After joining ACU in 2018 Daniel soon put his hand up to support a range of local community engagement programs which benefit ACU students, staff and the surrounding community of Banyo.
In his role of National Professional Practice Lead, Daniel also looked to create more placement opportunities for students undertaking the Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology.
His efforts have expanded community engagement opportunities through initiatives such as guided walks on campus, supporting soccer games for people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and establishing a health check program for workers at the nearby Holy Cross Laundry service.
Daniel has worked with Dr Matthew Pink from ACU Engagement to explore new ways to provide outreach and access to services, particularly to disadvantaged community members.
They collaborated last year to obtain a $5,000 grant for the 10k Steps Banyo program and a sensory Flourish Garden, opening the Brisbane Campus to the public by creating community walking tracks.
The walkways are open to all, and free guided walks are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These walks are led by ACU Exercise Physiology students on placement with the ACU Exercise Lifestyle Clinic and give walkers a chance to chat and ask health and fitness questions.
Daniel said the program had been particularly popular with older residents, who may not feel confident walking on their own, may fear the risk of a fall or have other concerns that stop them from being physically active.
“At the start of the program some people reported being depressed due to not being able to get out and about. But now, 12 months on, some of regular walkers report feeling much better because they’re exercising, getting fresh air and getting exposure to the beautiful green and blue spaces we have around on our campus.”
This year, Daniel has also collaborated with local not-for-profit organisation, Holy Cross Laundry, after identifying that cost was preventing some workers from accessing health care services.
“We’ll be providing free health screening for around 200 workers. Anyone found to be at risk for certain health conditions will be eligible for a further assessment with their GP. Depending on their results, they may be able to access a health plan to receive some allied health services without cost to them, such as those provided by ACU Exercise Lifestyle Clinic,” Daniel said.
Daniel also volunteered to take over the management of the Kicking Goals Together program and worked to expand its reach. ACU supports this program in partnership with Multicultural Development Australia (MDA), to assist people from refugee and migrant backgrounds aged 15 to 25 to build life skills and to play soccer tournaments on campus.
“To help with language barriers, John O’Leary a local Christian Brother volunteered to run English language skills after the soccer. So that meant participants had the opportunity to attend a SkillUp job skills class, then play soccer, then attend an English skills class, all on our campus,” Daniel said.
The program has also worked to increase female participation through providing supportive one-on-one coaching sessions and smaller games to build players’ confidence in joining the larger competitive tournament.
The program has brought many benefits for people like Husna, and Daniel says it has encouraged increased interest in pursuing education opportunities amongst the participants.
The program provides a great opportunity for ACU’s Exercise Science students and staff alike, and Daniel encourages anyone who wants to get involved to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Come and join in the soccer, or there’s many other ways you can be involved. You can help us run a BBQ, be a referee, or just come and talk to the young people who participate. For example, we get lots of questions about what it’s like to work in IT or to study business, and those are questions I can’t answer.”
“When the tournament ends and someone comes up to you and says ‘thanks for running it’ - it’s pretty special. I’ve made a lot of new friends through the program. I’ll be donating the prize money back to the program.”