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These CQUni students perform a great role in society, according to police

Published:22 August 2018

TOP: To mark National Student Volunteer Week, Mackay Crime Prevention’s Sergeant Nigel Dalton (right) awarded appreciation certificates to CQCM’s Choices and Safety Circus volunteers. BELOW: Third-year Theatre student Ally Rowe (pictured, centre, on the set of the 2017 Choices production) was one of 25 CQCM students to receive an appreciation certificate from the QPS.

More than 50 000 school students have received valuable safety messages over the past 19 years, courtesy of the combined productions of Choices and Safety Circus delivered by CQUniversity and the Queensland Police Service (QPS)*.

During this time, about 400 of CQUniversity’s Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music (CQCM) Bachelor of Theatre and Bachelor of Music students have volunteered their time to produce, direct and star in these shows.

To mark National Student Volunteer Week (13-19 August), 25 CQCM students (from the 2017 and 2018 productions) were presented with appreciation certificates for their involvement in both productions by Mackay Crime Prevention’s Sergeant Nigel Dalton.

In further news, Sgt Dalton – who stars in both shows – became an award recipient himself this week for his role in both productions. On Tuesday, he secured a Bronze Award for Customer Focus at the Queensland Police Service Awards for Excellence.

The esteemed Sergeant – who in 2017 was conferred with the Honorary Award of Companion of the University – said QPS wanted to formally recognise the valuable contributions that CQCM students have made to their local community and beyond.

“As police officers, we’re often asked to present safety seminars at schools, however, through these productions we’re able to convey key safety messages to students in an engaging and fun way," he said.

Produced for Year 3 school students, Safety Circus (which began in 2012), teaches kids about protective behaviours, bicycle safety and ways to handle bullying.

Now in its 19th year, Choices uses song and dance to convey 30-plus safety messages to Year 12 students, all the way from Townsville through to Rockhampton, in the lead-up to Schoolies’ Week.

“Since the inception of Choices, we now experience 59 per cent of students who have seen Choices actually change their risky behaviours and don’t get into trouble at Schoolies. For my colleagues on the road, that is 59 per cent fewer problems for them to deal with,” Sgt Dalton said.

In 2017, Choices was awarded first place in the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards’ Community Engagement Category.

“The statistics speak for themselves; CQCM’s students have made – and will continue to make – an incredible impact upon the lives of primary and secondary students through their performances in these important productions,” Sgt Dalton said.

“Without the support from the Conservatorium, these shows would not be possible,” he added.

Third-year Theatre student and current Choices Director Ally Rowe described her involvement in the production as “invaluable, empowering and confidence-building”.

“We really do make an impact; for example, after watching Choices a girl who attended Schoolies told me she felt more comfortable not drinking underage because of the risks we outlined in the show and because we helped her realise you can still have fun without drinking,” she said.

Choices was my first major directing project; and – I have to say – I was nervous and excited; but this opportunity helped me learn and grow my skill base.

“I now know, I am more than capable of leading and directing a show and the opportunity to be part of a nationally award-winning production with such community impact is incredible.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement, Campuses and Mackay-Whitsunday Region, Professor Pierre Viljoen said it was partnerships and programs such as these that showcased why CQUniversity was known as the most engaged university in Australia.

“Our University has a strong social innovation agenda – we are committed to making a difference and changing the world for the better – but we cannot make an impact and achieve transformation without strong partnerships like this one,” Professor Viljoen said.

“Thank you to all partners involved in these projects, including the Queensland Police Service, our students and staff for your collaborative service.”

Watch this video clip to find out what our CQCM students love most about volunteering their time with Choices and Safety Circus.

* Choices is an initiative of Queensland Police Service and the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music, CQUniversity Australia. It is delivered in partnership with Whitsunday Regional Council; Whitsunday Schoolies Advisory Committee; Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services; Mackay Sexual Health and Sexual Assault Service; Conservatorium Friends Mackay Inc; and Headspace.

* Safety Circus is a collaboration between CQUniversity’s CQCM and the Mackay Crime Prevention Unit of the Queensland Police Service with funding from Mackay Regional Council.

Choices accolades:
>  Queensland Police Service Award of Excellence for Customer Focus (Bronze, 2018)
>  Australian Financial Review Higher Education Award for Community Engagement (2017)
>  Business Higher Education Round Table Award for Outstanding Community Engagement (2013)
>  MacJannert Prize for Global Citizenship in Boston, USA (Second-round Finalist, 2013)
>  Queensland Road Safety Awards Commendation (2009)
>  Commissioner’s Lantern Award (Silver) for a significant program in the area of community policing and crime prevention in the Central Queensland region, Queensland Police Service (2001)

Safety Circus accolades:
>  Queensland Police Awards of Excellence: Finalist (2015)
>  Queensland Road Safety Awards: Highly Commended Award (2015)
>  Opal Award for Engaged Learning and Teaching (2013)