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Written By

Bianca de Loryn


College of Business, Law and Governance

Publish Date

18 January 2023

Medical services for the homeless

JCU students Nanako Binst, Kyle Alolod and Anthony Conolly share how they supported the Wheels of Wellness charity in Cairns as a third-year subject of their Bachelor of Business degree.

Bachelor of Business students Nanako Binst, Kyle Alolod and Anthony Conolly have recently completed their third-year subject (BU3102 Multi-Disciplinary Project) by working on a real-life business case for the Cairns-based not-for-profit Wheels of Wellness.

“Wheels of Wellness (WoW) is an outreach charity service that delivers mobile medical clinics to Cairns most disadvantaged community members”, says Nanako. “WoW do not only have a hub near the Cairns Hospital where homeless people can come in and get food and see a doctor if they choose to. They also have a van that they use to provide mobile medical services with a General Practitioner on board.”

The students had the option to choose one, among several, predefined research questions. Kyle and Nanako’s group chose to research the potential of Wheels of Wellness to transition into an non-government organisation. Anthony and his group investigated methods of collecting data on client journeys and how WoW has contributed to their overall health and wellbeing.

From the computer screen to the real world

Even though the students spent a lot of time researching in front of their computer screens, their project coordinator, Suzie Pont from JCU’s College of Business, Law and Governance, wanted her students to go out and see what Wheels of Wellness was doing in the Cairns community.

“We went to the WoW hub first, and that was such an eye-opening experience. We feel like we had never seen so many homeless people within one venue,” Nanako says. “You do see homeless people within the Cairns CBD, however, this was a significantly different experience.”

Nanako and Kyle were impressed by the mobile aspect of Wheels of Wellness. “We went out to see the van at Barlow Park. We realised that the Cairns Regional Council has allocated a space within that area so that homeless people can dine in,” Kyle says. “Rosies, another charity, would provide food donated by the community, and Wheels of Wellness provided medical services to those in need, but only if people chose to ask for those medical services.”

JCU Business students 2022.
Wheels of Wellness vehicle.
Left: Image taken on day of presentation - Patricia Magsalin, Miliana Kune, Cameron Bealing, Nanako Binst and Kyle Alolod. Right: Wheels of Wellness vehicle. (Supplied by Wheels of Wellness)

Doing multidisciplinary research in a team

During the research phase, the students learned to work together as a team. “I was the leader of my group,” says Anthony, “but it didn’t feel like it, because all the group members worked together really well, and each made huge contributions.”

Nanako was also very pleased with how well her team worked together. “For most of us it was our final year. We've all had experience working in teams and what it's like. But I think we got really lucky with everybody's nature,” Nanako says. “We were all very calm, collected people. If we had any concerns, we were able to voice them. It was definitely the best team I've ever worked in.”

Anthony, who was in a different group, says that he had a similarly positive experience. “Collaborating with Wheels of Wellness was a truly rewarding experience, because we learned about the challenges some people face,” he says. “We applied our degrees practically and saw how amazed the WoW team was on the day we presented our research results.”

Finding solutions together

During the presentations, the student group recommended several actions that they thought would be helpful for the business side of Wheels of Wellness. “We recommended that they apply to become a beneficiary of the IGA Community Chest, a community support fund where a percentage of sales of some of IGA’s products go to charities,” Nanako says.

“We also suggested to communicate with the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Services, the Cairns Regional Council and other organisations that are delivering similar services in the Cairns area,” says Kyle. Finally, the group suggested that Wheels of Wellness should put more emphasis on documenting their work and health outcomes, as this would help to attract more funding.

The Wheels of Wellness perspective

“It was such a privilege for WoW to partner with JCU for this subject. The final presentations far exceeded my expectations”, says Yolonde Entsch, Director & CEO of Wheels of Wellness.

“It was also fantastic to be able to collaborate with JCU lecturers like Suzie Pont, who from an industry perspective, truly understands the importance of ensuring students can apply their knowledge, critical thinking and analytical skills to real world business challenges.”

Yolonde Entsch, Director & CEO of Wheels of Wellness

Yolonde was also pleased with the way the proposed findings and solutions were presented. “Each group provided high-quality reports that any CEO, management team or Board could use for decision making,” she says.

The Wheels of Wellness team and the JCU Bachelor of Business students who worked on their third-year projects in 2022. (Supplied by Suzie Pont).

Transitioning from school to uni and moving on to the workplace

Nanako is almost finished with her Bachelor of Business degree. “In my first year, I was so shy. It took me about six months to realise that I need to make the most of communicating with fellow students,” Nanako says.

But things have changed for her over the last three years, and she realised how important networking was for her future. This is also something she recommends to future Bachelor of Business students. “Definitely make as many connections and friends as you can with lecturers, tutors, people in your class, it doesn't matter. One day, they might be able to help you with your career.”

Kyle has recently graduated and has similar advice. “When you get to know the other students, you'll start to see that your new friends are also going through the same struggles that you go through. When you finally graduate together, you can see that you've built friendships and good connections for the future.”

Anthony is almost finished with his Bachelor of Business degree, majoring in HR and Management. “JCU provided me with opportunities to develop myself, both personally and professionally,” he says.

Life after graduation

After their graduation, Nanako plans to move to Brisbane to explore the culinary world, Kyle has plans to enter the HR profession, and Anthony has recently started working at The Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns as a HR Administrator (read more about Anthony's journey from a student to a professional here).

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