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CQUniversity signs new MOU to progress Education/ Enterprise/ Research Hub in Woorabinda  

[by Greg Chapman]

Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council CEO Mike Hayward, Mayor Joshua Weazel, Yoonthalla Services Woorabinda CEO Petulia Stokes, CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Prof Nick Klomp and Deputy Vice-President of Indigenous Engagement Professor Adrian Miller. Image: supplied

CQUniversity has further cemented its training partnerships in Woorabinda, signing a new Memorandum of Understanding to continue with the establishment of an Education, Enterprise and Research Hub in the community.

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Prof Nick Klomp, Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council (WASC) Mayor Joshua Weazel and Yoonthalla Services Woorabinda Chief Executive Officer Petulia Stokes signed the new MoU in Woorabinda on 19 November.

Following on from the success of the initial MoU partnership in 2019-20, including the training of Indigenous students in a Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management as part of the Skilling Queenslanders for Work Woorabinda Memorial Walk Project, CQU Office of Indigenous Engagement (OIE) staff and Woorabinda community leaders have worked to establish the Hub in the community.

The Hub will spearhead a series of new projects to provide pathways for student progression and achievement and support for the development of enterprise and entrepreneurial activities, using research-based evidence to support decision-making.

Prof Klomp said the new MoU was a commitment from CQUniversity to establish the hubs.

“We have already seen the benefits of this partnership in the Woorabinda community with 18 Indigenous students graduating in March this year with a Certificate I-level qualification and going on to find employment with the Woorabinda Pastoral Company,” Prof Klomp said.

“But there is so much more CQUniversity can do here in Woorabinda and we are absolutely committed to helping the Woorabinda community to realise its potential.

“CQUniversity is proud to be working with Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, and now Yoonthalla Services Woorabinda to further develop these Hubs.”

CQUniversity Deputy Vice-President of Indigenous Engagement Professor Adrian Miller said the partnership was a dynamic and transformative one.

“The steps from concept to reality continue with the signing of this new MoU and the inclusion of Yoonthalla Services as a partner,” Prof Miller said.

“With this signing we can now move to making these hubs a reality as a place where education, enterprise and research come together in a smooth transition to produce further prosperity in the Woorabinda community.”

WASC Mayor Joshua Weazel said: “Our community’s movement towards building its capacity and long-term community development, requires an ask of our leaders’ today to seek collaborative partnerships that are conducive for this vision. Relationships with CQU allow for a credible partner with academia of which may not have been seen as relevant in previous times, but necessary.”

“Local non-government organisation Yoonthalla, is critical to building and creating an environment that supports, in partnership with Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council, the community’s governance and strategic direction,” he said.

“Underlying principles of research and evidence, will strategically support community leadership, that we envisage will create real sustainable change that is most importantly seen, felt, and has measurable outcomes from a community perspective.” 

Yoonthalla Services Woorabinda is the first community based non-government corporation in Woorabinda, established to address disadvantage experienced in the community. Yoonthalla Services Woorabinda works with the WASC to drive self-determination through social and emotional well-being, health services and economic development.

“The signing of this MOU highlights our commitment and partnership of working collaboratively and cohesively together towards increasing educational and entrepreneurial initiatives that reflect our community’s needs,” CEO Petulia Stokes said.

CQU’s OIE is collaborating with the Queensland Police Service (QPS), Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) and WASC to research the impact of establishing PCYC in the community.

CQU will have a dedicated office in Woorabinda above the Indigenous Knowledge Centre to allow CQU staff and Woorabinda community members to learn more about training and pathway opportunities.

Enterprise Hub associates CQU’s Central Queensland Regional Arts Services Network (CQRASN) hosted regular art workshops in Woorabinda, with the outcomes leading to plans to establish an Arts and Cultural Centre at Duaringa Hall.

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and WASC are partners in the project, with BHP allocating $1.3m in funding over three years going towards renovations and establishment of the Centre.

Another project involves Woorabinda Traditional Owner Uncle Steve, who is working with CQU’s CQIRP scientists to develop research on the medicinal properties of native plants.

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