Community and Access - Community engagement: what is the difference? 

Linda Cuttriss

Community and Access is one of the four core business areas at Charles Darwin University (CDU) along with Teaching and Learning, Research and Business Development. Community engagement is part of Community and Access along with the other three areas of Regional and Remote, Indigenous Support and Articulated Pathways.

The primary goal of Community and Access is to manage and expand interaction with various communities and groups so as to maximize the value of the University to its region. CDU recognises its region as the three ellipses of Central Australia, Northern Australia and the countries to Australia’s north.

The Community and Access team serve as brokers of relationships between the University and its diverse communities. Various members of the team work with schools, Indigenous students, community groups and the non-government sector and their roles often involve liaising with government departments and business and industry groups.

The Office of the PVC for Community and Access is headed by Don Zoellner, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Community and Access and his team is located in CDU campuses and centres across the Northern Territory.

Linda Cuttriss, the Coordinator Community Engagement works at two levels. At the micro level, Linda brokers collaborative partnerships with community groups and organisations such as the Multicultural Council NT, the Indonesian community, East Timor Sunrise and is CDU’s representative on the Darwin Sister Cities Committee. At the macro level she is developing a framework for community engagement at CDU that recognises and supports existing relationships developed by staff through VET, higher education, research and community events.

Paul Fitzsimons, Director of Regional and Remote heads a team that is pivotal to the University’s regional presence. Bronte Cooper based in Katherine and Andrew Gaff in Alice Springs support the University’s remote delivery of higher education and VET programs in their capacity as Field Officers. Regional and Remote coordinates the Mobile Adult Learning Units (MALUs) that provide access to training in remote Aboriginal communities. Campus Administrators Dianne Underwood at Alice Springs, Nyree Terry at Palmerston, Vicki Williams at Katherine, Carina Bekkers at Nhulunbuy and Centre Leaders Kate Young at Tennant Creek and Geoff White at Jabiru engage with community leaders and ensure that campuses run smoothly and Trish Harkins is the Academic Liaison Officer at Yulara.

The Indigenous Academic Support Unit led by Meg Friel, supports Indigenous students in accessing and completing tertiary studies. The team of David Reilly, Kathy Arbon, Cheri Williams, Veronica McClintic, Georgie Walton, Gail Bruce, Lorraine St Clair, Cynthia Coyne, Joni Assan and Betty AhKit is responsible for a range of activities including delivery of Indigenous Cultural Awareness Programs, case management, orientation programs, administration of the Indigenous Alternative Entry Program, accessing funding for Indigenous training, management of the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme and conducting the Taste of Uni Program for years 10, 11 and 12 Indigenous secondary school students.

The Articulated Pathways team identifies and facilitates pathways from school through university. Lyle Mellors, Senior Advisor, School to VET Programs brokers and supports secondary schools and CDU staff in implementing programs such as VET in Schools. He is also responsible for oversight of CDU’s training involvement in the Darwin Australian Technical College. Pathways Coordinator, Karrina Betschart has mapped seamless study pathways from senior secondary school through VET and higher education. Secondary Schools Liaison involves developing and strengthening relationships between NT secondary schools and the University. Karrina, based in Alice Springs has this role for Central Australia and the Barkly Region and Trisha Kohlweg based at Casuarina campus covers the Top End.

There is a Community and Access (C&A) Champion for each School in the Faculties. C&A Champions provide an important link between the Faculties and C&A staff through their knowledge of the teaching and research activities of individual staff and the focus and direction of the School.

The four areas of Community and Access are a reflection of CDU’s commitment to strengthening relationships with schools and communities, facilitating access to the University and maximising the University’s value to the whole region.

By Linda Cuttriss