Bachelor of Property and Real Estate/Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) student, Renee Derbyshire volunteered at the DUSA Tax Help Centre, assisting Deakin students to prepare and lodge their own tax returns. Since completing her course in 2019, Renee has gained a graduate position in Accounting. Renee let us know about her experience with us:
What matters did students commonly present?
One of the more common matters presented was regarding what is considered taxable. This mainly came from international students, whom of which it was their first time lodging a tax return in Australia.
Another common confusion came down to the Residency Status for Taxation Purposes! This can completely change the amount owed or owing from the ATO.
What was the highlight about your volunteer experience with DUSA?
There were a couple of highlights, it’s so hard to narrow it down to one!
One of the greatest highlights was seeing the sense of relief that students had after they came in for consultation; whether it be to lodge their returns, or just to get answers to their questions. I could easily see the impact that just one appointment made to a student and their stress levels.
Another was the ability to develop a relationship with the DUSA Advocacy staff – they are all so friendly and easy to get along with. Even when I was stressed in the process, socialising with them helped me to relax, take a deep breath, and continue with the day. 😊
How do you think being a volunteer has helped you?
Being a volunteer has helped me see things from a broader perspective. Whilst at university, the most that we tend to worry about is ourselves; but taking the time to assist others helped me realise the struggles that many other students were facing. And with this, how we all aren’t so different from one another, no matter where we came from.
Why would you recommend becoming a tax help centre volunteer to other students?
As I mentioned above, it really helps to broaden a person’s perspective on the society that we live in.
It was a nice break to have from focusing on university, and it gave a better insight into what the workplace could be like. Granted, not every job that you get will be in taxation, but it really helped to further develop interpersonal skills, even down to how I introduced myself to clients! I’d highly recommend this to gain more experience 😊
Did the training provided by the ATO enable you to do your role well?
The training provided by the ATO helped a lot! It was so straight-forward, and you always had someone that you could ask questions to. Even students that aren’t doing accounting could do this; the training provided gives a great insight into the taxation system (at least, the “basics”) in Australia.
The questions that had to be answered in the training were very realistic to the situations that I saw as a tax help volunteer, too. Nothing that came through hadn’t been seen in the training!
If you are interested in volunteering for the DUSA Tax Help visit our website page for more information.