“Community Internship” is a custom-designed community engagement course providing internships for Griffith University students to maximise their employability and sense of civic responsibility while meeting not-for-profit sector needs for skilled volunteering.
The experience meets 21st century educational goals for students to “think global and act local. Students select from a range of over 250 local and global skilled volunteer positions across a broad range of not-for-profit sectors with roles tailored to students’ capabilities and interests (for an example, see supporting documentation – Local Impact).
The unique focus on skilled volunteering has instilled in students a commitment to continued volunteering as evidenced by 60% of students and of not-for-profit partners reporting a commitment to continued volunteering with students’ chosen organisations throughout and/or post-degree (Ratanayake, 2015).
Since 2012, more than 2300 Griffith University students have provided 120,000 hours of volunteering to almost 400 organisations. Key founding partner organisations, include: Uniting Care Community, Volunteering Services Australia, and The Lady Musgrave Trust. With 175 current participating partners across the community sector there are a broad range of organisations involved. They vary in size, structure and purpose. Importantly, they address different areas of community need that include health (hospitals, health awareness organisations, drugs and alcohol, mental health, seniors, disability and emergency services), environment (environmental assessment and preservation), community outreach (homelessness, poverty, multicultural support), families (youth outreach, family support, domestic violence) and animal protection (animal protection and welfare).
This diversity helps to cater to students’ areas of interest as well as widening the impact of the program and raising awareness of community needs. This community engagement model serves as an exemplar of transformative work integrated learning (WIL) as recognized with the award of a 2016 OLT (Office of Learning and Teaching) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. For more information please visit: www.griffith.edu.au/communityinternship