Engage At Lunch

Join with your peers from Engagement Australia member universities for a bite sized portion of community engagement in higher education. This new series of free webinars will profile the diversity of community engaged scholarship and practice being undertaken in universities across Australia. If you insist on eating lunch at your desk….why not engage at lunch!

Each Engage at Lunch session is online and you can simply participate using an internet browser, microphone and speakers;

The sessions will include a 15 minute presentation of a community engagement exemplar, with an opportunity for question and answers afterward;

Each session will start at 1.15pm and you will be finished before your 2pm appointment! You can even eat your lunch while it is on.

To register for a workshop please email admin@engagementaustralia.org.au. You will be sent a weblink the day before the scheduled presentation.

Our Next Engage @ Lunch Workshop

Details coming soon


To register for this workshop please click here. You will be sent a weblink the day before the scheduled presentation. 



Previous Engage @ Lunch Workshops:

Thursday 25th June 2015
Hosted by Dr Sally Robinson, Southern Cross University

Listen to the presentation here

Space, place, relationships: exploring belonging and connection with young people with cognitive disability 

A sense of belonging and connection is fundamental to young people’s identity. For young people with cognitive disability who live in regional Australia, very little is known about what helps and what hinders belonging and connection in their communities.

Using an accessible, photo-rich research approach grounded in social geography, we worked collaboratively with thirty young people with cognitive disability in three communities to explore what helped them to feel like they belong and they are connected, and what makes it hard. Young people described their connections and relationships using pictorial mapping, and explored the facilitators and barriers to belonging and connection through photo research methods and interviews. As well as individual spaces, places and relationships, this specifically included the effects of living in a regional community. The views and experience of young people about participating in research of this nature were also gathered through the research process.

This paper describes the research and discusses the key emerging themes, which centre on how conceptions of belonging and connection shape identity, the importance of relationship and recognition, and the impact of isolation, loneliness and harm in these young people’s lives. Implications arise from the results for young people’s participation, for their support through services, for communities more widely, and for disability and childhood studies theory.

The project was conducted by a partnership of university and community researchers, led by the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University and including the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre, Strathclyde University, NSW Council for Intellectual Disability and Children with Disability Australia

Sally Robinson is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, Lismore, where she does participatory and inclusive research with young people with disability. Her particular interests and expertise centre on the use of creative methods to engage young people with cognitive disability in research to express their perspectives on key issues.

Sally has contributed to a wide range of research and evaluation in the social policy arena over the past decade, focusing particularly on safety and harm, accommodation and social exclusion concerns of people with disability. She is actively engaged in community and government policy debates, particularly regarding abuse and abuse prevention, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and community inclusion for children and young people. Prior to life as a researcher, Sally has a long history of advocacy and support work with people with intellectual disability. She has worked with people with intellectual disability for over 25 years.



Wednesday 27th May 2015
Hosted by Ms Selena Griffith, UNSW

Listen to the presentation here

Social Innovation is quite a hot topic but what does it really mean and how do we make it happen? 

Essentially it is about creating positive change within communities. Designers have a lot of very useful tools for working with a whole systems approach from a human centered perspective. They are great at unraveling complex issues, identifying problems and opportunities and co designing approaches with communities to deliver outcomes. This webinar will cover some of these tools, discuss a number of successful projects and provide you with links to resources that can help you with your Social Innovation activities

Selena Griffith is an Academic, Designer and Social Innovator. She teaches and researches Sustainable Design Futures, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Collaboration, Design Management and Design Thinking at UNSW Art and Design. She is co founder of Social Innovation Sydney and The Island Innovation Lab, focusing on mentoring future leaders in Design Doing



Thursday 30th April 2015
Hosted by Ms Jacinthe Brosseau, Centre for Volunteering NSW with Dr Valentine Mukuria, University of Western Sydney

Listen to the presentation here

Re-positioning university-community engagement? Challenges and prospects for community-focused, academically-rigorous curriculum 

This webinar presents anecdotal evidence from the perspective of a peak body for volunteering and a university in repositioning university-community engagement. The presenters will discuss some of the issues and challenges that arise in designing student volunteer experiences that meet the host organisations expectations and achieve the anticipated student learning outcomes. This webinar is based on a vital question that arose in the pseudo dialogical inquiry process of collaboration: “What are the challenges we face and prospects that arise when coming together to design activities, or projects that meet both the academic rigour and community benefit expectations?” One of the prospects highlighted is the role of a volunteering peak body in being a conduit between its members (community organisations) and the university. The peak body tends to be ideally placed to look at challenges and practicalities of matching student volunteers to community organisations and not just trying to “fit” students in. On the other hand, universities face the challenge of ensuring student learning outcomes are met in the process of engagement with and in the community organisations (particularly in service-learning models). As a result, some of the quandaries revolve around: How are students prepared to engage with the community organisation and how well equipped are the community organisations to guide the student learning process? The presenters will discuss their understandings around increasing the capacity of community organisations through conduits such as volunteer peak bodies, and engaging community organisations in the curriculum design process – viewing these organisations as partners in education.  

Jacinthe Brosseau (MA, Cultural Anthropology): Jacinthe has been volunteering since she was 13 years old and is passionate about supporting young people into volunteering. Prior to joining The Centre for Volunteering team Jacinthe worked as a Research Assistant on a project in the Sociology and Anthropology department of Concordia University, in Montreal, Canada (where she is from) looking at the impact of public policy on the health and well-being of sex workers. While working at the university, she was assigned the role of Liaison Officer between the academic and community partners on the project. This is when she realised she was destined for the community sector and all the wonderful challenges and opportunities it presents.

Valentine Mukuria (PhD, Educational Policy and Leadership):
 Valentine is a Curriculum Advisor at the University of Western Sydney. Valentine has experience designing service-learning curricula at universities in Australia, USA, Canada and Kenya. More recently, Valentine worked on an exciting project, co-designing the four core leadership units for The Academy at the University of Western Sydney, a process which was collaborative in nature and took into account various stakeholder perspectives (community and industry partners, students, alumni, academic and professional staff) in the curriculum development process. 



Thursday 26th March 2015
Hosted by Dr Leslie Brown & Dr Robina Thomas, University of Victoria Canada

Listen to the presentation here

Protocols of Dignity

This webinar will share a framework we are developing that is rooted in protocols and principles of engaging with dignity (respect and honour) with local Indigenous communities in BC, Canada. It is rooted in a Sacred Cycle that teaches us to keep the past, the present and the future connected.

In the Canadian context, it is imperative to understand the colonial context that impacts Indigenous communities and to learn how to navigate this very difficult history when engaging with Indigenous communities. Some important pieces of Canadian history include the development and implementation of the Indian Act, land dispossession, residential schools, and the removal of a generation of children by child protection (known as the 60s Scoop). However, it also includes the history of researchers entering communities and extracting information (and often times resources) and never giving anything back in return. This has created a level of distrust that is often difficult to break down. Because of this history, how we enter Indigenous communities is critical. Both the historical context and a vision of a future free of colonial shackles require that we focus on how we engage with Indigenous communities in the present.  The framework we will present is as much about how we ourselves engage with others as it is about our organizations and institutions relationships with Indigenous communities.

Qwul’sih’yah’maht (Dr. Robina Thomas) and Dr. Leslie Brown are long-standing community-engaged researchers, practitioners and social work professors. Currently, Robina holds the position of Director Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement and Leslie is the Director of the Institute for Studies & Innovation in Community University Engagement at the University of Victoria, Canada.  Current research projects they are working on include: the Indigenous Child Wellbeing Research Network- a collaborative initiative between universities, Indigenous agencies and communities; Someone’s Mother, Sister or Daughter: Street Sex Workers and Their Families – a project that heard the stories of 100 women; and, Reconciling Indigenous and Western Energy Futures – an initiative for bringing Indigenous perspectives to the public discourse on resource development.



Thursday 30th October 2014
Hosted by Katherine Raw, Australian Catholic University

Listen to the presentation here

The future in youth sport program, East Timor: impacts on youth, coaches and community

This webinar is on the impacts of a “Sport for Development” (SFD) initiative conducted by Australian Catholic University (ACU) in East Timor.  Sport is increasingly being recognised as a low-cost and efficient vehicle for achieving various social development goals throughout the international community. Often grouped together under the label of ‘sport for development’ (SFD), sport programs within developing nations are thought to have the potential to decrease the impacts of poverty and social isolation, as well as foster health and social networks.

The specific SFD project that this study focused on was the Future in Youth (FIY) football (soccer) program that is conducted by Australian Catholic University annually. The key objectives of the FIY program that this study investigated were: improving the health, well-being, life skills and capacity of the community, as well as achieving local program sustainability.

Community leaders and coaches (n=24) involved with the 2013 FIY program shared their views and opinions regarding the program and its impacts. Qualitative data was gathered through semi-structured interviews and focus groups at the end of the three-week FIY program, and again three months later to see if the program was achieving its’ objectives.

The three main outcomes that appeared to benefit most in association with the FIY program were the health, well-being and life skills of youth, coaches and the broader community. To an extent, community capacity was developed through football and coaching skills. The findings regarding program sustainability were mixed. However, there were some individuals who indicated their willingness to take more responsibility to ensure the program would be sustained in the future. The results of this study will be used to help guide the development of the FIY program and thereby encourage better quality outcomes, as well as assist future SFD programs.

Katherine Raw is a researcher with Australian Catholic University's Institute for Advancing Community Engagement and school of Exercise Science. Her research interests include sport for development, community engagement, monitoring and evaluation, as well as women in developing counties. Over the last 18 months her primary focus has been on ACU's community engagement programs in Timor-Leste that aim to address capacity building through sport, education and nursing.



Thursday 28th August 2014
Hosted by Dr Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron, University of Tasmania

Listen to the presentation here

Measuring Community Engagement: What are we waiting for?

This Engage@Lunch webinar takes a humorous, yet cynical look at community engagement evaluation. Scientific commentators often point at the lack of scientific evaluations of community engagement. At the same time, the difficulty in measuring the various processes and outcomes attached to community engagement and service learning is widely acknowledged. However, there is now much documentation (particularly on the part of industry and government partners) that provides perspectives and components of community engagement that are very measurable. These performance indicators are either provided in the form of 'hard' quotas, or in the form of 'softer' (albeit equally important) measures. Existing initiatives that feature elements of community engagement allow us to reflect on what is easily measurable, what is more difficult to assess, and what requires down right creativity in evaluation methodology. Nowadays, whether we take community engagement as a process or an outcome of research or teaching initiatives, or as an activity in and of itself, the large array of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to borrow from should allows us to pick and choose the evaluation tools that suit us best. The determination of (all over essential) key performance indicators then becomes a rather simple exercise in gauging the aims and objectives of an initiative. We can all do a much better job at appraising community engagement, and pave the way for institutional leaders to acknowledge the scientific relevance of community engagement for organisations (academic or otherwise) and their partners (community or otherwise). So what are we waiting for?

Dr Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron is the coordinator of Police Studies at the University of Tasmania, and a senior researcher at the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies. Isabelle specialises in the qualitative and quantitative study of policing and policing services targeting vulnerable populations and is in regular contact with representatives of these vulnerable populations. She is the co-editor (with Nicole L. Asquith) of Policing Vulnerability (Federation Press, 2012), and (with Kathryn Anderson) of Knowledge in Action: University-Community Engagement in Australia (Cambridge Scholars, 2014). She is a member of several research governance and community engagement committees throughout Australia (including the Engagement Australian Scholarship Committee), and sits on the Australian Crime Prevention Council as an executive member for Tasmania. She is an Advisory Board member for the Centre for Law Enforcement and Public Health, and an editorial board member of the Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice.



Wednesday 16th April 2014
Hosted by Billy O'Steen, University of Canterbury

Listen to the presentation here

Incorporating community engagement and work integrated learning into traditional degree programmes

This webinar describes the University of Canterbury’s progress in bringing together several campus-wide initiatives to strategically incorporate community engagement and work–integrated learning into all degree programmes. Focus to date has been on encouraging and supporting academic staff to transform their courses to incorporate community engagement and work integrated learning to enhance student’s learning. To ensure success there has been close collaboration with the Careers, Internships, and Employment Office to help establish and strengthen key links with the local community so that there is a range of engagement opportunities available for the students. During the webinar, participants will be invited to share how community engagement and work integrated learning have been developed or is being developed at their own institutions as well as what the enablers and constraints have been as these initiatives are introduced.



Wednesday 16th October 2013
Hosted by Professor Jude Butcher, cfc, AM Director, Institute for Advancing Community Engagement (IACE) at Australian Catholic University.

Listen to the presentation here

IACE’s agenda of “Beyond Today” is an agenda of hope for a better tomorrow through its community engagement focus on “Beyond Disadvantage”, “Beyond Borders” and “Beyond Differences”.

In 2010 he was appointed a Member (AM) in the Order of Australia for service to teacher education, particularly in the Catholic sector, and to the community through contributions to social justice. His special research interests are in the areas of community engagement and higher education; educational capacity development; and transformational partnerships.

Previously he has been Head of School of Education and Head of Department of Education at the University and its predecessor colleges for more than 30 years. Jude is also Board Chair, Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education, member of the Board of Edmund Rice Education Australia and the Wollongong Diocese’s Catholic School Council. He has been involved in Indigenous education for over 25 years, in educational capacity building in East Timor for twelve years and interfaith-intercultural programs for seven years.

Through his roles in these organisations and his membership of other boards and advisory committees Jude is committed to his vision of transformative community engagement for the development of: Intellectually, socially and morally engaged communities; and socially responsible professionals and leaders. He places priority upon across university collaboration for enhancing the impact of community engagement and research.

Community engagement research, who benefits?

Community engagement research is collaborative in nature and committed to mutual benefits for communities, universities and other stakeholders. A significant challenge for universities today is to ensure priority is given to community engagement research and this within a competitive research context. Universities are focussing their research efforts often through consolidating their research capacities. It is within this higher education context that one needs to ask the question who benefits from community engagement research.

This seminar uses examples of community engagement research to identify who is benefitting from the research and in what ways. The seminar presents a range of mutual benefits that can be structured into community engagement research questions and processes.



Wednesday 14 August 2013
Our first Engage at Lunch Session was hosted by Dr Ali Black, Senior Lecturer with CQUniversity’s School of Education and the Arts.

Listen to the presentation here

With more than 20 years’ experience in education and academia, and with a particular interest in early childhood education, Dr Ali Black has been described by CQUniversity as being at the forefront of engagement with the Gladstone community, as well as further afield. Ali has entered more than 100 activities into CQUniversity’s Engagement Database (E-DNA) across Engaged Learning & Teaching, Engaged Research & Innovation and Engaged Service.

She contributes and provides expert commentary to a number of publications and blogs including Practical Parenting Magazine, RUTH, Mining Family Matters, Education Views, Learning Matters, Be Magazine, Aspirations for Education in the Gladstone region, School of Thought as well as ad-hoc media interviews. She also works with local schools and organisations to present and promote education programs, and has provided support for Educational Services in Regional Communities through involvement in the Agnes Water/1770 High School Advocacy Group.The title of Ali’s presentation is “Beyond zombiefied academic workplaces: Nourishing self and community through engagement”

Gora and Whelan (2003) in their book ‘Zombies in the Academy: Living Death in Higher Education’ suggest that universities are bleak landscapes increasingly populated by the undead: a listless population of academics, managers, administrators and students all shuffling to the beat of the corporatist drum and incapable of responding meaningfully to the tyranny of demands, changing expectations, audits and performance measures.

Whilst I can’t deny there have been times when I have felt like a disillusioned overworked undervalued zombie, I want to use this webinar to discuss the value of taking action through engagement. In this webinar I reflect on my own journey and vision for what matters in life and in work and seek to open discussion about the importance of responding to the beat of ‘heart’ rather than the beat of the corporatist drum.

I will share how engagement has helped me tap into shared commitments within and beyond the university around ‘the growth of people’ and ‘the growth of knowledge’. I will introduce how being part of a diverse range of engagement activities has helped me find ways to work from an ethical base to add value, make a difference, to find meaning and even a higher purpose in my work.

The provocation offered in this webinar is that using engagement to find purpose linked to ‘the greater good’ and ‘citizenship and service’ helps us to connect to social responsibility, public spirit, and social conscience to evoke ‘heart’ in our academic and daily lives.

And that has to be a good thing!