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An Australian mining giant is funding non-mining scholarships in a unique
project with CQUniversity, writes Tamsen Clifford-Banks
anaging the impacts of mining growth on its
communities is a priority for many of australia’s
large mining organisations. However, for BHP
Billiton Mitsui Coal Pty Ltd (BMC), this is a
commitment they take seriously; working to ensure they are
promoting healthy, strong and sustainable communities, equipped
with the resilience to change by understanding community needs.
This emphasis on working harmoniously with their community
is a principle shared by CQuniversity, and provides the foundation
for a beneficial and successful partnership.
in December last year, BMC undertook a community
needs assessment to determine issues relevant to the
Mackay, whitsunday and isaac regions. The results showed
accommodation, skills shortages particularly in non-mining fields,
and managing impacts of mining grow th were critical issues for the
community. also as part of this process education was identified as
one of the region’s strengths.
To help develop strategies to address these areas of concern,
the BMC education initiative advisory group was developed.
Comprising three BMC leaders and three community opinion
leaders, the group set out to develop the first of its projects to
address regional challenges through education and training
initiatives. The BMC Building My Career Scholarships were created.
The five -year scholarship partnership with CQuniversity,
which is valued at $1.1 million, encourages students to participate
in education by eliminating what is perceived to be one of the major
roadblocks for students in and around Mackay in participating in
tertiar y education – accommodation. Scholarship winners will
be selected based on their intention to remaininthe area after
graduation and give back to the communities in which they live, as
well as their prior academic achievements.
Offered to first year CQuniversit y students residing in the
Mackay, whitsunday and isaac regions, who are commencing
their studies in 2012, it will provide students with modern ensuite,
motel style accommodation units or ‘pods’ throughout their
studies at CQuniversit y Mackay, including full board during the
academic term. This allows students to stay close to their families,
in a safe and secure environment, where they can concentrate
on their studies without the financial strain of renting private
accommodation. The scholarship will provide encouragement and
support to students as they gain the skills that will have a direct
benefit to the region.
The benefits of the scholarship will continue long after the
students graduate, and will have long term benefit s for the region
and the community, by injecting professional skills into the area.
The scholarship is an unusual offering in some ways for a
mining company, as it is specifically offered to students wishing to
undertake non-mining careers that are deemed as being ofbenefit
to the region.
BMC asset President and Chair of the advisory group Michael
Rosengren says BMC acknowledges that accommodation, skills
shortages and sustaining rural populations are key community
concerns in the greater Mackay region.
“Often the cost of living away from home, relating to rent and
other expenses is prohibitive, and the desire to study often loses out
in the battle against high paying roles available to school leavers,”
“ These scholarships will enable students wishing to study in
non-mining skills areas such as teaching and nursing to access their
local world-class university with minimal impact to their budget.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor (engagement) CQuniversit y and Head of
Campus Mackay, Pierre Viljoen says the partnership will provide
benefits for multiple parties. “ This productive partnership with
BMC, is a great example of CQuniversity engaging with industr y
and the community in a collaborative relationship which will
provide mutually beneficial outcomes, for BMC, CQuniversity and
most importantly for the Mackay region.” �
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