HELP IS AT HAND!

Postgraduate study (as we’ve already mentioned a few hundred times) is hard work. It’s a long and winding road, and it’s natural to imagine yourself – particularly if you’re a research student – walking it alone.

But this is not the case. There are loads of support teams and networks, both at the University and throughout the community, who are here to support you on this journey. If you have an issue with your lecturer or supervisor, money troubles, or require additional support for a disability or matters of equity, there are people that can help. And if it’s something even more serious, related to your legal rights or personal safety, then there are definitely people that can help.

The University provides a list of support services you can contact if there are issues you need to resolve; here are some that we highly recommend. If you have questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to get in touch with them. Do it early, before difficult problems spiral into worse ones.

Dean of Students

Remember that Code of Conduct we mentioned at the beginning of this student guide? It’s built upon the five qualities you and the University should expect from each other: Honesty, Trust, Respect, Fairness and Accountability. Everyone should follow these – you, your peers, your lecturer, your supervisor, and anyone else you work with during your time at UON. (Hot tip: they’re also pretty good things to practice in life, generally.)

So if you believe that you have not been treated fairly – either by a specific lecturer/supervisor, or by the University’s processes more broadly – it’s important to know what options are available to you, and how best to respond. That’s where the Dean of Students comes in.

In the vast and turbulent waters of university policy, the DOS is a master navigator. Seriously, they’re like Magellan. When you’re in a difficult academic situation (being asked to show cause, for example), it’s their job to help you understand the relevant policies, form an appeal and reach the best possible outcome.

The DOS is technically employed by the University, but acts independently of the faculties and Graduate Research, and their role demands that they are balanced and impartial to act in your best interests at all times.

It’s even in the title: they’re the Dean of Students. They’re here to assist you.

 

The University of Newcastle: policies, regulations and guidelines (artist’s impression)

 

The Dean of Students can:

  • Bring your issue to the attention of the relevant staff member, or help you make contact with another University service;
  • Help you negotiate a difficult situation, or talk to a lecturer or another university staff member with you or on your behalf;
  • Act as a support person, an intermediary or negotiator in conflict situations. (If you’ve been called to a meeting and are confused or unsure, they can potentially go with you and offer support.)
  • Help you to navigate and understand all of the relevant policies and processes to ensure you fully understand your options
  • Refer you to the Office of Student Advocacy (see below) where professional advocates can work with you to resolve an issue.

 

The Dean of Students is based in the Hunter Hub Student Services building at Callaghan campus. The office is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Otherwise, you can contact them on 4921 7820 or email them at dean-of-students@newcastle.edu.au.  Make sure you include your contact details, a description of the problem you’re experiencing and what steps you’ve taken so far.

 

Calmer waters ahead. (Never mind the skull. That’s your thesis submission date.)

Office of Student Advocacy

This office – staffed by a team of Student Advocates – works alongside the Dean of Students to ensure you are supported in seeking help to resolve your issue.

Depending on the nature of the problem and availability of staff, the Dean of Students may refer you to the Office of Student Advocacy (or you may simply book an appointment with them yourself).

Student Advocates offer similar services; they can provide information and advice about policies and procedures, assist with appeals, support you during periods of mediation or negotiation, or even just act as a sympathetic ear to listen to your concerns.

The Office of Student Advocacy page on the university’s website lists several common issues students face and gives relevant resources for each. Otherwise, you can contact them via phone or email, or pop into their office – which they happen to share with the Dean of Students, so all the contact details are the same! (See Dean of Students)

 

Since the Dean of Students and the Office of Student Advocacy share an office, they can also share the same humorous nautical analogies in this guide.

Careers

Getting your Masters/PhD is all well and good – that certificate will look great on your wall – but presumably, you’d like to do something with it afterwards. Whether you have clear post-doc career goals in mind or are still weighing up your options, the UON Careers and Student Development Team is a good friend to have. They provide a range of employability services, both on campus and online, to help you land your dream job (or at least get one step closer to it).

 

Drop-in Sessions

If you’re looking for some quick feedback on your cover letter or resume, or have a few questions about career options and opportunities, you can pop into the Careers office and ask! They run both Careers Express sessions (10 minutes) and Careers Consultations (20 minutes); these operate during certain hours of the day, so check their schedule on their website before heading over, if you can. And you may have to book in advance during particularly busy periods.

 

 

CareerHub

The Careers team also run CareerHub, the university’s super-huge online database of everything job-related. Here you can search through tons of current job openings, including casual and part-time work, volunteer positions and major career opportunities.

You can also book yourself a consultation (see above), see upcoming careers workshops (see below) and access nifty resources, such as resume templates and guides. Some pretty fantastic job openings are advertised here, so keep an eye on it.

 

Career Workshops

Unsurprisingly, the Careers team also runs career workshops! Here they teach you all kinds of things – how to identify your career options, how to write the perfect cover letter, or how to knock the socks off a potential employer during interview. We advertise these (and often organise them!), so check both CareerHub and our events calendar regularly to see what’s on.

 

Employer Events

Trade fairs, corporate presentations, internship programs… The Careers team also organises some terrific events on campus where you can meet with employers from different industries, promote yourself and find out more about them. You may not have graduated yet, but it never hurts to start schmoozing early.

 

 

The Careers and Student Development team is based primarily at Callaghan campus, but they do set up contact points at other campuses throughout the week. Here’s where you can find them:

At Callaghan, their office is on Level 3 of the Student Services Building, on the Hunter side of campus. When you enter the student hub, walk straight up the stairs and their front counter is ahead of you.

At NeW Space in the city, they run Careers Express sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10am to 12pm. Look for their banner on the ground floor, near the coffee shop.

At Ourimbah, the Career Express service runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Student Hub, 1pm to 4pm.

At Sydney, consultations are only available by appointment. But booking is easy through CareerHub – just click on the Dashboard tab and look for ‘Appointment Bookings’ down the left side.

If you have any other job-related questions or concerns, you can also call them on 4921 5588 or email them at careers@newcastle.edu.au.

 

Financial Support

As a postgrad student, one of your biggest sources of stress (apart from the work, and the assignments, and the research, and the expectations of your supervisor/lecturer, and… y’know, this probably isn’t helping) is money.

You’ve probably invested most of your finances in coming here to study; you may have brought your partner and/or children with you, and if you’re on a scholarship (which, let’s be honest, is pretty modest), you’re limited in how many hours of paid work you’re allowed to take on.

Whichever way you look at it, postgraduate study demands a lot from you – and if something unfortunate happens and you have sudden expenses and bills to pay, you can find yourself stuck in a scary financial situation.

Thankfully, the university’s Student Loans and Welfare team is here to help! They offer various loans and grants (depending on your type of study) that can ease the pressure if you’re in a tight spot.

 

Student Loans (domestic/international students)

When the worst happens – the car breaks down, the refrigerator dies or you slip over in the shower while singing Shirley Bassey – a quick, short-term loan might be all you need to get you through the worst of it. The University offers interest-free loans of up to $2000 per academic year, which can be spent on anything you genuinely need to be able to continue your studies.

You do need to be doing reasonably well in your degree so far, and they won’t give you a loan if you already owe them any fees and fines. Speaking of which, you can’t use the loan to pay any university fees and fines, unfortunately, and you do need to demonstrate to them that you’ll be able to make the loan repayments through the year.

Still – the terms are a lot kinder than you’d get from an external money lender. And they won’t send someone round to bust your kneecaps if you can’t pay up. Make sure you read up on the loans procedure before you speak to them.

 

Student Hardship Grants (domestic only)

If your financial situation is more severe, and you’re unable to repay a potential loan, you may be eligible instead for a hardship grant. (Sorry, international students – these are domestic only.) Again, you need to be in good academic standing, and at least one semester into your degree.

To apply, you’ll need to complete a Student Financial Assistance Application Form and send it to the Loans and Welfare team, along with two forms of ID, a bank statement, payslips/Centrelink statements and other evidence of financial hardship. Check out their website for more information.

 

Student Placement Grants (domestic only)

If your degree includes a practical component and you’re placed at a different location, you can also apply for a grant to assist with any additional costs – travel, accommodation, living expenses, and so on. Depending on the circumstances, you may be awarded a $300, $500 or $750 grant; again, check the Loans and Welfare website for more info.

 

Vouchers (domestic/international students)

Finally, the University offers vouchers for various services, up to a value of $200 for each academic year. Fill out a Voucher Application Form and email it to Loans and Welfare with all supporting documentation.

If you have any questions about financial support, you can call Loans and Welfare on 4921 5000 or email them at student-loansandwelfare@newcastle.edu.au.

 

Otherwise, there’s always the Robot Mafia.

AccessAbility

A disability is any diagnosed injury or condition that interferes with your everyday life. Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes (and not all of them are immediately visible), but they can all, to some degree, make student life harder for you. (And it’s hard enough already, thank you very much.)

Fortunately, the University is committed to providing an equitable learning environment for all students, and has an AccessAbility team that can provide additional assistance to any student with a permanent or temporary disability or medical condition. This, too, comes in all shapes and sizes: it may mean giving you special furniture to use in your office if you have a spine or muscle injury, arranging a shuttle to get you to your classes if you have mobility issues, or finding you an Auslan interpreter if you’re hearing impaired.

If you’d like assistance of some kind, the first thing to do is register for disability support. There are separate forms for new and returning students; make sure you also attach a completed Health Practitioner Report and any other supporting documents they require.

For a full list of disability support services, click here.

 

Unfortunately, due to University budget cuts, AccessAbility assistance does not extend to full-body artificial augmentation. We’re just as outraged as you are.

ALLY Network

If you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and/or queer (LGBTIQ), it’s good to know that there a people you can talk to anytime about issues related to your sexuality and gender identity. The University is home to an ALLY Network, through which staff and students receive professional development and training to become ALLYs – stalwart advocates for UON’s queer community, who offer support and challenge homophobia wherever they encounter it.

ALLYs aren’t necessarily experts in all things LGBTIQ, but they can offer you a safe space to talk, to be heard, understood and accepted. Conversations with an ALLY are confidential, and if they don’t have all the answers you’re looking for, they’re able to put you in contact with other support services on and off campus that can give you more information.

Otherwise, you can contact UON’s Equity and Diversity Coordinator or our very own LGBTI Representative. Our office is a safe space as well; pop in any time!

Look for the ALLY Network symbol on buildings and office doors around campus:

Campus Security

Of all the rights you should expect while studying at UON, the most important by far is your right to feel safe. No one should ever be harassed, threatened or assaulted – at university, or anywhere else.

The university employs security teams at Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses (as well as NeW Space in the city) that are on hand to help you whenever you need them. If someone is harassing or threatening you, or even if you’re afraid to walk from your lecture theatre back to your car in the dark, don’t hesitate to call them and ask for assistance. You won’t be inconveniencing them; that’s exactly what they’re there for.

 

Callaghan Campus

You can reach Security at 4921 5729, or the emergency line, 4921 5888, if you’re in immediate danger.

 

Central Coast Campus

The regular number is 4348 4291 and the emergency line is 4348 4222.

 

NeW Space (City Precinct)

The number is 4921 7962.

 

HOT TIP!

Since they have keys to every room on campus, Security can also assist you if you happen to get locked out of your office, or need access to a particular space (and have permission to do so). Give them a call and explain the issue; they’ll come to your location and let you in, usually after checking some form of Staff/Student ID.

 

Nothing they can do about this, unfortunately.

Police

If you ever feel you are in danger – anywhere, on or off campus – then the first thing you should do is call the police.

Some international students are hesitant to contact the police here in Australia; they may be concerned that it will reflect badly on them (even as victims of crime), or may have preconceived ideas about the law based on experiences in their own countries.

Police officers in Australia, however, are committed to serving and protecting everyone. You do not owe them anything for helping you, and will never get into trouble for contacting them under any circumstances.

Don’t panic if your English isn’t great! Police stations in each region have access to interpreters and Multicultural Community Liaison Officers, so they’ll be able to communicate with you in a way that’s clear and sensitive to your cultural background.

They also have Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers that have specialised training to assist you if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, and experiencing issues related to your sexuality or gender identity.

There are dozens of phone numbers, email addresses and other contact details throughout this guide, but if you only remember one of them, make it this one: 000. That’s the number to call to access emergency services such as police, fire brigade or ambulance.

If you ever feel genuinely unsafe, don’t hesitate. Dial 000, give the operator details and ask for assistance. You will not be in any trouble if it turns out to be a false alarm. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The NSW Police Force website also has a wealth of resources, tips and advice on keeping yourself safe, as well as the various services they provide to assist people in the community. It’s well worth a look, particularly if you’re new to Newcastle or Australia.

 

Serving our community.

Sexual Harassment / Assault

The University of Newcastle takes all allegations of misconduct seriously – including allegations of sexually based assault and harassment. UON will not tolerate behaviour that compromises the safety and wellbeing of staff or students.

If you have experienced sexual assault or harassment, you can access a range of services at UON or talk to someone for support. You do not need to submit a formal report.

Whether you’d like to report an incident of sexual harassment or assault, talk to someone or find more information, click here to access the University’s online help resources.

Lifeline

If for any reason you feel stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely, or even suicidal, Lifeline is the very best service to call – 13 11 14. Lifeline is a national charity that provides 24-hour phone service for crisis support and suicide prevention; their staff are trained to listen, offer support and give you advice.

Check out their website for more information.

 

Campus Care

Campus Care is a UON support service that provides information, advice and support in managing inappropriate, concerning or threatening behaviours in a safe and confidential environment. (They’re not an emergency service, though, so if you’re in immediate danger, contact Security or call 000 immediately).

If you are concerned at the behaviour of someone on campus or worried they might hurt themselves or someone else, call Campus Care immediately on 4921 8600. They’ll grab some details, look into the matter and offer support to anyone who needs it.

Click here for more info.

Legal Advice

As a student, there are a number of reasons you may seek legal advice: work rights, tenancy issues, visa questions, or even civil action. The University’s School of Law is based at NeW Space in the heart of the city; as part of its clinical program, undergrad and postgrad law students run a Free Legal Centre, assisting students and the wider community as part of their training.

There are plenty of ways you can connect with the University of Newcastle Legal Centre and get advice. Here are the most common:

 

Morning Advice Clinics

During University semesters, Newcastle law students and Legal Centre lawyers offer free legal advice to members of the community on a drop-in basis at morning clinics held in NeW Space. Clinics are held on Wednesdays during University Semester days between 9:00am and 11:30am.

The Legal Centre also conducts evening advice clinics in NeW Space staffed by pro bono lawyers and law students by appointment.

 

Law on the Beach

If seeing a lawyer in the NeW Space building seems daunting, why not meet with one down by the beach? We kid you not; it’s totally a thing.

Law on the Beach is a free legal advice service that runs throughout summer, in January and February each year. Sessions are held in the relaxed setting of Newcastle Surf Club, and aim to make seeking legal advice more approachable, particularly for young people in the community.

Despite being aimed primarily at younger people, all members of the community are welcome to attend Law on the Beach for free advice. All questions and cases are welcomed by the legal clinic team, from traffic fines to employment discrimination and everything in between. The clinics run on a ‘drop-in’ basis so no appointment is necessary.

 

Student Pop-Up Clinics

All students at the University of Newcastle have the opportunity to seek free legal services from the Legal Centre. In addition to the sessions held at the Legal Centre in NeW Space, lawyers and law students hold pop-up clinics at Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses.

The Legal Centre can help students with a range of issues including traffic fines, rental agreements, family disputes or employment discrimination. If you are a student and in need of legal advice, look for the ‘FREE LEGAL ADVICE’ signs at either the Auchmuty Courtyard (Callaghan) or under the sails outside the Millery (Ourimbah).

 

Contact the Legal Centre

All these services aside, you can email the University of Newcastle Legal Centre with general enquiries at LegalCentre@newcastle.edu.au, or call them on (02) 4921 8666.

You’ll find their offices on Level 5 of NeW Space (409 Hunter Street, Newcastle 2300).

 

Make sure you get yourself a good law-talkin’ guy.

NSW Fair Trading

NSW Fair Trading is an organisation that protects the rights of all consumers in Australia, and advises businesses and traders on fair and ethical practice. They administer all laws related to the provision of goods and services, and investigate any allegations of fraud or unfair practice.

Whether you are a domestic student or have come here to study from overseas, you are protected by the same suite of consumer laws. It’s not a bad idea to familiarise yourself with these, especially if you’re about to make a large purchase (such as a smartphone, home appliance or car) or sign a contract (such as a lease or phone contract).

NSW Fair Trading can also advise you on your rights as a tenant (if you are renting). Again, take the time to read through them; if you feel that your landlord is treating you unfairly, it’s important to assert your rights and hold them accountable.

NSW Fair Work Ombudsman

The NSW Fair Work Ombudsman protects your rights as an employee. Their website contains everything you need to know (policy-wise) about pay, annual/sick leave, employee entitlements, termination, and so on. Read through it all when you can; it’s important to know what you should expect of your employer, particularly if you come from a different work culture.

 

Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA)

CAPA is the peak body for postgraduate student associations, representing more than 320,000 postgrad students across Australia. It’s comprised of 34 postgraduate associations, and acts as their national voice in discussions with the Federal Government, Federal Opposition and higher education organisations.

NUPSA is a member of CAPA, and through regular communication and yearly conferences, we ensure that the voices of UON postgrad students are included in the wider conversation. If there are issues concerning you that go beyond the University in scope – or changes in legislation that affect all postgrads – we work with CAPA to address them at a national level.

Check out their website for more information.

Council of International Students Australia (CISA)

We’re also a member of CISA, a peak body that represents all international students in Australia at an undergraduate, postgraduate, private college, TAFE, ELICOS and foundation level. Again, we use this relationship to bring the concerns of international postgrads at UON to a wider forum, and work to see them addressed.

In early 2017, for example, we helped promote a partition on campus, drafted by CISA, to have travel concession extended to international students. This is a state-wide issue that requires a change in state legislation to remedy, and so working with peak student bodies is the best way to amplify your voice for positive change.

You’ll find more info once CISA through their website.

Newcastle University Postgraduate Students Association (NUPSA)

And then there’s us! The final support team on this list – and the best, obviously.

Given the fact you’re reading this guide on our website, chances are you’ve at least heard of NUPSA. We’re the Newcastle University Postgraduate Students Association, the entity that serves and represents all postgrad students at UON. As we’ve mentioned in previous sections, we run workshops, host social events and administrate student clubs – everything you need to have a well-rounded and enjoyable experience during your degree.

Beyond that, though, we are your advocates; our Executive members (all elected postgrad students themselves) sit on working groups and committees across campus, making sure your interests are represented whenever decisions are made that affect you. We also sit on peak bodies (see above) that make decisions at a state or national level.

Most importantly, we’re your support network. If you ever have any questions or concerns at all, and aren’t sure where to direct them, talk to us! We’ll assist you directly wherever we can, or – if there are other support services better suited to the task – help you connect with them for further assistance.

Our website (which you’ve already found, well done!) has a wealth of information apart from this guide: a calendar of upcoming workshops and social events, info on clubs and societies, online workshop recordings you can watch anytime, student articles and infokits, and all sorts of other neat stuff.

And if you’d like a more detailed overview on who we are and the services we provide, check out the What We Do page.

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