Media Releases

PARSA survey of ANU students finds 9 out of 10 experiencing illegal employer behaviour

Wednesday, 19 February, 2020

  • 22.5% of respondents have taken or considered taking legal action against an employer because of their experiences at work.
  • 24% of respondents report that they do not understand superannuation. 9% report that they are not being paid any superannuation and a further 23% report that they do not know where their superannuation is being accumulated.
  • Only 51% of international students always receive payslips.
  • Only 46% of international students report that their payslips reflect the work that they do.
  • Only 52% of international students are paid at least the minimum wage.

The ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association has today released a report detailing the findings of a survey they ran of ANU students about their experiences in the workplace.

Asking students about the incidences of illegal or “dodgy” employer behaviour, including about payslips, superannuation, pay rates, penalty rates and overtime, the survey found that the vast majority of students have experienced some form of illegal employer behaviour.

Students working in the hospitality industry are particularly targeted, with only 45% of students working in restaurants or cafés reporting that they always receive at least 9.5% superannuation. Furthermore, only 23% of restaurant and café employees reported that they were paid penalty rates.

According to UnionsACT’s January 2019 annual youth survey, more than half (52%) of workers aged under 25 had experienced wage theft in the previous 12 months.

The situation, according to the 2019/20 PARSA survey, is particularly bad for international students, with only 36% of international students always receiving at least 9.5% superannuation. 18% of international students are also at least sometimes asked by their employers to work hours beyond those permitted by their visa.

Half of respondents report wage theft, with 51.5% reporting that they are not either paid under the minimum wage, or are not paid for all the hours that they work, bearing out the UnionsACT findings.

Students also anonymously reported specific businesses for illegal behaviour, covering all industries from the tertiary education to a significant proportion of hospitality businesses in Canberra. PARSA has passed this information on to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

PARSA is working closely with the university, the ACT Government and the Fair Work Ombudsman to manage the situation, and has called for a significant response.

Utsav Gupta, PARSA President, said:

“The results of this survey have shocked but not surprised me. In fact, when I first arrived in Canberra, I was offered work in a café for less than minimum wage. On top of this, I wasn’t informed of my rights or even of the existence of superannuation. It’s an open secret that most employers in Canberra, especially in hospitality and cleaning, are engaged in unethical practices in some form.

“All of this is why we are calling on the ANU, the ACT Government and the Federal Government to act to crack down on employers exploiting students and other Canberra residents.”

Parth Sharma, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I first came to Canberra, I found work with a cleaning company contracted by a hotel. I was underpaid and they tweaked the payslip to make it look all legal. I’ve worked in other hospitality businesses where my payslip didn’t reflect the hours I’d worked or the money I was paid.

“I have many friends in the hospitality industry who are being underpaid, denied super, and asked to work hours over their visa. I’ve had relatively positive experiences, but most of my peers have not been as lucky.”

 

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ANU Students Welcome Launch of New Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy

Thursday, 21 November, 2019

  • 2017 AHRC Change the course report found that at least 116 ANU students were sexually assaulted in 2016, 52 of those students were assaulted on campus
  • PARSA and ANUSA call on the whole community to embrace the cultural change outlined in the strategy
  • PARSA and ANUSA reiterate that student leaders continue to shoulder the burden of work and progress in this space and have done for decades.

Thursday the 21st of November marks the launch of the ANU Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy. The launch is marked with a panel discussion between the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC, a leading panel of sexual violence prevention experts and Manager of the Respectful Relationships Unit, Sue Webeck.

August 1st 2019 was the second anniversary of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Report into Sexual Assault and Harassment on Australian University Campuses. This day was marked by the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) and ANU Students’ Association (ANUSA) with a black flag installation, sit-in outside the ANU Foundation Day Lecture at University House and a report entitled One Step Forward, Two Steps Back condemning the university’s slow progress towards its commitments.

The launch of the Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy is a significant step in the right direction and a step that has only occurred due to years of student activism and sacrifices by student advocates. This student advocacy has pushed the University to dedicate time, resources and importance to such an important document.

This document is really only the start of a suite of work that requires a truly whole of community approach our achievement here today. This must not only involve students, but academics, professional staff and all levels of management in order for this to be successful.

The 2017 report found that The Australian National University ranked #1 in the country for the percentage of students who had been sexually harassed at university, and #2 for the percentage of students who had been sexually assaulted at university.

Eden Lim, ANUSA President, said:

“It is important to be proud of this piece of work and what years of student advocacy has achieved today, but it is also important to recognise that it doesn’t stop here.

“Although delayed, we welcome the university’s fulfilment of their commitment to develop a sexual violence prevention strategy. This is a huge win for the countless students who’ve been campaigning for decades for justice for survivors and the cultural change required to tackle this issue.”

Utsav Gupta, PARSA President, said:

“We would not be here today if it weren’t for the tireless work of survivors and student advocates. All credit for this success lies with them.

“We welcome this launch and commit to working with the university to ensure that the cultural change is successful and enduring.”

 

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ANU Students Mark Two Years on from AHRC Report into Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on University Campuses

Thursday, 1 August, 2019

  • 2017 AHRC Change the course report found that at least 116 ANU students were sexually assaulted in 2016, 52 of those students were assaulted on campus
  • While the ANU marks the day with their Foundation Day Lecture, Student Associations mark the day with sit-in, black flag installation and the release of a second progress report entitled One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.
  • PARSA and ANUSA once again call on the university to deliver on promises.

August 1st 2019 is the second anniversary of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Report into Sexual Assault and Harassment on Australian University Campuses. This day has been marked by the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) and ANU Students’ Association (ANUSA) with a black flag installation, sit-in outside the ANU Foundation Day Lecture at University House and a report entitled One Step Forward, Two Steps Back condemning the university’s slow progress towards its commitments.

The 2017 report found that The Australian National University ranked #1 in the country for the percentage of students who had been sexually harassed at university, and #2 for the percentage of students who had been sexually assaulted at university.

In the past two years, the ANU has made some achievements that deserve to be commended, however, progress has been extremely slow and implementation needs to be better resourced in order for the university to deliver on their commitments. Every day that progress is delayed, more students are harmed.

This 2019 report differs only minimally from the same arguments made by student advocates on this day one year ago, and while the past year has seen the establishment of the Respectful Relationships Unit, so little progress has been made in the same areas of concern highlighted in 2017 and again in 2018. The ANU still systemically fails at the stages of implementation and communication.

Eden Lim, ANUSA President, said:

“August 1st 2019 marks another year since the AHRC report, and another year of delayed progress towards the recommendations made by experts, advocates, and ANUSA and PARSA.

“While we are proud of the establishment of the Respectful Relationships Unit, this is only a start, and complacency is unacceptable. We are exhausted, tired and frustrated from the constant need to say the same thing over and over again. We know it doesn’t fall on deaf ears, but still little action is forthcoming.

“Communication has been only upon demand, and the burden placed on student advocates is damaging. Last year we titled our report Surveys but No Service, and this year we tossed up calling it No Surveys and Insufficient Service, as the university has not met a key commitment to run another survey on this issue.

“We’re still here two years on, and we’re still saying the same thing”

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, PARSA President, said:

“Although PARSA is committed to academic integrity, I feel as if I am plagiarising my predecessors in expressing my significant disappointment in the continued lack of action from the ANU on the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

“As we did in 2018, we acknowledge that there has been some progress, and that there are many advocates in the ANU community who have been doing as much as they possibly can to drive institutional and cultural change, but the lack of comprehensive leadership on this issue has failed them as well as the student community.

“Communication has been sporadic, opaque and incomplete, meetings have been infrequent, toothless and unfocused, and we feel like we have been going in circles for over two years.

“We are still concerned by the limited action towards addressing the unique challenges faced by Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students due to their relationships with staff (as supervisors and colleagues). Though we appreciate the University's efforts engaging with us to learn more about the problems, we have still not seen the implementation of adequate systemic processes to protect and empower postgraduate students.”

 

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ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association Signs Historic Second Student Partnership Agreement

Monday, 15 April, 2019

Postgraduate students will once again have their contribution and their right to have a say in ANU academic processes enshrined in writing, as representatives of the ANU Academic Board and the Presidents of both the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association and the ANU Students’ Association signed the paperwork on Thursday the 21st of March.

This will mark the second year in a row that a collegiate relationship has been enshrined in writing and committed to by official bodies of the ANU.

Reviewed on an annual basis, the document outlines the importance of the student voice in student representation, equity, wellbeing, quality assurance and quality enhancement at the university, and lays out the foundations for information sharing and consultation.

The Student Partnership Agreement represents a commitment on the part of the Academic Board to consistently and meaningfully engage with the student body, as well as foster a community in which all members have rights and responsibilities.

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, PARSA President, said:

“In the years that this agreement has been implemented, we have seen a significant improvement in the respect afforded to student representatives, and it has been useful to have a solid framework to strengthen our relationship.

“Designed to promote the engagement of students during their period of study at the ANU, PARSA is proud to be part of producing and presenting a document which provides such a strong model of meaningful student engagement, and we would like to thank the Academic Board and the University for their continued commitment to student partnership.”

 

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PARSA launches scathing attack on ACT rental “unaffordability”

Friday, 15 January, 2019

  • With the slogan, “ANU: #1 in housing unaffordability”, the postgraduate students’ association is pulling no punches
  • PARSA is presenting an advertisement for a mock on-campus affordable accommodation option called “Home Away from Home ANU

This year the ACT took first place in a competition that no-one wants to win: the title of most expensive rental market in Australia. Housing rents in Canberra increased 3.7% from 2018, with asking rents amounting to AU$560 per week while unit rents rose to AU$465 per week, an 8.1% increase from the previous year.

The ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) is today launching the third phase of their accommodation campaign, Home Away from Home, which, in 2019, is targeting the almost impossibly unaffordable Canberra and ANU rental market.

This campaign has previously involved the release of two reports, a photography exhibition and a sleepout outside the ANU Chancelry in the dead of a Canberra winter.

O-Week, beginning Monday the 18th of February, marks the arrival of another cohort of postgraduate students entering the local rental market, some of whom would have received notice earlier this year that they did not gain a place in on-campus accommodation, an email which sparks a flurry of stress and action as a new group of students set for arrival realise the reality of arriving in a city without a place to call home.

Affordability in Canberra is a wicked problem. In a growing city with an inelastic housing market and successive governments who have not made sufficient investments in public housing, students with their limited income often end up at the bottom of the applications pile in the off-campus market.

But this is not an issue that can be placed solely at the feet of the ACT government, the federal government or even the Canberra housing market, it is an issue that is exacerbated by the exorbitant prices charged by the ANU accommodation providers themselves. Simple maths will tell you that domestic students who are lucky enough to have access to Youth Allowance or Austudy are required to pay at least 50% of their weekly income for the most affordable of on-campus accommodation.

PARSA’s 2018 Home Away from Home report revealed that 57% of ANU postgraduate students didn’t have accommodation secured before their arrival in Canberra. Of these, 43% took over a month to find secure accommodation, with 13% taking over two months.

In 2019, PARSA is calling on the university to provide more accommodation bursaries and subsidies, as well as securing deals with real estate agents and other stakeholders to get students a better deal in the Canberra market as well. In addition to this, they are asking the university to ensure equitable access to accommodation by rectifying administrative policies which leave students with disabilities and culturally and linguistically diverse students particularly vulnerable.

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, PARSA President, said:

“It is not enough for students to have housing available to them, it is unacceptable for this accommodation to be so prohibitively expensive that these students are either forced to turn down offers or go without necessities to afford a roof over their heads.

“The Home Away from Home campaign is one that is close to my heart, as I have seen firsthand how difficult it is to secure a home in the expensive and competitive Canberra rental market. I am lucky enough to be in secure housing now, but having a place to call home in Canberra should not be a matter of luck.

PARSA is fighting for safe, accessible and affordable accommodation for all students, no matter their background, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or mobility, and we will keep doing so until our students have their needs met.”

Bernardo Cielo, PARSA Equity Officer, said:

“The current housing problem at the ANU is also symptomatic of unmet challenges in the expansion of Australia’s education sector.

“In opening up Australia’s education industry to global consumers, service providers, particularly academic institutions, inadequately accounted for the logistical implications of housing thousands of students coming to study in the country.

“Student housing unaffordability is an ANU-induced problem, a product of the push to capitalise on domestic and international education markets without providing ample support to the students it markets to.

“As an international student myself, I am calling on the university to do better when it comes to addressing the needs of a community it tries so hard to attract.”

Xuan Di, Postgraduate Student, said:

“I agree with my whole heart that the rent is too high, especially for international postgraduate students with family. In addition, private landlords can change their agreement while working with the broker agencies, year by year contract means students may need to find a new place and move a whole family in the middle of their dissertation write-up.

I had to move out of our first house simply because the landlord wanted to move in. They bought the house, and needed some cash for renovation, so they rent it out for one year, get the money and then, despite of the initial oral promise from the broker agent of a four year renewable (which proved to be not trustworthy). It was right after the school holiday when I was just about to work on my project after caring for my children for two weeks.

Tuition and rent are the two major expense on the list, twenty times and ten times the food and utility cost, breaking down per week.”

 

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International students targeted and exploited by predatory essay writing businesses

Thursday, 17 January, 2019

  • Businesses create fake university offers and confirmation of enrolment to enter spaces reserved for new students
  • PARSA and Canberra Circle call for new students to beware the traps and use services like PARSA and the Academic Skills and Learning Centre if they are struggling, or have been approached

In recent years, assignment and essay writing businesses have expanded into Canberra and have been growing aggressively. Such companies provide services to write essays and assignments on behalf of students, ‘guaranteeing’ top scores.

The businesses target international students in Canberra, especially those who are concerned about failing courses or receiving unacceptably low grades. Some students even develop a dependence on said services to pass their assignments and exams.

Businesses specifically target Chinese students, using the popular social media platform WeChat to reach out to new students. As the most prevalent social media medium in China, WeChat hosts a suite of social functions, with WeChat groups providing features similar to Facebook messenger groups.

On the 13th of November 2018, a WeChat platform named Canberra Circle launched an academic integrity campaign in a WeChat group with 500 members to support students commencing study in Canberra in February 2019. The campaign unveiled and banned 13 essay writing agent accounts that were pretending to be incoming students, according to Yuan Chai, International Officer at the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association and the Director of Canberra Circle.

Essay writing businesses adopt a variety of marketing methods to attract student clients. Not only do they pretend to be new students and sneak into groups, they also send large amount of spam emails to students, frequently to their university email addresses.

These illegal businesses usually have large marketing budgets due to the excessive profitability of the industry. Apart from the WeChat approach, they also cooperate with restaurants, education institutions, and advertising platforms to promote their services.

Meanwhile, students receive no protection from the services. For example, many international students may not be aware that essay writing services, as opposed to tutoring support services, are against University policy and may jeopardise their studies if discovered.  By using these services, students are risking their own future and relying on exploitative strangers.

Yuan Chai, PARSA International Officer and Director of Canberra Circle, said:

“We maintain a good relationship with the students, and we warn them of this suspicious behaviour of friending and messaging, however, as our investigation methods improve, the methods of disguise of the essay writing agents are evolving as well.

“Sometimes, they [essay writing agents] will release the advertisements as soon as they join the group, in the knowledge that they will be removed immediately. Since the chat history cannot be deleted, the information will have been seen by every group member even after they have been removed. That way, students seeking their services will still be able to find them.”

“The worst part is, those illegal companies are creating an environment in which new students would consider purchasing essay writing services a social norm of their overseas study experience. If the majority of students are paying for such services, resisting it will result in a disadvantage to one’s grades. In fact, there were a large amount of students who used essay writing services and got away without being busted or receiving any punishment.

“Most importantly, many students, who actually put effort into their studies cannot achieve the same academic grades as the students who pay for their assignments, which will in turn greatly damage their understanding of academic integrity.”

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, PARSA President, said:

“For a number of years, we have been aware that these business have been preying on our community, and becoming more and more adept at ensuring that they are reaching their target market.

“While more experienced students are more able to differentiate between legitimate businesses and exploitative initiatives, new students are vulnerable to their techniques. With a stay of only two years at a time, the postgraduate student community makes easy prey.

“PARSA would like students to know that there is academic help out there if they are struggling with their classes, and that we want students to report their experiences if they have been approached.”

 

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PARSA expresses serious concern about the loss of the number 3 bus route

Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

Amidst significant student feedback about the finalised ACT bus routes for 2019, PARSA expresses serious concern about the loss of the number 3 bus route through the ANU campus and calls on the ACT Government to engage in good faith consultation with the community.

On Tuesday 16 October, the ACT Government released the finalised bus routes for 2019 and, despite 45% of students expressing concerns with the proposed new network in the consultation stage, has removed the number 3 route. According to the ACT Government report on their community consultation, the loss of the number 3 was a key concern for both students and residents of the inner north.  This decision shows a clear disregard for the needs of postgraduate students, who overwhelmingly rely on public transport to run basic errands and are less likely than the general public to have access to a car as an alternative.

This is a decision that particularly affects students with disabilities and mobility issues, students living in self-catered accommodation, financially disadvantaged students who cannot afford a car, international students (who are overwhelmingly postgraduate students), as well as students with safety concerns like female and LGBTIQA+ students who are vulnerable to sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus.

In addition to the considerable safety concerns the elimination of the number 3 bus will impact the day to day lives of students, whose access to basic facilities will be limited. Students who rely on public transport for running basic errands such as grocery shopping or a late-night chemist will have to walk up to a kilometre further to access these basic services.

The lack of accessible transport is a particular issue for students needing to access medical care, especially for those with a disability or chronic illness who need to travel to one of the two major Canberra hospitals, both of which lie on the current number 3 bus route. The ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris (who is also the Minister for Higher Education) has claimed that accessible transport is vital for enabling social inclusion and community participation. However, accessibility is not solely related to having wheelchair accessible buses; it is about having routes that meet the needs of the community.

There are significant safety concerns with the removal of the number 3 bus route. With the Australian Human Rights Commission report into sexual assault and sexual harassment finding in 2016 that 3.5% of respondents were sexually assaulted on campus (double the national average), and more than a third of respondents were sexually harassed on campus, making the campus less accessible is a blatant disregard of the needs of some of the ACT’s most vulnerable residents. Students residing on campus will no longer have safe, reliable and affordable transport home.

This change will also affect international students who live in the Belconnen and Woden areas, many of whom rely solely on public transportation, in particular the number 3 bus. Route 3 is the only route that currently travels across the campus, and is frequented by many international students. Route 3 not only services those students who live in close proximity to its current service, but is relied upon for transfers by students when they arrive at the city bus station on other routes. The alternative is a half-hour walk from the city bus station to the medical, physics, or Asia and the Pacific departments. International students who reside on campus also rely on the number 3 bus for urgent transportation to hospital, as ambulance services are expensive and can be intimidating.

It is completely unacceptable for the ACT Government to ignore significant community concerns and build further barriers to accessibility for already vulnerable students. PARSA calls on the ACT Government to review their decision to remove the number 3 bus route, by either reinstating it or replacing it with an alternative that adequately meets the needs of the community.

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope,

PARSA President

 

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Postgraduate Students Going without Necessities and Skipping Class to Earn Enough to Survive

Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

  • Nearly 12% of postgraduate coursework students, and over 9% of higher degree by research students regularly go without food or necessities
  • Over 25% of indigenous postgraduate students regularly go without food or necessities
  • Nearly 40% of postgraduate coursework students and over 30% of higher degree by research students have estimated income less than their estimated expenses

2017 Universities Australia Student Finances Survey found that over 50% of postgraduate students worry about their finances.

Of particular concern is the situation of indigenous students, with 28.5% of indigenous postgraduate higher degree by research students regularly going without food or necessities because they cannot afford them.

According to the report, international postgraduate coursework and higher degree by research students in 2017 reported lower total income than full-time domestic students.

There was also a notable substantial decrease in the median income for international postgraduate coursework students, from $33,700 in 2012 to $21,900 in 2017.

Government allowances were the second main source of income for domestic postgraduate coursework students, with over 18% receiving Austudy, Youth Allowance or Abstudy. Only 16 out of the over 150 postgraduate coursework programs provided at the ANU are accredited for student assistance, which means that most ANU postgraduate coursework students are having to balance challenging studies and work in order to meet their basic needs.

Domestic postgraduate coursework students acquire most of their income from paid employment, with almost 88% receiving a median income of $43,800 for domestic students, and $15,600 for international students.

Despite the fact that more than 56% of domestic higher degree by research students receive scholarships, stipends or bursaries, 80% still engage in paid employment, showing that bursaries are also not enough to meet the needs of higher degree by research students.

The report also relayed the troubling stories of particularly international postgraduate students expressing shame over their reliance on family, and their preference for going without meals rather than demeaning themselves by continuing to take support from others. Additionally, it is clear that international postgraduate students are unable to afford basic medical costs, and are avoiding crucial care, both physical and mental.

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President, said:

“This report says what PARSA has always known: that stereotypes that postgraduate students are financially secure are damaging and misleading. Many postgraduate students, both domestic and international, are experiencing financial hardship in Canberra, skipping meals and not accessing other essential services like healthcare, because they simply cannot fit into a meagre budget. Skyrocketing rental costs, with this year seeing Canberra take second place in the country in apartment rents, serve to ensure ANU students are consumed by the high cost of living.

 “Not only are postgraduate domestic students less likely to be entitled to Centrelink payments, it’s clear that they are insufficient to cover basic costs. The government should consider allowing more postgraduate students to claim Centrelink, and the rates of these payments must be increased to reflect the real costs of living to ensure that students are able to achieve at university.”

 

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ANU Students Mark One Year on from AHRC Report into Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on University Campuses

Wednesday, 1 August, 2018

  • 2017 AHRC Change the course report found that at least 116 ANU students were sexually assaulted in 2016, 52 of those students were assaulted on campus
  • Student Associations mark the day with speak out, vigil and the release of a progress report entitled Surveys but No Service.
  • PARSA and ANUSA call for on the university to deliver on promises.

August 1st 2018 is the first anniversary of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Report into Sexual Assault and Harassment on Australian University Campuses. This day has been marked by the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) and ANU Students’ Association (ANUSA) with a protest, vigil for survivors and a report entitled Surveys but No Service condemning the university’s slow progress towards its commitments.

The 2017 report found that The Australian National University ranked #1 in the country for the percentage of students who had been sexually harassed at university, and #2 for the percentage of students who had been sexually assaulted at university.

In the past year, the ANU has made some achievements that deserve to be commended, however, progress has been extremely slow and implementation needs to be better resourced in order for the university to deliver on their commitments. Every day that progress is delayed, more students are harmed. The key areas for improvement in the University’s response to Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on campus are in implementation and communication

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President and Emma Davies, PARSA Women’s Officer, said:

“The university has failed to deliver comprehensive and accessible status updates on their progress for reforming policy. Communication on the project has been fragmented, heavily reliant on blog updates, forums and vague documents that are infrequently updated.”

“The university’s failure to communicate to the community about changes and progress being made has led to, once again, students stepping up and filling in the gaps.”

“The university has not clarified its position on informal reporting information collection and retention. Concerns have been raised that information is being withheld from formal complaints investigations being undertaken by the university officials.  This raises severe concerns that university offices and departments, where students are directed to seek support and information concerning their options, are functioning to protect predators who have a clear and documented history of concerning behaviour.”

“PARSA is particularly concerned with the lack of action on marginalised and vulnerable groups in our community. In particular the lack of action on supporting Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students – postgraduate students who are at greater risk of violence from staff, due to the supervisory relationship.”

Eleanor Kay, ANUSA President, Tess Masters, ANUSA Vice-President and Laura Perkov, ANUSA Women’s Officer said:

“Many students across campus still do not know how to report misconduct or how to get support. ANU reporting lines are unclear, and no progress has been made towards electronic reporting that might support anonymous reporting. On this, ANU is falling dangerously behind the sector.”

“Restorative justice was integral in the demands handed to the ANU by students in August last year, yet there has been little movement towards integrating the principles of restorative justice into the university’s response.  Processes must be trauma-informed and victim centred, emphasising healing and perpetrator responsibility and accountability, and recognising the role of the community in both harm and healing.”

“When comparing progress against the recommendations ANUSA and PARSA developed last year, it is clear that the university is lagging behind.”

 

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PARSA Welcomes ANU Announcement of 2021 First Year Postgraduate Accommodation Guarantee, but more action Necessary to Solve Postgraduate Accommodation Struggles

Friday, 27 July, 2018

  • ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt has announced that there will be a postgraduate first year accommodation guarantee from 2021
  • Survey at the beginning of 2018 indicated that 11% of international and 6% of domestic postgraduate students are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • PARSA calls for urgent short-term action to bridge the 1-2 month gap after arrival where students are most at risk of homelessness

In February 2018 ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) set up tents on campus, in July 2018, put together a photography exhibition, and on Thursday the 26th of July, ANU Vice-Chancellor, Brian Schmidt announced that from 2021, the ANU will be guaranteeing on-campus accommodation for all first year postgraduate students, should they want it.

PARSA welcomes this fantastic win, and thanks the university for this much-needed announcement on the eve of a student sleepout overnight in front of the Chancelry. PARSA appreciates the knowledge that postgraduate students arriving from 2021 will have a guarantee of a safe place to sleep at night.

However, there is more work to be done. Although this win is great for future students, there is a clear need for more immediate action to ensure that students who come to the ANU between now and 2021 do not struggle as much as the students surveyed by PARSA at the beginning of 2018.

PARSA’s February 2018 report found that 57% of postgraduate students didn’t have accommodation secured before their arrival in Canberra. Of these, 43% took over a month to find secure accommodation, with 13% taking over two months.

There will be four whole intakes of students between now and 2021 for whom the future guarantee will mean nothing. PARSA is asking for the university to commit to short-term solutions to ensure the safety of postgraduate students, in finding a home away from home.

This announcement marks the second-last day of the Home Away from Home photography exhibition which tells the stories of eight postgraduate students as they struggled to secure safe accommodation after their arrival in Canberra.

The survey at the beginning of the year found that international students, who make up the bulk of the second semester intake at ANU, are less likely to have secured accommodation before arrival (33% compared to 51% of domestic students) and are more likely to be homeless or at risk of homelessness (11% compared to 6% of domestic students).

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President, said:

“PARSA welcomes yesterday’s announcement and we are excited to know that from 2021 first year postgraduate students will be able to get access to the accommodation that they need. However, this will not change the experiences of students coming to Canberra to study between now and then.

“Undergraduate students are rightfully guaranteed accommodation upon arrival in Canberra, while postgraduate students, who come from all corners of the globe, have no such guarantee. While the ANU has committed to changing this in 2021, without immediate short-term solutions, this will leave four cohorts of students in a vulnerable position, struggling to find a safe place to sleep at night.

“PARSA has developed a suite of proposals for the ANU to consider in order to address the homelessness crisis postgraduates are experiencing. These proposals are pragmatic and achievable, having been developed with the support of ANU staff and student representatives. These proposals will fill the 1-2 month arrival accommodation gap and are ready for implementation, should the university choose to take this issue as seriously as the student population.”

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I first arrived, I spent 3 months living with family friends due to the extraordinarily competitive rental market. I did eventually find a place to live, but it look a lot longer than it should. When I was forced to live through the process again in 2017, I witnessed homes which were completely unfit for habitation and run by landlords whose business was in preying on the vulnerable.

“I was reliant on the goodwill of family and friends, and I don’t want to see four whole cohorts of new students have the same, and even worse struggles to find a safe and secure place to lay their head at night.

“It’s incredibly exciting to have this announcement from the Vice-Chancellor, but without a serious and timely effort from the ANU, there are still students who will suffer in the meantime.”

 

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Postgraduates sleep rough to protest insufficient ANU accommodation support

Friday, 27 July, 2018

  • Survey at the beginning of 2018 indicated that 11% of international and 6% of domestic postgraduate students are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • PARSA calls for Australian National University to guarantee accommodation for first year postgraduate students

Students from the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) tonight will sleep outside the ANU Chancelry to protest the university’s ambivalence to the struggles of hundreds of postgraduate students.

These students will be sleeping rough, not because they don’t have a safe home, but because they care about the plight of their peers. ANU postgraduate students continue to sleep in libraries, tents on campus and on the couches of friends and family because of inaccessible and inadequate accommodation. As the ANU second semester begins, this is a timely reminder that this issue has not been responded to by the ANU and that another cohort of students are arriving in Canberra at risk of the same fate.

PARSA’s February 2018 report found that 57% of postgraduate students didn’t have accommodation secured before their arrival in Canberra. Of these, 43% took over a month to find secure accommodation, with 13% taking over two months.

The lack of a postgraduate first year accommodation guarantee adds unnecessary stress to the experience of beginning challenging study in a new city or country.

Ten students have so far indicated their willingness to sleep out, and with temperatures set to drop to -2 overnight, it’s no small ask.

This sleep-out marks the last day of the Home Away from Home photography exhibition which tells the stories of eight postgraduate students as they struggled to secure safe accommodation after their arrival in Canberra.

In addition to this exhibition and the sleepout, PARSA has developed a suite of proposals for the ANU to consider in order to address the homelessness crisis postgraduates are experiencing. These proposals are pragmatic and achievable, having been developed with the support of ANU staff and student representatives.

The survey at the beginning of the year found that international students, who make up the bulk of the second semester intake, are less likely to have secured accommodation before arrival (33% compared to 51% of domestic students) and are more likely to be homeless or at risk of homelessness (11% compared to 6% of domestic students).

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President, said:

“In recent years, we have collected reams of anecdotal evidence that postgraduate students at the ANU are struggling financially and emotionally with issues related to accommodation such as finding family-friendly accommodation, affordable housing and discrimination. We have even heard from postgraduates who sleep in the Chifley Library because it’s the only place they have which is open during the night.

“Undergraduate students are rightfully guaranteed accommodation upon arrival in Canberra, while postgraduate students, who come from all corners of the globe, have no such guarantee. This is unacceptable. ANU needs to provide parity for all new arrivals in Canberra.

“We are sleeping outside of the Chancellery tonight to make the point that the university needs to take our concerns seriously, and realise that this issue isn’t going away. We need strong leadership and a commitment to a postgraduate accommodation guarantee to ensure that no postgraduate student has to suffer homelessness.”

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I first arrived, I spent 3 months living with family friends due to the extraordinarily competitive rental market. I did eventually find a place to live, but it look a lot longer than it should. When I was forced to live through the process again in 2017, I witnessed homes which were completely unfit for habitation and run by landlords whose business was in preying on the vulnerable.

“I was reliant on the goodwill of family and friends, and I don’t want to see new students have the same, and even worse struggles to find a safe and secure place to lay their head at night.

“Without a serious effort from the ANU, this situation will only get worse. It’s unacceptable, and students deserve better.”

Varun Nair, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I came to the ANU I was one of the students who spent time in Chifley because I had no accessible accommodation and my story is told in the exhibition. I’m sleeping out because now I’m in a better position and I can help change the situations for those who come after me.

“The ANU needs to see this situation for what it is: a serious threat to the wellbeing and educational experiences of their students.”

 

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Photography exhibition tells the stories of postgraduate student homelessness and housing stress

Monday, 16 July, 2018

  • Survey at the beginning of 2018 indicated that 11% of international and 6% of domestic postgraduate students are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • PARSA calls for Australian National University to guarantee accommodation for first year postgraduate students

The ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) are this fortnight using photographs and the spoken word to tell of the accommodation struggles of postgraduate students, some of whom will spend their first nights in Canberra sleeping rough as the ANU neglects to respond to the postgraduate accommodation crisis.

PARSA’s February 2018 report found that 57% of postgraduate students didn’t have accommodation secured before their arrival in Canberra. Of these, 43% took over a month to find secure accommodation, with 13% taking over two months.

The lack of a postgraduate first year accommodation guarantee adds unnecessary stress to the experience of beginning challenging study in a new city or country.

The Home Away from Home Photography Exhibition tells the stories of eight postgraduate students as they struggled to secure safe accommodation after their arrival in Canberra.

These students, four female and four male, five international and three domestic, students whose ages range from their early twenties to their early fifties, have two things in common: a desire to learn, and a resolve that non-one else should have the same experiences.

The survey at the beginning of the year found that international students, who make up the bulk of the second semester intake, are less likely to have secured accommodation before arrival (33% compared to 51% of domestic students) and are more likely to be homeless or at risk of homelessness (11% compared to 6% of domestic students).

In addition to this exhibition, PARSA has developed a suite of proposals for the ANU to consider in order to address the homelessness crisis postgraduates are experiencing. These proposals are pragmatic and achievable, having been developed with the support of ANU staff and student representatives.

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President, said:

“In recent years, we have collected reams of anecdotal evidence that postgraduate students at the ANU are struggling financially and emotionally with issues related to accommodation such as finding family-friendly accommodation, affordable housing and discrimination. We have even heard from postgraduates who sleep in the Chifley Library because it’s the only place they have which is open during the night.

“Undergraduate students are rightfully guaranteed accommodation upon arrival in Canberra, while postgraduate students, who come from all corners of the globe, have no such guarantee. This is unacceptable. ANU needs to provide parity for all new students arriving in Canberra.

“We have put this exhibition together to put a human face to the data that we collected earlier in the year. These are not just numbers on a page, these are people in our community who are sleeping rough, dealing with manipulative landlords, spending hours at housing inspections, and risking their mental health, all while juggling challenging study in a new city.”

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I first arrived, I spent 3 months living with family friends due to the extraordinarily competitive rental market. I did eventually find a place to live, but it look a lot longer than it should. When I was forced to live through the process again in 2017, I witnessed homes which were completely unfit for habitation and run by landlords whose business was in preying on the vulnerable.

“It’s harder to ignore stories that have a name and a face. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to put my story alongside the stories of students from all walks of life who have decided that enough is enough.”

Varun Nair, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I came to the ANU I was one of the students who spent time in Chifley because I had no accessible accommodation and I’m proud to say my story is told in the exhibition. As an Indian student coming to Australia to study because of the ANU’s stellar international reputation, it felt like betrayal to end up in such a difficult accommodation situation.

“I applied for dozens of places and when I was lucky enough to receive feedback, I was told that they preferred people who have a steady job, a steady income and an Australian rental history, but what can you do if you’re an international student in your first year of university overseas?

“The ANU needs to see this situation for what it is: a serious threat to the wellbeing and educational experiences of their students.”

 

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Postgraduate accommodation report finds significant challenges for students at ANU

Wednesday, 14 February, 2018

  • Survey indicates that 11% of international and 6% of domestic postgraduate students are homeless or at risk of homelessness

  • PARSA calls for Australian National University to guarantee accommodation for first year postgraduate students

The ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) has released its Home Away from Home report, detailing the significant challenges faced by postgrads.

The report revealed that 57% of ANU postgraduate students didn’t have accommodation secured before their arrival in Canberra. Of these, 43% took over a month to find secure accommodation, with 13% taking over two months.

The lack of a postgraduate first year accommodation guarantee adds unnecessary stress to the experience of beginning challenging study in a new city or country.

Other findings include:

  • 9 per cent were homeless or at risk of homelessness when they completed the survey
  • 29 per cent rated their experience finding accommodation in Canberra as bad or terrible
  • International students are less likely to have secured accommodation before arrival (33% compared to 51% of domestic students) and are more likely to be homeless or at risk of homelessness (11% compared to 6% of domestic students)

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President, said:

“In recent years, we have collected reams of anecdotal evidence that postgraduate students at the ANU are struggling financially and emotionally with issues related to accommodation such as finding family-friendly accommodation, affordable housing and discrimination. We have even heard from postgraduates who sleep in the Chifley Library because it’s the only place they have which is open during the night.

“Undergraduate students are rightfully guaranteed accommodation upon arrival in Canberra, while postgraduate students, who come from all corners of the globe, have no such guarantee. This is unacceptable. ANU needs to provide parity for all new arrivals in Canberra.

“Our new accommodation report, Home Away from Home, makes a number of recommendations on how the University can address the housing challenges faced by postgraduates at the ANU. By guaranteeing accommodation for first-year postgraduates, and making further commitments outlined in the report, the ANU can help students overcome the housing challenges faced by newly arrived and returning postgrads in Canberra.”

Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I first arrived, I spent 3 months living with family friends due to the extraordinarily competitive rental market. I did eventually find a place to live, but it look a lot longer than it should. When I was forced to live through the process again in 2017, I witnessed homes which were completely unfit for habitation and run by landlords whose business was in preying on the vulnerable.

“Without a serious effort from the ANU and the ACT Government this situation will only get worse. It’s unacceptable, and students deserve better.”

Varun Nair, Postgraduate Student, said:

“I initially had accommodation in Tuggeranong, but travelling to and fro every day just wasn’t feasible, so I’d get clothes from home and stay in the library or at a friend’s place on campus. If you don’t have a secure job and a stable source of income your application is automatically put at the bottom of the pile, especially if you’re from overseas and don’t have local references.”

 

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Student parents breastfeeding in toilets and missing classes due to insufficient resources at the ANU

Monday, 7 May, 2018

  • Survey indicates that 73% of student parents rate ANU’s support as only average, poor or very poor
  • PARSA calls for Australian National University to make the required investment in services and support

The ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) has released its Postgraduate Parents report, detailing the significant challenges faced by student parents.

The report revealed that 60% of postgraduate student parents want the ANU to prioritise setting up on-campus short-stay or sessional childcare.

Additionally, the lack of on-campus accommodation for families adds unnecessary stress to the experience of beginning challenging study in a new city or country.

Other survey findings include:

  • International students related the agonising decision to leave their families behind or struggle to house them and pay for the associated costs;
  • Research students spoke of the shock of finding out how limited the parental leave schemes, with only sixty working days for mothers, and five days for fathers; and
  • Students only spoke of success when their supervisors, lecturers, tutors and peers went above and beyond what was required of them.

Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President, said:

“In recent years, we have heard numerous experiences of postgraduate students who are parents at the ANU, who are struggling financially and emotionally. This report is the first step in showing evidence of these struggles.

“While this report details some incredibly upsetting findings, we at PARSA see this as an opportunity to take this period of renewal and rebuilding at the ANU to design a campus and a university that fits within its strategic initiatives. We look forward to seeing the ANU take action to meet its strategic goals around valuing inclusivity and diversity, and driving its cultural agenda of gender equality.

“Our new report, Postgraduate Parents, makes a number of recommendations on how the University can address the challenges faced by postgraduate student parents at the ANU. By building family-friendly accommodation, changing the research scholarship leave provisions, providing sessional and short-stay childcare, and making further commitments outlined in the report, the ANU can help ensure equity of opportunity for postgraduate student parents.”

Naimah Talib, Postgraduate Student, said:

“While I have loved my time in Canberra, my experience as a student parent wasn't exactly as pleasant as that of a student here on their own.

“I was lucky to come here with my husband, but it has been a struggle to find appropriate childcare and accommodation for our little family. The university needs to change, and it needs to change soon.”

Lauren Reed, Postgraduate Student, said:

“Accommodation was a definite struggle. Incoming postgraduate students can secure transitional accommodation at ANU, such as at University House. However, none of the available accommodation can accommodate a family.

“When I was preparing to move to Canberra to begin my Master’s, this meant an exciting time became needlessly stressful, as I was forced to leave my children with relatives in Melbourne for multiple weekends as I travelled back and forth to Canberra to look at long-term private rentals.”

Haribondhu Sarma, Postgraduate Student, said:

“When I arrived in Australia to commence my PhD, my two children spent a month sitting idle in our temporary accommodation, because we couldn’t enrol them in school until we had a permanent address.

“Back home in Bangladesh, my wife and I had a big family support network, now here we have to navigate the challenges alone. My supervisor is very supportive, so I’m able to work from home sometimes in the school holidays, or if one of the children is sick, but if I can’t, my wife has to miss work and that stretches the budget.”

Contact PARSA

PARSA Office
Level 2, Di Riddell Student Centre
Kambri Precinct
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 2601

Office Hours:

9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
Call Us: +61 (02) 6125 4187
Write to Us: parsa@anu.edu.au