The Western Bulldogs have a long-standing history as the community club of the AFL. The Western Bulldogs Community Foundation (WBCF) is the community services arm of the Club that delivers innovative and engaging community services for individuals and families living in Victoria’s west.

Since 2016, VU has been an active contributor to the Foundation. We work alongside the Foundation team to:

  • deliver programs through student placements and projects
  • gather research and conduct evaluation
  • facilitate advocacy for the diverse community of the west.

A working model for the west

The WBCF recognises that the west is a diverse community with varying needs. To ensure programs reflect the needs of those within their backyard, they have worked tirelessly to identify and perfect program delivery across four key pillars:

  • Health & Wellbeing (Sons and Daughters of the West)
  • Youth Leadership (Nallei-Jerring Leadership Program, Leaders of the Pack)
  • Diversity and Social Inclusion (CALDplay, GOAL)
  • Community Advocacy.

African-Australian Bulldogs community

Diverse participants

WBCF had 3100 participants from 78 different countries in 2019

100+ partners

In 2019, more than 100 program partners took part in the program

560+ sessions

More than 560 program sessions are delivered annually

A working model for VU

In 2016, the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation (WBCF) and Victoria University (VU) established an innovative, industry-first partnership. Our staff and students work with the Foundation to build strong and vibrant communities in Victoria’s west. 

The partnership not only provides VU students with industry-based placement opportunities; it also assists in evaluating the WBCF programs with high-quality research.

In addition, VU and the WBCF collaborate on key events to engage the wider community and use both organisations’ position for community advocacy. Events have included:

  • International Women’s Day
  • Cultural Diversity Week
  • Iftar.

To ensure all programs are achieving the desired outcomes, the WBCF has been working with VU on a variety of research projects and evaluations. These focus on some of the prevalent issues in Victoria’s west. Student researchers work in partnership with the WBCF to professionally and independently evaluate programs.

The research and evaluation projects provide evidence that the Foundation is making a profound impact across the region.

VU's engagement with WBCF

  • 70+ work-integrated learning places in psychology, social work, youth work, exercise physiology and other disciplines
  • GOAL program evaluation
  • Nallei-Jerring evaluation
  • Leaders of the Pack evaluation
  • Sons of the West program evaluation
  • Daughters of the West program evaluation
  • Youth Leadership Project evaluation
  • research and collaborative projects.

Victoria University staff play their part

  • Professor Jenny Sharples – Head of Program Clinical Services, Head of Psychology
  • Dr Kim Shearson – lecturer in psychology with particular interest in social research methods
  • Dr Laurie Chapin – lecturer in psychology whose research relates to resilience of young people from various populations
  • Professor Christopher Sonn – course chair of the Master Applied Psychology (Community Psychology) and research leader for the Community Identity and Displacement research group
  • Dr Romana Morda – senior lecturer in psychology with research interests in women in leadership roles
  • Monika Naslund – lecturer in psychology with expertise in cross-cultural counselling and resilience
  • Dr Teresa De Fazio – Manager, Cultural Diversity Office

Public Health Conference 2019 (PHAA) Western Bulldogs 'Sons of the West' Connects Men to Their Community

ICCP 2020 (abstract submitted) Building male communities for better health through The Sons of the West

ICCP 2020 (abstract submitted) Community Capacity Building and Health Promotion through an Interactive Systems Framework

FECCA Conference 2019 Always be yourself and stand up for what you believe in - African Australian Youth Kicking Goals with the Western Bulldogs

Parkhill, A., Deans, C. L., & Chapin, L. A. (2018) Pre-leadership processes in leadership training for adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 88 (375-379).

Chapin, L. A., & Puxley, S. (under review)  ‘If I hadn’t of done this program I wouldn’t be sitting out here': Engagement of rural youth with a community-based leadership program. American Journal of Community Psychology

Deans, C. L. (in press) Exploring the impact of a large gender-sensitised health promotion program: the Sons of the West program. Public Health Research & Practice.

Georghiou, B. (2019) Exploring the leadership perspectives and experiences of female adolescents participating in the Western Bulldogs’ Leadership Project.

Quartarella, G. (2019) Youth Leadership Programs, Positive Youth Development (PYD) and Community ContributionAnnual Research showcase which provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their research and projects with the Foundation and their partners.

Contact us

To learn more about the Community Foundation:
Email: [email protected]
Visit: the Foundation website

For more information about VU’s involvement with the Foundation:
Email: Dr Kim Shearson [email protected]