La Trobe free enterprise students make a difference

Nine students from the Mildura campus will represent La Trobe University at a major national leadership event – the annual 'Students In Free Enterprise' (SIFE) competition – to be held in Brisbane in July.

Accompanied by a staff member, they will present three of their projects for a chance to represent Australia at the 2008 SIFE World Cup in Singapore, in October.

The projects involve educational outreach teaching entrepreneurship, financial literacy, personal success skills, market economics and business ethics to create economic opportunity for others.

The La Trobe SIFE team will be competing against 27 Australian universities. The effectiveness of their projects will be judged by a panel of business executives and entrepreneurs.

Mildura campus Executive Director Kent Farrell says this is the fourth time La Trobe University has entered the competition. Last year the University was placed 5th out of 24 Australian universities.

The work of the La Trobe SIFE team, led and managed from the Mildura campus since 2005, is particularly noteworthy, he says. Most other Australian SIFE teams are from large metropolitan campuses: 'Coming in the top five last year – the champions were the University of Melbourne – was a fantastic achievement.'

SIFE is a global volunteer network of student, academic and business leaders active on more than 2,000 campuses in 48 countries. Student teams use what they have learnt in the classroom to help improve the lives of others by developing sustainable enterprises and stronger communities.

'At present,' says Mr Farrell, 'we have eleven active student members who come from the Schools of Business and Social Work and the Education Faculty, and five Alumni members. The local Business Advisory Board consists of eight business and community leaders from the education, marketing, business, finance and social work sectors.'

La Trobe University projects

Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Financial Literacy Project for Young People
SIFE La Trobe acted as facilitators to senior students in a local primary school. With parental and teacher guidance, 25 grade six students from Mildura South Primary School were involved in learning budgeting and financial literacy skills, through managing a large school function – a school disco which was attended by more than 150students – within a given budget. They also learnt about the importance of team work and the nature of competition.
Project RED (Reducing Environmental Damage)
This project was designed to reduce environmental impacts and improve the sustainability of people and businesses in the Mildura region. The La Trobe SIFE team formed a partnership with the Mildura Rural City Council, Mildura Regional Waste Management Group and Mildura City Heart to promote recycling. The project introduces the region's first permanent public recycling facility in Langtree Mall, Mildura. The $40,000 project budget was sourced from the Mildura Rural City Council, enabling the team to make a significant impact in improving the environment.
LIFE (Literacy Is For Everyone)
The La Trobe team is partnering with the Mildura Rural City Council Library Service and other local organisations in a $124,000 project to provide resourcing and access to literacy collections and programs through the local public library network, including the mobile library. SIFE La Trobe will tutor people with specific learning needs in the use of PC based literacy programs. The initiative has been supported by a Libraries Building Communities Demonstration Projects Grant from the State Library of Victoria.

The SIFE Australia national competition will be held in Brisbane from 10 to 12 July 2008.

Contact: Sue Watson (La Trobe SIFE President) Mob: 0408 227 776 or Tel: (03) 5051 4000.
See also the La Trobe SIFE website.