Children’s University Australasia

Children’s University Australasia has been recognised for Outstanding Achievement in The Australian Charity Awards 2021. The Australian Charity Award for Outstanding Achievement [OAA] recognises charitable organisations that have achieved outstanding results through initiatives that have significantly benefited charitable causes.

“Children’s University is a fantastic initiative that has grown form strength to strength over its eight years of operation. The University of Adelaide is incredibly proud of the work it does in supporting communities of learning, widening participation and providing equity of opportunity to all. No child, I have ever met lacks aspirations, but over the years, and due to circumstances beyond their control these dreams can be slowly eroded. However, I have seen firsthand the difference that a program like Children’s University makes to those involved, and watched our members strive and thrive. The children and young people involved are incredibly inspirational, have their own unique stories to tell and dreams that they want to realise and we want to walk on that journey with them. The commitment of our communities to see children reach their potential, especially from some of our most disadvantaged communities, is awe inspiring. I am truly fortunate to lead such a wonderful initiative and to work with an equally wonderful team of people.”


Ms Kiri Hagenus, Managing Director, Children’s University Australasia

Children’s University Australasia and Africa (IO) is a major strategic partner of the Children’s University Trust (UK) and is managed by, and licensed to, the University of Adelaide in South Australia. Children’s University (CU) was launched by the University of Adelaide in 2013.

Now in its ninth year of operation CU has grown exponentially from one state in Australia with 44 members to operating in three countries with over 37,750 members (cumulative) from more than 332 schools. The program has its own momentum driven by the strong foundations and unique community partnership model.

The award-winning CU model is recognised as being effective in enhancing academic achievement and increasing ambition of students across all socioeconomic sectors. The concept is relatively simple: it offers superior extra-curricular educational and vocational experiences primarily for children aged 5 – 18 years from disadvantaged communities, however, all category schools are invited to participate. The reason being, participation should not stigmatise disadvantage. The model leverages local educational and learning activity providers, and has a strong emphasis on experience as a significant learning tool. The central aim is to provide equity of opportunity for all, supporting a child’s aspirations, whilst building confidence so that they can achieve and succeed in their learning. This then enables positive cognitive pathways to the possibilities of future and to higher education.

The primary goals and objectives of CU are;

  • to inspire the love of learning in children, supporting their aspirations for further and higher education, while addressing disadvantage in community,
  • to encourage and support parental engagement, and
  • to expand the program nationally and internationally, so the benefits reach a greater number of children and families who need it most.

CU is a unique offering that brings on multiple partners all intent on supporting their communities through early and prolonged intervention. CU’s ability to be replicated in multiple communities means that the program has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of children and young people who are crying out for learning opportunities that their more advantaged peers simply take for granted.

From its inception, CU has continued to develop its business model using grants and in kind support to expand its model and offerings. In 2017, CU created a new bespoke learning portal for its members. Two years in development, the new portal was launched in 2020. The innovative digital platform works alongside the traditional passport scheme offering children a safe and secure space to record their participation and now features over 1,000 online learning activities. This resource has assisted further participation in the program and was an invaluable learning tool during COVID 19, keeping communities and families connected.

Perhaps the initiative’s greatest strength lies in its collaboration with community driven, learning rich university partners; including the University of Adelaide (lead), University of Tasmania, the University of Newcastle, Swinburne University of Technology, Charles Darwin University, the University of Western Australia, Edith Cowan University in Australia and Lincoln University, the University of Canterbury and Massey University in New Zealand (CU will launch in Mauritius in 2022). Together these partners share best practice, new ideas, co-create activities, provide support for new members and give the program greater depth and scope, which in turn supports greater opportunity for all children, young people, families, schools communities and organisations involved.

CU innovatively and seamlessly wraps children in the joy of learning.

For further information, visit

Share: The Australian Charity Awards