Scholarship boosts social work student's big dreams to support families through trauma

03 October 2022

Emerald mum Andrea Clyne has been a rock for her family through tough times' and the CQUniversity social work student wants to help other families get through' too.

Her passion has been recognised' with a CQUniCares GWI Scholarship to help ensure she can achieve her goals.

A mum to four kids and working part-time in hospitality' Andrea took on her Bachelor of Social Work in 2020' after caring for both her parents until their deaths that year.

"I'd always wanted to be a social worker' and I started in that field right after high school' as a youth worker at a homeless shelter in Rockhampton'" Andrea said.

"It was amazing work but really confronting' and it opened my eyes to how much need there is in our community."

The shortage of skilled social workers hit closer to home when Andrea's mum was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and progressed into palliative care.

"Caring for my parents' and obviously for my kids as well' being there for everyone became my whole life for that period of time – you're there and you have to pick up the pieces'" she said.

Through that process' Andrea said there was no provision of social worker support for her parents or for the grieving family' including her children who all have Autism Spectrum Disorder.

"I think it would have made a big difference if my parents had been able to talk through with someone' outside of family and friends' about how they were feeling – they could have approached death with less fear'" she said.

"It is challenging in regional areas' there's only a very small group of counsellors and psychologists in the region – my kids still see a psych to work through the trauma of the experience' and that's via Zoom because we can't get local appointments.

"Once I've graduated' I'd love to run support groups for people experiencing loss and grieving' and especially for families who all go through it together."

Andrea' who grew up in Mt Larcom (Gladstone region' Queensland)' said returning to study as a mum was challenging' but the scholarship made financial considerations much easier.

"I work part-time and find time for study when everybody's asleep – and the scholarship means I don't have to spend time thinking about how to pay for textbooks' or residential schools'" she said.

"It's a huge relief' and I'm really grateful that support is available."

The CQUniCares GWI Scholarship provides recognition and financial assistance to bachelor degree students in financial need.

Andrea received $5 000 to assist with university expenses across a year of study.

The scholarship is supported by CQU donor GWI' a national team of independent advisors to government' business and communities.

The funds can cover non-deferrable costs such as textbooks' uniforms' computer equipment and internet access' specialised equipment' childcare' income supplement' travel and accommodation costs associated with compulsory residential schools and unpaid work placements.

Scholarship applications will open in October 2022 to apply for support in 2023.

Andrea said she's excited for her career after study' and proud of what her family is learning from her hard work already.

"The fact I'm studying does seem to push my kids to keep going' they see you're still reading and learning and that it doesn't really end when you're a kid' so that's a good thing!" she said.

The CQUniCares Scholarship program changes lives and CQUni is grateful to partner with organisations like GWI who share the University's passion for making a difference in the lives of our students' their families and our communities.