PhD student Chantelle gains valuable experience working with Western Downs Regional Council

19 April 2023

CQUniversity PhD student Chantelle Clarke has highlighted the benefits of the University’s research higher degree program after she recently gained valuable experience from an industry placement opportunity with Western Downs Regional Council (WDRC).

Chantelle, a Cairns-based Psychology PhD* student, provided her research skills and knowledge to WDRC, who are currently having discussions around shorter work weeks for Council staff.

“My research industry placement involved working closely with the WDRC, to critically evaluate the literature on the effects of a shorter workweek on job satisfaction and organisational outcomes,” she said.

“The aim was to provide key insights into the potential effects of introducing a shorter workweek for local government workers at the council, with the ultimate goal of improving recruitment and retention through critical changes to upcoming workplace agreements.”

Chantelle said she was drawn to work with WDRC because she was impressed by their commitment to promoting work-life balance and employee satisfaction for their workers.

“As someone who values employee wellbeing, I felt that the council's values aligned with my own and that I could contribute meaningfully to their efforts to improve their workplace and goals.

“I also saw this placement as an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I had developed in a university context to promote real change and impact in the community.

"With a background in Human Resource Management and Psychological Science, I felt that I could offer unique insights into the potential effects of a shorter workweek on job satisfaction and organisational outcomes and work collaboratively with the council to develop evidence-based recommendations.”

Chantelle said ultimately, she was excited to have the opportunity to work with a forward-thinking and innovative council like WDRC and able to play a role in promoting positive change for their employees and the wider community.

“Overall, I believe that my decision to work with WDRC was a valuable one, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have collaborated with such a committed and progressive council,” she said.

“Even though my placement topic was different from my PhD research, the experience was still valuable for my academic and professional development. During my placement at WDRC, I gained practical experience in conducting research, synthesising information, and presenting findings to a non-academic audience. These are transferable skills that can be applied to any research project, including my PhD.”

*Chantelle’s PhD is looking at understanding the effects of weight stigma and the role of compassion in supporting the psychological wellbeing of women with lipoedema (a fat disorder primarily found in women) and how we may support them with compassion-focused approaches.