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UniSA and Catherine House empowering women through unique course


Women experiencing homelessness are being empowered to further their education through a course being offered by the UniSA College in collaboration with Catherine House.

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In April the college will begin a new 10-week intensive program, ‘Critical Thinking, Media and Academia’ which has been designed specifically for clients from Catherine House.

“Our aim is to provide a really positive, nurturing experience at uni for the clients, in the hope some of them may consider this is a pathway for them,” said lecturer Dr Sarah Hattam, who runs the course in conjunction with Dr Snjezana Bilic.

“They might decide they are not ready for university but they will go to TAFE with an intention to coming back here.”

The new program follows the success of a seven-week Intensive Sociology course which has been offered since 2015.

Dr Hattam said the college had worked closely with Catherine House’s education coach Cath Sarah to develop the new course and meet the needs and interests of their clients.

“They have an option to come along and just sit in a room with us and learn about the discipline or they can choose to submit assessments at the end and receive a credit for it. That credit would go towards enrolling in a one-year Foundations program.

“A lot of it involves building up their confidence,” explained Dr Hattam.

Last year one of the graduates of the course, Tania McHendrie was named the 2017 Adult Learner of the Year. After completing the course and other studies, this year she has started an Honours program majoring in sociology at UniSA’s School of Communication, Languages and International Studies.

Dr Hattam said there were other examples of women from Catherine House embarking on further studies as a result of this initial course.

“We are changing lives and that’s what we see,” she said.

With a background in women’s studies, Dr Hattam said she was thrilled to be able to work with the women from Catherine House.

“When I was offered this course I was very excited that in my role I could do something specific about empowering women.

“Knowing they have been through really turbulent times and they now have some hope… giving someone hope, there is nothing better than that. It’s all about them having a better life and economic independence.”



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