I’ve mentioned before that I look after the regional campuses of UOW. Well, I have “strategic oversight.” That means I read stuff, plot, and write stuff. It’s kind of a cool job because I’ve always been interested in giving extra help to students who may not have had the easiest path to education, and when you work in regional areas, you get to help quite a few of those.
One of the regional sites is UOW-Batemans Bay, and one of the very great perks of my job is that I get to come here to work, sometimes.
My association with the Bay goes back a long way. Like most people who grew up in New South Wales, I have vivid memories of coming here on a holiday as a child. Many years later, we started bringing our own children here.
Then in 2008 I took up the position of Learning Development lecturer in Batemans Bay, one day per week. I would get up early, leave the kids with a high school aged friend and trust they all got on the bus together, then head down the Highway. I spent my day offering learning support to students who were under-confident, and seeing their delight when they started to see their marks improve. It was a great job, but when I was offered 2 days a week doing the same thing but for students with Disabilities on the Wollongong campus, it was contingent on not continuing to do 4 hours of commute + an eight hour day in the other direction, as well.
In 2017 I secured my current position, and so I now get to travel to Batemans Bay and interact with the staff and students a couple of times each semester. One of my former students is now a staff member, supporting younger students. It is lovely to see that cycle of learning and teaching continuing.
In addition to its fine tradition in learning and teaching, UOW-Batemans Bay has serious props when it comes to community engagement. Community Engagement Grants from UOW have funded projects like the Possum Skin Cloak, which has pride of place in the campus foyer, and on stage at graduations.
In 2018 the team won a Vice-Chancellor’s Award for their next community engagement project, the Mogo and Mudji Project. UOW-Batemans Bay partnered with local primary schools in the area to produce two books, using local knowledge and language.
I’m very proud to have a copy of Grandfather’s Gully on my shelf– it is a cracking read. And it turns out that it may just be only the first book in this series, because publishers are seeking to expand the program to other areas and languages. UOW-Batemans Bay might be a small campus, but they have big ideas. And good ones.