Grammar Graduate: Lili Wackwitz (2016)

Grammar Woman Lili Wackwitz (2016), is nearing the end of her studies at The University of Queensland. Now, as that day moves closer, Lili shares her experience of university life, helping the less fortunate and preparing for the future.

As a fifth-year undergraduate student at The University of Queensland, what are you enjoying most about your degrees in Commerce and Art?

The more I delve into my courses and related intern programs, the more passionate I am about the application of my studies in real-world situations. Topics relating to data security, globalisation and the political economy have spurred my interests in business strategy and public policy.

What do you want to do after your study? 

I am very excited about pursuing a career in management consulting once I’ve completed my studies in 2022. I would also love to take the opportunity to work abroad and, at some point go back to university to complete a Master of Public Policy and Governance.

You have been very involved in various activities and societies while studying at UQ. These positions include The VacSeen Project, UQ Business Association, UQ Water Polo Club and UQ Union Vice-President. What advice would you give to a Grammar student or woman who would like to be more actively involved in university life?

Talk to other students in your classes and speak to staff. It is all a process of trial and error to see what you want to get most involved in at university, so don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions. Don’t stop your hobbies and co-curricular activities when you finish school, and if you do, don’t be afraid to pick them back up later. Find what you enjoy socially and the activities that you are passionate about.

What is The VacSeen Project?

The VacSeen Project was established with the aim of removing the financial barrier to quality healthcare for disadvantaged people in Brisbane. The project provides free flu vaccines for people experiencing homelessness and lobbies the Queensland State Government to introduce a state-wide program to help these people access free flu vaccines at any immunisation clinic or general practitioner (GP).

How did The VacSeen Project start?

The Australian Immunisation Handbook, published by the Australian Government Department of Health, strongly recommends that people experiencing homelessness receive the influenza vaccine every year. In 2020, UQ’s Doctor of Medicine Jeremy Hunt, realised that even though it is recommended, many of these people people weren’t able to receive them for free, unlike other high-risk groups. The VacSeen Project, which was formed towards the end of last year, seeks to remedy this situation. And, as one of seven other students and staff working with Dr Hunt, my role as Director is to actively promote and advocate our mission of providing flu vaccines to our homeless population. My efforts within the team are focused on advocacy and sponsorship.

How successful has the project been so far? 

We have been overwhelmed by the support from the Brisbane community. Pharmacists and GPs have offered to provide vaccines, and individuals and organisations have donated generously.

The Chair of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust, Lady Mayoress Nina Schrinner has also encouraged us to apply for grant funding from the Trust, which we are very hopeful about.

To date, we have raised more than $6000 and facilitated the vaccination of more than 200 homeless people who otherwise would not be protected from the flu.

Who have been some of your supporters so far?

Our health partners include Inclusive Health and Brisbane Youth Services. We have partnered with them to facilitate the vaccinations. Our supporting partners include Brisbane Girls Grammar School, Brisbane Grammar School, Priceline Pharmacy and Neighbourhood Medical. They have generously provided funding and vaccine supplies.

What have you got planned for the Project for the next six months?

In the coming months our focus is on establishing The VacSeen Project’s outreach program where we provide a mobile service and administer vaccines in an environment in which vulnerable people are accustomed to, rather than them having to make the trek to a health clinic which many find uncomfortable.

Our other focus area that we are growing is our advocacy piece. We will be continuing to call on the Queensland Government to allow our homeless population to receive free flu vaccines at any GP or immunisation clinic. We’ve got a busy 2021 and 2022 planned!

The VacSeen Project team (L-R) Michael Fielding (BGS 2016), Varun Karnik (BGS 2016), Jeremy Hunt (BGS 2016), Pelé Toussaint, Lili Wackwitz (BGGS 2016), Jack Kelso-Ribbe and Hannah Bates