Supporting regional Australian communities to ‘live better’
For over 30 years, LiveBetter has provided high quality community services to rural, regional and remote areas within Australia, and remains the largest network of support for these communities in the country.
In second semester 2017, a group of UTS Master of Project Management students had the opportunity to work with LiveBetter through UTS Shopfront Community Program to examine the impact of a blueprint plan for a regional community centre.
The students had the challenge of working with a client based in regional NSW, but the team saw value in working with a remote community organisation.
“Great project management identifies limitations and risks early on and puts measures into place to maximise the project's chance of success,” says Gabriel Cheung, a member of the student team.
“I strongly believe having a regional client wasn’t a negative because we had the opportunity to make real changes to an organisation that may not have otherwise had that expertise”.
Gabriel, along with his team members Naveen Linga, Anita Martincic and Saed Shnoudi, evaluated an existing community centre from a project management perspective to identify areas of success and improvement for future planning for rural/regional community centres.
Their learnings around operations and venue management will feed into the development of any future community centres.
“The students delivered a really thorough and useful report. They didn’t hold back – they really worked hard to identify what was working and what wasn’t”, says Dr. Greg Dresser, Senior Manager Research and Evaluation at LiveBetter.
“One of the great successes was the diverse expertise the students brought to the project, they really helped to fill the gaps within the organisation and provide important support in areas we didn’t have knowledge in.”
LiveBetter employs over 1500 staff working across 60 locations in Australia and has a focus on aged care, disability services and community engagement.
The students, who were supervised by Professor Shankar Sankaran and mentored by James Geng, said the project offered them a different perspective about where their career could take them.
“Before this project I never would have considered consultancy,” says Mr Cheung. “Helping clients to refine their project management practice, especially those who lack resources like community organisations, is really gratifying.”
The project also gave the students an opportunity to explore the unique problems facing rural and regional Australia.
“Everyone in the team had different backgrounds and a varying understanding of the role the community sector plays in regional Australia”, says Mr Cheung. “Through this project we came to understand just how important regional community centres are.”
People residing in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia face greater likelihood of social isolation and are often further away from essential health care, meaning services like LiveBetter play a vital role in supporting and sustaining these communities.
“Through the project, the students allowed us to confirm that community hubs are an ideal way to stimulate regional communities and provide much-needed support to these Australians,” Dr. Dresser said.
More information about Shopfront Community Projects can be found here.