The University of Newcastle strives to be a global leader in the delivery of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) experiences to its students.
UON's dedicated staff are constantly collaborating with industry professionals to integrate WIL into programs that shape students into work-ready graduates.
Read below about some of the outstanding WIL experiences that have been offered students, and how they have had a positive impact on the community.
Social Work students help children cope with loss
Work Integrated Learning (WIL) experiences provide a bridge for the student between the academic present, and their professional future. They are an opportunity to apply and merge theoretical knowledge gained in academic studies to 'real world' work place practical experiences, and to prepare the student for a career by providing an opportunity to develop relevant professional skills.
Every year, third-year social work students work on a WIL project that offers them this opportunity. In teams, they create group program packages for field agencies. The project complements field placements by increasing student exposure to real practice.
Since 2010, this project has been part of third-year coursework and has seen 28 group programs delivered and implemented across 24 different 'real life' agencies.
On hand to celebrate with the students this year was UON Social Work graduate and WIL success story, Rebecca Moulton.
In her third year of Social Work studies at UON, Rebecca helped develop a peer-support program titled 'Keeping Connections', for the Hunter's Department of Forensic Medicine.
The program was for children aged 9-12 suddenly bereaved by a parent's death and focused on strengthening and continuing bonds to help a child through such a sudden loss.
Following her graduation, Rebecca went on to secure employment at the Department of Forensic Medicine and her work formed the basis for a successful grant to roll out the program state-wide.
It is always the hope that students who have been so significantly impacted by WIL to return the favour to future students by engaging with the University to provide placements and projects when they become the industry and business representatives of the future.
Rebecca certainly did just that, reaching out to enlist a new group of Aspire students help to research and expand the program into an online model for regional and rural remote families suffering sudden loss.
Social Work lecturer, Lou Johnston said the Aspire program, a student programming and research exchange, strengthened practice through group work. She said developing programming for a real client was one of those real and tangible experiences.
"For Aspire students, completing this program for a real client in the context of the workplace has been one of their most consuming jobs to date. I believe it has challenged them and as a result, matured the group as future professionals," Lou said.
Aspire students worked together to create their program, titled 'The Blue Elephant', an online program for parents in regional areas to support children suffering from sudden loss, expanding on Rebecca's Keeping Connection project.
"Having completed the program in 2012, I understand just how much work, heart and soul goes into these projects. As a student it's daunting to do your first piece of work that will be critiqued by professional social workers but also such a great feeling because this project has real and lasting benefits to families in rural and remote areas," Rebecca said.
"Through the roll out of the program I have dealt with around 40 families who have come to the coroner faced with the sudden death of a loved one.
"The work these students have done, as mine was in the past, will be used as a basis for funding submission to further expand the program."
UON Dental Van demand is booming
Overwhelming demand from the Central Coast community will mean the University of Newcastle's Oral Health Van will double its available appointments in 2015.
Improving the future of Central Coast business
Central Coast businesses owners and managers volunteered their time as part of a small group to discuss issues that affect their business, at the Forum held at the University of Newcastle – Central Coast, at Ourimbah in June 2013.
Researchers from the Newcastle Business School, who are located on the Central Coast, and from the disciplines of Accounting, Management and Marketing, participated in the discussions.
Beijing and Shanghai Alumni Dinners
Ten final-year business and commerce students from the University of Newcastle spent a month in China as part of their degree's Work Integrated Learning (WIL) placements. Three students spent time in Shanghai while the other seven travelled to Beijing.
The dinner was an opportunity for the students to gain a broad perspective of what it is like to live and work in China by hearing first-hand experiences from local alumni.
Speech Pathology students improve the lives of the aged
A new initiative in the Speech Pathology discipline is creating excellent work integrated learning opportunities while enhancing the lives of residents of a local aged care facility.
Under the direction of Dr Sally Hewat, Head of the Speech Pathology Program, a student unit was established at Maroba aged care facility in Waratah.
Law School students volunteer in Thailand
The Newcastle Law School sent six of its final year Law students to Thailand on a work integrated learning placement with Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education (BABSEA CLE).
This non-profit, non-governmental organisation seeks to promote access to justice and sustainable development throughout the Southeast Asian region.