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Innovation and giving back rewarded at CQUni Opal Awards

Published:17 November 2017

CQUni Mackay’s Bianca Webster and Tenille Da Rin Perette (pictured with Professor Pierre Viljoen) received an Engaged Service Learning Opal Award for the CQU AHRI Student Ambassador Program’s career development forums titled Step Up Your Career Savvy. (Absent from photo: Megan Brunker.)

Helping at-risk youth regain employment, improving incarcerated women’s pregnancy and birthing experiences, and providing Central Queensland physiotherapy patients with an affordable and accessible service – these are only a few of the incredible CQUni projects that have garnered a prestigious Opal Award.

The 2017 Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement winners were announced at ceremonies held simultaneously at all CQUni campuses across Australia on November 16.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Campuses, Pierre Viljoen, said these awards recognise and encourage outstanding engagement by CQUniversity staff and students with the community, as well as internally within the University.

“A highlight of this year’s event was our inaugural Social Innovation award offered across both student and staff categories,” he said.

“This award celebrates and rewards projects that seek to find innovative and sustainable solutions to entrenched social issues.”

Professor Viljoen said CQUni received a record number of group Opal Awards nominations this year.

“This has resulted in a greater number of staff overall being nominated, which highlights the fantastic teamwork that prevails within our university,” he said.

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

CQUni’s 2017 Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement winners are:

  • Social Innovation (Staff) award: “Project Booyah” by Charlie Jensen, Katrina Daniels, Gareth Munro, Tim Wade and Tracey Beresford.

Project Booyah is a Queensland Police-led early intervention and education program designed to help at risk youth re-integrate into employment, re-engage with education and develop healthy life choices.

Since its 2016 inception, dozens of youngsters have acquired valuable food and beverage service skills and confidence by undertaking a Certificate in Hospitality at CQUni's Willby’s Training Restaurant in Rockhampton.

  • Engaged Education and Training award: Working together to improve pregnancy and birth experiences for women and provide extraordinary learning opportunities for midwifery students by Tanya Capper, Lucy Little, Elspeth Wood and Adele Baldwin.

Through this collaborative venture (involving Queensland Health and Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre), CQUni’s Bachelor of Midwifery students are striving to enhance the quality of pregnancy and birthing experiences for incarcerated women. This program helps pregnant women increase their understanding of mothering, and enables students to plan and deliver antenatal education.

  • Engaged Research and Innovation award: Early Detection of Deterioration in Elderly Residents: Implementing a hospital avoidance initiative by Associate Professor Trudy Dwyer, Barbara O’Neill, Professor Kerry Reid-Searl, Lynne Parkinson, Professor Chris Doran and Rolley Tickner.

The Early Detection of Deterioration in the Elderly (EDDIE) program developed by PresCare, supports aged-care staff with resources and training in early detection and response to deteriorating health to help prevent patient hospitalisation. A CQUni team evaluated the implementation of this program, and provided clinical assessment training for nursing staff at a Maryborough aged-care facility using Mask-Ed (KRS Simulation). Mask-Ed is a high-fidelity simulation technique involving the use of silicone props, including masks, torsos, hands and feet. The props are worn by an informed educator for training purposes.

  • Engaged Service award: ‘Balance 4 Life':  Implementation of a multidisciplinary community falls prevention program at CQUniversity Health Clinic by Samantha Swain, Kasey Bonato, Julie Nguyen, Helen Bourne and Dr Anthony Schneiders.

The Balance 4 Life program – delivered by the CQUni Physiotherapy Clinic in Rockhampton – offers General Practitioners and other health professionals a referral pathway whilst providing the community with an affordable and accessible physiotherapy service. The program incorporates weekly group-based exercise classes and a multidisciplinary falls prevention talk to promote social engagement, as well as an opportunity for participants to build support networks.

  • Social Innovation (Student) award

LIVIN Strong Mental Health Program Evaluation by Kristie-Lee Alfrey, Jaime Neal and Kate Cope.  
Three CQUni Bachelor of Psychological Science students evaluated the effectiveness of the LIVIN program to validate its potential for national delivery. The LIVIN program – designed to improve mental health awareness and reduce the prevalence of suicide amongst Australian youth – is an eight-week program delivered by the North Queensland Cowboys to Rugby Excellence students at Kiran State High. Program focus topics include: Resilience and mental health, respectful relationships, substance abuse, team values, mental first aid, gratitude and goal setting.

  • Engaged Internal Service and Engaged Service Learning awards

CQUni recognised eight staff members for their internal service to the university via the Engaged Internal Service category, and three student projects (comprising five students) within Engaged Service Learning.

Professor Viljoen said he 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,” he said.

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

View the full list of all staff and students recognised in the 2017 Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement here.