February has been very exciting, while everyone has been getting prepared for O’Week and seeing the new students in. It was great to meet all the new students, promote our new diary and services, and chat to them about what they’d like to see in 2017. It was fantastic to see all the new volunteers getting involved throughout the week as well. February was also spent meeting with Board members and establishing their KPIs for the year.
I attended the first Academic Board meeting for the year, and learned more about the university’s new initiative “UniSA Online”, which I wish the USASA Student Board to prepare a submission in response to. I also attended the University Council Strategic Planning Session and first committee meeting of the year, which was very enlightening learning about how the university works behind-the-scenes to make everything happen. We had presentations from the Vice Chancellor, and the Pro Vice-Chancellors, which were all incredibly comprehensive and engaging – we learned about the retail management plan, and the plans for each UniSA campus. I hope to engage the Board further with these over-arching plans over the month of March. I am continuing to build for the USASA Education Collective, and have met with various heads of schools, the Business School Hub, and have plans and presentations with further schools going into March. I am also continuing to work with Nadia Rajic of the UniSA Well-Being unit in reviewing the UniSA Sexual Harassment policies – we have met with a representative of Yarrow Place, who is going to be working with us in implementing training sessions for staff and students around responding to sexual assault and harassment, consent training, and domestic violence workshops.
In terms of the National Union of Students, student unions around the country are building for the National Day of Action. At UniSA, we have done poster runs, and ran a successful NUS stall during the City West Orientation Day where Board Members collected petitions and spoke to students about engaging with NUS. We also have plans to run stalls and BBQs to promote the upcoming protest.
The NUS Women’s Department has launched their two O’Week campaigns, which are as follows (taken from the information package sent out by the NUS Women’s Officer):
You’re worse off as a woman, fight back against the Liberals
- NUS Women’s campaign
- The Liberal Government has scrapped bulk-billing incentives for pathology services and diagnostic imaging. This means that women may have to pay up-front $30 for a Pap smear, blood or urine test, and from January 2017 as much as $173 for x-ray or ultrasound imaging. Women regularly rely upon these tests for the prevention or early detection of pregnancy, obstetric complications, cancers, STIs and UTIs
- The Liberal Government freeze on indexation of the rebate for GP consultations under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) until 2020 has already seen hundreds of practitioners around the country cease to offer bulk billing as they are forced to transfer increased costs onto patients.
- Most women students can not afford these increased costs of healthcare, and are forced to forgo necessary doctors visits, diagnostic testing and treatment.
- This poses critical risks for women’s health. Without early diagnosis and treatment, risk of poorer prognosis is high and the burden of disease, personal and financial costs on patients are increased.
Education- cuts to funding
- The 2016-2017 budget revealed that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals want to decrease funding to tertiary institutions by 20% as well as lower the tax repayment threshold by 10%. It was also strongly indicated that the Liberals will bring back fee deregulation.
- Universities are unlikely to put their hands in their own pockets to make up for funding cuts, choosing rather to cut vital student support services than risk jeopardising ‘important’ business projects
- Cuts to higher education will mean that women who are already disproportionately affected but a lack of funding will take longer to pay off their HECS debt and face a greater pay gap in the workforce.
Cuts to services
- Severe lack of funding available for women’s services on university campuses. When the federal government make cuts to the higher education sector, often basic services relied on by women are the first to go.
- Universities across Australia do not prioritise the welfare of students, this consequently has a greater effect on women due to structural barriers which make it difficult women to go to university and study.
- As revealed in the results of the 2016 ‘Talk about it’ survey women students are likely to face harassment and sexual violence on university campuses. Due to a number of factors, including inadequate help services, women are strongly deterred from seeking help from university.
- Women should be able to balance university life as well as home life, and should not be forced to choose between the two. Services focused on assisting students who are also mothers have been neglected for too long. Many universities are lacking parent rooms, for mothers to comfortably breastfeed.
- Underfunded services have a detrimental effect on those who use them most, women are already limited by a culture of misogyny on campus and an initial lack of policies and services to protect them.
- Due to the lack of services and policies, many universities do not adequately address incidents of harassment on campus, making university an unsafe place for women.
- Universities receive funding from the student services and amenities fee annually, a small portion of which is usually allocated to the student union on campus. The rest of the SSAF is allocated to funding university projects, a funding increase to women’s services could be done through this avenue.
- When the Liberal government make cuts to higher education universities will make cuts to student services.
It’s about bloody time! Axe the tampon tax
- Since 2000, menstruating Australians have had to pay an additional 10% on sanitary items such as pads and tampons as part of the goods and services tax.
- While many other sanitary products are listed as essentials and are not taxed, pads and tampons are considered non necessities. GST free sanitary items include; condoms, lube and sunscreen.
- It is estimated that the federal government make an average of $30 million a year from tampons and sanitary napkins, according to budget watchers Deloitte Access Economics.
- The tax on menstrual products disproportionately affects one portion of the population. People who menstruate purchase these sanitary items to maintain a standard of hygiene and comfort, not because it is a luxury.
- Women already face financial inequality in Australia, this is exacerbated by the tax on sanitary items and only allows for a system which deprioritises the health and comfort of women.
The NUS Ethno-Cultural Department has launched their campaign “My Body. My Name. Not Yours to Shame” (taken from the Facebook campaign page):
The campaign will feature the experiences of ethnically and culturally diverse students from across Australia. The campaign will also feature the experiences of ethnically and culturally diverse politicians and personalities as a form of empowerment for young diverse students.
Activity – February
02/02/17 – Meeting with USASA Marketing to discuss International Women’s Day event
06/02/17 – President and General Manager Catch-Up; Education Collective meeting with Education Heads of School; USASA Board Meeting
07/02/17 – Interview Panel, USASA Student Representative Support Officer role; University Council Induction
08/02/17 – Neelu Sharma, CIL, USASA Presentation; Alison Brown, USASA Education Collective
09/02/17 – KPI meeting – Han Nguyen
10/02/17 – UniSA Online Communications Workshop; UniSA Staff Forum
13/02/17 – O’Week Briefing Session; KPI meeting with Monamee Ishika; Meeting with Karen Hunt from Equity Office; KPI meeting with Ryan Kennealy; KPI meeting with Natansh Modi
14/02/17 – Meeting with Alison Brown, Business Student Hub; UniSA Education Action Group Meeting; State Education Action Group Meeting
17/02/17 – Meeting with Nadia Rajic, UniSA Well-Being Manager and Angela from Yarrow Place about UniSA Sexual Harassment policies and procedures; Media Training
18/02/17 – President and Vice-President planning meeting; Postering for National Day of Action at City West and Magill
19/02/17 – Postering for National Day of Action at City East
20/02/17 – International Orientation Day, City West campus; postering for National Day of Action at Mawson Lakes
21/02/17 – Mawson Lakes Orientation Day
22/02/17 – Magill Orientation Day
23/02/17 – City West Orientation Day; National Union of Students’ Stall; University Council Strategic Planning Day; University Council meeting
24/02/17 – City East Orientation Day; Academic Board meeting
28/02/17 – USASA Presentation to Property Lecture Students; USASA Education Collective presentation to Student Leadership Group in the Nursing School City East C4-41; USASA Presentation to Journalism students; USASA Presentation to Arts students; KPI meeting with Louise Kyriaki
Planned activity – March
01/03/17 – Whyalla Welcome Party
02/03/17 – National Day of Action BBQ at Magill; City West Welcome Party
03/03/17 – USASA Presentation to Economics students
06/03/17 – Governance and Legislation Committee Meeting; Women’s Committee Meeting; Governance Committee Meeting; USASA Student Board
07/03/17 – City West ClubsFest; University Council
08/03/17 – International Women’s Day Breakfast; Formal Inquiry
09/03/17 – Magill ClubsFest; Finance Committee meeting
10/03/17 – Warehouse Party Committee Meeting
15/03/17 – Mawson Lakes ClubsFest
16/03/17 – City East ClubsFest; University Council Meeting
17/03/17 – UniSA Sexual Harassment Policies Working Group Meeting
22/03/17 – National Day of Action
- Events and Marketing Committee Meeting
- International Sub-Committee Meeting
- Clubs Committee Meeting
- KPI Meeting with Jordan Mumford
- KPI Meeting with Izik Nehow
- KPI Meeting with Kemal Brkic
- KPI Meeting with Julie Baum