Australia

Welfare Policies – UNSW SRC Election 2016

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A pattern which we were able to identify through every policy proposal was the lack of comprehensive guidelines on achieving the proposals. This trend was definitely reflected in the welfare policy proposals from both major tickets. The reason for this trend as mentioned in this article is the lack of a media organisation holding tickets accountable. Hence intca@unsw decided to fill this void by reading, and criticizing the different policy proposals. Over this week, we have criticized a number of different proposals, and to finish off the streak, we will be reviewing the welfare policies.

Reforming CAPS

Brainstorm the strategic steps required to achieve change on this issue.” ~Ignite proposal on reforming Counselling & Psychological Services(CAPS). As a voter we expect candidates to have a plan to addressing the issues at hand. This proposal on reforming CAPS has not been addressed, the existing problems are not discussed nor have any solutions been proposed. Hence the proposal on reforming CAPS appears extremely weak.

The Activate proposal on CAPS mentions their focus regions to improving CAPS will be to “improve the initial consultation procedure which can be incredibly confronting and deterring for students” and to “establish a centralised space for mental health advise”. Hence on the topic of reforming CAPS Activate stands a foot ahead.

Study Packs/Welfare Packs

Activate has proposed to introduce study packs (faculty specific stationery, course materials, etc) for students having financial difficulties. This idea has been proposed only by the Activate ticket and is definitely one that would be a step in the positive direction and only activate has proposed this.

Activate that they will promote the welfare packs which they began amongst the student body and increase awareness about these packs within the student body. Hence the question which comes into mind is, why didn’t the 2016 elect Activate SRC spread awareness? What did you do for one year whilst being elected?

Long Term Goals

The ignite proposal is the only one which speaks about setting out a long term plan to ensure sustainable proposals. Jay speaks about developing a 5-year plan for a portfolio on key issues to lobby for, in line with UNSW’s 2025 plan. However, no details on what will be included in this plan is presented. This is despite the fact that UNSW has provided clear outlines for its 2025 strategy. Moreover.

What seems daunting yet is the fact that the Ignite presidential candidate is the sitting welfare officer, hence the question a voter would ask would be why this long term plan was not developed during the year 2016 when the running presidential candidate was the welfare officer. During our interview with the presidential candidate Michael Murdocca, he mentioned that over his tenure he was able to kick off a number of different initiatives and this could aid Jay’s proposal to develop the plan.

Whilst the proposal isn’t baked enough to satisfy me, if this plan is developed it would be an immense step forward for the SRC and the welfare collective.

Trimesters

Ignite by popular choice has chosen to stand against the trimester system proposed by UNSW, making the claim that “….students are now required to do the same amount of work in significantly less time”. In a previous article we showed you that wasn’t the case. Clearly the candidates need to do a tad bit more research before making a claim about something.

 

Napping Spaces

The welfare candidate has proposed measures on increasing nap spaces by increasing the number of bean bags available on campus spread out over a variety of locations. In our interview with Jay, he mentioned that he would identify unutilised locations within campus where these napping facilities could be implemented and proposing implementation of these facilities in said locations.

I feel the proposal on implementing nap pods on campus “…when the technology becomes cheap enough” is redundant since the policy proposals are for the year 2017 and it seems extremely unlikely that a breakthrough in sleep pod technology would occur within the year 2017. However, the strength of the proposal in increasing bean bags certainly outweigh this negligible redundancy.

Cheap/Free Meals

Both ticket have decided that introducing plans for free/cheap meals would be in everyone’s best interest. The Activate policies on this topic are far more comprehensive relative to Ignite.

  1. Free Breakfast

Whilst Activate seems to have a clear plan on implementing these proposals by partnering up with ‘thoughtful foods’, ignite intends to providing high protein options. Whilst my tummy says high protein for the win, since there is no clear cut plan on how it will be achieved, Activate trumps

  1. Student Run Restaurant

Activate intends on lobbying to set up a permanent student volunteer run not for profit restaurant, where students pay for what they can. This idea sounds amazing and definitely a long term effective method to provide cheap/free meals for students.

The above mentioned 2 are just what I found more intriguing. On the cheap meal proposals, Activate has mentioned clear cut initiatives, partners to work with to achieve said proposals and where the funding would come from.

Here To Hear

Both tickets have acknowledged the need to reintroduce the here to hear program. Hear to hear was an after hour hotline run by Arc volunteers, where any student could ring up the hotline and speak to someone about anything that was on their mind or was worrying them with absolute confidence. This program ran in semester 1 of 2016 however doesn’t run anymore.

So we called up Arc to inquire as to what happened yet we were stone walled. We were told “The program is undergoing some changes, that is all I’m able to and want to give you”. However, if both tickets do intend on restarting this program people first need to know what happened to it causing it to close down. We were able to find out what happened to the program through a source outside Arc, and it had to do with an abusive caller.

Whilst Activate simply acknowledged this needs to be reinitiated, in our interview with the ignite welfare candidate, he had a proposed solution to fix the problem of abusive callers. The system was to replace the hotline with an online chatbox, following which, a VOIP call could be made provided the caller can be whetted to be non-abusive. Whilst this was not mentioned in the proposal, it certainly would deal with the issue of abusive callers and keep the program running.

Conclusion

The policy documents contained a large number of amazing proposals, not limited to but including:

  1. Introducing an equity directory
  2. Subsidised RSA/RCG courses
  3. Financial advise assistance
  4. Linking the welfare collective with the disabilities and international officers
  5. Society/Clubs and SRC colloboration

I have discussed an absolute minority here. The welfare proposals from both major tickets addressed a number of key issues which needed to be addressed. There was no clear cut ticket with the better policies. My only hope is that regardless which candidate gets elected, he/she will take up the proposals mentioned by the rival ticket and implement them as well.

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