20 May 2009

A group of 11 students recently became the first graduating class for UQ's Graduate Certificate in Community Relations (Resources Sector) program.

The program was launched in 2008 under an agreement between the Minerals Council of Australia and UQ to provide a professionalisation pathway for resource personnel working in the field of community relations.

Professor David Brereton, Director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) which coordinates the program, said UQ had a strong commitment to professional education and the principles of life-long learning.

“The Graduate Certificate program is a model of how the university and industry sectors can work together to advance these principles,” he said.

Director of Health, Safety, Environment and Community Policy, Minerals Council of Australia, Melanie Stutsel, congratulated the inaugural graduating class on their great achievement.

“The MCA is really pleased to see such success in the first year of the program, and the interest and enthusiasm generated in a professional post graduate degree program to complement the work of community relations practitioner roles within the sector,” she said.

“This marks an important milestone for the program, and we look forward to celebrating more such events over the coming years.”

Graduate student and Environmental Specialist with Rio Tinto at Simandou Project in Guinea, Jonathan Crosbie, said he found the course to be extremely interesting and rewarding.

“The community development and engagement skills that I have learnt have given me a better understanding of our communities, a greater awareness of relationship building and the need to work constructively both within the community and company,” he said

The program is coordinated by the CSRM, part of the Sustainable Minerals Institute, on behalf of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

At the beginning of the program, students attended a week of intensive workshops which enabled them to form a network of community relations practitioners through meetings with staff and other students.

As part of the curriculum, the students had to complete four customized courses, which were delivered principally in an online learning environment. Project assignments and class discussions also formed part of the formal learning session.

Courses are delivered by CSRM staff and specialists from the School of Social Work and Human Services (SWAHS), as well as an elective subject offered through the Australian National University.

Media: Professor David Brereton (07 3346 4043, d.brereton@smi.uq.edu.au).