MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA launches Raise Our Voice campaign for postgraduate equity activism

CAPA launches Raise Our Voice campaign for postgraduate equity activism

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has today launched the Raise Our Voice campaign, which raises awareness of initiatives for marginalised groups in postgraduate spaces.

As part of the Raise Our Voice campaign, we have published the CAPA Equity Student Representatives Handbook, which is a guide for student leaders to effectively represent marginalised groups at a postgraduate level.

National initiatives currently in progress under the Raise Our Voice banner include: developing a queer representational agreement for Australian student bodies, working with Queer Unionists in Tertiary Education to host a series of Pride Chats in Victorian universities, and conducting an audit of universities’ disability services. We have also recently worked with other peak university bodies to develop a set of principles for respectful postgraduate supervision.

This campaign launches as part of Bluestocking Week, in which we recognise the involvement of women in higher education.

CAPA Vice President (Equity), Mick Fox, says, “This campaign spotlights the great work done by student leaders around Australia to improve higher education for marginalised groups. We hope it will inspire renewed efforts by universities to ensure that the student experience is positive for all, including those who need an extra helping hand.”

CAPA Queer Officer, Dylan Styles, says, “Raise Our Voice brings together the plethora of lived equity perspectives to tackle the inequality we see within higher education nationally. Our reports, resources, and lobbying will ensure that universities are benchmarked and held accountable.”

Regular campaign updates will be posted to the Raise Our Voice Facebook page.

For further comment:
CAPA Vice President (Equity)
Mick Fox
P: 0412 436 220

Download: Equity Student Representatives Handbook

The CAPA Equity Committee presents the Equity Student Representatives Handbook, which is a resource for postgraduate equity representatives new to their roles. The handbook’s main objective is to provide a starting point and a guide for anyone representing an equity group on behalf of their postgraduate organisation. The roles and responsibilities of each role vary by organisation; this handbook is intended to provide general advice to get you started in your role and help you deliver effective equity representation.

This handbook was launched as part of the Raise Our Voice campaign and Bluestocking Week 2018.

Related content

Raise Our Voice campaign page

Raise Our Voice media release

NUS and CAPA condemn Government and crossbench for attacks on Australian students

The National Union of Students (NUS) and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) together condemn the Coalition and those crossbench senators who today conspired to rip money directly out of students’ wallets.

The Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (Student Loan Sustainability) Bill 2018 will force students and graduates to start paying back their student loans when they are earning barely above minimum wage, and will introduce a borrowing cap for Government-subsidised degrees. This will cause some students to pay up to tens of thousands of dollars upfront for their tuition fees.

The NUS and CAPA now call on the Labor Party to commit to reversing the damaging legislation should they form government at the next election.

The passage of the bill has occurred the same day as Universities Australia released damning statistics showing the level of student poverty.

Alarmingly, the bill gained support of the crossbench through the Government’s promotion of the baseless narrative of professional students. The crossbenchers have turned their back on the one in seven students who are so poor that they have to skip meals, and the one quarter of full-time students who regularly miss class because they have to work.

“This is yet another attack in the Liberals’ war on young people”, says president of the National Union of Students, Mark Pace. “Students are calling on Labor and the Greens to do the right thing, and make an election promise to reverse the crooked Bill.”

The implications of the bill have furthermore not been investigated by the Government, who prefer to peddle myths of students living lavishly rather than gathering any evidence.

“A report by the NUS and CAPA earlier this year found that, as a result of this borrowing cap, around 30,000 Australians would be locked out of postgraduate study in the coming years unless they can afford tens of thousands of dollars upfront,” says president of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, Natasha Abrahams. “The Government has ignored this evidence, and has pushed through this legislation despite widespread outrage from students and the sector.”

For further comment:
NUS National President
Mark Pace
P: 0411 606 808

CAPA National President
Natasha Abrahams
P: 0430 076 993

Media Release: Student Finances Survey destroys myth of rich postgrads

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) calls on the Federal Government to provide financial relief to postgraduate students, as the Universities Australia Student Finances Survey reveals that students are experiencing extreme hardship.

According to the survey, one in seven students regularly go without food and other basic necessities. The measures students take to alleviate financial stress impact on their ability to succeed at university: one in four domestic postgraduate coursework students regularly miss class for work, and half report that their work commitments adversely impact their performance.

The release of the Student Finances Survey comes as the Federal Government prepares to make life even tougher for students, with legislation likely to pass today on implementing a lowered student loan repayment threshold and a borrowing cap.

CAPA calls on the Government to stop attacking students, in light of the alarming state of affairs revealed by the survey. Senators must reject the changes to HECS-HELP, which will see many students locked out of postgraduate study if they cannot afford up to tens of thousands of dollars upfront.

CAPA furthermore calls on the Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan, to allow all domestic postgraduate students to be eligible for Centrelink study payments, subject to means testing. The Student Finances Survey clearly shows that postgraduate students are struggling. The excuse that postgraduate students as a group are financially comfortable does not hold up against the data. Two thirds of domestic postgraduate coursework students – most of whom are barred from accessing Centrelink study payments, due to the myth of the rich postgraduate student – reported that their financial situation is often a cause of worry.

“This year we have seen funding ripped out of higher education and directly out of students’ pockets, while at the same time the Government is implementing $144 Billion worth of tax cuts for big business and the top end of town,” says CAPA National President, Natasha Abrahams.

“It is disgusting that one in seven students are so poor that they have to skip meals, yet the Government insists that students are living lavishly so they do not have to take action on this crisis.”

For comment: CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams
M: 0430 076 993

Australia rolls out “united front” against supervisor-student relationships

Anton Crace, The PIE News

The Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships, developed by Universities Australia, the National Tertiary Education Union, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations and the Australian Council of Graduate Research, confirms the inappropriateness of intimate relationships between academic supervisors and research students due to inherent power imbalances.

Read more:

Power imbalance rules out student-supervisor relationships

Tim Dodd, The Australian

For the first time Australian universities have adopted a blanket policy saying that sexual and romantic relationships between an academic supervisor and their research student are not appropriate because of the potential for a power imbalance.

Agreed principles on “respectful supervisory relationships” to be released today say that such relationships are a “conflict of interest”.

The principles, which have been agreed with the National Tertiary Education Union, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, and the Australian Council of Graduate Research, are designed to protect safety and wellbeing of both students and staff, said Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson.

Read more:

Download: Joint UA, NTEU, CAPA, and ACGR principles for respectful supervisory relationships

See also: Universities Australia media release

Universities Australia, the National Tertiary Education Union, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations and the Australian Council of Graduate Research have jointly developed this set of principles to underpin the relationship between postgraduate research students and their academic supervisors. The principles can also be used in the supervision of honours students and postgraduate coursework students. They are designed to protect and promote the safety and wellbeing of students and staff.


Addressing sexual violence on campus a year after the national report

Stephen Matchett, Campus Morning Mail

A year after the national report on sexual violence on campuses, Universities Australia says all 39 institutions have “continued to enhance student support services, university policies and prevention programs,” with 800 actions and initiatives. Last week UA added an extra, releasing a ten-point plan for universities to use in responses to reports of sexual assault and harassment (CMM July 20). However, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations is not especially impressed, stating last night, “One year on, we believe that there is widespread recognition in the sector that sexual violence on campus is a problem, but actions against this have been slow, limited, and not always the best use of resources.”

“Some universities are more concerned about the optics of implementing response measures than they are about the number of students being assaulted each day. Others have made strong public statements but have failed to implement evidence-based and properly resourced measures,” CAPA states.

CAPA calls for a range of improvements, including “adequately resourced on-campus counselling, monitoring of university residential colleges and bans on “inappropriate relationships” between research supervisors and students. This morning UA delivers on that one with a set of principles “for respectful supervisory relationships” developed in cooperation with stakeholders, including CAPA.

Read more: