An update from the GSA President: July 2023

Welcome to the July Blog.

For our newly commencing Graduate Students, welcome to the GSA and the President’s Blog. For those regular readers, welcome back to my deep dive into all things GSA.

About GSA:

GSA is the largest graduate student organisation in Australia and proudly is led by our elected Board of Directors who set the direction of the organisation. As an incorporated not-for-profit charity, our duty is to ensure our allocated funding, provided by the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), is diligently spent on graduate students and your needs.

In order to deliver our activities in an expert and experienced manner, the GSA employs an incredible team of staff who work tirelessly to deliver incredible events and advocacy to make your Melbourne experience unforgettable – an experience befitting the 14th best University in the world.

The staff and board are advised by our Representative Council and Faculty Council, elected students from all around the University Community with a passion for student life and advocacy.

If you are interested in becoming a graduate student leader, check out our student vacancies page regularly for opportunities.

Likewise, this year the GSA will be reviewing our Strategic Plan, and developing a new 2025-2030 strategy to guide GSA into a new era. This will include various opportunities to have your say on what the Graduate Students of the future will need.


Last week, GSA Board Member Yujia Zhang and I, attended the inaugural GradCon, hosted at the University of Queensland. We discussed the future of graduate education and key issues impacting graduate students around the country. This was highly relevant to our future work on the Strategic Plan and our advocacy efforts moving forward. The conference was a fantastic reminder of the collective needs that post-graduate students around Australia are facing and the knowledge sharing between different organisations will hopefully yield to improved governance and operations of our community. This event was organised by the University of Queensland Student Union (UQU) and their Association for Postgraduate Students. We would like to especially thank Mr Richard Lee, former GSA Faculty Councillor and UQU President for his work to establish the event. Unfortunately the Council of Australian Postgraduates Association (CAPA), the national peak body for postgraduate students, did not attend the conference.


GSA has long valued our affiliation with CAPA to further grad student interests on the national level. However, it is disappointing to see little activity from CAPA during 2022 Federal election and the University Accords, to lobby for graduate student needs. GSA’s priority with CAPA is to support the proper functioning of the organisation and we hope to be able to work productively with CAPA in 2023 and beyond.

Public Transport:

In the cost-of-living crisis that is impacting our Graduate Students deeply, it is tough to see the Victorian Government increase the cost of Myki fares. Our FaresFair campaign to lobby the Victorian Government to address the in-equality of our PTV system, which sees graduate students making up the majority of our University yet denied concessions, still continues. Historically, working alongside CAPA, the Monash Graduate Association and other graduate student organisations, GSA’s longstanding FaresFair campaign has been a trademark rallying cry for Victorian Graduate Students.

Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia that denies postgraduate students public transport concessions and we hope to hear from CAPA about their plan to address this issue in 2023.


NAIDOC events celebrate the rich histories and cultures of First Peoples who have championed change, and reinforces the importance of honouring the oldest living culture in history. NAIDOC week also highlights the historic opportunities in 2023, towards treaty and truth-telling, after decades of tireless advocacy from the First Nations Community. During NAIDOC week, I was fortunate enough to spend time with the President of National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA), Dr Sharlene Leroy, and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) of the University of Queensland, Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Both inspirational figures who are incredible

advocates for post graduate students. Learning about their achievements in student advocacy and resolve to continue fighting for all students, is a shining example of positive graduate student leadership, and one we aim to emulate at GSA. Likewise, we would also like to congratulate Professor Barry Judd to their recent appointment to Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) and look forward to playing our part in supporting First Nations Graduate Students at the University of Melbourne.

If you have any ongoing advocacy concerns or questions about the GSA, please email me at

Jesse Gardner-Russell