Award honours initiative to educate homeless

Several Catholic organisations were in the spotlight last week as they received an Honourable Mention for Outstanding Achievement and Collaboration in Research and Development and Education Training at the Business/Higher Education Round Table (B-HERT) Awards Dinner at the Shangri-la Hotel in Sydney.

The initiative is a collaboration between Australian Catholic University (ACU National), the St Vincent de Paul Society, Sydney Archdiocese and Mission Australia.

This award, presented by The Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson MP, recognises the importance of a particular program that is the first of its kind in Australia to offer University courses for homeless people. The delivery, currently taking place in Vincentian Village, East Sydney and the Mission Australia Centre in Surry Hills, is modelled on the Clemente program, initiated in the USA by Earl Shorris, author of Riches for the Poor, who visited Australia in 2003.

The students, aged in their 40s, 50s and 60s, come from a range of inner city homeless services to attend lectures by ACU National academics, and to write their assignments with the help of business people operating as "learning partners".

"This award is an official recognition of the work and collaboration of the team involved that have put so much effort in to making this project an overwhelming success and one which has enormous possibilities to extend throughout Australia," said Project Co-ordinator and ACU National Senior Lecturer in the School of Education (NSW), Dr Peter Howard.

"An award such as this is values based and helps to evolve the identity of the University and establishes the links being developed by ACU National, businesses and the wider community," he said.

Dr Howard also praised the relationship between the University and the St Vincent de Paul Society who are equally proud that the program is receiving significant recognition.

"The St Vincent de Paul Society, Sydney Archdiocesan Council (SAC) is delighted the inspiring program of providing tertiary level education for the homeless at the Society's Vincentian Village has been formally recognised by B-HERT," said SAC President, Mr Les Mico. "Our partnership with ACU National has paved the way to address more than the physical needs of homeless people. Everyone has a right to learn, including the homeless, who now have the prospect of receiving an enriching and rewarding educational experience."

To date, ACU National lecturers have provided University level courses on Ethics, Australian History, Spirituality, Art History and Theory. Some 50 students participated between 2003 and 2005. It is expected that this number will increase in 2006 with an additional site in Brisbane through the collaboration of ACU National, Mission Australia and Griffith University.

"This program is enriching the lives of homeless people in a way that breaks the cycles of poverty and disadvantage and has the potential to do so right across Australia. Mission Australia is delighted that partnerships between university and community organisations which are having such a significant impact are being encouraged and recognised," said Anne Hampshire, National Manager, Research and Social Policy, Mission Australia.

Pictured L-R: Christine Crimmins, a member of the Management Committee of Vincentian Village representing Vincentian Village CEO, Sue Chant; The Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson MP; Project Co-ordinator and ACU National Senior Lecturer in the School of Education (NSW), Dr Peter Howard; ACU National Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Professor Gabrielle McMullen.

Award honours initiative to help educate the homeless (Australian Catholic University 24/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic University
St Vincent de Paul Society

Vinnies and ACU organise learning for the homeless (CathNews 12/11/04)
Education program for homeless men wins national award (CathNews 24/11/04)
Visiting author says humanities education will give riches to homeless (CathNews 7/3/03

29 Nov 2005