My name is Lynda Shevellar and in the context of this blog, I am the course coordinator of a postgraduate university subject. I work at the University of Queensland where I currently have three different roles:

  • I coordinate two courses: SWSP7123 (Community Planning, Engagement and Governance) – which I love and which this blog relates to – and SWSP2288 (Community Development: Local and International Practices), where I get to hang out with very switched on social science students.
  • I am a research fellow in an ARC funded project that explores alternative credit in Australia
  • I am also the SWAHS student mentor: see http://studentmentor.wordpress.com/

Because I do not have a permanent full time position you won’t find me on any of the UQ homepages, so I thought I would put up a note to introduce myself and explain my background.

I first enrolled at The University of Queensland as an undergraduate in 1990, and the learning experience has altered substantially since then. I have had to learn about life at UQ all over again! I too have been wrestling with various systems and structures, trying to find my way around, and work out how things work.

My first degrees were in psychology (a BA and Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology), where I fell in love with the power of participation as a vehicle for learning and change and had the privilege of learning about action research from Bob Dick. I have a research Masters of Education in Training and Development from Southern Cross University, where I pursued my interest in interpersonal communication in my homeland of the beautiful North Coast region of NSW. And in 2009 I completed my PhD in Community Development through the School of Social Work and Human Services here at UQ. Following my career in the public service, I’ve spent almost all of the last decade studying part-time whilst working full-time as a consultant and manager in the disability field, and in the community development field more broadly. So I have a pretty good idea of what it feels like to juggle the competing demands of work, study and home. I also have lots of experience working in the community sector and know both the rewards and the challenges of the work we do.

I have been fortunate to have had an extraordinary breadth of roles and experiences as a public servant, project worker, manager, researcher, consultant and academic. I have been conducting workshops, undertaking organisational change and development work, managing projects, coordinating conferences, delivering training and undertaking research, community consultation and evaluations for the past fifteen years. My fields of interest have included disability, mental health, bureaucracy, rural communities, and alternative finance (fringe economy research and community finance project work). Despite the differences, they have all had at their core a focus upon positive social change.

What I love about the work I do is that it never ceases to surprise me where I’ll end up. Through the developmental work I’ve undertaken I have:

  • spent time with students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • discussed palliative care options with doctors
  • chatted to truckies about their views on median strips
  • travelled through Diamontina Shire in Western Queensland visiting child care programs
  • engaged in strategic planning exercises with large organisations
  • conducted research with people with disabilities into community isolation and belonging
  • run team building days on the beach
  • worked with indigenous high school students in Alice Springs to develop student-centred approaches to learning
  • assisted a group of parents to take an alternative view of finance and developed resources to assist this process
  • spent time with people with mental health challenges to listen to their experiences of spirituality
  • supported a group of people to develop a local literacy project
  • assisted families of people with disabilities to imagine and create a better future
  • taught drama to five-year-olds

 

I believe in participating strongly in my local community and I am part of the operating committee of a local mental health network that assists people who are isolated to connect to community. I am part of the committee for the Mt Coot-tha Greens and I am also part of the Praxis Community Coop http://www.communitypraxis.org/, a worker’s cooperative which exists to resource and strengthen the capacities of groups and organisations in developing peaceful, just and sustainable communities.

I follow this path because I want to effect change in my world. I want to assist others to do the same, and learn from those around me. I have a belief in the power of people coming together, a faith in our collective wisdom, a commitment to standing alongside the most vulnerable members of our community and a very realistic view on how hard it is sometimes to just BE together.

We are all students in life – with differing degrees of formality – and I think being a student requires enormous heart and courage. I think that the academic part of study is sometimes the easier part of student life. The harder part is the challenge to stay focused and disciplined, to pick yourself up after disappointments, to maintain life balance and good mental and physical health and to cope with all the other demands and stresses in your life that make studying difficult. I see part of my role within the uni as being a friendly face to help students when they are feeling overwhelmed and unsure what to do.

I look forward to meeting you.

5 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Jane Says:

    Hello! i am not entirely sure what i have entered, but it looks great! well done you,
    warmly
    j

  2. gail Says:

    Feedback on About Me
    Interesting how you can know someone for years, and not really know all that much about the work they do. Loved reading your history, impressive and you come across as a very approachable and caring person.

  3. Dien Says:

    Hi Doctor Lynda, through your course introduction video clip and your profile, my first impression of you is friendly, sociable and responsible. I feel impressed at your works and your point of wiew as well. I am also a community development worker from Viet Nam, and I am going to study SWSP 7123. I very much look forward to this interesting course as I will be able to share my own experience and learn from you and other students.


    • Thanks Dien – I’m so pleased that already my students have found this site and are interacting – it bodes well for the course. I look forward to meeting you face to face in a few weeks. Thanks for your lovely feedback.

  4. Ashok Says:

    Dear Lynda
    I have been attracted by the title of this course. Without going through the course profile, I have chosen it. It has been great to be with you in the seminar today. I believe, I have chosen a right course, which interests me.

    Back home I was involved with a local NGO which works with indigenous communities, with a particular focus on community empowerment, livelihood promotion, and capacity building of community leaders and development workers. I have interest in community planning, engagement and indigenous issues, among others.

    Your idea of blogging as part of learning seems to be very interesting to me. It is an innovative idea indeed! I hope to learn more through interaction with you and students in the class.

    Kind regards
    Ashok


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