Issue 9 - 1 October 2012 enews home

Humanitarian students to hit ground running at hot spots

By Patrick Nelson

Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies undergraduate Quintaysha Cartwright during a vehicle recovery exercise at Mataranka Station

Seven Charles Darwin University students will travel overseas in the next few weeks to undertake study-work placements with humanitarian agencies in some of the world's hot spots.

The Bachelor of Humanitarian and Community Studies undergraduates will fulfill a variety of technical, logistical and administrative roles during their 70-day placements in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Cambodia, Timor Leste and Vanuatu.

Course coordinator Dan Baschiera said each student had been well prepared to make an immediate impact in challenging environments.

"They have all undergone rigorous practical and theoretical training and are well equipped to hit the ground running," Mr Baschiera said.

"All completed an intensive training placement at an outback bush camp on Mataranka Station earlier this year where their classroom theory was enriched with hands-on practise.

"The training involved the design and preparation of a quarantine camp for a population of 15,000, in circumstances where resources were limited, due to remoteness."

Mr Baschiera said that while students had been taught how to manage chaos, risk, and were well versed in humanitarian intelligence and security, they would not be sent to conflict areas.

"One has received approval to work on a humanitarian outreach program in Uganda and another will carry out a community development research project in Cambodia."

Mr Baschiera said students did not necessarily have to travel overseas to participate in humanitarian work.

"There's work here in our own backyard," he said.

"We have students working with the Red Cross, in child protection and in the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre."

Mr Baschiera said humanitarian studies was a growing, complex and dynamic field of work where one needed to be able to respond appropriately to a broad range of complex environmental threats, situations and contexts.

"Global warming and the use of social media in the Arab Spring are two examples of current issues of interest to humanitarians and which can have a huge impact on the risk of aid work.

"Several humanitarian organisations and universities, including Harvard, have expressed interest in the cutting-edge work we are doing in evolving an academic discipline and learning space in humanitarianism," he said.