ASK ABE: Youth Allowance and Casual Work

Dear Abe,

I am on a Youth Allowance payment and I also work a casual job with varying hours. Sometimes I receive the full payment just under $500, but other times I get much less than that.
I heard that there is some sort of banking system that affects the amount of money I get, but I am very confused by all of this. Could you please explain why my payments vary?

Nursing Student

——–
Dear Nursing Student,

The banking system you are talking about is Centrelink’s way of keeping track of the extra money you are earning. It is called the Student Income Bank. Each fortnight you are allowed to earn $415 without any reduction in your Youth Allowance. If you earn less than $415, the left over carries over to the following fortnight. For example, if you only earned $115 in the first fortnight, you will be allowed to earn $715 ($415 + $300) in the second fortnight. This process keeps going until you’ve accumulated a maximum of $10,100. Your Youth Allowance payment is reduced when you have earned more than your Student Income Bank. That is, by 50 cents in the dollar for amounts between $415 and $496, then by 60 cents in the dollar for income over $496. If you are unsure about whether you have been paid the correct amount, gather all your paperwork and talk to an SRC Caseworker about it.

Abe

So you want to move out. What should you do?

Here is some information on ending a rental agreement.

Are you going to stay for the length of your agreement?

Refer to your original contract or lease. It should state an end date. If it is a contract you should be able to give notice to your landlord equivalent to the frequency that you pay rent that you are moving out on the end date. Sometimes contracts will have a clause about the fee for ending the agreement early. If it is a lease this amount of notice is either 14 days (fixed term agreement) or 21 days (continuing agreement). Notice should be in writing. This does not include text messages and may not include email. It is best to send this by letter. Allow 4 days extra for mail to arrive.

What if you want to leave early?

This will usually cost you lots of money. If you have a lease agreement you will usually have to pay four or six weeks worth of rent, depending on what percentage of the agreement you have already completed. Sometimes you can find someone to take your place in the agreement to avoid paying all of this money. The replacement person has to be a “reasonable” replacement. For example, they need to have a similar capacity to meet rental payments and a good rental history. If you’re under a contract you may need to pay the equivalent of the rent up to the end of the contract. Sometimes you can find someone to take your place in the contract or start a new contract, but that is completely up to the landlord.

When am I considered to have left?

You have only completely left your accommodation when the landlord (not another tenant) has received all copies of all of your keys and other doorlocking devices (like swipecards). You also have to provide “vacant possession” which means all of your belongings have been moved out.

What if I want to move out and my housemates want to stay?

You will need to find a replacement for yourself. If you are on the lease or contract have that changed before you go. If you are on the lease, regardless of whether you live there, you are legally and financially liable for the condition of the premises. Make sure you keep a copy of the new lease or contract to show that you are no longer on there.

How do I get my bond or deposit back?

After you have moved out take photos to show the condition of the accommodation. This is to avoid disputes with the landlord’s assessment of the condition of your accommodation after you moved out. The cost of any repairs or cleaning will come out of the bond or deposit. The rest of your bond (leased property) should be returned in the form of a cheque or electronic transfer from the Department of Fair Trading. Deposits placed on contracted properties are less regulated. Make sure you have your receipt to prove that you did pay it in the first place. If there is any dispute about getting back this money talk to an SRC Caseworker.

To see an SRC Help Caseworker call 9600 5222 to make an appointment or email: help@src.usyd.edu.au

Sexual Harrassment on Campus

The sexual harassment perpetrated by Alexander Wright is now well-known across campus. If you don’t know about it, check out Honi Soit’s reportage online. It is enlightening as a striking example of how the uni and wider society undermine and devalue the experiences of wom*n. This woman spoke out about her assault, put her hand out for help and some semblance of justice or action, and the university did nothing substantial. Yet when Alexander Wright’s identity is made public, the university jumped to protect his ‘privacy’. It is horrifying that an institution we get our academic enrichment from participates in and maintains the destructive patriarchal sexist conditions that we live in. Want to see evidence of rape culture? This is it.

The SRC takes sexual harassment very seriously, but has historically lacked the funding and infrastructure to provide services to those in need. Services like a hotline for anonymous reporting of sexual harassment on campus should be readily available, as well as an immediate point of contact for harassment that occurs in residential colleges or at university-run events. There is a severe lack of initiative in the university.

There are external services available to Sydney University students, such as the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sexual Assault Service and the NSW Police Force online reporting service, but these should not preclude an internal set of services or a clearly stipulated university code of conduct. It’s also important to recognise that harassment can be subtle, or it can be labelled as a ‘joke’ or even as flattery, but sexual harassment can be incredibly pervasive and should be taken seriously by the entire university community. Further, we believe that any case of sexual harassment affecting members of this university community must be dealt with on a survivor-centric basis.

Keep your eyes peeled for an autonomous action speaking out about Wright’s reprehensible conduct and the uni’s neglectful mishandling of the crime. Also don’t forget Reclaim the Night will be on October 31 at Hyde park.

Lastly, if you or anyone you know has either experienced sexual assault or feels confused or unsure about an unwanted sexual experience and would like to speak to someone, please contact RPAH Sexual Assault Service on (02) 9515 9040 between 8:30am and 5pm weekdays or (02) 9515 6111 anytime if the sexual assault happened in the last 7 days.

Update on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign

The last time we wrote here, we were collecting signatures to bring on a referendum of the student body on whether USyd should divest from fossil fuels. Since then, so much has happened. The referendum won by a landslide – 80% of voters agree that we, as the university community, should stop investing in climate change. Coming up for the Fossil Free USyd campaign we’ll be continuing to try to get Vice Chancellor Michael Spence to respond to our emails, and reaching out to clubs, societies, and other on campus institutions to creatively collaborate for a cleaner and not underwater future.

We’ve also been having intercampus meet ups with Fossil Free Universities groups from all over NSW and supporting/being supported by campaigns on other campuses – it’s been amazing working with folk from UWS, the University of Newcastle, UNSW, UTS, and Macquarie Uni.

Members of the Enviro Collective travelled up to the #LeardBlockade, which we’ve been supporting since soon after its inception two years ago, for the Shenanigans. Over 150 people took peaceful direct action, with community members, scientists, Kokoda vets, and shut down 4 mines, the world’s largest coal port (Newcastle), and Gunnedah coal processing plant temporarily to protest the effect of coal on community, the climate, agriculture, health, biodiversity and Aboriginal land.

If you’re keen to come check out the protest camp at the Leard State Forest, there is another event planned, Act Up 6: Release the Bats, from October 30-November 4. The Enviro Collective will be heading up again and would love to have you along, so please drop us a line at environment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au if you’re keen to come.

On the Friday just past, we met with folk from Enviro Collectives across NSW and took part in the Pacific Climate Warriors’ Flotilla – an on-water blockade of Newcastle harbour, which closed down the import/export of fossil fuels for the day. Their motto, “We are not drowning, we are fighting!”, spits in the face of the often paternalistic Western view of passive Pacific Islanders, and encapsulates the incredible strength of the Climate Warrior crew who come from 13 different Pacific nations. Although it took a while to learn the ropes of dodging cops on jetskis in our kayaks, the Enviro Collective crew immensely appreciated the opportunity to #StandUpForThePacific in solidarity with the Pacific Climate Warriors, who were so inspiring their words left this Enviro Officer in tears a number of times. This action was really important in terms of standing behind first nations folks in instead of speaking or acting on their behalf, and is the kind of intersectional environmentalist work we would endeavour to continue with and further improve on.

Coming up, we have a screening of Mining the Truth, an amazing film about students travelling through rural areas and listening to communities affected by coal and coal seam gas extraction – from health and agricultural community groups, through to workers in the mines. Free posh pizza and drinks will be provided at the screening on Thursday the 30th October at the Holme Common Room. After we’ll talk about the Mining the Truth Road Trip, coming up from the 22nd of November through to the 1st of December, which will involve learning from mining communities, thinking about the best path for a just transition to renewable energy which includes, rather than isolates, the rural working class, and this year for the first time putting together a collaborative art project based upon what we learn. Email nswact@asen.org.au to learn more about the trip, for which you may be eligible to receive a subsidy from the SRC to attend.

Queerkats is a fabulous new collective created this year as a subset of the Queer Action Collective.

Queerkats is a fabulous new collective created this year as a subset of the Queer Action Collective. Queerkats aims to create a safe and welcoming space that acts as an alternative to spaces and groups that are often dominated by cis men (cis men being people who were assigned male at birth and agree with that assignation). At the beginning of the year we were defining ourselves as a ‘non cis male’ collective, but this definition has proved insufficient, and
we are currently workshopping a better and more inclusive definition.

So far this semester we’ve been focusing on building community, getting our creative juices flowing and sharing skills and information. Following on from the success of our Pride Week Zine Queerkats members were heavily involved in contributing to and editing Queer Honi, which has traditionally been an area dominated by cis men. We’ve also had a strong turn-out to our fortnightly workshop/social event (Tuesdays 7pm). These events have included a poly workshop, art making, excursions to Lentil As Anything and a screening of lesbian TV dramedy Faking It. In the next few weeks we’re planning a mental health workshop and a workshop to record stories as part of a queer archiving project and an exhibit at our Art Party (see below).

From 7pm on Wednesday 29 October (Week 13) at the Red Rattler in Marrickville we will be hosting our Art Party to showcase the creativity and scope of non-normative queer experiences. Submissions are open to non cis men who are queer or questioning and entry is open to everyone (and free!). We’d love to see you there.

We’ve been really excited to see new faces this semester, including students from other universities. Thanks to everyone, no matter what your degree of involvement, for making the first year of the Queerkats Collective something really special.

Fighting Racism on Campus – Protesting Barry Spurr

This week we organised a protest against Barry Spurr following revelations by New Matilda, which exposed the professor as a bigot-extraordinaire. His vile comments are absolutely reprehensible and should have no place on a university campus. Organising a snap action was important in letting Spurr and the university know that students unequivocally reject his views and demand his dismissal.

Outside the office we removed and tore up the academics name card. In its place, we pinned the more accurate “Barry Spurr, Professor of Bigotry.”
Chants of ‘Racism? No way! We got Barry banned today!’ echoed down the halls of the John Woolley building where Spurr has been intricately crafting his hate-speech for the last two years (at least) as a tenured professor at Sydney University.

International Students’ officer for the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association Maral Hosseinpour addressed the rally to condemn the government in their ongoing racist fear campaign, “They are building a wall of racial hate, xenophobia and misogyny to divide us and rule; to teach us and our children to hate and suspect immigrants and asylum seekers; to hate and harass women wearing Hijab in public; to hate and deny indigenous culture and to humiliate and discriminate against women and sexual minorities.”

[The government] are sending out calls demanding to ‘say something if we see something.’ Yes, we fucking see something, and we will say something, so loud and clear that everybody including Professor Spurr can hear and appreciate its rhyme; say it loud, say it clear; racists are not welcome here!”

Mid-rally we found out that Spurr had been suspended and banned from campus. To celebrate our victory, we engaged in our own “whimsical linguistic games,” with a poetry recital. ‘The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by the academics favourite T.S Eliot was adapted by student protestor April Holcombe into the “The Hatesong of Barry Spurr,” ending with the resolute:

“Streams of hatred fill your odious argument

With insidious intent
To read you surely overwhelms digestion….
Oh do not ask, “What is it?”
With our answer, we come visit.
In his room the students come and go
Barry Spurr: his job no more, my, no.”

Given that this is our last report for the year, we’d like to acknowledge what a brilliant year it’s been for the student movement. We successfully rallied in our thousands, turned our campus into no-go zones for Liberals and are a whisker away from defeating deregulation. Sydney Uni has been one of the key campuses around the country for the the campaign, and we’re proud to have done our part to contribute to the revival of such defiant and vibrant national student movement.

Thanks to everyone who has marched, chanted, and chased Tories alongside us this year, it’s been a pleasure.
In solidarity,

Ridah & Eleanor.

Finally, the readers, all eight of you, you know who you are and we love you.

We love parmas, Palmer, palms and the SRC #Gen.Sec.Report.x264.mp4.S02W12

It’s the end of the road and all you’ve got is another OB report. That sucks for you. We’re not sure what you can do with an OB report at the end of the road. What you need is this map; the map to our hearts.
The year draws to a close and with these final weeks comes a serenity, a time to reflect on the year that has been. All of the elections are over, the ibides have reclaimed their rightful spots as the most infuriating thing
on Eastern Avenue.

SRC reports are an oft-ignored section of the paper, but the SRC is all about inclusivity so for those of you who haven’t read any reports this year, here’s what you could’ve learnt had you read all the reports:
300-500 words can be written in roughly 12 minutes

“The Palmer United Party is the newest venture from Clive Palmer,
a former Liberal Party remember and owner of mineralogy. Clive Palmer’s net worth is estimated at $895, with iron ore, nickel, and coal holdings.”

That these reports get posted online, unedited, for everyone to read, forever

That you can spruik the activities of the SRC in every single report and still have hundreds of students who do not know what it is
“From the recommendations of the Commission of Audit, we see findings right from the once widely ridiculed list of desired reforms from the stupidly far-right Institute of Public Affairs. From a Government that before the Commission already singled their intention to fundamentally change the programs that make Australian higher education sector
one the most accessible in the world.”

Punctuation is like glitter, use it whenever and wherever you want, or don’t use it at all

^^^ !!!!!!???? – ;; ;;

Lists use up more column space and thus make your report bigger and more learny

Lists are also easy because you can copy things from other places and it doesn’t seem as unfair as if you put them in paragraphs

But seriously, being the General Secretaries of an organisation as great as the SRC is an absolute privilege. We’ve enjoyed our time immensely and are proud of our achievements. We’ve negotiated with the University for SRC funding, organised the budget, attended rallies and supported activism on campus, helped get the first non-Labor president in 14 years elected, produced a handbook, met with and facilitated collectives as well as regular roles such as attending regular Executive meetings and staff interviews. We’d like to thank a few people, first, the rest of the Exec, VPs Max and Laura, Prez Jen, Georgia, Sonia, Nick, Chloe, and Commissar Pedram; approving staff leave en bloc wouldn’t have been the same without you. Second, the Honi editors: the enjoyment you must get each week, eagerly reading the reports (spoilers!) and laying them out, must be enthralling. All we’re sure of is that there is no better way to spend a Sunday.

Finally, the readers, all eight of you, you know who you are and we love you.

FIN

Well here it is, my last report as President of the Students Representative Council.

Not every 21 year old has the opportunity, or responsibility of running a $1.5 million student organisation, being responsible for over 14 staff members, and being the head of a Legal Corporation. This year has been the greatest learning experience of my life so far, and of course there were many hardships, but it was definitely worth it; as the privilege of being the head of a student organisation that fights for the rights and the welfare of over 23,00 undergraduate students, Far outweighs anything else. This year has certainly been a whirlwind, 2014 brought some of the biggest threats to higher education in Australia’s history and I truly believed that the undergraduate students have put up one hell of a fight. We saw the largest rally hitting Sydney streets since the anti-VSU campaigns. This year the SRC has also been fighting for affordable student accommodation,

I made a submission to the University fighting for 600 rooms to be priced at $160 a week so students can actually afford their accommodation, and at the start of 2015 you will see all your lectures online after a year of pushing with the University. The SRC is also receiving a makeover to make sure our dungeon is welcoming and inviting.

It is here I now want to say THANKYOU to everyone who has supported the SRC and myself throughout the last year.

Firstly a huge thank-you to everybody who voted for me in the SRC elections in 2013, I have worked as hard I could to make sure I have kept to the promises I made. A special Thank-you to all the staff of the SRC, the work you do is phenomenal and you have been a great support all year. To my family thank you for putting up with my meltdowns, me never being home and always trying to understand what I do. Thank you you to Todd, you were the first person to get me on a student election campaign, thanks for always listening to me constantly talk about the SRC, my ideas, my complaints, thanks for keeping me sane and sticking by me, the unconditional support you have given me has been amazing.

To John and Dylan I don’t know what I would do without you two, I will be forever grateful for the work you put into my election campaign, thanks for always being around to talk to, drink with and just have fun. To Alisha for being my sidekick all year, all I can say is no-one messes with us. Pat Massarani for being a fantastic undergrad senator and a great friend, you helped me immensely to navigate the University and find my feet. To Michael Buckland for teaching me how make chalk, and being my go to for advice. The whole Sydney University Student Unity gang you know who you are and I am certain that you will carry on and keep true to our faction. To Jack Boyd and NSW Unity, to National Student Unity; Isabelle, Gracie, Tom, Nikko, Tim, James and everyone else for your support. To David, Casey, Hannah, and to NLS and SLS and Unity crews Labor is not dead we will never be dead, we are movement and we will continue to fight for what we believe in. To my school friends who will probably never read this but have put up with a lot, Hilary, Jacinta, Nikki, Rochelle and Maja you have stuck by me despite constantly vanishing for months for election campaigns and constantly talking about the SRC. Finally congratulations to Kyol, there is a lot to fight for from here on but I’m sure you will do a great job in 2015.