CQUniversity Australia

Engaging Indigenous people within Higher Ed

CQUniversity's Office of Indigenous Engagement recently hosted a visit from the Oodgeroo Unit of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), at Rockhampton Campus.

Professor Anita Lee Hong, Director of the Oodgeroo Unit, and Lone Pearce, Project Officer, met with Office of Indigenous Engagement staff to discuss employment issues and best practice models for engaging Indigenous people within the higher education sector, including governance matters.

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Bundaberg Campus location for Autism Early Intervention Centre to benefit families and Uni students 

Minister for Disabilities Curtis Pitt has visited the proposed site of a new centre that will provide early intervention for children with autism at CQUniversity Bundaberg. The centre is expected to provide a multitude of benefits for all involved.

The visit on January 24 followed the State Government's commitment of $700,000 to support the development.

PhotoID:11847, CQUniversity Bundaberg Head of Campus Professor Phillip Clift with Cr David Batt (representing the Mayor), Minister Curtis Pitt and AEIOU Foundation CEO Alan Smith
CQUniversity Bundaberg Head of Campus Professor Phillip Clift with Cr David Batt (representing the Mayor), Minister Curtis Pitt and AEIOU Foundation CEO Alan Smith

The purpose-built facility will be operated by AEIOU Foundation, a Queensland based not-for-profit organisation which is a one of Australia's leading providers of early intervention for children with autism.  

The new centre will provide 12 full-time placements for children with autism aged between two and a half and six years. Once established, the centre's team will provide support to surrounding areas such as Kingaroy.

AEIOU Foundation CEO Alan Smith said the Foundation is delighted to join the Queensland Government and CQUniversity to develop the centre, explaining it will present several mutual benefits to the local community.

"Autism is not a rare disorder, with around 750 children diagnosed with autism each year. Bundaberg residents have been calling for a service like this, and it is terrific to work with CQUniversity and the Queensland Government to support local families," Mr Smith says.

"This partnership also presents tremendous opportunities, including the prospect of research collaboration, and the opportunity for students studying at the University to engage in work experience.

"Allied health and education students can engage in our world-class program, and learn from skilled professionals.  As a result, when entering the workforce, they will possess a unique skill set in this area.

"Students who engage in work experience with AEIOU often seek long-term employment with AEIOU once they complete their degree. This means we are employing engaged staff members who are prepared for the unique challenges and incredible rewards we encounter in our centres every day."

CQUniversity Bundaberg Head of Campus Professor Phillip Clift agrees this initiative will enable practical experience for CQUniversity students enrolled in learning management degrees, especially those focused on early childhood and primary education.

"Our Dean of Education Professor Helen Huntly believes that having our students interact with children with autism would be a rich and valuable learning experience," Professor Clift said.

"As the relationship evolves, there should also be opportunities for postgraduate students and academics to participate in research projects, initially in psychology, social work and health promotion and also longer-term in areas such as music therapy, occupational therapy and other allied health areas."

In 2011, AEIOU Foundation opened a temporary service in Bundaberg to provide support to families until the custom-designed centre can be constructed in 2012.

AEIOU Foundation operates from 10 locations across Queensland.  Each AEIOU centre is staffed with full-time specialist early childhood teachers, speech pathologists, and occupational and music therapists, as well as skilled learning facilitators.   More than 70% of children that complete the program transition to mainstream schooling and around 90% of children are able to communicate functionally.  For more information about AEIOU Foundation, go to www.aeiou.org.au/