New agreement brings research to reality in local community

The University's partnership with NSW Family and Community Services has been strengthened by a new agreement ensuring UNSW research has a practical impact on the local community.


UNSW and FACS have signed an MOU ensuring research becomes a reality in the local community. Photo: Thinkstock

The University's 20-year relationship with NSW Family and Community Services (FACS) has been further strengthened by an agreement ensuring UNSW research has a practical impact on the local community.

UNSW has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the South Eastern Sydney District of FACS that will unite university research with the hands-on experience of local FACS staff. The MOU will also increase the number of internships available to UNSW students. 

The University-wide agreement involves Arts and Social Sciences, Law, Medicine and Built Environment.

Professor Eileen Baldry from Arts and Social Sciences, who has worked with FACS on numerous research projects over the past two decades, said the MOU will provide more opportunities for the practical implementation of UNSW research.

“So much of UNSW’s research is relevant to FACS, and neither they, nor we, want this important information to sit on the University’s shelves - it needs to be put into practice,” said Professor Baldry.

“This is about UNSW being a good neighbour and our community engagement with the local area is hugely important.”

Minister for Family and Community Services Gabrielle Upton welcomed the agreement as “a unique opportunity to foster a stronger link between cutting-edge research and practical experience”.

“This MOU is the first of its kind between FACS and such a prestigious academic institution, and will open exciting new avenues for collaboration,” Ms Upton said.

UNSW and FACS will work together in a number of research areas, including social work, criminology, education, disability studies, social policy, architectural studies, Indigenous law, neuropsychiatry, intellectual disability, dementia research, brain ageing, public health and community health.

UNSW’s relationship with FACS began in 1995 through the Community Development Project (CDP), which established connections between the University, public housing tenants and the NSW Department of Housing.

Since the project’s inception, five community gardens have been developed across Waterloo, Redfern and Chifley, offering public housing tenants a sense of community and access to home-grown food. The program has also initiated leadership training, after-school programs, art groups, cooking classes and employment assistance schemes that provide UNSW social work students with practical work experience.

“The CDP is a great example of a collaboration between the University and FACS that has had a very real and positive impact on people’s lives and the local community,” said Professor Baldry, who has been involved with the CDP since its inception.

“The new agreement will provide even more opportunities for our research to become a reality."

FACS also funds the Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health at UNSW held by Associate Professor Julian Trollor and has supported the establishment of the UNSW Chair in Intellectual Disability and Behaviour Support. The inaugural appointment to the Chair will be announced in coming months.

Media contact: Fran Strachan, UNSW Media Office, 9385 9732, 0429 146 070