Update from GSA President – 12th October 2022
It’s October, the break has ended, the flowers are blooming, the weather is slowly improving and my coats can finally rest.
Unfortunately, as those flowers begin budding, we must head indoors to power through exam revision, final project assessments, essays and maybe even some review articles.
In these times it is important that you take some time off, absorb the vitamin D and reach out to your friends… or let out your artistic side for our inaugural Graduate Art Prize night on the 28th.
Fares Fair PTV
Affordable public transport is something which has been denied to graduate students in Victoria. We believe that graduate students deserve the same rights in this regard, to undergraduate students. Graduate students often financially struggle, and this has been exacerbated by the cost of living increases.
Just the other day, the Liberal party announced that if elected, they will more than halve the cost of myki journeys. The GSA welcomes such policies, although we note that investment into infrastructure is equally as important.
We call on the Daniel Andrews Labor Government to change the concession laws in Victoria and extend concession to domestic and international students alike.
The next ~50 days will be important in our lobbying campaign.
Safe Zone and Security Escorts
Despite improvements in policies and actions regarding safety on campus, there is still plenty of room for the University to improve. One such area was safety in the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC), that is the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, WEHI, Bio21 etc.
While it may not be as apparent, there are many students doing their masters, PhD, MD, DPT and nursing courses at these institutions. However, many of these modes of study, especially research, require fluid hours, which may extend until late into the night.
Unfortunately, students’ safety is at risk when leaving the facilities at these hours. Previously, University of Melbourne security escorts could not be called to the VCCC. Likewise, VCCC security would not leave the building. We have worked with the Peter Mac Students Society, Student and Scholarly Services (SASS) and the Provost, to address these issues.
We’re pleased to announce that students can now call 8344 6666 at the VCCC to request an escort at any hours, to a tram or nearby home.
Protests in Iran
Note: Content Warning.
On September 16, 22 year old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being detained by police, alleging she had not complied with Iranian Hijab laws. In the protests which have followed, riot police have been called in, leading to peaceful protestors being injured.
We understand that this news is likely highly distressing for many of our Iranian students in particular.
Your wellbeing is of the utmost importance to us at GSA, especially in challenging times when assessment, research and other academic deadlines loom. Should you need support, please reach out to Counselling and Phychological Services (CAPS) and the University Health Service. Likewise, if you require aid, we have a material aid available at the GSA, in addition to the university’s offerings.
If you are feeling disconnected and in need to social support, we have our regular events such as Yoga, Meditation, Pilates and daily Graduate Breakfasts running.
After many newsletters talking about the Faculty Council, we have held our first council meeting. I was impressed with the range and quality of discussion. Covering issues surrounding graduate commencement ceremonies, peer mentoring, study spaces and more, the breadth of discussion highlighted why listening to a diverse student voice from every faculty is so important to empower all graduate students.
There are many issues which are faculty specific. Utilising our model, we can work collaboratively with faculty leaders to address concerns earlier in the pipeline, rather than waiting for issues to escalate. Likewise, it allows us to inform faculties of the direction we believe they should be heading.
Conversely, when we see the same issues emerging in each faculty, it signals that it is widespread and needs to be addressed elsewhere.
I am looking forward to building this model to continue delivering for all graduates with even greater capacity!
If you are interested in getting involved with the GSA, or need any support, feel free to reach out to me at President@gsa.unimelb.edu.au