Our Annual General Meeting on Thursday marks 12 months since I began my term as GSA President. After a year like no other, I would like to first and foremost thank graduate students for your resilience, passion and support over the past year. It has been a privilege to represent you across the University and with our federal affiliates, working to uphold our rights as graduate students at a time when they have mattered more than ever. Whether you’ve contacted us about a concern, attended one of our events, responded to one of our surveys, or even just listened to our spiel at your orientation – thank you.

I’d also like to thank my colleagues on the Council, our incredible GSA staff, GSA committee representatives, Grad Group Leaders and our partners – including UMSU, CAPA, CISA and the NTEU. Additionally, I’d like to give a shoutout to University staff, both academic and professional, who have taught and supported students while they themselves have faced increased workloads, redundancies and uncertainties. This includes those in Chancellery, who have been receptive to our advocacy and worked collaboratively for the benefit of grad students. I’d also like to give a shoutout to some people I’ve worked with extremely closely over the past 12 months: Lily Day, Emily De Wind and Rachna Muddagouni – GSA’s General Secretary, Vice President and CEO, respectively – thank you for being a support to me and so many others over this term.

For GSA Council, this term was out of the ordinary, in more ways than one. Firstly, this was the last ever GSA Council to sit, before we transition to a new representative structure with over double the student representatives on the GSA Board, Representative Council and Faculty Council. This Council also took on our roles in the middle of the extensive lockdown in Melbourne and, along with GSA staff, coordinated the organisation from our apartments and homes in isolation. Our first meeting in person wasn’t until late 2020. GSA staff, Council and affiliates were able to achieve so much despite the challenges. Covid WAMNesty, extensions and COVID-19 leave for graduate researchers, protecting ResCom training, and ongoing advocacy for student parents and international students both off and onshore, stood out among many other fantastic accomplishments achieved together for and with the graduate community.

Looking forward, we are finally ready to embark on a new chapter for GSA with our new representatives. Congratulations to all those who are joining us for a bigger and better GSA in 2021-2022, as we continue to support graduates and face the advocacy battles we have ahead. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the GSA President at president@gsa.unimelb.edu.au at any time, and please take care wherever you are, we’re always here for you.