Featured News JCU students help combat homelessness in Cairns

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Tue, 22 Nov 2016

JCU students help combat homelessness in Cairns

James Cook University Business students have been working to help address homelessness in Cairns, as part of their studies.

JCU partnered with Anglicare North Queensland Limited to help raise awareness of homelessness and the changing community attitudes to homelessness in the Far North region.

Student Amber Woolley was part of a team of students that was specially tasked with examining Anglicare’s social media and online presence.

“Obviously we can’t tackle the whole problem of homelessness, but we looked at what issues we could work on. We advised Anglicare to firstly work on their website, as it was quite outdated.

“We also advised them on ways to utilise social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to raise awareness in the community about homelessness, and to also regularly post, and to post at peak times.

“We also suggested interviewing some homeless people and put their profiles up – whether anonymous or not – so the public can relate to their struggles and their situation, and hopefully change their perceptions of what homeless people go through.”

JCU Lecturer in the WIL Program, Roy Wybrow said Anglicare asked the students to draft proposed creative solutions for the increasing social dilemma of homelessness within the community.

“The focus was to be on how homelessness is perceived in various sectors across the community and what factors must be considered to increase the awareness of the community to the plight of homelessness,” he said.

“The students were asked to develop effective marketing, problem identification and solutions for the local homelessness issue.

“It specifically broke down to how can we change attitudes to homelessness – students identified the need to educate, inform and engage as the solution.”

For the past three years, the refreshed Bachelor of Business degree has included a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program where students complete one of three capstone WIL subjects in the final year of their degree.

One of the capstone subjects on offer is a Multidisciplinary Project where students from the various majors in the degree work together on an issue or problem for an industry partner.

In 2016 to date, 59 students have participated in the WIL Program in Cairns, including 22 students who completed the Multidisciplinary Project subject. Eight students in Semester 1 and 14 students in Semester 2 worked on the brief devised by Anglicare.

Mr Wybrow said the project was trying to develop students’ ability to use their degree to analyse and problem solve with real world issues.

“Instead of the safe and sterile text book cases which have a solution and guides the students towards the answer given, students work on issues that have no single solution.

“Real world issues are varied and dynamic in nature – no more so than social problems. Students then get the chance to use the skills and tools learnt and gained through the course of their degree and the various subjects of their degree and the various subjects they have completed.

“As part of their assessment, students create an ePortfolio to demonstrate relevant skills needed for their role on the student ‘consulting’ team conducting the project.

“This is one of the key links to taking the theory into practice.”

More than 300 businesses in Townsville, Cairns and beyond are registered as either having already hosted students or have expressed interest in hosting students through the College WIL Program.

Background to WIL:

Work Integrated Learning is a formal program offered across JCU and is all about linking work and learning.  In Business degrees, students can gain practical work experience as part of their degree in order to reinforce and enhance their academic learning while developing essential employability skills.

The Business degree is offered through the College of Business, Law and Governance (CBLG)


CBLG WIL Coordinator – A/Prof Laurie Murphy: tel (07) 4781 4347

CBLG Lecturer in the WIL Program – Roy Wybrow in Cairns tel: (07) 4232 1079 or 0431 066 015.

JCU Media Liaison - Caroline Kaurila: tel: (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175