ANZSSA e-newsletter - October 2019

In this Edition

Safe and Healthy Campuses

Good practice

For your information

Professional Development Opportunities


Safe and  Healthy Campuses

Listen, Support, Refer: Promoting compassionate response to disclosure of sexual assault and sexual harassment among the student community at the University of Queensland 

Emma Heard, Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Coordinator; Kim Fletcher, Snior Counsellor Sexual Misconduct Support Unit; Aileen Alexandr, Service Improvement Manager 

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are key concerns facing university students across Australia, and internationally. In 2017, the Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities indicated over 50% of students had experienced sexual harassment in the previous year (approximately 26% in a university context) and over 6% of students had been sexual assaulted in the previous two years (over 1.5% in a university context). Peers are a common first disclosure point for survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment; trauma-informed first response to a disclosure is important for the safety and wellbeing of a survivor moving forward. The student community at the University of Queensland (UQ) indicated a need to raise awareness of the support systems available at UQ as well as the need for education around how to respond compassionately to a disclosure of sexual assault or sexual harassment from a peer. In response, UQ Student Services developed the Listen, Support, Refer campaign.

This campaign promotes a simple, three step process for responding to disclosures and offers guidance around useful language to use. The first step is to ‘Listen’ without judgement. For many survivors, the fear of not being believed is a barrier to accessing support, so listening and validating experiences is important. The next step is ‘Support’. Disclosing an experience of sexual assault or harassment is difficult and requires much bravery from the survivor. The campaign encourages students to show support by letting the survivor know it was not their fault and that support is available. Finally, ‘Refer’. The campaign directs students to the UQ Sexual Misconduct Support Unit where survivors and their supporters at UQ can access counselling and emotional support, support and guidance around reporting an incident, as well as reasonable measures such as academic adjustments, timetable changes and emergency housing or funding.

The campaign is currently being promoted via a range of collateral including posters on billboards, posters on the back of toilet doors, flyers and floor decals (large stickers) on busy walkways across all UQ campuses. Initial, informal student feedback has been positive, with students particularly indicating the floor decals make the Listen, Support, Refer campaign engaging and visible. We hope to conduct an evaluation of the reach and impact of the campaign into the future.


Meet WALi at Griffith University

Ashleigh Groote, Advocacy Officer, Student Representative Council

What is WALi?

In late 2018, Griffith University Student Representative Council (SRC) and Postgraduate Student Association (GUPSA) piloted the Wellness, Advocacy and Leadership Initiative (WALi) in response to feedback from students about a gap in university services. With moves to providing more services online, students were reporting that they were struggling to find the right service for them and had limited opportunities to have basic questions answered by a friendly and relatable person. The concept for WALi grew from similar programs that exist at other universities and is backed by research that highlights the important role friends and peers play for students seeking help for their mental health.

Research highlights that students are more likely to seek help for mental health problems from their friends1. Strengthening peer support positively influences student well-being by facilitating a sense of community and belonging, as well as opportunities for social, personal and academic skills development.2 Developing a 'sense of belonging' is critical for student success and retention.

In Trimester 2 2018, the Advocacy Service developed and piloted  WALi at the 5 Brisbane and Logan campuses. Throughout the pilot, the primary focus of WALi was to host Wellness Headquarters on campus. Wellness HQ’s are staffed by WALi Student Leaders and act as a point of connection for students seeking information and guidance about mental health and wellbeing, with a focus on promoting healthy coping strategies, connecting students with appropriate support services and contributing to a campus culture that encourages conversation, connection and help seeking.

The WALi program expanded in 2019, in addition to hosting Wellness HQ’s five times a week (across 5 campuses) we also introduced Wellness Walks at 3 campuses. Wellness HQ’s were also present at events such as Sustainability Week, Mental Health and Wellbeing Week, and Market Days. Overall, events are kept as accessible as possible. We opted to host events where students can ‘turn up and go’.

Early in the development of WALi, it was decided that our WALi Student Leaders would be paid. We felt that the level of responsibility we were expecting of the team necessitated a level of training and commitment that would be best provided by paid employees (rather than volunteers). WALi Student Leaders attended compulsory 2-day training before commencing in their roles, were required to complete Mental Health First Aid training, and also participate in regular debrief sessions with a supervisor. Additionally, a supervisor from the Advocacy team with qualifications in Human Services and Social Work is always scheduled to be accessible on site for the duration of each event should support be required.

WALi Student Leaders complete a feedback form at the end of every shift, these forms provide us with a sense of the level of engagement at each event and offer valuable insights into student needs. Since the beginning of Trimester 1, our team have reported 3385 students interacted with them at a Wellness HQ’s or on a Wellness Walk. WALi Student Leaders have seen engagement fluctuate during the trimester but do note that during exam weeks students are more engaged with the stall but also display higher levels of stress.

We are currently delving into recruitment and planning for 2020. If you have any questions about the program, or would like to speak directly to the student associations or advocacy service, please contact

  1. Cave et al, 2015, Mission Australia Youth Survey Report
  2. Newton, F; Ender, S, 2010, Students Helping Students

Wellness Walk in the Toohey Forest at the athan campus

A WALi providing resources to a staff member in Campus Heart

WALi Student Leaders staffing a Wellness HQ

Activities at a Wellness HQ


Safe Spaces for the LGBTIQ+ Student

Karryn Bratby, Counsellor; Benjamin Cherry-Smith, Peer Leader; University of the Sunshine Coast


Semester 1, 2019 saw an increase in transgender students enrolling at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) who were seeking support, particularly in wanting to connect with other transgender students, from Student wellbeing, counselling services. It is well documented the poor mental health status of people who identify within the LGBTIQ+ compared to their non-LGBTIQ+ community counterparts (The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (2019) ; Leonard, W., Lyons, A & Bariola, E (2015)., Morris, S. (2016)., Robinson, K.H., Bansel, P., Denson, N., Ovenden, G & Davies, C (2014)). It was within this context that Student Wellbeing decided to develop a peer led Queer Coffee catch-up to meet the requests of students.


The Queer coffee catch-up was developed with the vision to provide a safe space on USC campus for students who identify as gay, lesbian, non-binary, trans, PAN, intersex and/or questioning their sexuality to connect and chat about all things queer, university, and to access peer and professional support. Queer coffee catch-up aims to celebrate and embrace all genders and sexualities.

The purpose of the queer group was to:

  • Build social connectedness and reduce social isolation
  • Reduce the likelihood of self-harm and suicide risk
  • Provide a safe space were students can share their experiences, identify struggles, validate their identities etc
  • Monitor harassment and discrimination
  • Provide enhancement of self-development and determination
  • Support peer leaders to achieve their career goals

Student Wellbeing decided the group would be best facilitated by a peer leader who identified with the LGBTIQ+ community.

The Process:

Student Wellbeing applied for and was successful in obtaining funding to employ a self-identifying peer leader, Ben, who would facilitate the group. We also obtained monies to fund coffee cards as part of the social aspect of the group.

Because Ben was a Student Wellbeing peer leader, we developed and facilitated specialised training, that Ben was required to participate in, prior to commencing the group. Once the group started, we provided Ben with weekly check-ins to discuss how the group went and his thoughts for enhancing the group. Ben’s feedback informed future activities within the groups. In addition, Ben is provided formal supervision to validate the professional role he plays in the group’s culture building and to unpack any challenges, opportunities and strengths he identifies.

Student Wellbeing intentionally employed a dual process that aimed to provide Ben with skills, knowledge and confidence to facilitate a group while also providing him with a range of professional development opportunities to develop transferrable skills.

A response from Ben:

Because I have the lived experience as a Queer man, I understand some of the challenge’s students attending the group may experience, which helps facilitate connection and safety. Claire, a Trans woman, expressed the importance of the group in providing a safe and healthy space for her, “this group is a great place to meet people that isn’t going out and drinking.”

An important cultural aspect of the group is the students have said they feel it is their group, they have control over and “it has created a good little community” (Pierre, student attendee). The students created the group’s rules, work together to maintain them, and have created a non-judgemental space. This is particularly important when it comes to students who are early in their LGBTIQ+ journey and are trying to come to understand themselves. As Pierre, a mature aged student, has said “The group has validated me, my gender expression and my identity.”

The group also has a rule where there is no question that is off limits. This rule has meant that the group has talked about their personal struggles and the broader effects that is having on them. The social connections made in the group have created friendships that has moved beyond USC, for example, some of the students attended Brisbane’s Pride event together (see below)


What I see as the most crucial aspect of my role is to ensure that LGBTIQ+ students, whether members of the group or not, are safe and accepted while on campus. This takes three forms, to ensure that if the student is feeling distressed in any way, they know they access to Student Wellbeing, taking them there myself if necessary. If any issues are brought up in the group, I pass them along to the Student Wellbeing team. Finally, as a staff member, I help push for a more open and accepting university community.

Riley, one of the original students to attend the group in its very first week, puts its best when describing the value of the group to the students, saying “I’ve made lifelong friends.”

“The group is the only place that I am not surrounded by straight people.” – Tessa


The group has a core membership of 5 students who attend on a regular basis with the group expanding to 16 students during the semester. The Queer coffee catch-up was initially established at USC’s Sippy Downs campus. Semester 2, 2019 saw the launch of Queer coffee catch-up at USC’s Caboolture campus. We are aiming to have a Queer coffee catch-up embedded in all USC campuses, another important aspect for the group in meeting the goals it initially set out with.


Leonard, W., Lyons, A & Bariola, E (2015) A Closer look at Private Lives2: Addressing the mental health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Australians, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University.

Morris, S. (2016) Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Statistics for LGBTI People and Communities, National LGBTI Health Alliance.

Robinson, K.H., Bansel, P., Denson, N., Ovenden, G & Davies, C (2014) Growing Up Queer: Issues Facing Young Australians Who Are Gender Variant and Sexuality Diverse.  Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, university of Western Sydney.

The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (2019) Recognising and addressing the mental health needs of the LGBTIQ+ population,, Retrieved 27th September 2019.

Good Practice

Research Student Seminars at QUT

Dr. Elizabeth Tindle, Counsellor-Psychologist, Queensland University of Technology

What is a good education?  What contribution, if any, do the QUT Research Students Network (QRSnet) seminars make to such an education?

Having worked with students from pre-schoolers to mature age, in a number of capacities (1959-2019) including research, learning and teaching and counselling, I have developed my own personal views. Naturally, the education I received has strongly influenced my choice of contribution to the QRSNet seminars for research students and the philosophical framework presented here.

The choice of creative workshops offered to our QRSNet students has been indirectly influenced by what I believe is essential for a complete education and preparation for a meaningful life.

A clear message behind many of our creative enterprises/performances has been a passion for improving our world and raising awareness of the current value systems of seeing our planet in predominantly economic terms. As I have travelled the globe over the decades, most times with groups of students or sports teams and experiencing and witnessing the richness of nature and many cultures, this “infinite variety” is exuded into the seminars and performances.

The QRSNet workshops over the past ten years have been the catalyst to bring many world cultures together and have been (and are) the zenith of creative opportunity. Some students who participate are visibly jubilant over their involvement and give very positive feedback, such as “awesome!!” Young people from far flung countries such as Nepal, Malta or Mongolia bring their own poetic offerings and the sharing of learning between teacher and student lasts a lifetime.

We started with “Painting for the Planet” in the United Nations Year of Biodiversity, “Environment, Evolution, Extinction” in 2010, followed by the United Nations Year of Forests. With the city botanical gardens on our door step, everyone looked closely at trees and painted variations of them in all colours. Focus was also devoted to “our” reef, the “Seventh Natural Wonder of the World” now fighting for its very existence.

Our Annual Art Exhibition enabled students to display their artistic expressions and talents and sell some works to try to save the iconic Australian marsupial, the koala, whose life is in jeopardy.

The QRSNet workshops have provided opportunity for students from around the globe to be immersed in creative enterprises to be engaged in transformative experiences from which they learn often by osmosis.

The activities give a versatility to a person’s education. What they learn is with them for life and contributes to life’s happiness. Their own confidence and self-esteem, as well as empathy for all life on the planet are developed. Barriers between cultures are broken down with team work and their cooperative journeys.

We have also produced five performances. The first operetta, “The Reef Cycle,” was based on the composer, Richard Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle. The second operetta was “The Trial of homo economicus: The dollar hunting animal."

Staff and students participated in the reading of an epic poem, “Galilee Greed,” and other shorter poems related to nature with some colourful national dancing lead by a staff member contributing to the programme. 

A very successful play acted by staff and students was “Playto for the Planet” based on Plato’s Symposium. Again a strong environmental message was given by the actors.

Students who participate in these performances bond in the (repetitive) team work and rehearsals necessary. They take back to their respective countries a deep memory of friendship and camaraderie. Somewhere in Bangladesh is a young man who entertained an audience dressed as Freddie Mercury in drag pushing a vacuum cleaner whilst the music “I wanna break free…” blasted forth.

Somewhere in India is a young woman who courageously took a lead role as Gaia, Mother Earth and learned a language quite new to her and many others: “Frackin’ is for friggin’ fools: Frackin’ breaks some basic rules. Frackin’ jeopardises water: Cut it out! Do as you oughta!”

Somewhere in Australia is a young man who was lost and lonely; a sad young man who felt hopeless until he dressed up as a miner/coal man with a pick and shovel and joined a group to sing and dance and entertain his peers: “We are coal men black and grim; Coal destroys the world we’re in, Boo hoo, Boo hoo!” Immersion in this experience released him from his inhibitions and self-doubt.

Repeatedly we ask the question. What constitutes a good education?

Although a university education is to get a job to earn an income, students also need the opportunity to enrich their lives and develop as a whole person. Immersion in a stimulating environment and developing the mind, and allowing ideas to emerge in a socially accepting, trusting multicultural group of people is a bonus. Rubbing shoulders with the diversity of mankind and developing tolerance and understanding can also challenge the monotone of an insular local culture.

The value of the QRSnet is immeasurable. The workshops and seminars enhance and complete a total University experience and produce well rounded citizens who will flourish in a challenging twenty-first century world.

For Your Information

IASAS - Volunteer opportunities 

The International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS) is looking for some regional volunteers for our huge region of Oceania.

IASAS, the International Association of Student Affairs and Services, is a worldwide association of University professionals working in the area of student services. IASAS has more than 1,200 individual and institutional members representing 85 countries on five continents. IASAS was born from the need to consolidate the knowledge and professionalism of the student affairs staff who work to provide students with residential services, study support, sport and cultural activities that create the optimal conditions for the university life and help develop the potential of each.

Although IASAS is a global organisation, we rely on regional activity to share knowledge and as a way to engage our region in a meaningful and accessible way within the global context.

This cannot be done without the help of willing volunteer leaders and the Oceania Region of IASAS is looking for some willing volunteers to take on leadership roles within Oceania. We are looking for:

  • Regional Communications Coordinator
  • Regional Coordinator(s)
  • Regional Membership Coordinator

If you are interested in any of these positions, please get in touch with Andrea Strachan, Regional Director for IASAS Oceania Region on

November Newsletter: Communication and Engagement with Students

We are soliciting articles that address effective channels of communication with students, social media for learning and engagement, and the student perspective on communication within their university. Submissions are due 25 October 2019 to

Job opportunities

Looking for a new employee?  Or looking for your next career move?  The ANZSSA website provides a space for job opportunities in the student services sector to be listed. If you have a position available that you would like to share - it can be posted here

Job opportunities can be viewed here.

Professional Development Opportunities

ANZSSA Conference 8-11 December 2019

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

We look forward to having you join us in Aotearoa New Zealand for this year’s ANZSSA conference.  Register by this Friday 11 October to take advantage of the early-bird registration prices, and save up to AUD $110.00.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Keynote speakers Lesley D’Souza and Laura O’Connell-Rapira will be facilitating pre-conference workshops from 1pm – 4.30pm on Sunday 8 December. Register your attendance to these workshops when you register for the conference here.

The power of a story: Translating our ways of knowing to make positive change – Lesley d’Souza

Data storytelling is set to become an essential skill set that all Student Services professionals need. We have learned to collect data in a variety of ways, but do we fully recognize how to consider equity and social justice in how we approach assessment? And once we have our data, do we think deeply about how to share the truths we learn in our data in powerful ways? The idea that emotions and logic are opposites has led to disastrous efforts to effect change that can end up accomplishing the opposite of what we want. The true path to change is forged with empathy. Using storytelling as a vehicle to generate empathy, we can motivate people to act together and collectively solve problems. Come hear more about strategies you can use to craft powerful stories around your data that will activate empathy and support positive change. In this workshop participants will practice telling powerful stories using sample data. 

Working together to create what we cannot achieve on our own - Laura O’Connell-Rapira

This workshop will focus on how ActionStation combines the power of the crowd with the reach of the cloud to mobilise New Zealanders to take coordinated action for a fair and flourishing future. ActionStation Director Laura O'Connell-Rapira will discuss lessons from ActionStation on radical listening and empathy-led conversations to shift hearts and minds, values-based storytelling and effective collaboration. This workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to see how these lessons could be applied to a university context.

Pre-conference Noho Marae and Overland Travel Experience

Join us for a uniquely Aotearoa (New Zealand) experience. Arrive in Christchurch (Ōtautahi) by 1pm on Saturday 7 December and join your hosts, colleagues from the University of Canterbury, who will share information and insights about the history of Christchurch and the impacts of some of its recent challenges, along with the opportunities this has provided for the Christchurch community.

On Saturday afternoon, you will travel together to Ngā Hau E Wha marae for a noho marae (overnight stay).  You will be welcomed onto this urban marae and will experience an evening rich in the history and culture of the area.  On Sunday 8 December, you will travel by bus down the east coast of the South Island with a stop for lunch at Moeraki Boulders and time to explore this geographically interesting area. You will arrive in Dunedin with time to settle into your accommodation before the conference welcome function at 5.30pm on Sunday.

The noho marae at our 2016 conference in Auckland was a highlight for delegates who participated in this special cultural experience.  We encourage you to join this year’s noho marae and tour. Register for this experience when you register for the 2019 ANZSSA Conference here.  

Sponsorship and Exhibition Opportunities Now Available 

Consider the opportunities available at the 2019 ANZSSA Conference to present your company as a supporter to industry and organization representatives. The sponsorship and exhibition prospectus is now available. Throughout the conference there will be opportunities to create your brand presence and support ANZSSA at multiple networking functions and three full days of conference sessions including catering breaks in the exhibition area. More than 250 delegates are anticipated to attend to share and explore their interest in the quality of the student experience. A variety of opportunities are available for exhibitors and sponsors to best communicate their brand message.

For enquiries or to secure your partnership with ANZSSA for the conference this year, please visit the Conference website or contact the Conference Manager to discuss opportunities to maximize benefit to your company and the conference.

We thank the following for their generous support of the 2019 ANZSSA Conference


Wellbeing Symposium - Victoria University of Wellington

Tenth annual Wellbeing Symposium—Living the values in tertiary education 

Monday 14 October 2019 
8.00 am to 5:40 pm 
Te Toki a Rata (LT1 and foyer), Kelburn campus, Victoria University of Wellington

Join us for Victoria University of Wellington’s tenth annual wellbeing symposium—a one-day event which brings together students, academic and professional staff, and anyone working to improve wellbeing in tertiary education.  

This year’s symposium, Living the values in tertiary education, will explore how we as an educational organisation can embody our written core values and bring these to life in the ways we collaborate and support our community. 

How we treat each other has a great impact on our health and wellbeing. We encourage people living, working, and studying in our community to understand and practise the University’s core ethical values—respect, responsibility, fairness, integrity, and empathy. 

These values are manifested in our commitment to civic engagement, sustainability, inclusivity, equity, diversity, and openness. 

But what does this look like in practice? How can we share these values with staff and students, and walk the talk together as a community? 

Join us for a day of discussion and collaboration with a range of wellbeing experts from our academic, professional, and student community. Our plenary keynote speaker is Professor Marc Wilson, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington. 

Together, we can build a better understanding of how we can improve the way we live these values. 

This tenth annual gathering also serves as an opportunity for wider connection and collaboration around the ever more important issue of our health and wellbeing. 

View the full symposium schedule and register to attend online

Early-bird registration fee (until 23 August)—$85 ; Full registration fee—$100 

We have 60 free student registrations available. If you know of students who might be interested in attending, please email for more details.  

ATEM / ANZSSA - Approaches to Mental Health on Campus

This seminar, jointly conducted by ATEM and ANZSSA seeks to facilitate some practical help for professional staff needing to deal with mental health issues expereicnes by students and staff.  Issues such as depression and anxiety, Financial Stress, Work/study balance, living away from home and adapting to theAustralian culture (international students), lack of sleep and poor diet will be explored along with the nexus between mental health and misconduct and the development of policy approaches to deal with it.

Friday 1 November 2019
9:30am - 3:30pm
CQ University Melbourne, Level 1, 120 Spencer St, Melbourne

Register here

EPHEA - Enabling Excellence through Equity

Victorian & Tasmanian Tertiary Counsellors Conference 

Join us for this Professional Development day for Higher Education Counsellors. Participants will gain knowledge and understanding of current issues and innovation in the tertiary counselling context. To promote and exchange new ideas and practices impacting the work of Higher Education Counsellors.

Friday 29 November 2019
9:00am - 4:30pm
RMIT, Cnr La Trobe & Swanston Sts, Melbourne

Download the flyer here, or register here

30th ISANA International Education Association Conference (ISANA)

30th ISANA International Education Association Conference from 3 - 6 December at the Bayview Eden Melbourne.

The theme of the conference is: Leading and inspiring through collaboration: Student wellbeing and support services, today and tomorrow. The conference will give us the opportunity to explore and discuss the many factors that contribute to the overall student success, both within and outside the classroom.





Since 1995 ANZSSA has been publishing a high quality professional journal which is published and distributed to ANZSSA members in April and October each year. All JANZSSA issues including the most recent issue is published online and can be accessed here.

Focussing on the role of support services in post-secondary education in enhancing student engagement, participation, wellbeing and success, JANZSSA publishes refereed and non-refereed papers, including Best Practice Case Examples, Discussion Papers, Reports, Reviews and Conversation Pieces.

Contributions from members and other interested readers are warmly invited. 

ANZSSA members are encouraged to submit articles for publication in JANZSSA (ANZSSA’s professional journal).  Articles once passed the editorial stage and approved for publication are given early allocation of a DOI and are then immediately published online prior to release within a JANZSSA Issue. Articles can be submitted as:

  1. Referred 
  2. Non-referred
  3. A professional practice report or reflection
  4. A Book review

Topics accepted for publication are relevant to the post-secondary education sector student services and support and include themes of:

  • advocacy and support,
  • retention and engagement,
  • students as partners strategies,
  • student volunteer programs,
  • peer mentoring and student leadership programs,
  • student health and wellbeing initiatives,
  • student welfare,
  • student residential support/experiences,
  • student safety including sexual safety and the Respect. Now. Always campaign within Australian universities,
  • diversity and inclusion,
  • international and rural and regional student transition and adjustment and whole of cohort orientation, transition and adjustment programs,
  • boosting graduate capabilities via extra-curricular activities and programs,
  • focus on religious centre/chaplains etc.

First time authors and returning authors are encouraged and support for article preparation is provided by the JANZSSA editors. More information about submitting an article to JANZSSA can be found here.  Submissions are via the portal found here.