Caring career set to transform nurses' social impact in communities

20 April 2023

She’s been a nurse for nearly 40 years, and Rockhampton’s Annette Horton is determined to support her colleagues and profession long after she retires from the nursing frontlines.

The Clinical Documentation Specialist is completing her Master of Research at CQUniversity, and also developing a social enterprise to connect and celebrate nurses and midwives voices and value within communities.

Ms Horton is designing the project with the support of iActivate, CQUniversity’s innovative short course for developing a social enterprise, or “business for good”.

The passionate nurse, who graduated with her CQU Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing)  in the 1990s, said that she joined the cohort with a mission to give back to her community.

“This profession has given me so much in terms of opportunities which shaped me, and I wanted to somehow continue to support and guide other nurses and midwives long after I retire from nursing,” Ms Horton said.

“I am working on creating an enterprise which celebrates nurses and midwives, and aims to advance them as social change agents in their communities.

“My idea has evolved as I’ve progressed through this program, and it's been fantastic to be connecting with people who are innovators, who are community-minded, and who have a passion to create positive social change in their communities.

“Sharing our passion and working through iActivate together had been integral to my shaping of a broad conceptual idea into something more tangible.”

This iActivate cohort is the first of its kind in Rockhampton, thanks to support from the Queensland Government’s $8 million Social Enterprise Jobs Fund.

The unique initiative is part of CQUniversity’s social impact as Australia’s only social enterprise university, certified by Social Traders.

More than 50 entrepreneurs have already graduated from iActivate, using the course to design, build and grow their big-impact businesses.

Plenty more Rockhampton businesses for good have developed and grown with CQU support, including Upcycle CQ, and Multicultural Australia’s Tucker Time and Upcycle training initiatives.

CQUniversity Social Innovation Program Manager Steve Williams says the iActivate graduation and showcase is a chance to connect with people leading and driving change in Central Queensland.

“You’ll hear their stories, see their businesses and their impact, and leave with a new network and freshly inspired,” he said.

The event will also hear from Queensland Social Enterprise Council Regional Champion Tanya Rutherford, founder of regional women’s empowerment initiative Learn Grow Become.

“iActivate has already made a huge impact in communities like Townsville, Bundaberg and Cairns, where local people are tackling local problems with the social enterprises they designed and developed through the iActivate program,” he said.

“Now Central Queensland can welcome its latest crop of social entrepreneurs, who are graduating as passionate people equipped to tackle the big issues in their communities.”

Analysis from the Queensland Social Enterprise Council shows every successful Australian social enterprise creates an average of 15 jobs, generating three dollars for every dollar of investment.

To learn more about iActivate, or to enrol for the hyperflexible online course, visit