An update from the GSA President: April 2023

As my last Blog Post of this term, I’m proud to announce there have been many developments at the GSA this year.

Taking on the role of President and Board Chair of the GSA has been an absolute privilege. I have been humbled by the challenges and opportunities in shepherding our incredible organisation. I believe that our roles as representatives is first and foremost as custodians. We work to uphold the vision and mission of the organisation by listening and advocating on what matters to Graduate Students, whilst ensuring the organisation is sustainably governed for the next generation of leaders.

This unique role has been a highlight of my studies. I look forward to the AGM and questions on how the Board has performed its duties.

A year in review:

We have seen vast improvements to our engagement numbers, fuelled by the commitment of the GSA Staff and Student Leaders, and augmented by the return to campus. I’d like to thank the tireless efforts of Kerry Tucker, Liana Moore and our Activities Officer, Jordan Di Natale for incredible work in this area.

We saw the introduction of the Faculty Council, which boosted our Student Representative numbers to almost 40, and has provided unique insights into some of the smaller faculties, which so often fall through the gaps.

The student led board navigated many changes in the GSA’s governance, leadership and operations, and has ensured that the GSA is in great shape for the next Board Members.

On the advocacy front, our Women’s Officer Abi Van Der Zwan has worked tirelessly on improving safety for women at University Affiliated Colleges. Working closely with the Policy and Advocacy Staff, Abi has achieved a first of its kind ‘round table’ with the heads of the Colleges to discuss how we can all work together in this space. A huge achievement.

Our International Officer, Xuangyu Su, has improved our relationship with CISA – the peak body for international students in Australia – particularly on improving PTV for International students. Likewise, he has been an outstanding advocate for Sport, providing relief for students to attend sporting events.

Our Disabilities and Equity Officer, Bridie Cochrane-Holley has advocated constantly for improved special consideration conditions, building her portfolio from the ground up. Moreover, she has been a consistent advocate for improved COVID-19 safety on campus and the importance of dual-delivery for our Graduate Students.

Our Families Officer, Areej, who only joined us part way through the year has been hard at work investigating the cost of Child Care at University. Her work has helped us get movement in the space, and enlightened University Chancellery Members to the situation.

Our Education (Coursework) Officer, Matthew King, has worked on recommendations surrounding ChatGPT and planning a Networking Night for first generation JD Students. Moreover, he has assisted in case-by-case advocacy for many students.

Our Education (Research) Officer, Monica Sestito, has been a stalwart champion of the NTEU and activism. Her insightful updates on Graduate Researcher conditions were helpful reference points for our advocacy work in this area.

Our Environment and Sustainability Officer, Jean Luan Yong, has run information sessions, movie nights and panel discussion to reach students from all parts of the University Community to better understand the student voice. Moreover, she has led the GSA to a bronze award in the Green Impact Project.

Our Health and Welfare Officer, Lakvin Fernando, has been an integral part in our advocacy on food insecurity, whilst also working with Graduate Researchers to improve safety around affiliate research institutions.

Our Queer Officer, Jeremy O’Keeffe, provided experienced and sound debate, working to foster debate and discussion at meetings, whilst also championing improved placement conditions.

Finally, I would like to thank our Vice President, Matthew Haper-Gomm. Matt has been an irreplaceable part of the GSA, serving as Activities Officer, Board Member and now Vice President. He has played a key role in defining the Faculty Council, taking over chair responsibilities. Moreover, he has acted as an articulate advisor to the Board, providing sage wisdom when needed. He will be sorely missed.

Dual Delivery and Lecture Recordings

The GSA welcomes the Advancing Students and Education Strategy (ASE) commitment to enhance Flexibility for Graduate Students  via strategic use of dual and hybrid teaching modes.

While this commitment is a positive sign, the GSA team has been collating a range of case-by-case reports of issues in lecture recording availability in graduate study. We are developing a report on the matter and will be busy advocating for stronger adherence to what we believe is the first step in enhanced flexibility.

As always, if you ever have a concern, please email me at President@GSA.Unimelb.Edu.Au.