Academic Advocacy is a professional service of QUT Guild committed to supporting and representing the interests and needs of students in academic matters, navigating university policies and advocating for better quality of education. This year the Advocacy Team are collaborating with Glass on a Kindness Campaign to promote the values of empathy, compassion, and kindness among members of the community. The campaign will consist of a series of articles that will encourage people to engage in acts of kindness towards each other and themselves. Supporting you with kindness and guiding you with knowledge.
This article was written by Advocate, Shane Snow.
In addition to advocating for the rights of students, 2000 to 2010 saw QUT Guild Advocacy take on a more tangible approach in providing welfare assistance to students. The Guild was seeing more students who were struggling to make ends meet. In response to these struggles, a food bank was established, and grocery vouchers were provided to students. The Guild also offered textbook and Telstra vouchers for those who were in financial need. Students today still benefit from our ongoing foodbank initiative.
This decade also saw Advocacy take on a more political role. The organisation was heavily involved in campaigning for the implementation of reforms to the higher education system that benefits all students. The Advocacy portfolio was made up of two active Student Reps in their Student Rights roles, as Education Director and Welfare Director, along with one full-time Advocacy Officer and one part-time.
In 2003, they campaigned against the government’s higher education reforms that proposed increasing HECS and the introduction of massive upfront fees for students by organising campus events, lobbying politicians, and contacting media to raise awareness of the unfairness of the reforms. This lobbying culminated in Advocacy appearing before the Senate’s Employment, Workplace Relations and Education References committee on the 23rd of September 2003 to give evidence to the Senate. You can read more about that here. The legislation failed to get through parliament, and there is no doubt that student organisations such as the QUT Guild played a role in the bill being vetoed.
In 2005, the Advocacy portfolio proactively led the charge against the government’s proposed voluntary student unionism legislation. Their primary concern was that this legislation had the potential to severely undermine the range of services that student organisations could offer to their fellow students. To counter this impending threat, the portfolio undertook several essential actions, including organising rallies, engaging in lobbying efforts with politicians, and raising public awareness about the legislation’s detrimental implications. They also crafted a comprehensive submission that was submitted to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, and Education Legislation Committee, articulating a strong argument against the introduction of this legislation. You can find the submission here.
During the campaign, the QUT Guild joined other student organisations in advocating for a form of voluntary student unionism that still allowed for the collection of a fee to cover a pre-determined list of services. Although the proposal was rejected by the then Howard government, it was later adopted by the Gillard government through the introduction of the SSAF (Student Services Amenities Fee) legislation. Advocacy would like to think that we played a role (even if only a small one) in helping to ensure the financial viability of student unions in this country through the introduction of SSAF.
There is unequivocal evidence that the diligent efforts of QUT Guild Advocacy throughout the early years of the 21st century played a pivotal role in shaping a higher education system that is notably fairer and more accessible today. This legacy reminds us of the power of collective effort for educational equity, and it’s something we should all appreciate.
About the author, Shane Snow, Advocate at QUT Student Guild Advocacy:
I’m Shane Snow, one of the QUT Guild Academic Advocates with 29 years of combined experience at QUT & The Guild. I have a deep understanding of university policies and procedures and a strong network across QUT to promptly resolve student issues. My education includes a Bachelor of Arts, Graduate Diplomas in Education and Business Administration, and a Graduate Certificate in Governance and Public Policy. I’ve appeared as an expert witness before the Australian Senate and have participated in TV and radio discussions on higher education. Reach out for any assistance you need.