(Dis)abilities



Taylor Ficarra

National Disabilities Officer

disabilities@nus.asn.au

DEPARTMENT CAMPAIGNS FOR 2017

 Campaign One 

"Improve our Counselling Services" 

 

Most, if not all Universities have counselling services available on campus. Counselling services on campus are an important service that should be free and accessible to all students to study within the University. These services are not just used by those who identify as having a mental illness, students may need to use the counselling services at any time during their study for a broad number of reasons, with peak times being enrolment, end of the semester and exam times. 

 

As National Disabilities Officer, I have already heard reports of students waiting up to 6 weeks for their initial session. Six weeks is too long, students should be able to access these vital services within 24-48 hours, and be able to have consistent sessions from then if necessary. It is important that if a student requires a counsellor of a particular gender, that that request is fulfilled without any concern.  With waiting lists that stretch to over a month, students may feel pressure to see any counsellor, even if it is someone who they may think will not address their concerns. This is not appropriate; counselling services on all university campuses must be accessible to all students, not just some. 
 
This campaign will start in Semester One. 

 

  • Campus Disability Officers lobbying the department within their universities to increase the amount of funding given to the counselling services on their campus. 
    • If budget allows, I will accompany the Office Bearers to the meeting or get another National Office Bearer (Welfare) to attend the meeting. 
  • Messages, links, photos etc. will be posted on the Disability Department's Social media platforms Facebook and Twitter for students to share. 
  • A mental health survey will be conducted within this campaign, with questions regarding the counselling services on the student’s campus to be included. 
    • Data will be collated and given to all universities. 
    • Stickers will be sent out to promote the survey and the campaign itself. 

 

Campaign Two 

"Don't cut our DSP Mr Morrison" 


The Disability Support Pension, or DSP, is heavily relied on as a main source of income for many students across Australia. Last year saw some of the biggest attacks on Australians who receive welfare benefits such as Newstart, Youth Allowance and the Disability Support Pension, with people under the age of 35 affected more than any other age group.  
 
There have been new rules introduced for the DSP, with some people aged under 35 who were granted Disability Support Pension between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2011 to have their payment reviewed. It is expected overall that 28,000 people will be reviewed, with approximately 1,400 people under the age of 35 potentially being moved onto a lower payment – such as the Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance.

 

Students who are on the DSP, not only have to still pay for their textbooks and any other required items for their course, but aids such as wheelchairs, medications, lifters, special cutlery and crockery and carers out of their already small DSP. By taking these students off of the DSP and placing them onto Newstart or Youth Allowance may mean that these students will miss out on important items such as textbooks to pay for their vital equipment and services, as well as not being able to afford to attend social events. This can lead to the student dropping out of University or feeling socially isolated because of a lack of money due to being moved onto a lower payment. 

 

This campaign will launch during semester one O week and will continue towards May 12, which is Federal Budget day.

 

  • During O week there will be a print off petition sent to all Campus Disability Officers (or equivalent) that will be sent to Scott Morrison, Minister for Social Services, and Sussan Ley, Minister for Health, that will demand them to stop attacking students who are receiving the Disability Support Pension. 
  • As National Disabilities Officer I hope to hand deliver the petitions to the electorate offices of both Scott Morrison and Sussan Ley.
  • Social Media platforms will be used during this campaign, with students being able to share images and messages from the NUS Disability Department's Facebook and Twitter. 
  • Keeping track of the cuts and changes that the Federal Government does. 
    • Using social media to share the proposed cuts and changes to ensure that people are aware of what is happening. 

 

Campaign Three 

"Re-launch of Smash the Stigma" 

 

Invisible illnesses are nothing to be ashamed about, so in 2015 I will be re-launching the smash the stigma campaign that NUS ran in 2013. This campaign may have a different name when it is implemented later in 2015.

 

One in four university students live with a mental illness, and three out of four people with a mental illness have experienced stigma. The negative attitudes that promote stigma can create prejudice which can lead to discrimination towards a person who is living with an invisible illness. 

 

This campaign will work towards the notion that having an invisible illness is not something that you have to hide. This campaign will encourage students to talk openly about how they live with an invisible illness, and also make university easier those who do openly identify as having an invisible illness, but also those students who live with an invisible illness but are not quite ready to be openly identified as living with one.

 

This campaign will launch in Semester two, ready for key dates such as R U OK Day, Mental Health Month, Mental Health Week and National Carers Week. 

 

  • National photo campaign. 
  • Encourage Disability Departments to be very active in the month of October, not only is this Mental Health Awareness Month, but it is the start of peak assignment and exam period for most Universities. 
  • Campuses will be encouraged to promote key dates and have events on those days. 
    • Many of these dates are run my organisations outside of NUS. I will be contacting the appropriate organisations to organise materials for campuses. 

 

 GOALS 

 

  • Build Campus Disability Collectives. 
    • Ensure that all campuses with a disability department are well supported by the university. 
    • Make sure that Disability Departments have flyers during O weeks and clubs days. 
    • Make sure that all of the Disability Collectives are a safe, intersectional and autonomous place for students. 

 

  • Have access tours at more campuses. 
    • Some campuses already have these in place and they work extremely well. 
    • Focus on campuses that are not easily accessible. 
    • Have Campus Office Bearers meet with O week organisers to get them to include an access tour in their usual tours.
    • The tours could be done by the Disability Access Unit (or equivalent), the Disability Officer(s) or by someone from the Disability Collective. 
    • The tours can have the option of being in a private setting or in a group. 
    • Tours can also be run up all year by appointment.
    • Print out maps with campus specific hints and tips – Campus Disability Officers to make. 
      • If the student union has an app or accessible online website, place a map on the app or website. 

 

  • Make a fact sheet for campus office bearers so that they have information ready to go. 
    • This Fact Booklet will include things such as statistics, facts from research and information about what the current government's plans are for carers and people living with a disability. 
    • Include websites and sources that the information was acquired from so that they can access it if required. 
    • Have both National and State specific information 
    • Make it accessible online and in paper format. 

 

  • Continue to interact with community groups and NGO's.

 

  • Have Skype Link Up's with the State Disability Officers, Campus Disability Officers (or equivalent) and other students involved within the disability departments or collectives at their universities. 
    • Have these link ups every two months. 

 

  • Working with the National Education Officer to ensure that National Days of Action are accessible to as many students as possible without ruining what we have set out to achieve by having NDA's. 

 

  • Apply for grants and funding outside of NUS to build the Disabilities Department's campaigns and to be able to increase support for campuses, especially those campuses that are interstate.

 

  • Encourage all campuses to have consistent events throughout the year, such as any of the key dates listed below, or spoon week / day.

 

 

KEY DATES 

 

There are many key dates for the Disability Department, the include but are not limited to; 

 

  • 18th February - International Asperger's Day 
  • 1st March - International Wheelchair Day 
  • 16-22 March - Brain Awareness Week 
  • 21st March - World Down Syndrome Day 
  • 26th March - Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness 
  • 2nd April - World Autism Awareness Day 
  • 11th April - World Parkinson's Day 
  • 28 April - World Guide Dog Day 
  • 11-17 May - Schizophrenia Awareness Week 
  • 12th May - Federal Budget 
  • 28th May - World MS Day 
  • 24th June - DeafBlind Awareness Week 
  • 23-19 August - Hearing Awareness Week 
  • 1-7 September - Spina Bifida Week 
  • 10th September - R U OK DAY 
  • 10th September - World Suicide Prevention Day 
  • October - Mental Health Awareness Month 
  • 4th to the 10th of October - Mental Health Week 
  • 7th October - World Cerebral Palsy Day 
  • 12-18 October - National Carers Week 
  • 19-25 October - National Week of Deaf People 
  • 27th October - World Sight Day 
  • 9-15 November - Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week 
  • 15th November - White Cane Day 
  • 3rd December - International Day of People with a Disability 
  • TBA - 65 Roses Day 
  • TBA - Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week 
  •  

The key dates that the department will be focusing on are; 

 

  • 12th May - Federal Budget 
  • 10th September - R U OK DAY 
  • October - Mental Health Awareness Month 
  • 4th to the 10th of October - Mental Health Week 
  • 12-18 October - National Carers Week 
  • 3rd December - International Day of People with a Disability 

 

O-Week Campaign Poster

 

National Executive Reports

National Executive 1 - January

National Executive 2 - February 

National Executive 3 - March