I’ve always been interested in the dynamics of people and relationships. I remember that when I first started my performing arts degree, tutorials would be filled with rich discussion about the text or play we were studying as we analysed the characters and deciphered their relationships, actions and motivations. These discussions instilled in me an appreciation of the individual, how we are distinctly original in our making, and that we all experience challenges in life. We all have our own unique challenges, and I learned there is a lot of knowledge we can gain just by listening to, and trying to understand, other people.
My interest in people transformed into a passion for helping others during the first part of my career, when I worked as a practitioner and drama teacher in Far North Queensland. Working alongside adolescents who were determined to achieve, despite the obstacles that faced them, was a privileged experience – I could see that sometimes a little support and faith in their ability was all that was needed to help these students achieve their goals.
My current role as a Student Wellness Advisor at USQ is the logical progression of my career, given my unwavering passion for understanding and helping others. In this role, I support USQ students who are at risk of withdrawing from study due to unexpected life events. Wellness Advisors at USQ, such as myself, provide advice and information about financial support available to students (such as interest-free loans), refer students to community organisations and advocate for students’ interests. In a nutshell, we provide welfare services.
It is rewarding to work with students to get them back on track, to help them access the services and support they need or, at the very least, provide some relief from the outward stressors they are currently facing. I also love my job because the role is so varied, and from day-to-day we’re never sure what questions a student will come to us with or how a day will unfold.
Recently, I met with an international student who was experiencing some short-term financial troubles. An undelivered medical bill had been forwarded to debt collection without her knowledge and she had also recently failed a subject. She wasn’t aware of her options moving forward and didn’t know about the process for appeal. The stress she was experiencing was affecting her ability to study and was further compounded by her physical isolation from family and friends. However, after spending some time with her to outline her options, this student was able to contact the Student Guild to start the appeal process, access study support, an interest-free loan, and connect with the psychological support services available at USQ. I caught up with her last week, and she is confident she’s now back on track to completing her degree.
This is just one example of how Wellness Advisors at USQ can support you, as a USQ student, to access the services and advice you need so that you can succeed in your studies. The support services we offer are for all students and appointments can be in person, online or by telephone. I’ve even had an email appointment (due to poor phone service, understandably!) with a student working on a fishing trawler off the coast of Ireland! We also see a lot of students who are struggling to make ends meet while they’re away on practicums – generally ringing from a regional placement in who-knows-where! So, I guess what I am trying to say is that the support IS available if you need it, and for our team, nothing (well, almost nothing) is impossible. We are a determined team who don’t take the (first) ‘No’ for an answer and work in the best interest of our students.
I guess the best advice I can give students, based on what I’ve learnt from my time in the role of Student Wellness Advisor, is that when things start to fall apart, seek help as soon as possible. It’s so much easier for us to get a positive outcome when we have time to advocate on your behalf or to provide the best possible referral. So, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, or you just want some help and aren’t sure where to go, then make an appointment with a Student Wellness Advisor by logging into USQ’s Access Hub.
If you’re in need of some help during your studies, no matter how big or small the matter may seem, remember that it’s better to seek support as soon as possible. As a student, there are numerous free support services for you to access. Check out the full list now.