Carers Week (14th-20th October)
This week is Carers Week, a time to raise awareness and celebrate the 2.6 million people in Australia who devote their time to looking after a loved one who couldn’t manage without their support. Student carers are at a considerable disadvantage when it comes to participating in higher education, with only 4 % of 18-25 year old primary carers remaining in education compared with 23% of their same-aged peers.
Disabilities & Carers Officer Yaz Camdzic and I have been extremely busy leading up to this week, preparing for our student carers campaign to be heard at a national level. The week began with a Morning Tea for Carers on main campus, where we also launched our booklet that was based on survey data collected earlier this year. Access & Inclusion: Carers in Higher Education is targeted towards decision-makers, equity and student service providers at Australia’s 39 universities, and aims to raise awareness and push for support for student carers in higher education.
We have also been working alongside Australia’s peak organisation for carers, Carers Australia, who generously provided funding for our booklet, and Young Carers NSW who we shared a stall with at Carers’ Day Out on Tuesday, the country’s largest event for carers held in Martin Place. This was a fun day and fantastic opportunity to get our message out to key figures.
We are extremely encouraged by the enthusiasm that was been expressed to us from stakeholders across the country – we look forward to seeing what comes out of this project and pushing on further with our campaign for student carers’ recognition and support.
Survey: Student Carers
A survey designed by the Disabilities Officers to collect students’ attitudes, opinions and experiences relating to studying and caring.
This information will be used to build a greater understanding of how the system functions for students, and may be shared for the purpose of campaigning on behalf of students’ interests.
Survey: Studying with a disability – The Sydney Uni Experience
A survey designed by the Disabilities Officers to collect students’ attitudes, opinions and experiences relating to their disability at the University of Sydney.
This information will be used to build a greater understanding of how this system functions for students, and may be shared for the purpose of campaigning on behalf of students’ interests.
The Disabilities & Carers Collective
The Disabilities & Carers Collective is a student-based group run by Disabilities Officers who have been elected by the SRC to represent student Carers and those with a disability on campus. Your Officers have a couple of jobs:
· Make your voices heard – we represent you and the issues you face
· Lobby to the University for your rights – we will pursue system is problems on your behalf
· Relay a student’s perspective on University decisions, such as the Disability Action Plan
· Create a safe and fun environment to hold regular events for our fabulous members, you!
Who can join?
The Disabilities & Carers Collective is open to all students, however focuses on furthering the interests of Student Carers, and those with any type of disability (no matter how ‘small’). The Disabilities & Carers Collective places no pressure on its’ members or expectations to disclose information regarding their disability or caring responsibilities.
What is a disability?
Don’t be afraid of the word ‘disability’- it covers all sorts of conditions from the seemingly insignificant to the debilitating. It can be temporary, or permanent and may affect you for part of your degree, or for the entire time. Think about it this way, if you were free from your disability, would you still perform at the same rate as you would with your medical condition? If not, talk to your doctor for supporting documentation to assist your claim to Disability Services.
Who are ‘Carers’?
The term ‘Carer’ refers to anyone that provides substantial informal support to someone they know with a disability, an ongoing illness, mental illness, chronic condition or drug or alcohol condition. Examples of care may include domestic, financial, practical or medical management, personal care and emotional support.
The Disabilities & Carers Collective is full of fun and supportive students who care about studying as a Carer or with a disability. It is made up of students who are Carers, and those who are, or have been affected by a disability, as well as anyone who is interested in disability and Carers rights in general. We hold fortnightly meetings to discuss common issues and connect with food and drinks. We may also hold larger events such as protests, workshops or seminars.
Studying with a disability?
Sydney University is a great place to study, but can be more difficult if you have a disability. You have the right to ‘access and participate in education on the same basis as students without a disability’ (according to the Disability Standards for Education (2005) legislation). The University must provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ for you. Once approved, Disability Services can coordinate everything, so you get the adjustments that suit your individual condition. Some adjustments include: assignment extensions, access to note-takers, larger font exams and a request for classes to be closer together. If you aren’t getting the help you need, contact your Officer at Disability Services or a caseworker in the SRC who can give you independent advice and advocate on your behalf.
Studying whilst Caring?
Caring commitments often impact study considerably. As there is no formal data collection on Student Carers, they are largely an ‘invisible’ group. At this time no formal support mechanisms (like Disability Services) exist that recognise the greater need for flexibility whilst caring and studying. The Disabilities & Carers Collective is currently campaigning for the recognition and support of Student Carers, and is building an informal network of Student Carers on campus to establish social support and help reduce isolation that can sometimes result from being in a caring role.
There is no obligation to disclose your disability to anyone; however, it can make your academic life easier. When you register for Disability Services, you will be asked to sign the ‘Acknowledgement of Use and Disclosure of Personal Information’. This allows the University to provide your information to third parties in certain circumstances. You can read more about this policy on the website (found below), raise any concerns with us, or your Disability Services Officer.
How to join?
It’s free, so just come along to one of our meetings! ‘Like’ our page on Facebook to keep up with what we’re doing throughout the year, or email us for more information.
Find us on Facebook (search: Sydney University Disabilities & Carers Collective) or
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Talk to Disability Services and they can put you into contact with us or call 8627 8422
Welcome to Sydney University, we hope to see you soon!
Your Disabilities & Carers Officers