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Opal Awards put the shine on CQUni Engagement 'gems'

Published:22 November 2019

Awards were presented across a range of campuses, including TOP Rockhampton, MID Mackay (Dr Ashley Holmes and Maree Franettovich), and BELOW Townsville (Associate Vice-Chancellor Kari Arbouin presents to Elena Konovalov).

Workshops weaving technology into the fabric of classrooms, research enhancing train safety, and the annual Schools' Business Challenge are all initiatives which have earned staff members a prestigious CQUniversity Australia Opal Award for 2019.

Students were also feted for getting involved with the sustainability of recreational scuba diving tourism, a breakfast club supporting people who are homeless, Dental Health Week Pop-up events, and the CQUni Nutrition Network.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Campuses, Professor Pierre Viljoen said this year’s awards received 18 nominations involving 75 staff and students from across CQUniversity’s national footprint.

“Our Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement recognise our staff and students for their outstanding engagement initiatives with local communities and beyond,” Professor Viljoen said.

The 2019 Opal Award for Excellence in Engagement winners, who received a certificate, opal pin and a $2500 grant to further their engagement activities, included:

Engaged Education and Training award Weaving Technology into the Fabric of the Classroom - by Associate Professor Michael Cowling, Dr Robert Vanderburg, Darryl Clare and James Picton.

The Weaving Technology into the Fabric of the Classroom workshops (Weaving Tech for short!) are community-focused learning and teaching engagement workshops intended to connect CQUniversity staff and campuses with the local community, and to show K – 12 teachers how innovative technology can be incorporated into their everyday classroom. Since late 2017, there have been eight Weaving Tech workshops conducted across Queensland, from Mackay to the Gold Coast, training over 250 teachers and involving over 20 CQUni staff members and experts from the community.

Keynote sessions in previous workshops have covered Future Jobs, Artificial Intelligence, Open Educational Practices, Integrating Engineering into K – 12 schooling, and presentations from expert teachers on how they integrate technology into their own classrooms. Dr Cowling also presents an opening session on Pedagogy Before Technology to start each workshop, while Dr Vanderburg delivers the closing session on how STEM fits into the classroom.

Hands-on activities focus on the practical use of technology, and have included sessions on Extended Reality, Robotics, Drones, Entrepreneurship, Games-based Learning, Wearable Technology, Block Programming, and other innovative technology. Of note are the near constant contributions by CQUniversity staff members Darryl Clare, who looks at the use of extended reality as a classroom tool (including 360 video), and Jim Picton, who discusses Virtual Reality as a medium for expression in art.

Engaged Research and Innovation award > On track for health and safety: Investigating the link between health, accident risk and organisational outcomes in Australian train drivers - by Associate Professor Anjum Naweed, Janine Chapman, Joshua Trigg and Matthew Allan.

The Australasian Railway Association has been predicting exponential increases in the demand of rail service, and professional services networks have been predicting looming shortages in rail drivers for years. The response has been to train new recruits and try to accelerate competencies. However, in the wake of health concerns within the existing cohort, a second arm to sustainability would be safeguarding what we already have and promoting the longevity of our drivers.

The usual results concerning the impact of the National Standard for Health Assessment of Rail Workers, and concern for the wellbeing of the workforce, are the two things that sparked research collaboration between the Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science at CQUniversity, and the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer at Flinders University.

The collaborative project commenced in 2015 with the simple but significant aim to learn more about the relationship between health status and organisational outcomes in the industry, and to explore the driver’s perspective of the sort of things that help or hinder their health and wellbeing on and off the job.

Thorough direct engagement with rail organisations across three Australian states, and indirect engagement with the rest of Australia through a national cross-sectional survey, the team at last determined that the National Standard, while developed with good intent as a monitoring tool, was actually being treated as a health intervention. Using it this way had not replaced many local health management initiatives but introduced a myriad of other issues.

Mindful that these findings could be used against drivers, the project team engaged the unions and operators to attend to the issue and, in effort to counter the deteriorating health of the workforce, argued that formal evidence-based guidance was needed to sit beside the National Standard.

The project team was greenlit by Australia’s Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) to author a formal Guideline underpinned by the outcomes of their research. In March 2019, following a year of development with eight representative organisations, and under the weight of RISSB’s accredited processes, the rail industry published Australia’s first Guideline for Good Practice in the Management of Rail Driver Health and Wellbeing.

Engaged Service award > CQUniversity Schools’ Business Challenge - by Dr Martin Turner, Gordon Stewart, Professor Lee Di Milia, Tim Whan, Anna Farmer, Maree Franettovich, Robert Grose, Karen Mcpherson, Elena Konovalov and Kerry-Lee Ferguson.

The School Business Challenge is an annual event organised by staff of the School of Business and Law.  The competition has been running since 2016 on all campuses and previously in Rockhampton.

It is a competition where participating schools come together with teams of four from each school answering a total of 40 questions over various topic areas; i.e. Accounting, Management, Marketing, Economics, Law and General Knowledge. The winning school from each area then competes in a final round.

The motivation behind this activity is to open lines of communication with the schools in all the areas where CQUniversity operates and to gain a rapport with business teachers and potential students. CQUni also seeks to support the study of Business in these schools. As one high school at Rockhampton said recently, ‘the School Business Challenge is the highlight of the year for our Business students'.

This year, the Challenge included students from 32 secondary schools across the regions of Rockhampton, Emerald, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Brisbane and Melbourne. All teams competed in the national final from their local CQUniversity campus via a videoconference format.

Each member of the winning team in Round 1 received a $1500 CQUniversity Scholarship, provisional upon their enrolment in the School of Business & Law at CQUniversity. In addition, each winning School received a perpetual trophy and a cash prize of $500. Each member of the winning team from the National Final received an additional $2500 CQUniversity Scholarship, provisional upon their enrolment in the School of Business & Law at CQUniversity. In addition, the winning School received a perpetual trophy and $3000 cash prize and the runner-up school received a $1500 cash prize.

Engaged Service Learning (Students) awardees, who received certificates, included:

  • Thesis topic: An investigation into the major factors impacting the long-term sustainability of recreational scuba diving tourism in the Cairns section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park by Terrence Cummins
  • Homelessness is Beyond Housing by Ashlyn Forsaith
  • Dental Health Week Pop-up Events by Chelsea Green, Katelyn Stewart, Liko Kotera, Samantha Barbeler, Lily Neaton and Linh Le
  • The CQUni Nutrition Network by Chelsea Green, Tanya Thwaite, Anna Rea, Christie Wishart, Nathan Cook, Lydia O’Meara and Juanita Mooney.

Professor Viljoen said engagement was embedded in CQUniversity as one of its five official core values.

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

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

“CQUniversity 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 a ceremony held simultaneously across all CQUniversity campuses throughout Australia on 22 November.

View the full list of all staff and students recognised in the 2019 Opal Awards for Excellence in Engagement here.