Nick Hartgerink

From little CEGS big things grow

University of Wollongong Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Patterson said ‘From little things big things growwas an appropriate theme for the presentation of the 2012 University of Wollongong Community Engagement Grants Scheme (CEGS) funding today (18 September).

The University established CEGS in 2005 to fund collaborative projects between UOW researchers and community organisations, and six projects were announced as recipients in the latest round of funding.

Speaking at a breakfast presentation for this year’s recipients, Professor Patterson said CEGS reflected the fact that the University’s roots were firmly in the community.

Master of Ceremonies, UOW Director, Development and Engagement Monique Harper-Richardson whose unit oversees the scheme, said over the years many community-based projects that began with CEGS funding had gone on to “bigger and brighter futures”.

To demonstrate this, speakers from two previous CEGS projects talked about how their funding had led to opportunities to expand their Illawarra community projects to state and national levels.

Dr Deirdre McGhee and the team from the Biomechanics Research Laboratory (BRL) last year used CEGS funding to develop an instructional booklet for local female high school students to help them choose better-fitting bras for sport and physical exercise. Dr McGhee said many teenage girls were discouraged from participating in sport because of pain caused by ill-fitting bras, or from embarrassment.

The success of this resource for local school students had led the NSW Sporting Injury Committee to re-publish the booklet for wider distribution, while the BRL team worked with Sports Medicine Australia to produce a bra-fitting guide in brochure form that has been distributed around Australia.

Inspired by this success, BRL has worked with a documentary maker to produce an instructional DVD on correct bra fitting that it hopes to distribute to high schools across Australia for use in physical education/health courses.

Olympic gold medallist, hurdler Sally Pearson, has endorsed the DVD and the Laboratory has applied for federal government funding to distribute it around Australia.

Dr McGhee said the initial CEGS funding had been the catalyst for the success. “We aim to put the DVD in every high school in Australia, and have asked Canberra for a lot of money to do that, ” Dr McGhee said. “It’s certainly bigger than we ever expected it to be.”

UOW dieticians Professor Karen Charlton and Associate Professor Karen Walton spoke about the success of their 2010 project working with Meals and Wheels to improve nutrition and eating habits among elderly and disabled people in the community.

Professor Charlton said she had presented the results to a Meals on Wheels regional conference, and been overwhelmed by inquiries from other regional centres on becoming involved. “There are definitely opportunities to take this to a state level,” Professor Charlton said.

Professors Charlton and Walton have received a further CEGS grant for 2012, working with Flagstaff Fine Foods to improve the nutritional value of meals it produces for services like Meals on Wheels.

Other CEGS grants for 2012 went to:

Dr Sarah O’Shea from the Faculty of Education, working with Kiama Community Colleges to establish an outreach program to encourage older students to participate in further study;

John Littrich from the Faculty of Law, working with the South Coast Family Law Pathways Network and the Department of Education and Communities to develop web-based information to assist school teachers dealing with children experiencing family breakdown;

Dr Ross Gordon and Lance Barrie from the Centre for Health Initiatives, who will be working with Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre and the Youth Drug and Alcohol Service to develop and distribute materials designed to discourage young teenagers from low socio-economic groups from smoking;

Angela Douglas from the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, who will be working with the Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit at Shellharbour Hospital to develop a structured lifestyle program to assist people with mental illness to address other physical health issues;

Dr Holly Tootell (Faculty of Informatics), Grant Ellmers (Creative Arts) and Tara Stevermuer (Australian Health Services Research Institute) will be working with Mt Terry Public School and the South Coast Workers Child Care Centre to develop an interactive whiteboard resource for preschool and kindergarten children.

Report: Nick Hartgerink
Photos: Mark Newsham


  • Community Engagement Grant Scheme 2012 recipients at the announcement of this year’s successful applicants.

  • Dr Deirdre McGhee from the Biomechanics Research Laboratory explains the national success of the bra fitting guide for teenage girls, that developed from a 2011 CEGS project.

  • CEGS recipient Lance Barrie (left) from the Centre of Health Initiatives with Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor John Patterson.