A community engagement collaboration between QUT and the Barcaldine Regional Council aims to explore ways to boost environmental sustainability, increase employment and elevate industry diversification in Central West Queensland.
The partnership, the first of its kind between QUT and a regional council, was formalised when QUT and the Barcaldine Regional Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding today (Friday November 24).
The memorandum of understanding was signed by QUT Professor Margaret Sheil and Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Councillor Sean Dillon.
The MOU will enable QUT and Barcaldine Regional Council to explore opportunities for collaborative projects and activities that build on their respective research strengths, knowledge, and expertise, primarily in the fields of clean energy and agriculture.
QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil said the agreement represented an excellent match for QUT and the Barcaldine Regional Council.
Caption: left to right- Professor Kerrie Wilson, Professor Ian Mackinnon, Barcaldine acting CEO Brett Walsh, Professor Margaret Sheil, David Russo, Professor Ian O’Hara, Barcaldine Mayor Councillor Sean Dillon, Dr John Byron and Professor Mark Harvey. Photo: Anthony Weate.
“QUT has a number of teaching and research strengths which strongly complement the council’s vision for the Barcaldine Renewable Energy Hub (BREH) and address critical social issues faced by remote communities,” Professor Sheil said.
Cr Dillon said the collaboration would allow Barcaldine to benefit from QUT’s expertise in many fields.
“We look forward to working with QUT to boost the Barcaldine community in many ways including in agriculture, energy and community-led arts and cultural approaches to community well-being,” Cr Dillon said.
As part of the collaboration, projects will include:
- Barcaldine Renewable Energy Hub (BREH)
This research project will look at the social impact of the hub, which will represent, and evaluate, community engagement and outcomes, and understand the most effective ways to tell the Barcaldine story to attract visitors and residents.
- Student Work Integrated Learning
Four QUT Science and Engineering Faculty final year students will work with the Barcaldine Regional Council as part of its Work Integrated Learning program – an important component for their degree which is focussed on real-world learning opportunities and engagement.
- Higher Degree Research
PhD scholarships will be established to look at research topics associated with Barcaldine’s unique community, economic and agriculture profile, including the Renewable Energy Hub. An initial scholarship addressing converting prickly acacia biomass to biochar for beneficial use will be scoped for 2021-2022.
- Community resilience research
Research undertaken for The Australian Research Council funded Linkage project will investigate The Role of the Creative Arts in Regional Australia: A Social Impact Model will be conducted in Barcaldine.
- Growing regional sustainability
This project will explore how regional communities can be supported while preserving their original character.
Also involved in the signing were Barcaldine Regional Council acting chief executive officer Brett Walsh, QUT Vice-President (Business Development), Professor Mark Harvey, Institute for Future Environments Executive Director Professor Kerrie Wilson, Centre for Clean Energy Technologies and Practices Director Professor Ian Mackinnon, Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy Deputy Director Professor Ian O’Hara and Government Relations and Policy Director Dr John Byron.