President’s Report – April

Month of April

Welcome to the month of April, and welcome particularly to our new Magill Representative Ryan Colsey! I know he will do great things with the role. You can learn more about him here.

USASA is busy getting ready for Unitopia, our stress less days held ahead of the exam period for students come and relax before the final exams and assignments. It will be held across May 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th and 17th across all six UniSA campuses. Dates and times here. I also appeared in The Advertiser discussing student mental health and how events like Unitopia can help students de-stress.

unitopia

Key activities throughout the month have been a focus on preparing for the release of the Human Rights Commission survey, Unitopia, a visit to Mount Gambier, and preparing our submission about UniSA Online.

Human Rights Commission survey and UniSA

Following the National Union of Students Talk About It survey report that detailed the high levels of sexual harassment and assault on university campuses, Hunting Ground film screenings across Australian university campuses including UniSA, and the Universities Australia Respect Now Always poster campaign, the Human Rights Commission in 2016 released a national survey and submissions process for students. The survey asked Australian university students to detail their experiences on campus around safety and respect, investigating the level of sexual violence on Australian university campuses. Initially the survey report was expected to be released in early 2017, but it has now been delayed potentially to the start of second semester in August. Since Universities Australia sponsored the survey with $1 million, there has been controversy around the release of the survey. The Human Rights Commission initially announced that universities would not be guaranteed to release their individual de-identified data, and that there would be no recommendations from the report. This would have meant that students could not begin to know the level of the problem and the university’s response on their campus, and that the data would be kept within university management; it would have also betrayed the thousands of students across the country that completed the survey with the understanding that the information given would lead to key recommendations that would begin to heal the issues at the university that they had faced. Due to the pressure from student organisations such as End Rape on Campus and the National Union of Students, the Commission has made individual universities promise to release their data and has said that the recommendations will be released under “actions” in the report. Having key student organisations present in the room when decisions are being made is vital to ensure that decisions are made with the student interest at the core.

Ensuring that USASA has a strong relationship with organisations such as the National Union of Students and End Rape On Campus is pivotal to having a connection and understanding of the national perspective. In 2016, USASA ran petition stalls across campuses, supported the NUS Support Student Safety, Stop the War on Women campaign, and lobbied the university to review their policies on sexual harassment and assault. Doing so meant that the policy review became a core part of the UniSA Well-Being Action Plan, and that it was on the agenda of senior management. Recent media coverage of UniSA (TW: sexual assault) has shown just how important it is to have students keeping universities accountable for their practices and procedures. Under the directions of the new-in-2017 Well-Being Working Group of which I represent USASA on, Yarrow Place (the only sexual assault service in South Australia) provided a full-day training of “Recognising and Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Assault”; which included representatives from USASA, Wirringka Student Services, UniSA Counselling, and UniSA Security. The training was incredibly valuable and the trainers did a really good job, particularly overcoming some of the more challenging topics for the room. The training highlighted how important it is to ensure that front-line services are equipped with the training and knowledge surrounding safety and respect, and that there is a whole-of-university approach on-campus.

In the USASA Women’s Committee, we have been busy organising a consent stall for Unitopia in May, teaching students about the concept of consent with tea and lollipops, and we’ll be at all metro campus Unitopia’s. We have also launched our petition for women’s spaces endorsed by the USASA Board in 2016, which you can sign here. We will be partnering with UniSA Counselling to do roll out the Unitopia stalls.

Starting in May, USASA (including myself and Post-Graduate Representative Louise Kyriaki) and End Rape On Campus (including Founder Sharna Bremner) will be on a working group with UniSA Senior Management to review UniSA’s policies and procedures. It will be important to have EROC involved because of their landmark report “Connecting the Dots: Understanding sexual assault in university communities” released this year detailing student experience and including recommendations for universities. I hope that we can achieve real change in policy and practice for students at UniSA in 2017, and particularly for students like Jane.

If you’re feeling distressed about any of the topics mentioned, you can contact 1800 RESPECT for trauma-trained domestic violence and sexual assault counsellors. You can contact Yarrow Place, the domestic violence and sexaul assault service on (08) 8226 8777. You can also access UniSA Counselling here and the UniSA Medical Clinic here.

Mount Gambier visit

On the 7th of April I visited Mount Gambier campus for the second time in 2017, this time as a member of UniSA Council. We had a presentation from Dr Sharron King about UniSA College, which serves as a source of equity and degree pathway for students at UniSA. Students accessing UniSA College attend under a system of free education for college students. We heard from students about the Indigenous Participation Pathway program, which is a 1.5 year program that supports anyone identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with no previous qualifications for university study, to study any degree at UniSA. Students spoke about the value that the program had provided to them, the connection they had made with tutors and lecturers in the program, and the inspiration it had given to their communities and families. We also heard from a panel of Mount Gambier students, including USASA Mount Gambier Representative Julie Baum, who provided feedback and services wanted at the campus. Students identified wanting the campus to be open for longer hours, a focus on face-to-face learning rather than online learning, more food options, and a wider focus of social events and activities on the regional campus.

Other activities

I have also been working with USASA Counter Manager Donna Aplin to make Brekky Bar a free student-run service for students. We are currently brainstorming the logistics including delivery of food, and it will become a core project of the USASA Welfare Committee when it is formed at the May Board meeting.

I have drafted a submission for USASA’s response to UniSA Online which I have been working on with Student Representative Support Officer Bridget Laffy, with information and input from the Student Engagement Unit. We are organising a meeting with the UniSA Online Project Team in May to inform our submission.

The Governance Committee has been investigating the idea of an SRC and implementing a whole host of new positions for USASA which would potentially include a Women’s Officer, Queer Officer, (Dis)ability Officer, Ethnocultural/People of Colour Officer, Education Officer, Welfare/Low SES Officer, and Environment Officer.

I had a meeting with Dr Vicki Waye, Chair of the Academic Board, to discuss USASA engagement with Academic Board. The Student Engagement Unit is currently working to provide us with data about student representation at UniSA, which will help provide us with key contacts at the university.   

Summary of Activities

03/04/17

  • Meeting with Pro VC of Student Equity and Engagement Dr Laura-Anne Bull and General Manager Daniel Randell – discussed services for external students and the Human Rights Commission survey
  • SSAF working bee with USASA Board – planned for an awareness campaign in May and on-campus events in the roll-out of the survey
  • Events and Marketing Committee Meeting
  • Women’s Committee Meeting
  • Governance Committee Meeting
  • Board Meeting

04/04/17

  • Full-day Recognise and Respond Training from Yarrow Place

05/04/17

  • Meeting with USASA Counter Services Manager Donna Aplin and Mount Gambier Representative Julie Baum about increasing USASA Counter Services to Mount Gambier campus
  • Volunteered at City East campus counter
  • Interview with The Advertiser about student mental health
  • Safety Working Group to discuss UniSA sexual harassment policies
  • USASA Nomination Workshop

06/04/17

  • Brekky Bar volunteering at City West campus
  • Formal Inquiry for the Marketing School
  • Meeting with Sharna Bremner from End Rape On Campus
  • Meeting with Luis about USASA Advocacy
  • Meeting with Vicki Waye, Chair of Academic Board
  • Meeting with Nick Anderson, USASA Finance Advisor

07/04/17

  • Mount Gambier graduation ceremony and regional presentations

10/04/17

  • Meeting with new Magill Representative Ryan Colsey and General Manager Daniel Randell

11-26th – on-leave

Planned activities April/May

27/04/17

  • Finance Committee Meeting

01/05/17

  • Events and Marketing Committee Meeting
  • Women’s Committee Meeting
  • Governance Committee Meeting
  • USASA Annual General Meeting
  • Board Meeting

02/05/17

  • DAPAG meeting (School of EASS)
  • Divisional Program and Review Committee Meeting (Business School)

03/05/17

  • Policy Review Working Group to review UniSA Sexual Harassment policies

04/05/17

  • Meeting with Dr Joanne Cys, Head of School for School of Art, Architecture and Design

05/04/17

  • Whyalla Graduation Ceremony

09/05/17

  • Unitopia City West

10/05/17

  • Unitopia City East

16/05/17

  • Unitopia Mawson Lakes
  • LEAD program Introduction Session Magill  

17/05/17

  • Unitopia Magill

24/05/17

  • Governance and Legislation Committee Meeting

26/05/17

  • Academic Board Meeting

29/05/17

  • Policy Review Working Group to review UniSA Sexual Harassment policies

30/05/17

  • LEAD Program – Reconciliation Week Group Coaching Session

Other meetings not yet scheduled

  • Meeting with UniSA Online project team
  • Meeting with UniSA College re: Student Representation and USASA
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s