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McCusker Centre’s increasingly popular program passes 3000 internships

6 December, 2023

The McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA (the Centre) has reached a major milestone, with more than 3000 internships undertaken through its award-winning Internship Program, which has grown significantly since 2016 with just 16 students.

More than 500 industry partners across the Western Australian community collaborate with the Centre to provide students with opportunities to engage in real work in the community,  develop their awareness of social issues in WA communities and their ability to contribute as active citizens.  Students have contributed over 300,000 hours to support projects throughout the State.

Hannah Liang, a Master of Information Technology student at UWA, interned with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) in 2023, leading the development of an app to support improved bushfire prediction models.

Vicky Reynen, A/Regional Fire Services Coordinator with DBCA’s Parks and Wildlife Service and Hannah’s internship supervisor, said that the app Hannah created would help modernise data collection methods. 

“My internship has changed my understanding of the complexity and importance of fire management,” Hannah said.

“Seeing how DBCA operates to protect the environment first-hand has given me a deeper appreciation for the work done in this field… These insights have sparked a stronger interest in environmental conservation for me, potentially shaping my future career path.”

Hannah’s work on the project impressed staff at the DBCA, so much so that she was offered a paid role in the future, to continue work related to the internship project.

There is overwhelming positive feedback both form the Centre’s students and industry partners with 97% saying they would recommend the program.

Antonella Segre is the CEO of ADHD WA and has supervised 17 Centre interns since 2016.

“Interns have the opportunity to acquire a wide range of skills, build valuable professional networks and gain exposure to diverse perspectives, cultures and communities, which can be enriching and valuable to their personal growth,” Ms Segre said.

“Students also bring fresh perspectives, new and innovative ideas that lead to creative solutions generating new opportunities for the organisation. In the long run, after their internship, they become ambassadors and advocates for change.

“I have found that students in this program come with a strong sense of community and social justice, and they are open to challenging their thinking,” she said.

McCusker Centre for Citizenship Director, Michelle Scott OAM, said that there is a real appetite amongst young people at UWA to make a difference in their community and demand for this unique internship experience continues to grow.

“We are inspired seeing students undertake internships where they make a meaningful contribution, develop their skills, and strengthen their commitment to positive change in communities in WA and beyond.

“The Centre could not deliver this program without the support and collaboration of our industry partners. We are extremely grateful to all of the organisations and individuals who have and continue to be a part of this program, providing students with outstanding opportunities to develop as caring and socially engaged citizens and leaders,” she said.