Mildura students take national stage

SIFE Mildura attendees

SIFE Mildura attendeesThree Mildura students from La Trobe University had the unique chance to attend the prestigious Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) Competition in Sydney to present their community projects on a national stage.

La Trobe’s Jay Smith, Kirsty Duncan and Anthony Hall all agreed it was a great opportunity to showcase their community projects to a judging panel made up of high level executives from national and multinational organisations.

The three students were among 300 students from over 20 universities from around Australia.

‘SIFE teams are made up of students and mentor, and students are encouraged to implement and develop their own community project,’ explains SIFE member Kirsty Duncan.

SIFE has already made a positive impact in Mildura. A previously successful and on-going project implemented last year is the Literacy is for Everyone (LIFE) partnership SIFE formed with the Mildura Rural City Council.

Kirsty‘s venture which she presented in Sydney was the HSBC Financial Literacy project. It is geared towards improving the financial understanding of high school aboriginal students in the Sunraysia region by teaching them tips to save and make the most of their money.

Another key aim of this program is to improve attendance rates and grades of students.

Kirsty says her project that it is an opportunity to give back to her high school. Initially Kirsty was inspired into action by Prime Minister Rudd’s report ‘Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage,’ which tracked the quality of life indicators of this group.

Kirsty sees her project as a realistic and innovative way of addressing aspects of this disadvantage.
Funding for the project was provided by the HSBC bank, and students will use their new found financial knowledge and apply it to running their own small business venture.

The students incentive is that the proceeds will fund a road trip to Adelaide to watch a basketball game.

‘The SIFE projects give students an opportunity to implement their knowledge from the class room in a practical context. These projects are very valuable- students use skills they have to gain life experiences, which will help them make the transition from university to the work environment,’ said Kent Farrell, Executive Director for Mildura’s La Trobe University.

La Trobe faculty advisor, Gail Ahern says that she has enjoyed giving direction and guidance to a team of motivated students.

‘The trip to Sydney has been a great opportunity for the students to extend themselves in a pressurised situation.’

Gail says that the feedback from the judges was positive.

‘One noted point was how our SIFE team were addressing indigenous literacy at a high school level.
The judges also stated that is type of project is of value to the community that the students live in. That type of validation is important because it inspires our SIFE team to become more involved in our local community.’

Students in the past have received job offers from multi-national and national organisations during and after attending SIFE and presenting at SIFE competitions.

‘The best thing about the SIFE Nationals is that I was able to meet and interact with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds, see other projects in Australia, and find inspiration for other future projects,’ says Kristy, who was able to network with employers from some of Australia's biggest companies - Woolworths, Coca-Cola Amital, Fonterra and HSBC.

To find out more about SIFE please go to the SIFE Mildura website.

For more information, please contact:

Rebecca Wells
Faculty Support Officer
Regional School of Business
03 5051 4020