June 12th, 2019
Swinburne University of Technology have been offering professional placement programs for more than 55 years but none have made an impact quite like this one. Bachelor of Media and Communications student, Megan Kelly is the first to undertake a professional placement at a not-for-profit organisation funded entirely by a charitable organisation in Swinburne’s new not-for-profit model.
Not all organisations can afford to hire a professional placement student, especially in their communications department. Swinburne recognised this gap and created a model where charitable organisations can provide an alternative way to give back and build organisational capacity for not-for-profits.
Collier Charitable fund are the first to take part in the new model, funding professional placement student, Megan at not-for-profit, Launch Housing. Launch housing is a Melbourne based, secular and independent community agency working towards ending homelessness.
Through her placement, Megan has been given the opportunity to attend and conduct lived experience interviews for Launch Housing’s content marketing activities. She’s been able to tour three Launch Housing sites to more fully understand the homelessness services system and the difficulties people face when in a housing crisis. This opportunity has given her a glimpse into the range of challenges faced by not-for-profit organisations, as well as how to coordinate communications to lobby for changes and raise awareness within the community, and state and federal government.
Megan says her largest achievement has been the creation of information packages about Launch Housing and homelessness in Australia. This means Launch Housing will have a previously non-existent resource to share with students and teachers to manage ongoing, incoming requests for information, thus streamlining the team’s work and increasing the reach and impact they can have.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work I have created with Launch Housing and am surprised by how much I have been able to complete in such a short amount of time. Working on projects that you know will raise awareness and improve the livelihood of people experiencing homelessness everyday puts a bounce in my step; it’s the best part of working at Launch Housing.” Says Megan.
“The approach being undertaken by Swinburne and Collier is just another example of how we can support not-for-profit organisations. I am a big supporter of building organisational capacity and this is one way we can assist. It is also an opportunity to support and mentor students who are interested in making a difference.” Says Wendy Lewis, Executive Officer of Collier Charitable Fund.
Kalimar Donvin-Irons, Fundraising and Business Development Lead at Launch Housing has said that “without the support and generosity of the Collier Charitable Fund, we would not be able to take part in a program such as this. Partnering with the Collier Charitable Fund to initiate this placement has been such a success for Launch Housing. Their support in the implementation of the program, and recruitment of Megan was invaluable.”
“This placement has helped me define my future career path because I can now say with certainty that I want to remain in the field of not-for-profit and work for companies that strive for social change. In returning to my studies, I hope to maintain the connections I have made throughout my placement and to continue volunteering for causes that reflect my own beliefs.” Says Megan.
Swinburne hopes that this is just the first of many placements to be offered at not-for-profit organisations and funded by charitable organisations.
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By Nicole Cashman, Communication and Project Officer at Swinburne University of Technology