ASK ABE: Strained living at home

Dear Abe,

I am currently staying with my girlfriend in her parents’ house. Her parents are really lovely, but I think it is causing a strain in all of our relationships. I moved out of my house because things were really awful there. Do you know if there is cheap housing available through the university?

Strained

Dear Strained,

I am sorry to hear that things are awful in your home. If it is because of physical, emotional or sexual violence you may be eligible for Youth Allowance (Unreasonable To Live At Home). Alternatively if you are over 22 years you would also be considered “independent”.

Hopefully that will help with your finances.

The University used to have 40 low rent beds available but I do not think they are available any more. The University has plans of building new accommodation (eg, Urbanest in Darlington, and Queen Mary in Camperdown), but it is completely unclear if there are going to be low rent beds or if there are going to be scholarships for the rent. Either way, the University has not announced how many beds will be provided. With over 51,000 students the only low rent accommodation available are the 38 beds offered at STUCCO. This is the student housing co-operative situated in Newtown.

In terms of emergency or temporary housing while you’re trying to get somewhere permanent to stay you can talk to SRC Help for some ideas. This way you can preserve your relationship with your girlfriend and her parents.

Abe

Help for Students with a Disability & Student Carers

Did you know the university has a service to assist students with a disability to access reasonable adjustments in managing their studies?
Disability Services works closely with the university’s administration and faculties to support students with a disability whether it be physical, sensory, intellectual or  psychological. If you find that your health is causing problems with your studies in an on-going way or that you are repeatedly applying for Special Consideration for your condition, Disability Services may be able to help you.
Check out their website to see if you are eligible and how to register: sydney.edu.au/stuserv/disability/

Disability Services are located within Student Support Services – Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building (G02), City Rd, Darlington Campus.
Are you a carer of someone with a disability?

The SRC Disabilities & Carers Collective meets regularly to provide student carers with information and support, and to lobby the university for carer rights. Anyone is welcome to meetings and you can follow their Facebook page “USYDdisabilities.carers”. Alternatively you can check out their webpage: srcusyd.net.au/disabilitiesandcarers  or email them at: disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

Do you need special consideration?

Special consideration is different to a disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to your disability, this should be accommodated by you disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to an unexpected exacerbation of an existing condition, or an illness or misadventure that has nothing to do with your disability you are able to ask for special consideration. As with all Special Consideration requests, make sure you get a specific additional Professional Practitioner’s Certificate on the day of your assessment to show how severely affected you were, and how you were affected, eg, unable to do exam or attend a lab.

Libraries, Libraries all around.

Libraries, Libraries all around.

You really shouldn’t rely solely on Wikipedia to research your assignments. (Or possibly at all.) Every Faculty has a library that specialises in information relevant to your course. These libraries vary in size and are generally located near your lectures. There is a Faculty Liaison Librarian who is able to help you navigate the resources available to you. You can ask questions at the help desk or you can email them.

The libraries are also where you’ll find some computers and photocopy machines. They also tend to have some of the loveliest sun shiny spots. If you manage to avoid snoring, you should be able to have a little kip there to rejuvenate yourself in time for your next set of study tasks.

Please BE AWARE: thieves also find libraries great places to hang out and pick up your stuff. Make sure you are careful with phones, computers, wallets, etc.

International Students – “Health Insurance Holiday Credit”

Did you know you may be able to apply for a “holiday credit” on your health insurance for the time you are not in Australia?

For those with coverage from OSHC Worldcare you need to be out of Australia for 30 days or more, and be able to present your passport, boarding passes or travel tickets. This credit cannot be paid out until the end of your degree.

If your coverage is with another company call them to see if they have a similar arrangement. You must apply within 30 days of returning, so
hurry.

Contact SRC Help 9660 5222 | help@src.usyd.edu.au

Exams – Tips for less stress and success

 

With exams coming up you might want some advice and tips from the University experts on dealing with exams and stress – see below.

USYD Learning Centre: (Information courtesy of: sydney.edu.au/stuserv/learning_centre/help/exams/exams.shtml

I want some help managing my time to study for exams.

  • It usually helps to make a detailed plan for the time between now and your exam.
  • Make your plan as accurate as possible. Remember to include the time you need for transport, eating, family, work, sleep, etc.

Update your plan each day.

  • Find out as soon as possible what topics you need to study, and work out how much time you have for each topic before the exam.
  • At the end of each time you study, look at your plan and consider what you have achieved. Before you leave your desk, make a list for what you will need to cover the next time you sit down to study.

Here are some tips for using your time efficiently:

  • If you can, choose the best time to study when you are naturally alert and focussed. For example, if you are a ‘morning person’, don’t try to study late at night.
  • Before each task, remind yourself of its specific purpose. For example, do you really need to read the whole chapter, or do you just need to check the paragraph about one particular topic?
  • If you lose concentration while you are reading or studying, stop. Think about how this paragraph fits into the big picture. Is it important?
  • Skim-read every article or book chapter before you read it in full. That is, first read the title, abstract, introduction, headings/topic sentences and conclusion. What is the main topic and purpose of this article, book, chapter or section?
  • How does this fit into the big picture of what you are learning?
  • If you find that you are procrastinating (e.g. spending your time on things which are a low priority), stop and deal with it immediately.

I want some help managing stress, anxiety or nervousness about exams.

The first way to reduce any stress, anxiety or nervousness about exams is to be prepared.

  • Find out as early as possible what topics will be included in the exam.
  • Also find out as early as possible what the type and conditions of the exam are (e.g. How long? Where? Open book?
  • Essay questions, short answers or multiple choice?)
  • Make a plan for revision of the important topics, early in the semester.
  • Look at some exam papers from previous years and practise writing answers.
  • You can look for past exam papers in the library. You can also ask your lecturer and the office of your faculty, school and/or department.
  • There are also a number of strategies you can use to boost your confidence and calm.
  • Discuss the exam with other students beforehand, including any worries, but also the topics that you feel confident about.
  • Lower the stress hormones in your body through physical exercise.
  • Familiarise yourself with the environment of the exam.
  • Remind yourself of the positive points: e.g. You have successfully completed other exams before, and you have prepared for this, so this exam will probably be OK too.
  • On the day of the exam, wear something you feel good in, and take along helpful things, such as a water bottle and your favourite pen.

Remember though if you have any have any problems before, in or after the exams feel free to consult with a SRC Caseworker – call 9660 5222 for an appointment.
Also be aware that the SRC can loan you a calculator if you forget or just don’t have one for your exam – come down to the SRC at level 1 of the Wentworth Building

CAPS Exam Anxiety Management workshop

The Counselling Service (CAPS) is running a workshop on Exam Anxiety Management – Learn practical strategies for coping with exam and performance anxiety on Wednesaday 4th June, 1 – 2pm.
If you would like to attend the workshop please arrive at the CAPS reception (Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building) 10 minutes prior to the start of the workshop.
(sydney.edu.au/current_students/counselling/workshops/list-of-workshops.shtm)

Free Health Care – Get It While You Can

Low income earners may be able to get a Low Income Health Care Card that entitles you to a range of services for free or cheap. This includes reduced price pharmaceuticals (about $6), free emergency ambulance, free lenses and glasses frames, and free hearing aids. It can also help you to negotiate reduced prices for movie tickets, physiotherapy, chiropracty, acupuncture, etc.

To be considered a low income earner you need to be earning, on an 8 week average, less than $519 (as a single person with no dependents). This is not available to international students. If you currently receive a Centrelink payment you should already have a Health Care Card.

The Serious Consequences of Ignoring Fines

If you get a traffic fine as a result of an Infringement Notice or Penalty Notice issued by the Police, local government authorities or other prosecuting agencies, you should not ignore it. Read it carefully and make sure you understand the alleged offences for which you have been fined. Most importantly, take note of the due date on the fine.

If you do nothing about the notice before the due date, State Debt & Recovery Office will send you a penalty reminder notice, which gives you a further 28 days to deal with the fine.

What to do about your traffic fine? Your options are:

Pay the penalty amount in full

Pay the penalty amount by part payments, as long as it is paid in full before the due date listed on the penalty reminder notice

Ask for an internal review if you think there are any issues with the fine
Elect to have the matter heard in a Local Court (but make sure you receive legal advice before doing this.)

There is a deadline for all of these options. If you miss a deadline the option may be lost. For example, a court election date may apply despite a pending internal review.

What if you don’t do anything?

There are serious consequences for ignoring a fine, financially and legally. If you default on a fine, the amount of money you owe will increase due to enforcement actions. Your driver licence could be cancelled or suspended. You could have your car registration cancelled, your wages taken in part to repay the fine, your assets seized or you could be ordered to do community service. Worse case scenario, you could even be sentenced to do community service (as an alternative to a sentence of a period of imprisonment), depending on the seriousness of the case and the extent of your debt.

How can SRC Legal Service assist you?

We can discuss your alleged offence with you and explore the options you have.
If you decide to pay the fine but have difficulties financially, we can help you work out a repayment plan that works for you and help you apply for an appropriate repayment plan.

If there are special circumstances which we think the issuing authority should look at before they decide to pursue the fine, we can help you write to the issuing authority for an internal review.

If there is room for challenging the fine after unsatisfactory internal review, we can also represent you in court on the condition that there is a reasonable prospect of success after reviewing all your evidences.Seek leniency from the court

To make an appointment with the SRC Legal Service, call the SRC office on 02 9660 5222.

So You Think You Can’t Be Scammed? Well, We’ve Heard That Before.

A scam is a trick to take your money directly or indirectly by getting your personal details. There are new, imaginative scams being hatched everyday. They even target low income earners like students and come in many forms including mail, e-mail, telephone and door-to-door.

Fake websites can easily be set up to look like the real thing. Giving your personal details to anyone should be handled with a large degree of caution. For example, how many websites have you supplied with your name, address
and date of birth in order to win a competition?

Some of the more recent scams have included lotteries, sweepstakes and competitions. Some are obviously fake, like the Nigerian millionaire dying scam, but some are very subtle, like the competition to win a new Nokia phone. Some scams involve government departments like the tax department asking you to confirm your tax file number so that you can claim your lost superannuation. Some involve people pretending to be from a large computer company offering to help you rid your computer of viruses.

Banks have very strict rules about how they identify you to speak to you. However, they do not seem to be so strict about contacting you and asking for your details. Ask who they are and find the number yourself. Do not give any details, no matter how incidental, until you are sure of who they are.

Mobile phone ring tone offers are another potential scam. Once you sign in, you may
not be able to sign out. This will lead to huge phone bills.

Health and medical scams may offer products or services that will cure your health problems or offer a simple treatment. Often these cures and treatments do not work.

Follow these golden rules to avoid being scammed:

Don’t respond to offers, deals or requests for your personal details. Stop. Take time
to independently check the request or offer.

Never send money or give credit card, account or other personal details to anyone who makes unsolicited offers or requests for your information.

Don’t rely on glowing testimonials: find solid evidence from independent sources (not those provided with the offer).

Never respond to out of the blue requests for your personal details.

Always type in the address of the website of a bank, business or authority you are interested in to ensure you are logging
into the genuine website.

Don’t open unsolicited emails.

Never click on a link provided in an unsolicited email as it will probably lead to a fake website designed to trick you into providing personal details.

Never use phone numbers provided with unsolicited requests or offers as it probably connects you to fakes who will try to trap you with lies.

Don’t reply to unsolicited text messages from numbers you don’t recognise.

Always look up phone numbers in an independent directory when you wish to check if a request or offer is genuine.

Don’t dial a 0055 or 1900 number unless you are sure you know how much you will
be charged. If you are scammed contact the NSW Fair Trading online through Lodge a complaint, call 13 32 20 or in person at one of our Fair Trading Centres. For more information, visit www.scamwatch.com.au

ASK ABE: Special Consideration and DNF

Hi Abe,
I had an absolutely shocking time last semester and failed every subject I attempted. I have previously had an excellent record, but had a lot of family problems last semester. Is there any way that I can have last semester wiped off my record so my bad marks don’t spoil my record?

DS

——-

Dear DS,
If you had a serious illness or misadventure (your family problems may be described as this) that was out of your control, became worse after deadline for DNF (end of week 7) and seriously affected your ability to study, you can apply to have those fails or absent fails changed to DNF (Discontinue Not Fail) grades. You will need to be able to explain how your illness or misadventure affected your study. Naturally you will need documentation from a doctor or counsellor, a community leader or someone else who knows about the issues your family have been dealing with. Remember that this is not just a method to “clean up” your transcript, but rather for students who have not had a genuine opportunity to demonstrate their competency in the subject.

You may also consider talking to an SRC caseworker about having your HECS/fees refunded. The deadline for applying for a fee refund if you are a local students is 12 months, but it’s so easy to forget that you’d be better off dealing with that straight away too. Fee refunds for international students have only recently been changed by law. Talk to SRC HELP for more information.

Abe.
——-
Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog. This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything. This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world. Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au. Abe’s answers can provide you excellent insight.

Your Appeal and Assessment Rights

As a University of Sydney student you have many assessment rights. Policies entitle all students to full information about course goals and requirements and this information must be given to you before the end of the first week of a course. Information you are entitled to includes:

  • assessment criteria
  • attendance and class requirements
  • weighting – breakdown and calculation of assessment marks
  • explanation of policies regarding ‘legitimate co-operation, plagiarism and cheating’, special consideration and academic
    appeals procedures
  • early and clear statement of sanctions and penalties that may bring your mark down, and fair application of these penalties
    balanced and relevant assessment tasks
  • fair and consistent assessment with appropriate workloads and deadlines
  • written consultation before the halfway point of the unit if assessment requirements need to change
  • changes must not disadvantage students
  • adequate arrangements to cater for disabilities and other requirements
  • access to staff out of class time at reasonable hours
  • fair and relevant marking procedures
  • anonymous posting of results (or arguably de-identified at least)
  • timely return of assessments
  • helpful feedback
  • access to exams up to four months after the result
  • the right to appeal up to three months after an academic decision enough time for remedial learning when there is reassessment

Appeals – University Procedures

If you believe a mark or University decision is wrong and you want to appeal you must lodge an appeal within 15 working days.
The first step is to talk to the person who made the decision – often your lecturer or subject co-ordinator. See if you can go through the assessment and discuss your performance with them. Make sure you know how the mark was worked out – including any scaling or marks deducted or changed for reasons not directly related to that particular assessment. This may mean attending an exam review session or making an appointment with your lecturer. Your questions and concerns may be resolved at this stage, helping you understand how you can improve in the future. Alternatively, you may feel the matter is still unresolved and wish to continue with your appeal.

Make your appeal in writing and make sure it is easy for other people to understand

  • Listen to or read staff comments and reasons for a decision closely. Keep these in mind when you write your appeal letter.
  • Base an appeal on a process matter rather than an academic judgement.
  • Know your desired outcome
  • Familiarise yourself with the relevant policies
  • Know who you are appealing to Lecturer/Unit of study Coordinator; someone higher in the appeal chain within the Faculty; and then the University Student Appeals Body (Academic decisions only, and only where there has been a breach of process); You must be given reasons for each person’s decision.
  • If you cannot resolve appeals internally, you may be able to approach external bodies eg. NSW Ombudsman, the Anti-Discrimination Board etc.
  • Administrative decisions made outside of the Faculty have appeals to different people.
  • Speak to the SRC for advice.

Your Appeal Rights

According to University policy, appeals should be dealt with:

  • in a timely manner
  • with confidence
  • impartially and not disadvantage you in
  • the future
  • procedural fairness
  • free access to all documents concerning your appeal

For help drafting your appeal
talk to an SRC caseworker.
help@src.usyd.edu.au | 9660 5222