Communication students boost Bathurst women’s cancer research fundraiser

22 JUNE 2020

Communication students boost Bathurst women’s cancer research fundraiser

A creative social media campaign devised by Charles Sturt University communication students has been the secret ingredient helping the 'Bathurst on a Plate' cookbook project achieve its fundraising target of $50,000 for the Cancer Council NSW.

  • Student-led communication campaign leads local cancer fundraiser towards target of $50,000
  • Creative book launch for ‘Bathurst on a Plate campaign reaches thousands online
  • Student campaign has helped achieve local, national and international sales

A creative social media campaign devised by Charles Sturt University communication students has been the secret ingredient helping the Bathurst on a Plate cookbook project achieve its fundraising target of $50,000 for the Cancer Council NSW.

The team of communication students has so far helped the local cookbook project raise more than $40,000 for women’s cancers research.

Lecturer in communication in the Charles Sturt School of Communication and Creative Industries Ms Victoria Erskine said the unique cookbook is the work of local cancer survivors’ group, the Bathurst Beaters.

“The book features local architecture, gardens, and food photography, and is a celebration of favourite recipes and personal stories from these brave cancer survivors with messages of hope, love and resilience,” Ms Erskine said.

Ms Erskine mentored the local Bathurst student team of Ms Eleanor Doheny, Ms Claudia Bergan and Ms Lily O’Toole who put their public relations skills to the test in a campaign on Facebook and Instagram.

“Their campaign has reached thousands of people who would otherwise not have known about the project,” Ms Erskine said.

“Within six weeks of being launched more than 900 books had been sold not only through local retail outlets, but also around Australia and even internationally through the book’s website.”

Founder of the project, Ms Noorjehan Merchant, passed away to breast cancer before seeing the finished product and this group of ambitious and inspiring women have put everything into bringing Ms Merchant’s vision to life in her memory.

President of the Bathurst Beaters group, Ms Judy Rodenhuis, said the students had provided a real lifeline to the project during a very difficult time.

“After working so hard for months on getting the book published, we were devastated when the COVID-19 lock-down prevented us from hosting our big book launch event in April, which was going to be our big focus for a Mothers’ Day launch campaign,” Ms Rodenhuis said.

“The students really did come to the rescue, creating such wonderful creative images, videos and messages on social media which were beyond anything we would have been capable of achieving ourselves.

“They have been so creative, good humoured and generous with their time, and we are so grateful for their support.

“We are well on our way to reaching our fundraising target of $50,000 and we couldn’t have achieved this as quickly as we have without the campaign and ongoing support provided by the students to keep that momentum going.”

Student Ms Eleanor Doheny said they all jumped at the chance to be a part of a project where they could give something back to the local community and get valuable experience working on a live social media campaign.

“Finding out that I had the ability to gain important work skills while aiding a project about these ladies’ lives, where all proceeds would go to the Cancer Council, was very exciting,” Ms Doheny said.

“Learning about the hardships of the Bathurst Beaters and how they have turned their experiences into a powerful friendship was something I really admired about all the women.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity Charles Sturt University gave me to work with a local charity organisation, and I have liked giving back to the community.”

Ms Erskine said this kind of real world experience gives students the edge when it comes to employment, but is also a great way to use their professional skills to support their community.

“As their mentor, I have seen these students develop their professional skills and build in confidence in the quality of the work they are creating,” she said.

“Just as importantly, they have had to show great emotional maturity and sensitivity in this type of work.

“I think the experience to walk alongside cancer survivors and help tell their stories has helped them develop a greater empathy for others.

“These are the kind of qualities we know are so valuable for communication professionals.”

Acting Head of the School of Communication and Creative Industries Ms Lisa Watt said, “This has been a wonderful initiative for our students to be involved in, and would like to highlight the ongoing support and opportunities that their lecturer Victoria Erskine has provided.”

The Bathurst on a Plate cookbook is $35 and is available at various retail outlets in Bathurst or online at

Media Note:

To arrange interviews contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via

Photo: CSU communication students Claudia Bergen, Eleanor Doheny and Lily O’Toole celebrating with the Bathurst Beaters on the success of the Cancer Council fundraising project.

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