APS Leadership Report August 2022
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
Opening a Parenting Room in the Postgrad Lounge
If you haven’t been to the Postgrad Lounge recently you might not have noticed the addition of a Parenting Room next to the Kitchenette. The room includes cabinets to store baby bags in while on campus, a recliner, and a fridge (and soon a changing table). Many of the existing parent’s rooms on campus are in inconvenient locations or simply a bathroom with a changing table, making a sub-prime space for feeding a young-in. We are investigating whether the door between the Women’s Collective and the hallway in 21C can be opened to allow access the parenting as well.
Bigger, better and more inclusive Events
Throughout this year we’ve been scaling up our programs, including bringing our ambassadors on board throughout the planning process to deliver experiences that students truly value. These range from our Cocktail party at the newly renovated Patina on Alumni Court in July, to our Campus Careers Expo on August 18th in collaboration with a dozen clubs, 60 suppliers, 40 volunteers, and over 700 students in attendance, or our upcoming Ball in September. But beyond big-ticket items, APS has seen huge success with our exec planning philosophy this year ‘meet them where they are’, hosting monthly coffee events with our HDR students, visiting our non-St Lucia campuses, and funding student groups and clubs to put on their own postgraduate events focused on their campus area.
Advocacy: lobbying the government to take action on masters
Our small win for this year was successfully lobbying the federal government on the Centrelink rules for master’s students. Since 2013, no university has had an opportunity to have a master’s course approved for students to access student allowance payments through Services Australia. While we were unsuccessful in knocking over the silly rules that say ‘only courses which are required for professional entry or guarantee faster entry get Centrelink’, we’re optimistic that the new government will work with us to make postgraduate study more accessible.
Supporting oft-neglected groups on campus: Older Students and Parents
Did you know: UQ’s oldest student is a centenarian? That’s 100 years old for all you STEM students. In April 2022, we relaunched our Student Parents Group and Mature and Returning Students (MARS) Group to offer a place to connect with students sharing similar experiences and find out what’s affecting those students to drive our advocacy work. While the groups are ideally facilitated by members, we’ve had a bit of a shortage of interested leaders emerging; but not to despair, APS continues to support anyway!
These groups are not exclusively accessible to postgraduate students but operated through APS in recognition of demographic distribution. If you’re interested in getting involved:
Mature and Returning Students: facebook.com/groups/uqapsmars
Student Parents Group: facebook.com/groups/uqapsparents
Indigenous Student Engagement
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that we haven’t done enough to make APS (and UQ postgraduate study as a whole) a welcoming, inviting, and accessible space for First Nations Students. Throughout this year, we’ve taken huge strides to improve our offering for International, Women, Mature, Disabled, Parents and Queer Students, but done little to support our postgraduate indigenous students beyond sitting on committees, supporting sentiments, and offering acknowledgements of country, and we can do better.
We’re working with our members and staff at UQ to fix what we can in the immediate term and we’ve set aside funding to hire a First Nations and Indigenous Engagement project officer to identify gaps and develop programs for 2023. Any improvements, recommendations, or suggestions can be sent to email@example.com.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to call on UQ to get a move on with the RAP and fully resource the many programs on the table now (including Indigenising Curriculum and Countries on Campus), and other organisations within UQ and the UQ community to reflect deeply, beyond ‘have I ticked the boxes’, on how we can make UQ a culturally safer and more supportive place for Indigenous people as students, staff, and research partners.