Disability Awareness – A Service Learning Experience
Industry and Community Partners
- Engaging multiple disciplines
- Broad or deep partnerships with host organisations
- Community engaged
- Scalable and sustainable
Given the intent to engage with an indigenous community, a key enabler of the project was the involvement of indigenous QUT staff and the QUT Oodgeroo Unit which supports the universities activities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Another key enabler of the project was the involvement of the social work faculty and students. Given the more sustained engagement of a social work student during field placement, they identified the opportunity to rent premises within the community as a place for students to stay during their placement. This demonstrated a commitment to the community and also provided a location for other students to stay, meet and connect with the community.
For more information
A comprehensive report of the project is available here:
Working in partnership with the Barambah Local Justice Group, and later the Cherbourg Council and local elders, QUT developed a broad-based, multi-disciplinary community engagement shaped around the principles of participatory action research. Underpinning this model of WIL were key principles of the university working under the direction of the local community and committed to long-term community generated objectives; that the community retained ownership of all aspects of the engagements including approving the students who would participate, and that the activities of the students should work to enable the community.
Impact / outcomes
The success of The Cherbourg Project was highly dependent upon both student and staff understanding their role of service to a community, rather than as expert or leader. The participatory action research approach demands critically reflective practice which enables, empowers and works in service to a collective for sustained change.
Teaching staff: the success of The Cherbourg Project was highly dependent on the good will and interest of academic colleagues. University structures, such as the CELL and Oodgeroo Unit provided connection and support for the start-up of the project, but evident across the life of the project, particularly with structural changes to the Oodgeroo Unit and conclusion of CELL, was the need to maintain a group of staff to drive the project and engagement.
Community Partners: engagement of the Cherbourg Council, Barambah Local Justice Group and other key community groups was significant for the success of the experience. However, more importantly was meaningful engagement with the local Cherbourg residents and community leaders.
Student assessment is managed as appropriate for the disciplines from which the students come from.
Quality Indicators – Evaluation
The Cherbourg Project has been supported by regular research and evaluation, including standard student satisfaction surveys.