SIFE UNE’s community project named ‘most inspiring’

Published 22 September 2008

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A team from the University  of New England has won the award for the “most inspiring community engagement” project at the 2008 national championships of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).

Five members of SIFE UNE – Sam Harris (President), Tara Stokes (Treasurer), Miriam White, Dan Beransconi, and Joanne Grogan – travelled to Brisbane in July for the SIFE National Conference and Championships. There they competed with representatives of SIFE teams from 23 other universities around Australia by presenting the outcomes of this year’s projects to an audience including the Chief Executive Officers of major companies.

Robyn Marshall, the UNE lecturer who is the team’s Faculty Mentor, accompanied the students to Brisbane, along with UNE’s Dr Peter McClenaghan, the National Program Consultant for SIFE Australia.

SIFE is a global organisation supported by some of the world’s leading corporations. It encourages students from all areas of study to engage in community-oriented projects in order to share the knowledge they have gained at university and learn more about “real-life” free enterprise.

For their award-winning project, the SIFE UNE team is helping members of the Parents’ and Citizens’ Association at Minimbah Primary School in Armidale to develop skills in fund raising, budgeting, and the conduct of meetings. “Changing the world one step at a time” was the motto attached to the project.

“The ‘Minimbah project’ has been a great success,” Joanne Grogan said, “with a series of barbecues at the Markets in the Mall to raise much-needed funds for the purchase of a large message sign for the school. We are continuing with this project by creating an ‘agenda folder’, which contains many valuable worksheets and processes for the school – including meeting agendas, minutes, financial statement worksheets, fund-raising ideas, and many other valuable resources.”

“This has been further extended by the State Government’s agreeing to produce and distribute the folders to not-for-profit schools and organisations across the State,” she added.

The “community engagement” award brought with it a $2,000 cheque and a 10 kg block of chocolate (pictured here with some of the team). “We raffled the chocolate off at UNE’s recent Open Day,” Ms Grogan said.

The UNE team also won a special “financial literacy” award for its “Careers Aware” program. As part of this program the students were involved in the organisation and presentation of a “Corporate Cocktail Evening” at UNE earlier this year, hosted by the Institute of Chartered  Accountants in Australia. This award was accompanied by a $500 cheque.

Ms Grogan said the SIFE organisation had been so impressed with the UNE team’s achievements that it had decided to sponsor Scott Finneran – a long-term team member of SIFE UNE – to attend the SIFE World Cup in Singapore early next month. Ms Marshall will accompany him.

“This is a great opportunity, as it involves spending a week with CEOs from around the world, attending presentations by teams from more than 50 countries, and the chance to advertise UNE and SIFE Australia,” Ms Grogan said.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show members of SIFE UNE with their prize chocolate bar before its auction on Open Day. They are (from left) Tara Stokes, Rebecca Whale, Scott Finneran, Robyn Marshall (the SIFE Faculty Mentor), and Jo Grogan.