Michael O'Leary Award for Innovation

Laura Burge, Residential ServicesLa Trobe University’s Residential Services’ Global Program was recognised at the Australasian Association of College and University Housing Officers Inc (AACUHO) conference in Adelaide, winning the Michael O'Leary Award for Innovation.

The program gives La Trobe residential students a valuable opportunity to travel abroad, interact with locals and participate in community outreach ventures,’ said Laura Burge, Acting Residential Life Coordinator, Residential Services and creator of the program (pictured).

‘Students are able to travel cheaply as airfares and accommodation are subsidised. Over 350 students over the past seven years  have travelled to Cambodia, Kenya, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Syria, Vanuatu and Nepal,’ she said.

‘They have volunteered in Cambodian orphanages, taught English in schools, created a website for lost dogs in Nepal, built chicken coups in Kenya and lived in a local village in Vanuatu.’

As part of the program $ 70,000 has been donated by La Trobe residential students to charities all over the world.

‘The program opens students’ eyes and shows them how lucky we are in Australia,’ Ms Burge said.

A former residential student at La Trobe who would have liked to see such programs during her days at College, Ms Burge said she was proud to win the Michael O'Leary Award for Innovation.

‘It was great to get such recognition. Residential service is traditionally known as offering a bed to students, but we are much more.

‘We want to help ensure that students are well-rounded young people after they leave La Trobe.  We hope students will bring the skills they acquired on the trip to their next job and contribute to the University community.

Ms Burge would like to extend the program to all students at La Trobe. There are also plans to create joint programs with other universities locally and overseas.

‘When we started the program it was quite basic but it grew over time as we made more international links and partnerships with other universities. We hope this continues.’

Ms Burge will discuss La Trobe’s innovative Residential Services’ Global Program at the international conference of the Association of College and University Housing (ACUHO-I) in Minneapolis later this year.


Media contact:

Laura Burge
Acting Residential Life Coordinator, Residential Services
T +61 3 9479 1072 | E l.burge@latrobe.edu.au

Dian Lipiarski
Media and Communications Officer
T +61 3 9479 5517 | E d.lipiarski@latrobe.edu.au