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About SCU Engagement

Get in touch!

For general enquiries please email and the relevant team member will respond to you as soon as possible.

If you are interested in partnering with SCU on a teaching or research project you can connect with:

Kristin den Exter
T: 02 6626 9250

For sustainability related enquiries across all campuses:

Kirsty Howton
T: 02 6620 3644

At Southern Cross University, engagement is a collaborative process that connects the University with communities in a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge, expertise and experience in the context of partnership, trust, respect and reciprocity.

Our vision and mission are firmly anchored in the ways that we enrich communities through the excellence of our graduates and the quality of our teaching and research.

SCU Engagement works to create distinctive opportunities for engaged learning and research, as a hallmark of the SCU experience.

We do this through:

  • Nurturing reciprocal relationships between the University and a range of organisations in the community;
  • Coordinating programs, curricula and other activities to embed engagement with communities as a foundation for the SCU student experience;
  • Collaborating on strategic and significant projects with University colleagues and partner organisations.

If you are interested in partnering with SCU on a teaching or research project we have a new online project noticeboard called Live Ideas with an easy to use online project submission form.

The SCU Engagement team works across all campuses and incorporates the Secretariat of Engagement Australia.

About the Team

Ben Roche
Head, SCU Engagement
Ben is the Head of the SCU Engagement portfolio and has overarching responsibility for its strategic leadership and realisation at SCU. Ben is based in Lismore and travels to each campus regularly. Ben is also Chair of the SCU Sustainability Policy Advisory Group. He is active on the Boards of Engagement Australia, Regional Arts NSW and Regional Development Australia - Northern Rivers. Ben is passionate about the role for community engagement as a scholarly method to create just and vibrant communities. He has taught, researched and practised in the areas of community-based learning, participatory planning, sustainable development, and community engagement. Ben is particularly interested in active and participatory forms of scholarship and specifically, the role that community settings can play in creating rich authentic learning contexts. Ben's contribution to community engagement in higher education, specifically service learning in multidisciplinary learning contexts, was recognised through a national teaching and learning award in 2008 and that same year he was the recipient of the Edith Cowan Authentic Learning Award from the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.
Louise Scheibel
Administrative Officer - SCU Engagement
Louise provides administrative operational support for all SCU Engagement activities at SCU. Louise is based in Lismore.

Karen Daley
Administrative Coordinator - Engagement Australia
Karen is an experienced administrator with most recent experience at ON-Q Human Resources working at a board and executive level. Karen is also a business owner and manager of around 7 years with qualifications in Business Administration and Finance. In her current role Karen coordinates all operational activities for Engagement Australia. Karen is based in Lismore.
Kirsty Howton
Manager, Sustainability - SCU Engagement
Kirsty manages the University's sustainability strategies which includes liaison with organisational units and academic schools and responding to issues and opportunities as they arise. Her role is focused on coordinating the implementation of internal programs aimed at enhancing staff engagement to improve the sustainability performance of the University. Kirsty provides high level input to the Sustainability Policy Advisory Group in the setting of University policy goals in the field of environmental sustainability. Though internally focussed Kirsty works collaboratively with colleagues in SCU Engagement on regional partnerships that seek to generate mutual benefit. Kirsty graduated from UNE (NR) with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Coastal Management) in 1991. Prior to returning to SCU Kirsty worked with the North Coast Institute of TAFE as Project Manager, Ecological Sustainability Initiatives. Kirsty was responsible for strategic planning, policy development, staff engagement and the project management of sustainability initiatives. Kirsty also has public administration and finance; customer service; project management and tertiary student administration experience.
Kristin den Exter
Engagement Facilitator (Lismore) - SCU Engagement
Kristin facilitates community engagement and partnership activity across the Southern Cross University footprint. Kristin coordinates the Live Ideas program providing real world, project based opportunities for students and staff to collaborate with community partners for mutual benefit. Kristin has a background in environmental science and management and has been recognised for her innovative and authentic approaches to teaching and curriculum design. Kristin's research interests include university-community engagement, environmental management decision making, group processes, participatory processes, knowledge sharing and knowledge creation.
Sarah Biersteker
Engagement Facilitator (Gold Coast) - SCU Engagement
Sarah facilitates community engagement and partnership activity across the Southern Cross University footprint. Sarah coordinates the Stories and Showcase program, which includes the Excellence in Engagement Awards, Stories of Engagement seminar series and other professional learning activities for academic staff. Sarah is a Certified Practising Marketer with an academic background in strategic marketing, entrepreneurship and food tourism. Sarah brings to the role a passion for facilitating the exchange of knowledge and collaborative partnerships that build regional economies.
Kath Fisher
Engaged Scholar - SCU Engagement
Kath is responsible for the co-delivery of the 'Community Engagement: Scholarship and Practice' unit offered through the Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice. For over 30 years Kath has taught in the areas of research management, politics, sociology, economics, participatory democracy, group processes and communication. She also trained and mentored postgraduate research students in her role as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for Research@SCU between 2002 and 2009. She has co-authored a text-book, Organising and Managing Your Research: a guide for postgraduates, published in 2007. Her current research interests are in critical reflection, community engaged learning and research, deliberative democracy and innovative consultation methods. In 2009 Kath received a national Learning and Teaching Award for her internationally recognised work in teaching and researching critical reflection. Funded by the grant associated with this award, Kath completed a study and research tour of US universities in 2011, meeting and collaborating with leaders in community engaged learning and research. Kath is based at the Lismore campus.