2021 Excellence Awards Finalists

Congratulations to our 2021 Award Finalists

Congratulations to the Finalists in the Engagement Australia 2021 Excellence Awards.

These Awards identify and celebrate the most exciting engagement activities undertaken by universities that demonstrate far-reaching impact and innovation in the Australian and New Zealand economy and community.

In its second year of transition from the BHERT Awards we are pleased to advise that it has been one of the busiest years for Award submissions, with 107 submissions from 35 universities across Australia and New Zealand.

The Awards Judging Panel have commented on the exceptional quality of the submissions received this year.

Join us at the online event to celebrate the Awards winners on Tuesday 30th November 6-8pm (AEDT) and register for this complimentary event.

Epidemiological modelling supporting Australia's COVID-19 response, The Peter Doherty Institute

Mathematical modelling led by University of Melbourne researchers has informed national pandemic preparedness and response over fifteen years. Existing relationships were rapidly pivoted in January 2020 to support Australia’s COVID-19 response. Professors Jodie McVernon and James McCaw were embedded as expert advisers within national public health and policy committees. Beyond this advisory role, they have overseen commissioned COVID-19 modelling undertaken by a nationally distributed consortium established through successive NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence. Their team has also been funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and World Health Organisation to assist other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Northern Territory Point-of-Care Testing Program, Flinders University

The Northern Territory (NT) Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) Program is a collaboration between the Flinders University International Centre for Point-of-Care Testing (ICPOCT) and the NT Government Department NT Health that has delivered life-saving point-of-care (POC) pathology tests to remote Territorians since 2008. The POC devices deliver results within 2-10-minutes to guide patient triage, clinical management and diagnose a variety of illnesses, including sepsis and heart attack. Without POCT, remote patients would face waiting times of days-weeks, or removal from their community to access safe management. The NT POCT Program enhances patient safety and provides equitable access to healthcare for remote communities.

Physical Literacy in Australia: a journey from research to community impact, Deakin University

Just as children need to be taught the alphabet to read, they need the tools of ‘physical literacy’ to realise their movement potential, that is, physical, psychological, social and cognitive skills. This five-year collaboration between Sport Australia and our research team resulted in the Australian Physical Literacy Definition and Framework, released in 2019 and endorsed by over 60 sport and education organisations. The accompanying resources are used nationally and internationally, informing sector practice in schools and sports organisations. In 2021, this collaboration developed the first Australian tool for measuring children’s physical literacy, now distributed to 15 countries.

BCEC|WGEA Gender Equity Insights Research Program, Curtin Univesity

The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) established a partnership with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) in 2015 to conduct research with a goal of improving gender equality in Australian workplaces. Capitalising on WGEA’s world-leading organisational reporting data, the resulting BCEC|WGEA Gender Equity Insights report series has provided compelling evidence about gender pay gaps and other gender equity indicators, and has recommended critical actions that organisations can take to address pay equity, achieve a more gender balanced workforce and in doing so, improve business outcomes. These findings have demonstrably shaped policies and actions that drive progress towards gender equality.

‘Better Beginnings’: The development and impact of a State library and University partnership on a family literacy program, Edith Cowan University

The 16-year partnership between ECU and the State Library of Western Australia has led to the development of a suite of Better Beginnings family literacy programs, cumulating in a text-based program – Kindytxt. Outcomes of this research partnership include: delivering Better Beginnings reading packs to over 940,000 families with pre-school children; providing an evidence-base that sustains public/private sector funding; creating innovative inter-sector partnerships between public libraries, schools and health services to deliver Better Beginnings programs; and finally, moving to the 21st century through the use of technology to engage parent/child reading interactions every week, for 30 weeks through text messages.

Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre - a new spatial understanding of agriculture, University of New England

The Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre (AARSC) has revolutionised the ability of Australia’s tree crop industries, and the sugar industry, to forecast yield and understand crop potential at a continental scale. The Centre works directly with industry to build user-ready solutions, with research guided by a constant feedback loop from agricultural producers and other users on the ground. The result has been a number of world-first applications for tree crop mapping, yield forecasting and other areas of agricultural productivity that are drawing international interest to AARSC and its methods.

Woodside Monash Partnership, Monash University

Woodside and Monash share a commitment to training the next generation workforce to develop innovative responses in the energy transition to a lower-carbon future. This collaboration encompasses the Woodside FutureLab and the Woodside Monash Energy Partnership, along with the dedicated student learning facility – Woodside Building for Technology and Design – which showcases an innovative design that allows students to learn through the building itself. The sustainable relationship at the core of this partnership exemplifies how academia and industry can work together, bringing the brightest minds to engage with students, promote collaboration, and foster improved outcomes for teaching and learning.

Queensland Future Skills Partnership, CQUniversity

Queensland Future Skills is a partnership between BHP Mitsubishi Alliance, TAFE Queensland and CQUniversity that is delivering tomorrow’s skills to regional and remote mining communities today. The partnership has worked with industry, experts and communities to fast-track responsive co-design and delivery of training to support the implementation of autonomous technology in the Mining, Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector. Through significant consultation with community, government and  subject matter experts the partnership has developed a Qualification Framework customised to the  METS industry – focusing on mining automation – that includes ten microcredentials, twelve skillsets and a new Certificate II in Autonomous Technologies.

The Alliance for Suicide Prevention - Sunshine Coast, University of the Sunshine Coast

The Alliance for Suicide Prevention is a regionally-focused program addressing the Sunshine Coast’s unacceptably high suicide rate through a partnership-based framework that moves beyond individual contributions to population-based change. Led by the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Thompson Institute, the Alliance brings together 121 community, private and public sector organisations, working to create meaningful change through public awareness, community training, upskilling of health professionals and supporting high-risk groups. With approximately 17,827 people having benefitted from Alliance initiatives, the program’s successful engagement model demonstrates how universities can become ‘anchors-in-place’, strongly connected to local community needs.

The Deakin Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education, Deakin University

Refugees face a range of barriers that can prevent them from accessing higher education and meaningful employment. Using research-driven initiatives, participant-centred design and collaboration with community partners, the Deakin Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education (CREATE) assists people from a refugee background to help overcome these barriers. Its runs career clinics for over 200 people from a refugee background each year and develops materials and interactive workbooks to support job seekers from a refugee background to obtain employment and access higher education.

Sparking Change - Science Camps for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children, Macquarie University

Since 2018, Macquarie University, the Australian Hearing Hub, Junior Science Academy, and Parents of Deaf Children have developed unique opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children to engage with science. As social isolation and underemployment into adulthood are a common experience, our biannual science camps are designed to spark a change at an early stage. Utilising collaborative expertise in hearing and deafness, the camps provide a healthy communication space to encourage bonds between DHH peers; showcase the ‘gold standard’ in education accessibility; and inspire the next generation of scientists. The response from children and families has been overwhelmingly positive.

Enhancing girls’ wellbeing through father-daughter physical activity - The 'Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered' program, University of Newcastle

Daughters and Dads Active and Empowered is a community-based, multi-award-winning education program targeting fathers/father-figures to improve their daughters’ physical activity levels and social-emotional wellbeing.  The program was developed by Professor Phil Morgan and colleagues from the University of Newcastle. Using innovative collaborations with local schools, industry, major sporting organisations and government partners, results have been overwhelmingly positive with significant long-term benefits for both families and communities. The program has secured $4.1 million in research funding, seen delivery to 1192 daughters and 1065 fathers across NSW, in various sports and in the UK and won an international award for benefitting society.

UniSA APY Hub, University of South Australia

The University of South Australia’s APY Hub is deeply connected with Anangu (Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara) communities through specialised language and culture courses. Building on the University’s flagship Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Language and Culture Summer School, which offers a two-week intensive course for students and professional development opportunities for people working in Anangu communities, the APY Hub has developed a strong partnership with Iwiri Aboriginal Corporation (a member-based organisation for Anangu living in Adelaide). This collaboration has led to the development of high quality first language and cultural resources, sustainable Anangu employment, and a dedicated centre for community support.

Wunungu Awara: Animating Indigenous Knowledges, Monash University

Wunungu Awara began in 2011 to work in partnership with Indigenous Australian communities in their language preservation. Working on the premise that Indigenous communities already have the infrastructure to continue preserving their language through intergenerational learning, Wunungu Awara supports the existing system by using 3D animation as tools to reengage and revitalise interest in language continuation, by reconnecting language and its people, and to assist in the preservation of language. Language preservation by Indigenous communities also reinforces Indigenous rights in protecting their cultural and intellectual property, through preservation and archiving of history, knowledge, songs, and performance contained within their language.

Enhancing access to specialist health services through the use of telehealth for Indigenous Australians, The University of Queensland

Enhancing access to specialist health services through the use of telehealth, has been a successful approach to addressing health concerns in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Professor Anthony Smith and his COH team have been actively engaging with Indigenous communities for over 17 years, forming lasting collaborative relationships with community-controlled health services to enable more equitable access to healthcare. Achievements are reflected in the pioneering work done establishing a telehealth-supported screening program for school-age Indigenous children at risk of ear disease in Cherbourg – and subsequent projects which have inspired new telehealth services for people living with diabetes and dementia.

Boe Rambaldini, Bundjalung elder and University leader, Poche Centre for Indigenous Health

Boe Rambaldini, an Aboriginal Elder of the Bundjalung Nation and Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at The University of Sydney, has influenced the thinking and general well-being of the wider University community. Boe is a role model and mentor to Indigenous staff and students, raises awareness of racism in the broader University community, and fosters understanding of Indigenous experience, actively and continuously advocating for social justice. Through his unique skills and connections to research and Aboriginal communities he has led a codesign approach to medical research, and leads a team that has produced over 42 papers.

Professor John Thwaites AM, Monash University

Professor John Thwaites AM has dedicated over three decades to public policy and sustainability, encompassing climate change, water, environment, infrastructure and social equity. Following his political career, including as Deputy Premier of Victoria, John was appointed as a Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow at Monash University and Chair of Monash Sustainable Development Institute. For 15 years, he has championed impact-focused projects with industry, philanthropic and government partners; and translated research into policy and practice to address sustainable development challenges. He has provided extensive leadership within local, national and international networks working towards realising the ‘2030 Agenda’ through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Mervat Quirke, University of the Sunshine Coast

The Alliance for Suicide Prevention is an Australia-first large-scale community program focussed on improving mental health and resiliency to suicidality and its precursors at the regional level, through an integrated network of community-based partners. The program works with 121 partners to create meaningful change through public awareness, community training, upskilling of health professionals and support for high-risk groups.  TI Strategic Partnerships Manager Mervat Quirke is a key driver of the program, whose regional influence and critical contribution have ensured its rapid uptake across diverse stakeholder groups, including the participation of 1,915 community members in suicide prevention training to date.

Social Workers in Schools, University of New England

UNE students participating in the Social Worker in Schools (SWiS) placement program are gaining valuable clinical skills and specialist expertise, contributing to vitally important wellbeing programs within disadvantaged NSW state schools, and forging enduring community and professional relationships. Embedding the trainee social workers in schools enables them to help address complex social issues, improve educational engagement, and contribute to broader health outcomes for individuals and families as part of a whole-of-community approach. The SWiS model is an exemplar for a sustainable, cost-effective and successful partnership that is achieving mutual education needs across university and education sectors.

Industry and Community Project Units, University of Sydney

Developed in 2017, the ICPU program is a multidisciplinary undergraduate student project programme that connects students to leading Australian and international organisations to help solve real world problems posed by our industry and civil society partners. It equips our students for the workplace through real life engagement with employers and the development of the skills they seek. The ICPU engagement team have significantly grown the program since 2017 and currently have over 70 industry partners in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Italy and the United Kingdom. By the end of 2021, over 5,300 students will have completed over 180 projects.

Monash Student Teams Initiative, Monash University

Developed over 22 years, The Monash Student Teams Initiative (MSTI) connects currently over 650 students and 34 staff members in 16 teams with around 104 industry partners and many thousands of people in the community. The teams attract ~$500k in industry support for their activities each year. MSTI develops a virtuous circle in which design-build-test activities contribute back to the curriculum whilst providing students with authentic experiences for high stakes, both in technical and business development domains. Many of the teams are recognised in the top ten in the world, and alumni secure high profile jobs or form successful start-ups.

UTS Young Alumni Program, University of Technology Sydney

The UTS Young Alumni program is bridging the student to alumni transition and providing opportunities for young alumni to connect and collaborate as they embark upon their professional careers. Driven by a diverse and active UTS Young Alumni Committee, the program offers innovative opportunities for alumni engagement. In just over 18 months 5,000* young alumni have engaged with the university and fellow alumni. With a demonstrated 100%* increase in engagement via online and social media initiatives, strong external and internal partnerships, the Program is transforming the traditional university experience into a life-long opportunity for learning, advancement and peer connection.

30 Minutes A Month – CQUniversity

30 Minutes a Month (30MM) is CQUniversity’s micro-volunteering program that provides a meaningful, globally accessible, scalable way for alumni to showcase their skills and experience, and to have a valuable reason to stay connected to the University. The program has delivered over 300 volunteer hours to date, and develops strong affinity by leveraging communications automation to create an on-going, mutually beneficial partnership with alumni through a schedule of short, monthly, online activities. Alumni provide advice and resources for students, while leveraging university opportunities and services to achieve their goals beyond graduation.