospital is about 12 months. Through CQUni’s Student-led Allied Health Clinic (North Rockhampton Campus) a referral pathway to deliver affordable, accessible rehabilitation services to the Central  Queensland community has been implemented.

This initiative also exposes third and fourth-year CQUni physiotherapy students to patients with complex and chronic spinal pain.

Engaged Internal Service and Engaged Service Learning awards: CQUni also recognised 14 staff members for their internal service to the University via the Engaged Internal Service category and 11 student projects (a total of 30 students) within Engaged Service Learning.

Ms Pearse said she was proud to be part of a university with a strong focus on engagement, strengthening community relations and social innovation.

“On behalf of CQUni, I thank all of our devoted staff and students who have donated freely of their time to help others,” Ms Pearse said.

“It’s engagement activities such as these that have catapulted CQUniversity from the status of a ‘strong university’ to a ‘great one’.”

View the full list of all staff and students recognised in the 2016 Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement here.