Many Australians living in regional and remote areas struggle to access quality higher education due to their location, and lack of on-site support. This is where the Regional University Centres program lends a hand. This $74.2 million Australian Government initiative helps students in rural, regional and remote Australia to get the same world-class education as their city-dwelling counterparts, without having to leave their local community.
The decision to enter a career in social work was an easy one for Jodie Briese, drawing from her own life experiences and a love for family and community.
Jodie began her journey with the Geraldton Universities Centre (GUC), completing the CQUniversity ‘STEPS’ bridging program, which gave her entry to their Bachelor of Social Work (Honours). “Without the GUC, I wouldn’t have been able to study a university degree,” Jodie said. “As a single mum, moving to Perth was not an option and I was ecstatic to be part of the very first cohort of social work students at the GUC.”
The GUC supported Jodie to access practical field placements that were required for the degree. Working with the WA Centre for Rural Health she completed her final year placement in Geraldton, all without having to leave home.
There has long been a shortage of medical and allied health professionals in rural and regional WA and the Regional University Centres program is helping change that, with people like Jodie leading the way. After graduating in April 2020, Jodie is now a fully qualified social worker and is loving helping others in her community. She is working with Communicare as a Facilitator for the Not Our Way men’s behavioural change program.
And the GUC is seeing great results, with the vast majority of their students entering the workforce in their field of study. Placement of students in local organisations gives employers the chance to work and train future employees, and gives students invaluable experience. The centre has seen increasing enrolments in courses related to health, wellbeing, and teaching, in response to growing demand from the community. Graduates are helping build the capacity of the region to meet local demands.
The GUC was initially established in 2001 in collaboration with various university partners, before being formally supported by the Australian Government in 2018 as a Regional University Centre. The GUC supports around 300 students a year in mixed mode courses, and more than 100 other students who use GUC as their exam centre. Australian Government support has allowed GUC to expand its facilities in 2020, with a 24 hour-a-day, seven days-a-week study centre opening at the campus.
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