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UMSU welcomes you along to this year’s ‘Palm Sunday: Justice for Refugees Rally’. Annually, on Palm Sunday, people from a range of different groups throughout society gather together and participate in the Walk for Justice for Refugees to show support and solidarity to those who have been mistreated by our government, and demand change in our asylum seeker policy.

We’ll be joining these groups on the day, hosting the official student contingent from the University of Melbourne.

What’s happening?

Thousands of refugees and people seeking asylum have been, and continue to be held in cruel offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. They continue to be subjected to inhumane conditions, inadequate medical care, physical and sexual abuse, as well as the psychological trauma resulting from their indefinite detainment.

These conditions have resulted in nine deaths in the last four years. Right now, 160 children are still held in Nauru and many families continue to be separated because of Australia’s asylum seeker policy. Last year, the Australian Government, in a shameful move, also rejected New Zealand’s offer to resettle and offer protection to 150 asylum seekers and only 242 people have been offered protection by America, as 1700 people remain in detention.

What can we do to help?

Join UMSU and your fellow students in demanding ‘Close the Camps, Bring them Here!’, ‘Education not Detention!’. We call on political leaders, both within the government, and in the Labor opposition, to abandon Australia’s current asylum seeker policy. We call on the government to undertake an approach that is humane and holds respect for the basic human dignity of people seeking asylum. Rather than spending millions on keeping asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island and Nauru, we urge the government to bring them here and let them stay.

The money spent on maintaining the cruelty of offshore detention could go towards funding our universities, currently under attack by the very-same Liberal party in government.

When we stand together and collectively call for change, we can push for action and improvements to the lives of refugees. If you want to be a part of this movement, join our student contingent to the Walk for Justice for Refugees. We’ll be meeting out the side of the State Library at the front of Mr Tulk’s Café at 1pm, before the protest at the front of State Library at 2pm.

Join the UMSU contingent on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/348269579012939/

Palm Sunday Protest event: https://www.facebook.com/events/142529579757550/

 

Desiree Cai
UMSU President

UMSU stands in solidarity with the queer community on this momentous day in which Marriage Equality has passed and will soon be law in Australia. This is a massive milestone for not only the queer community, but all of Australia. We should be proud and take a day to celebrate this victory.

Thank you to everyone who fought for the Yes vote that has led us to this outcome. The Yes Campaign and all the wonderful volunteers for the campaign, Australian Marriage Equality and every other organisation who supported the cause. We’d also like to thank the 61% of Australians who voted yes, and all the people in Melbourne, who contributed to one of the highest Yes votes in the country.

The student movement has always supported the queer community and the fight for marriage equality from the very start and UMSU will always support queer students. The UMSU Queer department will always be here to support you and advocate for you.

However, this isn’t the end of the struggle. We recognise that there is so much more work to be done to ensure that queer people and students are treated equally inside and outside the university. We must ensure that we are working on a range of other issues that disproportionally affect queer students including mental health issues, income inequality, queer youth homelessness, access to adequate medical services and life-saving medication such as PEP and PrEP, and discrimination inside our classrooms.

While the passing of Marriage Equality is a thing to celebrate, we recognise the unnecessary hurt and harm of the debate. The decision to hold a postal vote on this issue in the first place was a disgraceful policy, and has given a voice to an offensive and distressing no campaign. We recognise that the ongoing discussion about this issue may continue to be distressing.

Desiree Cai
UMSU President

Elinor Mills and Amelia Reeves
UMSU Queer Officers
umsu.unimelb.edu.au/queer

If you need support, you can contact:

UoM Counselling and Psychological Support: 8344 6927

UoM Safer Community Program: 9035 8675

QLIFE: 1800 184 527

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 638

Continue to look after yourselves and remember it’s ok to take a step back if you need.

 

The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is appalled by the proposed changes to Newstart and Youth Allowance payments in the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017.

The proposed changes include a number of elements that will disproportionately and negatively impact students, including:

  • Upon being found eligible for Youth Allowance, individuals will still have to wait four to five weeks before receiving payment
  • Youth Allowance eligibility would depend upon the completion of mandatory activities, such as looking for work through ‘RapidConnectPlus’
  • Individuals aged 22 to 24 would no longer be eligible for Newstart payments ($528.70 per fortnight), and would have to transition on to Youth Allowance ($437.50 per fortnight). This is a cut of over 17%; that is, $2400 less per year

To put this in context: the Australian Council of Social Service defines “poverty” for a single adult at an income of less than $426.30 per week.

The proposed changes depict a unacceptable lack of awareness by the government for the concerns and needs of students. It is shameful that the Coalition have deprioritised student welfare to an extent that will cause serious ongoing financial stress to a significant segment of the student community.

UMSU condemns these changes, and will continue to advocate and fight for an equitable Centrelink system that puts the wellbeing of students above the drive for profit.

UMSU is further disappointed by the Department of Social Services’ statement that the proposed changes will “provide incentives to young unemployed people to obtain the relevant education and training to increase employability”. This implies that Centrelink benefits exist to provide incentives to find jobs. UMSU contends that it is the lack of jobs that necessitates these payments, and that it is the role of payments to ensure young people are able to maintain a reasonable standard of living when they are looking for work or studying full-time.

UMSU would also like to take this opportunity to remind University of Melbourne students that the Welfare department provides a free foodbank and breakfast bar, housing services and referrals to relevant support organisations.

Yan Zhuang
UMSU President

Welcome back to second semester! It has been a long time since I have reached out to your various digital devices. The news and current affairs rolls on, exams and assessments have come and gone and a great number of us have been venturing out into the crisp winter in search of Pokemon. I have a +1800CP Snorlax named KESA GATAME. Get on my level.

But seriously with a chill in the air UMSU presents our first Winter Festival from 20 to 30 of July. With film screenings, food, clubs days and much more the Winter Festival is designed to both help introduce our mid-year entry students to the University and to welcome returning students back on campus. We are testing a few things out across this event but we hope you enjoy the week ahead!

Moving ahead our different departments have a great number of plans for the semester. Keep your eyes peeled for new editions of Farrago, Union House House Party and elections to name a few. We will also be providing some massive updates around the Student Precinct, how we spend your SSAF and safety on campus. All in all things are going to be very busy.

To keep updated make sure you subscribe to our weekly newsletter and social media channels here: umsu.unimelb.edu.au/socialmedia

Until next time, welcome back!

Tyson Holloway-Clarke
UMSU President