SRC President’s Report – Week 12, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Grant

This Wednesday staff and students at Sydney University will join a national day of action across campuses to call on the Morrison government to end offshore detention.

In recent weeks the mental health crisis on Nauru has exploded. Around 20 children still on Nauru have been consumed by despair and are refusing food and water. The situation is growing more and more urgent and the pressure on the government is building. The doctors’ peak body, the AMA, has called for all children to be immediately brought to Australia for medical care.

At Sydney University, outside Fisher Library on Wednesday 17 October, staff and students will hold a public reading 11am-1pm of Behrouz’s book written from Manus; and at 1pm hold a group photo action with placards reading #NoMoreHarm, #BringThemHere and #EducationNotDetention.

The USYD action will coincide with actions being organised across the country by Academics for Refugees. The USYD action is endorsed and being co-organised by Campus Refugee Action Collective and the National Tertiary Education Union

Secondly, on Saturday 1pm Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and USYD Queer Action Collective (QuAC) will protest against Scott Morrison’s homophobia. The SRC will be attending protest and stand alongside the queer community in their calls for an end to the homophobic rhetoric that has been spurred on by the so called leader of this country.

We demand an end to gay conversion therapy. This is an ongoing practice in Australia that our new PM has described as simply “not an issue for me”. We call bullshit on this. Conversion therapy has been deemed as ‘torture’ by the United Nations. Morrison’s response shows a deep lack of respect and is just one example of his incessant homophobia and contempt for LGBT+ Australians. Even when the postal vote returned an overwhelming Yes for marriage equality he left the room in parliament instead of voting for equality. Now since becoming PM he has re-raised the issue of religious discrimination in an attempt to roll back our rights post marriage equality.

He has also joined the train of inflammatory comments directed at trans young people and the schools who support them. As he tweets “let kids be kids” and “we don’t need gender whisperers in schools” these are genuine statements that we direct back at him, conversion therapists and the government-funded school chaplains that have interfered with trans kids lives. No person should be put through mental torture because of someone else’s bigotry.

Join us to say No to ScoMo. Come protest on the day of the Wentworth by election and march to Oxford Street within their electorate. This protest will be held in conjunction with another taking place in the heart of Canberra that day.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

General Secretary’s Report – Week 8, Sem 2, 2018

Nina Dillon Britton and Yuxuan Yang

Last week I was incredibly proud to organise, along with our President, Radical Education Week: a week of free workshops accessible to all that covered everything from drug law reform in Australia to the history of political economy movement to legal skills for activists.
Community leaders, academics, politicians and students themselves led these workshops, breaking down the usual constraints around education and its accessible and providing a vision for education free, accessible and liberating. It is only through these peoples’ generosity in their time, resources and knowledge that we were able to organise this at all, and we saw more than 250 students attend workshops that ranged from intimate chats to packed panel discussions throughout the week. If you’re interested in being involved with organising Radical Education Week next year, please either shoot me a message at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au or message the Radical Education Week 2018 Facebook page.

Last weekend we also organised the SRC’s presence at Open Day, letting incoming students know about the SRC’s services, opportunities to become involved in collectives and the Council’s work and some of the campaigns we are working on at the moment. We also were able to distribute several hundred copies of the Counter-Course I edited at the beginning of the year. Hopefully this will be able to provide a useful insight to people considering attending Sydney University from students attending University themselves, counter-balancing the University’s slick advertising.

Good luck to everyone going with their upcoming assignments, and please feel free to shoot me an email with any questions about the SRC or this report at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au.

Education Officer’s Report – Week 8, Sem 2, 2018

Lily Campbell and Lara Sonnenschein

The Education Action Group held a protest on campus on August 15th against the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation and Spence’s attempts to strike a deal with the centre. The rally was a success, with speakers from the NTEU, the international student community and Greens MP David Shoebridge. We staged a die in half way through the rally, a somewhat neglected technique of campus protests, which worked really well as a stunt to draw attention to our action from passers by.

The week prior to the protest we held a forum on on the Ramsay Centre in conjunction with the NTEU, the first joint SRC-NTEU event in some years. The forum was also a success, with over 80 attendees and an excellent keynote speech by renowned Sociologist, Raewyn Connell. We, along with the NTEU will be keeping up the pressure to keep Ramsay Out of USyd.

On a broader political level, last week saw Scott Morrison become Prime Minister following a Liberal spill motion. Whilst many have celebrated Morrison’s triumph over Peter Dutton, we believe the two to be cut from the same ideological cloth. Morrison is no moderate and as the former Immigration Minister was the architect of the cruel Operation Sovereign borders policy, where he was responsible for more children in detention than any other government. He also famously brought a lump of coal into parliament and voted no to same sex marriage despite the public issuing a resounding ‘yes’ on the issue during the plebiscite last year. The EAG and the student movement more broadly should take to the streets and oppose ScoMo/Scummo and kick the Liberals out!

SRC Presidents Report – Week 8, Sem 2, 2018

On Sunday the Students’ Representative Council, along with the National Union of Students, hosted a rally against the new Scott Morrison prime ministership which I had the honour of speaking at. The right wing coup in the Liberal Party brought down Malcolm Turnbull. But it has failed to elevate its number one candidate, former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, to the prime minister’s office.

We are now seeing the bourgeois media pitch Morrison’s victory as a great triumph of “moderation”. But Morrison built his brand and popularity on the back of years of torturing refugees. During his time as immigration minister, was the architect of the government’s inhuman Sovereign Borders boat turnback policy, and presided over the deaths of Reza Barati and Hamid Khazaei on Manus Island in 2014.

He also led the “It’s okay to say No” brigade in the marriage equality plebiscite and led the push for a “religious freedoms” bill to undercut the result.
The political legacy of Morrison’s term as immigration minister is particularly striking when one remembers the leadership challenge came as a 12 year old girl on Nauru tried to set herself on fire, and another 17 year old girl is in a critical condition after refusing food and water.

Morrison’s far right politics are no better than Dutton or Turnbull’s. The Liberals continue to cut penalty rates, privatise education, screw up our public transport, slash Medicare funding, destroy the climate and give tax cuts to their rich mates, while driving racism to distract us. It’s not refugees or migrants cutting our penalty rates and living standards.

Workers in Australia need a decent living wage and a future we can be proud of, not a far-right fearmonger whose policies gain the support of Trump and Hanson. The far right MPs in the Liberal Party are buoyed by the success of Trump and the far right in Europe. They too want a party that is openly bigoted, sexist, racist and shows a complete contempt for science.

The connections between Trump & Morrison are clear – Morrison famously refused to criticise Trump’s travel ban, instead encouraging countries to “catch up” with Australia’s racism. And just yesterday, the US president, Donald Trump, has tweeted his congratulations to the new Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison.And we shouldn’t forget that, for many in the hard right of politics, US president Donald Trump’s against-the-odds success, driven by unashamed bigotry and take-no-prisoners approach, is considered a model to be emulated.
The solution is not to vote our way out of this, but to reignite the refugee rights movement. Social change happens from action – we cannot vote our way out of it. Just like the way we did in after Abbott’s 2014 budget – calling protests, strikes, direct actions and working with unions is something to be replicated today. We must stand up for ourselves because we cannot rely on the Shorton Government to end offshore processing.

We need to kick out the Liberal Government – yes – but we also need to kick the racist policies out & build a movement based on attacking state racism such that such policies become untenable for any party to enact. We have more in common with the workers, activists and unionists locked up in detention than we do with the parasitic Australian ruling class torturing people indefinitely in camps.
Reflecting on this, we don’t want a “stable” Liberal Party. The dominant party of the Australian capitalist class is now in deep crisis because of this factional schism and we want to see the party topple – along with the far-right policies within it!

And there is a role the student movement can play here. There’s a long history of students – no matter their colour – standing up and mobilising against the state’s racism, see the 1965 Freedom Rides. And I am going to make sure that we build we build this movement against the Liberal Government at the University of Sydney and across campuses in this state.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

Disabilities & Carers Officers Report – Week 7, Sem 2, 2018

Robin Eames, Mollie Gavin and Ren Rennie

Despite some technical mishaps, we are very glad and proud to report that the very first special disability issue of Honi Soit was a resounding success – as you will have noticed if you picked up a copy from the stands last week!

We’d like to extend our deep gratitude to everyone who was involved in making the very first Disabled Honi happen. It was a huge task and we couldn’t have done it without the talented students who offered their time and dedication to the edition. We think it’s so important to give disabled students space to develop art, literature, and journalism, and we’re delighted that Honi has provided this space.

Don’t forget that if you would like to join the closed Facebook groups for either the Disabilities Collective or the Caregivers Network, you can email the Disabilities OBs at disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au letting us know which group you would like to join, and we can send you an invite to the group by email. You do not have to disclose details of your disability or caregiving responsibilities in order to join.

The collective will be organising a protest against inaccessible transport at Redfern station sometime in October, and we will be hosting a screening of Defiant Lives later in the year. We will also be sending two students to the NUS Disability & Accessibility Conference at the end of September, hosted by Monash University.

Love & solidarity,
The 2018 Disabilities Collective Officebearers

SRC Presidents Report – Week 7, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Grant

As I am writing this, a final memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Ramsay Centre CEO Simon Haynes and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence. Annamarie Jagose, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, is currently reviewing the MOU and will take it to the FASS Board Meeting on Monday for discussion.

At the next FASS Board Meeting on 10 September, FASS staff & students will be leafleting members to vote against the proposed degree in Western Civilisation. It is normal for Academic Board to look to the decision at a faculty board humanities experts in FASS and consequently decide approve or reject the Ramsay curriculum. If it gets through the FASS Board then Academic Board is more likely to just rubber stamp it – or at least very unlikely to vote against it. As a result, the decision at Faculty Board is crucial in the fight against the Ramsay Centre on campus. We have cohered a strong student opposition to the Centre and are currently in contact with the student members of the Board.

On another note, the Academic Board and University Executive are currently conducting a review into safety and wellbeing. This is an issue that has become the subject of regulatory attention from the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Association (TEQSA).

The Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (HES Framework) includes Section 2.3, on wellbeing and safety, that requires providers to provide timely and accurate advice on access to student support services and to promote and foster a safe environment on campus and online.

We will be ascertaining as to whether the University is or is not compliant with these standards and making recommendations for improvements on the availability, provision and communication of services and processes to ensure the wellbeing and safety of specific cohorts of students.

Interviews will be conducted over the next few weeks with students. If you receive an invitation, I encourage you to take up the offer and have your voice heard on the topic. If you have any feedback on the state of student safety and wellbeing you wish for me to know or relay to the committee, always feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au.
Finally, last week the SRC sent a contingent of students to the early childhood educators walk off & protest, as part of the Big Steps campaign, outside the NSW Parliament. We heard speeches from childhood educator Gwen Alcock, ACTU President Michele O’Neil, Labor MP Tanya Plibersek and a parent Emily Mayo.

Childhood education is a booming industry and many of these educators attend university for years to be qualified. With diploma-level or university-level training the wage is only $23 per hour, about half the the national average wage – childhood educators are the working poor.

Childhood educators also earn 30% less than people with equivalent qualifications in male-dominated fields. 97 percent of childhood educators are women and society undervalues these skills because they are seen as “soft,” just an extension of the unpaid work performed by mothers at home.

The SRC has made a solid commitment this year to become activated around workplace issues – both as student-workers and in solidarity with workers from a range of different industries. As a part of that we are organising a ‘Union Day’ on September 17 on Eastern Avenue.

Majority of students work full-time alongside full-time study and as a result the distinction between student and worker is becoming increasingly blurred. 60 percent of international students living in Sydney are paid below the the minimum wage of $17.29 per hour. It gets worse in retail, where 90 percent of international student workers being paid below minimum wage. This day will provide a fantastic opportunity for students to learn about their rights in the workplace & potentially join a union.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC General Secretary – Week 5, Sem 2, 2018

Last week I was incredibly proud to organise, along with our President, Radical Education Week: a week of free workshops accessible to all that covered everything from drug law reform in Australia to the history of political economy movement to legal skills for activists.
Community leaders, academics, politicians and students themselves led these workshops, breaking down the usual constraints around education and its accessible and providing a vision for education free, accessible and liberating. It is only through these peoples’ generosity in their time, resources and knowledge that we were able to organise this at all, and we saw more than 250 students attend workshops that ranged from intimate chats to packed panel discussions throughout the week. If you’re interested in being involved with organising Radical Education Week next year, please either shoot me a message at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au or message the Radical Education Week 2018 Facebook page.

Last weekend we also organised the SRC’s presence at Open Day, letting incoming students know about the SRC’s services, opportunities to become involved in collectives and the Council’s work and some of the campaigns we are working on at the moment. We also were able to distribute several hundred copies of the Counter-Course I edited at the beginning of the year. Hopefully this will be able to provide a useful insight to people considering attending Sydney University from students attending University themselves, counter-balancing the University’s slick advertising.

Good luck to everyone going with their upcoming assignments, and please feel free to shoot me an email with any questions about the SRC or this report at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC Education Officer – Week 5, Sem 2, 2018

Lily Campbell and Lara Sonnenschein

The Education Action Group held a protest on campus on August 15th against the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation and Spence’s attempts to strike a deal with the centre. The rally was a success, with speakers from the NTEU, the international student community and Greens MP David Shoebridge. We staged a die in half way through the rally, a somewhat neglected technique of campus protests, which worked really well as a stunt to draw attention to our action from passers by.

The week prior to the protest we held a forum on on the Ramsay Centre in conjunction with the NTEU, the first joint SRC-NTEU event in some years. The forum was also a success, with over 80 attendees and an excellent keynote speech by renowned Sociologist, Raewyn Connell. We, along with the NTEU will be keeping up the pressure to keep Ramsay Out of USyd.

On a broader political level, last week saw Scott Morrison become Prime Minister following a Liberal spill motion. Whilst many have celebrated Morrison’s triumph over Peter Dutton, we believe the two to be cut from the same ideological cloth. Morrison is no moderate and as the former Immigration Minister was the architect of the cruel Operation Sovereign borders policy, where he was responsible for more children in detention than any other government. He also famously brought a lump of coal into parliament and voted no to same sex marriage despite the public issuing a resounding ‘yes’ on the issue during the plebiscite last year. The EAG and the student movement more broadly should take to the streets and oppose ScoMo/Scummo and kick the Liberals out!

SRC Presidents Report – Week 5, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Grant

Last week I was incredibly proud to organise, along with our President, Radical Education Week: a week of free workshops accessible to all that covered everything from drug law reform in Australia to the history of political economy movement to legal skills for activists.
Community leaders, academics, politicians and students themselves led these workshops, breaking down the usual constraints around education and its accessible and providing a vision for education free, accessible and liberating. It is only through these peoples’ generosity in their time, resources and knowledge that we were able to organise this at all, and we saw more than 250 students attend workshops that ranged from intimate chats to packed panel discussions throughout the week. If you’re interested in being involved with organising Radical Education Week next year, please either shoot me a message at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au or message the Radical Education Week 2018 Facebook page.

Last weekend we also organised the SRC’s presence at Open Day, letting incoming students know about the SRC’s services, opportunities to become involved in collectives and the Council’s work and some of the campaigns we are working on at the moment. We also were able to distribute several hundred copies of the Counter-Course I edited at the beginning of the year. Hopefully this will be able to provide a useful insight to people considering attending Sydney University from students attending University themselves, counter-balancing the University’s slick advertising.

Good luck to everyone going with their upcoming assignments, and please feel free to shoot me an email with any questions about the SRC or this report at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au.
On Sunday the Students’ Representative Council, along with the National Union of Students, hosted a rally against the new Scott Morrison prime ministership which I had the honour of speaking at. The right wing coup in the Liberal Party brought down Malcolm Turnbull. But it has failed to elevate its number one candidate, former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, to the prime minister’s office.

We are now seeing the bourgeois media pitch Morrison’s victory as a great triumph of “moderation”. But Morrison built his brand and popularity on the back of years of torturing refugees. During his time as immigration minister, was the architect of the government’s inhuman Sovereign Borders boat turnback policy, and presided over the deaths of Reza Barati and Hamid Khazaei on Manus Island in 2014.

He also led the “It’s okay to say No” brigade in the marriage equality plebiscite and led the push for a “religious freedoms” bill to undercut the result.
The political legacy of Morrison’s term as immigration minister is particularly striking when one remembers the leadership challenge came as a 12 year old girl on Nauru tried to set herself on fire, and another 17 year old girl is in a critical condition after refusing food and water.

Morrison’s far right politics are no better than Dutton or Turnbull’s. The Liberals continue to cut penalty rates, privatise education, screw up our public transport, slash Medicare funding, destroy the climate and give tax cuts to their rich mates, while driving racism to distract us. It’s not refugees or migrants cutting our penalty rates and living standards.

Workers in Australia need a decent living wage and a future we can be proud of, not a far-right fearmonger whose policies gain the support of Trump and Hanson. The far right MPs in the Liberal Party are buoyed by the success of Trump and the far right in Europe. They too want a party that is openly bigoted, sexist, racist and shows a complete contempt for science.

The connections between Trump & Morrison are clear – Morrison famously refused to criticise Trump’s travel ban, instead encouraging countries to “catch up” with Australia’s racism. And just yesterday, the US president, Donald Trump, has tweeted his congratulations to the new Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison.And we shouldn’t forget that, for many in the hard right of politics, US president Donald Trump’s against-the-odds success, driven by unashamed bigotry and take-no-prisoners approach, is considered a model to be emulated.
The solution is not to vote our way out of this, but to reignite the refugee rights movement. Social change happens from action – we cannot vote our way out of it. Just like the way we did in after Abbott’s 2014 budget – calling protests, strikes, direct actions and working with unions is something to be replicated today. We must stand up for ourselves because we cannot rely on the Shorton Government to end offshore processing.

We need to kick out the Liberal Government – yes – but we also need to kick the racist policies out & build a movement based on attacking state racism such that such policies become untenable for any party to enact. We have more in common with the workers, activists and unionists locked up in detention than we do with the parasitic Australian ruling class torturing people indefinitely in camps.

Reflecting on this, we don’t want a “stable” Liberal Party. The dominant party of the Australian capitalist class is now in deep crisis because of this factional schism and we want to see the party topple – along with the far-right policies within it!
And there is a role the student movement can play here. There’s a long history of students – no matter their colour – standing up and mobilising against the state’s racism, see the 1965 Freedom Rides. And I am going to make sure that we build we build this movement against the Liberal Government at the University of Sydney and across campuses in this state.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC General Secretary – Week 3, Sem 2, 2018

In Week 1, the SRC passed its yearly budget—prepared by yours truly.

This is the year operating budget for the SRC and funds all our administration, publications (like this paper!), caseworkers, legal service and the important activism and campaigns of our elected student office bearers. Since Voluntary Student Unionism was implemented, the SRC and student unions across Australia have had to downsize heavily. Only now have we begun to grow through painfully slow increases in our funding from the University.

That said, we’ve been able to do some great new things with our budget. Here are the highlights:
The budget has a small surplus, we’re very proud of this. We’ve also increased our affiliation contribution to the National Union of Students by $1000 to $64 300. This is the SRC has increased its affiliation fee since before VSU.

We will be hiring of a new research officer for the Casework Department. This new officer will help student representatives to better represent students’ interests to the ever more complex behemoth of the University’s management; be able to help office bearers with research for key campaigns; and pursue research projects concerning students’ interests such as affordable housing, welfare benefits and student services. This will also take some of the load for this research from our overworked Casework team, allowing them to better serve students.

We have included substantial training budgets for both the Legal Service and Casework Department. This will allow the Casework team to send at least two caseworkers to a international student focused conference at the end of this to better equip themselves with skills to support international students and face the unique challenges that arise for these students. In addition this will also allow the Legal Service to be able to enrol themselves in a number of online courses that will equip them with the skills necessary to better support our students.
Finally, we were able to commit an additional $650 to the Office Bearers this year. This helps support the work of elected student representatives in fighting bodies like the government and the University to better represent student interests.

There’s a lot more in there! If you’re interested in seeing the full budget (also available at our website) or have any questions, please shoot through and email to general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au.