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Emilie Wells Emilie Wells
11/10/2017
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Emilie Wells | Media & Corporate Communications Officer
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Community projects receive vital funding

2017 Community Engagement Grant Scheme recipients announced. 

Students who have experienced domestic violence, Illawarra residents living with autism, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women with an intellectual disability and refugees are set to benefit from a number of community projects that were announced at a special breakfast event today (Wednesday 11 October).

The UOW Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS) has been running for more than 10 years, with more than half a million dollars awarded to projects that directly impact the community.

UOW staff and students, in partnership with community organisations, are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $13,000 to address a community need. CEGS projects must address key challenges in the community and take action to create real and measureable outcomes, build capacity and support the vision of UOW.

One of this year’s CEGS recipients, Project ADVOCATE, was initiated to provide support for university students who have experienced domestic violence. With funding support through CEGS, the multi-disciplinary team will create a suite of online resources and an online professional development program for university academic staff, to enable better understandings of and support of students affected by domestic violence.

Project ADVOCATE team member Kelly Lewer said the project came about as a result of ongoing UOW research into women who enrolled at university after leaving a violent relationship.

“We found that most of the women had challenges in seeking support. Those that did seek support found the support inadequate and at times inappropriate in regards to privacy and understanding of the issue of domestic violence,” she said.

“Our aim is to improve staff knowledge and awareness about domestic violence through an online training package.”

Previous CEGS recipients Dr Andrea Garner (UOW) and Michael Szafraniec (CareWays Community) also attended the event to launch the latest development in their project; a suite of online resources and videos to support community based multi-sensory room.

This year’s successful CEGS recipients include:

Project ADVOCATE: Project ADVOCATE will create an online professional development opportunity for university academic staff to enable better understandings of and support for university students who have experienced domestic violence. Upon completion of the professional development, university staff will be provided with a certificate, digital badge, and an ‘ADVOCATE’ sticker for their office door to indicate their participation. Data will be collected to inform the creation and evaluation of the online resource.

Supporting refugee farming initiatives: from Mildura to Mingoola and Meroo Meadow: This project is at the forefront of a groundswell of activities unfolding in regional Australia that seek to broaden opportunities for refugees outside major cities. It seeks to capitalise on a successful pilot refugee farming initiative in Mildura, by extending its learnings to Meroo Meadow (Nowra) and Mingoola (northern NSW).

Refinement of the Life Happens Resource for High Risk Target Groups: Life Happens is an exciting, art based game used to explore young people's understanding of sexual health, sexual risk and decisions regarding their relationships. The game has now been used across Australia and internationally and is highly regarded for providing a safe space for young people to have detailed discussions about sensitive issues. In collaboration with the Illawarra Women's Health Centre, the project team will be modifying the game to address issues of relationships and domestic violence with two key target groups who have been identified as high risk in the local community; young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; and women with an intellectual disability.

Autism Friendly Communities – Investigating the Ingredients: This project aims to make the Corrimal community the first autism friendly community in Australia. Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) South Coast School (SCS), the Corrimal Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Wollongong research team will work in consultation with the business owners and individuals with autism to develop an audit tool that will enable owners to make informed adjustments to their environment to become more accessible to members of the Wollongong community.

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