NT design students help those in need 

Concept designs will help the St Vincent de Paul Society to revamp one of its outreach centres

The St Vincent de Paul Society hopes to revamp one of its outreach centres after receiving some innovative design plans from Charles Darwin University design and architecture students.

The CDU outreach program aimed to provide students with an opportunity to improve their community engagement skills, while helping to improve lives in the community.

CDU design and architecture lecturer Marianne Dyason said the course unit gave non-profit community groups in Darwin the opportunity to draw on the expertise of staff and students and enabled students to interact with real clients to practise what they were learning in class.

“Design and architecture can have a huge impact on people’s lives. Through this program the students learn to meet the real needs of clients to ensure their designs have a positive impact,” she said.

St Vincent de Paul operations manager Michael Byrne said the design students had assisted them with new design plans to address the centre’s need to improve overall access and modernise the old infrastructure to reduce the stigma associated with homelessness.

“The students visited our centre to talk to staff and clients about some of the issues with the centre and possible improvements that could be made,” he said. “They came back with some design plans to open the centre up, bringing the outside and inside areas together to encourage communication between clients and visitors.”

Mr Byrne said the centre provided a number of services for a range of people who may be homeless or those who may need short-term assistance to get back on their feet.

“One of the most important issues was the re-design of our Emergency Response Program area, which provides people with short-term assistance,” he said. “Often it is difficult for these people to come forward in the first place for assistance, we wanted to make this area more accessible for them and separate it from the drop in centre.”

Mr Byrne said the students really understood where the organisation was coming from regarding cost restrictions and clientele.

“The beauty of the new plans is that we can create real difference without breaking the budget,” he said.

“We now have four sets of fantastic plans that we can cherry pick ideas from without major funding, and work towards improving the centre section by section.”

To find out if your community group is eligible to work with the design and architecture students, contact Marianne Dyason 8946 7265 or E: marianne.dyason@cdu.edu.au.