SINCE the doors opened at Mount Gambier’s Uni-SA campus in 2005, passionate educator Dr Sue Mutton has been there to guide students to a successful career in social work.
For over a decade, Dr Mutton has worked as a lecturer in social work at the Mount Gambier Centre for Regional Engagement.
Now, after watching a number of students graduate, Dr Mutton will retire from her position at the university.
Her expertise will be missed by students in the classroom and campus staff.
The ever-changing university space has undergone plenty of developments in recent years and Dr Mutton said she was always kept on her toes.
“We have had some dramatic changes over the years,” she said.
“From technology to the campus itself, we had to adapt.
“We quickly outgrew our initial location and now we have this fantastic state-of-the-art facility which has further enhanced the student learning experience.”
Dr Mutton previously delivered lectures to some classes over the phone, but now with modern technology students are able to access information from various locations on a number of devices.
“The way of delivering lectures has changed drastically,” she said.
“I remember a time where I would deliver lectures on the phone to students in Whyalla and if the technology failed we had to think on our feet.”
Having faced a number of challenges over the years, Dr Mutton said new technology was always an interesting feat.
“One of the many ongoing challenges was being able to keep on top of the technology available to us,” she said.
“Now most of the lectures are available digitally for students to access whenever required and we can video-in to our other regional based students.”
Dr Mutton said regional-based students were treated to a far more personalised learning experience.
“It is a fantastic experience for students, we have small classes and are still able to tap into extra resources city students gain access to,” she said.
“The best part is the majority of our graduates are employed locally in human services or community health, which means we can watch the great work they are doing in our area.”
She said teaching at the university was rewarding, purely because of the students’ success.
“I feel so proud to see my former students in the workforce and I have been very impressed with the quality of care they are providing to our community,” Dr Mutton said.
“It is the greatest reward to see students come as first years then develop and grow into competent social workers.
“Teaching brings me great joy.”
Construction of the revamped $12.5m UniSA learning centre began in 2015 and was completed the following year.
With a top facility and dedicated educators, Dr Mutton believes the university will continue to strengthen the community.
“It is great for us to have tertiary education embedded in our community because not only are we providing training to students, but also strengthening local agencies who hire our qualified social workers,” she said.
Before her appointment with UniSA, Dr Mutton was the chief executive officer of the South East Regional Domestic Violence Services for six years.
Her further employment history has included large non-governmental welfare organisations in the homeless and disability sectors in managerial roles.
Dr Mutton has held positions of chair of the Council to Homeless Persons SA and as a board member of Australian Federation of Homeless Organisations and Homelessness SA.
In addition, she has had two successive appointments to the South Australian Government Supported Accommodation Assistance Advisory Board.
She was also the South East Community Legal Service chairperson and heavily involved in the campaign and fight to maintain the service in the South East.
Unfortunately the service closed its doors due to State Government funding cuts earlier this year, with a new operator taking its place.
Dr Mutton is looking forward to moving into retirement, but said she would not be a stranger to the university.
“I think I am going to relax a bit,” she said.
“However, I still have a few projects in the works so I will be keeping busy.”