2N Key transition points in the schooling years


Graeme Stuart,
University of Newcastle

Michele Oshan,

Kerrell Bourne,
University of Newcastle

Wednesday November 21 2018

Time: 4:55pm – 5:30pm

Room: Rosser Theatre

2N Key transition points in the schooling years

Why supporting parents in lifelong-learning is relevant to Family Services: A case study of Uni4You


Why would family services want to support parents to enrol in university study or undertake other lifelong learning opportunities?

The Family Action Centre established the Uni4You program in 2013 to support people who have generally never considered university as a possibility. Uni4You provides information sessions, preparatory workshops, learning support groups and case management to support participants as they make informed decisions about opportunities for lifelong-learning, and journey through an University enabling program or other lifelong learning opportunities.

Participants in Uni4You come from communities that are historically under-represented in Universities and also have a lived experience of low income, educational disadvantage, caring responsibilities in a single parent home, childhood trauma, disrupted family life, and/or associated health issues. The histories of family of origin and life experience add to the complexity of participating and navigating access to higher education.

We will discuss why such a program is relevant to family services, and how it supports school transitions and school success. As well as discussing some of the successes, we will also discuss some of the challenges (e.g., how to respond to the pressures that Uni4You can place on families and relationships, and resistance from some family and human service providers).The presentation will be based on the experience of the Uni4You team and results from 2018 research exploring:

  1.  What influences Uni4You participants’ decision, and ability, to participate (or not) in life-long learning activities in the context of tertiary education?
  2. What strengths and resources do they bring to their study and the University?
  3. What challenges do they face in undertaking University enabling programs and transitioning to undergraduate programs?
  4. How can they best be supported (at an individual, family and community level) to succeed in University enabling programs and other lifelong learning?
  5. How do community-based widening participation programs such as Uni4You impact on individuals, their families, neighbourhoods, communities, and institutions?

The research is a partnership between University researchers and the Uni4You program staff (who are part of the family’s program team at the Family Action Centre) and recognises the expertise of the Uni4You participants by adopting an approach based on co-design and co-production which involve stakeholders in research processes rather than having research ‘done on’ them.

In the spirit of “leaving no one behind” we want to challenge family services to think about how they can support parents to consider university and other lifelong-learning opportunities.


Graeme, an academic, has a passion for strengths-based approaches to working with families and communities.

Michele, the Uni4You team leader, has extensive experience in capacity building with individuals, families and communities.

Kerrell, the Manager of Family and Community Programs, has over 30 years’ experience as a family worker and manager.