Download – CAPA feedback on freedom of speech amendment
We thank the Higher Education Standards Panel for the opportunity for CAPA to provide our views on proposed amendments to the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (the Standards). The proposed amendments are one outcome of the Hon Robert French’s Review of Freedom of Speech in Higher Education.
In our comments on the proposed amendment, we make the following recommendations:
Recommendation one: That the Higher Education Standards Framework not be amended as proposed.
Recommendation two: That, if the Standards are amended, the ordering be changed such that equitable treatment and wellbeing of students and staff be placed prior to freedom of speech.
Recommendation three: That, if the Standards are amended, the phrase “freedom of speech” be replaced with “freedom of political speech”.
Promoting good mental health outcomes for postgraduate students requires both targeted mental health services (particularly counselling), and policy change to addressing the stressors which cause mental health disorders and sub-clinical distress in students. In particular, the experience of poverty and financial uncertainty contribute to postgraduate students’ difficulties.
We make the following recommendations on crucial policy changes to relieve postgraduate students’ levels of distress:
Recommendation one: That the Victorian Government lobby the Commonwealth Government to expand the coverage of Austudy to all full-time, domestic postgraduate students, subject to means-testing.
Recommendation two: That the Victorian Government provide additional scholarships, of greater or equivalent value to those provided through the Research Training Program, for students undertaking research degrees, as part of the project grants provided by the Victorian Government to universities.
We furthermore make the following recommendations on increasing the capacity of counselling services:
Recommendation three: That the Victorian Government, through legislative or regulatory measures, enforces minimum standards on wait times (no more than two weeks) and number of sessions available (no less than twelve) on the counselling services provided on public university campuses.
Recommendation four: That the Victorian Government supports changes to the Medicare Mental Health Care Plan system, to create a tiered system providing additional support to those with more complex cases.