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21 March 16Hope Terdich

Survival Week - A Student's Perspective

Survival Week "Advocacy & Welfare" – A Student’s Perspective

A student gave us their perspective on how you might need Advocacy & Welfare at University.

Sometimes at University, life, relationships, family, study, finance and even geography take over. Things become difficult, stressful or just had to balance. During my study, I’ve been against all odds and it was DUSA’s Advocacy and Welfare services that allowed me to continue being a university student last year.

Imagine me, a poor university student, living off various flavours of two-minute noodles discovering the joy of free breakfasts every Wednesday morning or being able to pick up a hygiene pack from DUSA’s survival centre when I was between jobs and couldn’t afford to buy washing powder.

Then picture me at the end of my first year being summoned to an academic misconduct hearing (which can mean I was found to be cheating, plagiarising or copying, making fraudulent medical certificates or acting in inappropriate behaviours) in other words I messed up my studies.

I’m glad that on that day I stepped into the DUSA office to ask what I could do before I packed my bags, because I was referred to the advocates who invited me to sit down in their office.

The advocates were neither frightening nor judgemental. Instead, they listened as I explained what had to lead to my hearing. In turn, they were able to provide me with a list of things that I would need for my hearing. Later helping me organise everything I had put together and articulate my experiences in a written response to the summons.

I thought that hearing itself would be a terrifying experience but the same advocate I had met when I first entered the office was there to greet me in the waiting area and they accompanied me to the hearing itself.

This is not exactly a happy ending – I got in academic trouble and was served the consequences. But instead, this is a happy middle; I’m now entering my second year at Deakin University and it seems ridiculous now that only a few months ago I was ready to give up.

Since then the advocates have helped me apply for remission of debt from the classes I failed last year and made it clear that their doors are open any time I need help.

If anyone is struggling financially or academically – and most of us students invariably do – I urge you to speak to a DUSA Advocate, there is no shame in asking for help when we need it, and DUSA’s Advocacy and Welfare staff are always happy to go the extra mile to provide Deakin students with what they need to be successful.