Harnessing technology for delivering important information to rural community members and providing essentials for people who are homeless were two projects undertaken by UWA McCusker Centre for Citizenship interns in 2020, earning them award recognition.
Students Hannah Klein and Genevieve Burke were presented with their Outstanding Intern of the Year Awards at a presentation event on March 25, 2021 by The Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC CitWA, Director and Chairman of The McCusker Charitable Foundation and former WA Governor and fellow Director, His Honour Judge Denis Reynolds.
This year’s joint recipients were selected from nine nominated students shortlisted for the Award.
Ms Klein completed her 100-hour internship with the Shire of Gingin while studying for a Bachelor of Arts and fellow intern, Ms Burke, also studying for a Bachelor of Arts, completed her internship at St Patrick’s Community Support Centre.
During her internship at the Shire of Gingin, Ms Klein worked on a project to piggyback on existing Beach Emergency Numbers signs (BEN) – which provide members of the community with information that can be quoted to emergency services so the location can be accurately pinpointed – to provide further information such as maps, safety information and local area knowledge via QR codes.
“This project was significant in that it has the potential for all 31 Local Governments to use the 1,508 Beach Emergency Number signs ranging from Geraldton to Busselton to Esperance approximately 800 kms of coast, as a state-wide initiative for public information exchange,” said Gingin Community Development Officer Helen Sutherland, who nominated Ms Klein for the award.
Ms Burke undertook her internship with Fremantle not-for-profit St Patrick’s, which cares for and supports disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the community including those who are homeless. She produced a newsletter for clients, assisted with Doorstep Dinners delivering meals to people in need, and set up the ticketing for the organisation’s signature event, The Fremantle Long Table Dinner.
“Genevieve took calls from volunteers out of hours and did work in her own time when we had some unexpected issues occurred, such as assisting volunteers over the phone during their shift, and taking on shifts when a volunteer pulled out due to illness,” said St Patrick’s Fundraising and Volunteer Coordinator Melanie Watkins.
“This was above and beyond and certainly not expected. Genevieve helped because she is a true professional and saw an immediate problem which she knew she could solve. Genevieve truly deserves to be recognised as an outstanding intern.”
Both Ms Klein and Ms Burke both highly recommended the Centre’s internship program.
“Human connection is the best medicine and I was really lucky to have the experience I did when people were coming back together after time in isolation due to the pandemic,” said Ms Burke. “(My internship) helped me realise just how complex the reality of homelessness is.”
Ms Klein agreed her internship in local government offered “a rare chance to try something totally new”.
“Applying your university skills in a real-world context is more beneficial than any unit you might take, and it's an excellent opportunity to give back to your wider community in an engaging and rewarding way,” said Ms Klein.
The McCusker Centre for Citizenship established the Outstanding Intern of the Year Award in 2019. It is a bi-annual award open to all student interns who are nominated by their organisation for making an exceptional contribution during their internship.
Over the past five years more than 1,300 students have undertaken their internship with the McCusker Centre for Citizenship contributing more than 145,000 hours in service to the community.