This Friday, 15th March, Meegan Fitzharris MLA will join Vinnies and ACU staff and volunteers, along with past and present students of Clemente, to celebrate a decade of the program on the ACU campus in Canberra.


“Clemente is a free university education program, run in partnership between Vinnies and the Australian Catholic University, that supports marginalised and disadvantaged adults to reconnect with education to support personal growth, potential job opportunities and further study,” said Meegan Fitzharris.


“Education is known to be a key social determinant of health and wellbeing and this makes it all the more important that opportunities to participate in education are made available to ensure all citizens share in the benefits of a developing society,” said Associate Professor Carolyn Broadbent.


Barnie van Wyk, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn, said, “Clemente is designed to support learning by building self-esteem, communication skills and social skills. Students are supported by teaching staff and volunteer mentors to develop a range of soft skills for success in the program and outside.”


Since Clemente started in Canberra, over 500 students have benefitted from this program.


For Assunta Arioli it has been a great opportunity to leave the house, and meet other people, though, after more than ten years since she was last in a classroom, she was originally a bit intimidated by the idea.


“I was scared. I think it scares people thinking ‘oh it’s uni’ and I think that’s why, before, I was really scared to come and do it. But now that I’ve started, I really love it,” she said.


After a series of car accidents, Assunta was no longer physically able to work. “I live with pain every day,” she said. She became isolated and her mental health suffered.


“Being a career girl, and then no longer being at that level, the depression built up,” she said.


Wanting to re-engage with her community, and with education, Assunta entered Clemente.


“The people here are just wonderful; they couldn’t do enough for you to keep you coming, and the people in the class themselves are so nice,” said Assunta.


Wednesday 12 March 2019