Has it all gone to shit? Student Assist is here to help!
By Aaron Angel
Let’s face it; being a student is hard enough without the added stress of financial, academic or health worries. Your brain is getting stuffed with new ideas on a daily basis, your flesh sack of a body seems to always require nourishing with edible matter, and deadlines incessantly approach much like the inevitability of death only much more tangibly. So it’s no surprise that sometimes we could all use a little help to keep us going, and that’s where Student Assist steps in.
Student Assist is a branch of the Murdoch Student Guild, and they’re a great first point of contact for almost anything. They encourage students to engage with them even if you think your particular problem is outside of their ability to help. Chances are, even if they even if they can’t help you directly, they’ll know someone who can. To get a better idea of what kind of problems Student Assist can help you with, I sat down with Mark and Hazel and chatted about the challenges Student Assist encounter on a daily basis.
Aaron: “What are the most common issues that students come to Student Assist seeking help with?”
Hazel: “I deal with undergraduates, and I have a range of welfare issues that come up, mainly financial. If a student has been unsuccessful in applying for Centrelink they end up with all these financial issues; housing, money for books, even basic needs. Sometimes they haven’t eaten for a couple of days. They come in to use the foodbank and we give them some Coles vouchers and help them out with some bills from time to time. And when legal matters come up we can refer to community legal services.”
Mark: “Postgraduate students perspective it is distinctly split into two cohorts, the coursework and the research students. Research students are a totally different ballgame. Mostly their issues are to do with supervision; neglect and lack of communication from the schools and supervisors. There also are some research ethics type issues to do with somebody trying to steal research or perform research that is way too similar. We see bullying and disagreement type issues. After all, what they are doing is unlike coursework study; it’s a microcosm of the real world of research. They have their own unique worries- lack of certainty in their future because of funding cuts and things like that.
For international students, there is a slightly different set of challenges. New student are in a very different environment- things like understanding the language, finding friends, and adjusting to the cultural norms of a new society are hard. Some can feel very isolated at times and paired with this is the concerns that issues may affect their VISA. There are also cases of potential exploitation at work. International students may get jobs, but since they don’t know what their rights are they can often get bullied into situations where they can get in trouble with the government for tax fraud. We also have a specialist knowledge pertaining to academic policy and university processes. However, if we identify a need outside our specialties we can refer to we can do that as we work very closely with support teams on and off campus.”
If you run into trouble, contact Student Assist early on and be willing to be open and honest with them. Their services are confidential, and the more information you give them about the nature of your problems, the more you empower them to help you. We all stumble along the way, so there’s no shame in reaching out for an arm to steady yourself on.
I’ll leave you with the following pieces of advice from Mark and Hazel.
Mark: “Use all your resources. If you have are any issues don’t procrastinate, don’t delay- talk to people, preferably us!”
Hazel: “Be mindful to report to Centrelink as required, because once your payments are cut off it takes a lot of work to have them restored.”