29 June 2018

Students make meaningful impact in rural communities

Our students share their experiences working with social enterprises in rural communities.

Our Remote and Rural Enterprise (RARE) program connects students across the University and offers an opportunity to collaborate on solving real-world issues. Students are partnered with social and commercial enterprises to work closely on projects that drive tangible change for remote communities.

Some of our students share their RARE experience.

Helping communities embrace Indigenous culture

“The RARE program has been the most ‘hands on’ learning experience I’ve been offered so far at university.”
Maddie Magnas
Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student

Maddie Maganas, James Gonda, Lachlan Birt and Evelin Kaba collaborated with the Mogo Aboriginal Land Council (MALC) to create a strategy that would help the community to embrace Indigenous culture and history. They developed a cultural immersion program for local schools that has the potential to scale beyond Mogo to schools in Sydney.

Evelin took the four hour journey to Mogo, where she worked on the ground with MALC. As an exchange student from Canada, she saw RARE as an invaluable experience that offered first hand insight into the culture and community of Indigenous Australia.

Maddie and James were first introduced to social entrepreneurship through RARE’s Intensive program in Vietnam, where they worked on a project that enhanced the social impact of a Hanoi-based social enterprise.

“In Vietnam, I learnt the value of working closely with the project sponsors to understand the social impact they hoped to create, and to ensure our recommendations were relevant and achieveable for the enterprise,” said Maddie.

Their concept for MALC is being discussed, with the first step of implementation being contacting mentors and the growing shortlist of participating schools. They will soon look to the next step of fulfilling their goal of self-sustainability by securing government grants.

“RARE integrates all components of business operations from developing financial models to recommending marketing strategies,” said Maddie.

“But my biggest takeaway from the program is the value of working collaboratively with my group and with the social enterprise, to create a genuine and meaningful impact for the community."

Students visit Mogo in NSW's South Coast

Students present their final pitches

Supporting refugees in their new home

“It has been the most engaging unit I have ever done. I have found it interesting and challenging from start to finish.”
Seiya Grant
Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student

Seiya Grant, Chris Thomas, Oscar Dean, Amelia Helicar-Forster and Georgia MccGregor devised a social enterprise model for Settlement Services International to aid economic and social integration of a group of Yazidi refugees placed in Armidale. The group developed a three-phase proposal for the set up of a permaculture garden and learning hub to help generate engagement amongst the refugees.

On-campus final pitch

“The experience has highlighted to me the importance of community-driven and client-focused social enterprises,” shared Seiya.

The team faced some challenges along the way, providing them experience in stakeholder management to ultimately develop meaningful and positive relationships between the involved parties.

Working alongside Settlement Services International in Armidale has really helped me develop the level of professionalism I now bring to my work at university and into my future career.”

The project brought together students from a range of disciplines including science, economics and business. Seiya has an agricultural background majoring in Environmental and Resource Economics, with a focus on sustainable agriculture and progressive use of technology, as part of her commerce degree.

“I hadn't really considered job opportunity outside Sydney very seriously, but RARE has shown me that given my interests it might be useful to look to regional areas for job opportunities after graduating,” she said.

It is a program that I am very proud to have taken part in and I feel like I have gotten an enormous amount out of it.”

Find out how you can get involved with our Remote and Rural Enterprise program.

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