January Council Meeting: Record length meeting, so many casual vacancies & SAlt back in action 

Welcome back to the Glass coverage of the Guild Student Representative Council (SRC) Meetings of 2024. This is our coverage of the January meeting held on Wednesday 24 January 2024 at E151, Kelvin Grove Campus.    

We will be bringing students coverage of these meetings throughout the year, so you have insight into all the goings-on in your Student Representative Council (SRC). These meetings include the motions that Guild Executives and other students put forward for the SRC to vote on, and which will directly impact your university experience. This is our first council meeting of 2024.  

All current students can attend SRC meetings. If you want to see change on campus, we encourage you to put forward a motion to the SRC.    

COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES     

You can find the minutes of the meeting here once published.     

You can also access the meeting agenda and documents associated with motions raised at the meeting in this folder. 

AND WE’RE OFF!  

The meeting was opened at 6:03pm (just three minutes late, a new record!) by the acting Chair, current Secretary Juliet Veskova, and began with an Acknowledgement of Country.   

The Chair noted the following apologies for the meeting: Business and Law faculty councillor, Jasper Bennet. 

No leaves of absence were noted.   

After a few lacklustre meetings towards the end of last year, the first council meeting of 2024 had a fantastic turn out, with almost 40 students in attendance. Let’s hope we can keep this up all year! 

FIRST UP, COLLECTIVE REPORTS. OR REPORT. 

The Disability Collective report was delivered by Convenor Michael Pendergast. 

You can read the full report from the Disability Collective here

The Collective currently has 37 members, which is double the number they had this time last year.  

Due to the summer break, they have not had a meeting since October 2023. The last event they hosted was a virtual games night on 3 December, which was held in celebration of International Day of Persons with Disability. The event was small but enjoyable for all participants. 

The Collective has finally received its Semester 2 funding (at the end of the semester), after months of back and forth with the previous Treasurer and General Manager of the Guild. Let’s hope this is not a pattern that continues in 2024. 

They are still fighting for a Disability Room on campus and are disappointed in how little progress has been made towards this goal. This will be one of the big projects they will be fighting for this year. 

The Queer Collective report was submitted and can be found here. However, it was not delivered in person or via Zoom at council.  

LET’S FILL THOSE CASUAL VACANCIES! 

We had a busy night ahead of us, with five casual vacancies to fill and 15 applicants to consider.  

None of the applicants’ resumes were available on the public Sharepoint for students to view. However, all members of the SRC were able to access these files via a private Guild folder. 

Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson 

The first candidate for Chairperson was Sanyam Aware, who presented online via Zoom. Sanyam is studying a Masters of Information Technology, and enjoys playing soccer and listening to music. Throughout his undergraduate studies and high school, he was involved in Model United Nations and Round Square conferences, where he was able to hone his leadership and strategic thinking skills, and which instilled in him the importance of orderly and efficient proceedings. 

He was asked how he would deal with standing his ground and acting independently from the SRC. He said that he believes he has learnt this skill through his experiences taking part of conferences and conducting meetings. 

The second applicant was Law student Taav’n Clark, who presented in person. He said he was interested in the role because parliamentary law is a huge subject of interest for him and he is genuinely passionate about it. This drew some sounds of shock from the audience. Who in their right mind loves procedural documents? Apparently Taav’n does.  

He is not interested in being a student politician, but wants to give back to the QUT community, and believes this position would allow him to give back in an impartial and neutral way. He was also a member of his high school student council and debate society. 

“I have never met any of you in this room before. I’m not a member of any of your groups or collectives. And I can honestly say that I have no motives or agendas, except the ones that you will put forward to me if I do become your chair.” 

He answered some questions from the audience. He thinks the most exciting part of the role will be interpreting the Regulations and putting them into effect. The challenging part will be maintaining order and balancing that with everyone’s right to express themselves. 

The third applicant was Urban Planning student Michael Pendergast, current Disability Collective Convenor and regular council meeting attendee. As Convenor, Pendergast is responsible for chairing the Collective meetings and he is already “painfully familiar” with the Guild Constitution, Regulations and other policy documents.   

He has attended all council meetings since becoming Convenor and believes that these meetings could be run so much better, creating more meaningful change for students.  

“I’m a proud unionist. I genuinely believe that the QUT Guild can be a strong fighting force for students, and I believe the role of Chair holds a lot of power needed to facilitate this.” 

The audience asked how he would deal with conflict when people are debating sensitive topics. He said that he would make sure to follow the standing orders and stop the meeting, if necessary, to get things back on track. He was asked whether his role on the Collective would create a conflict of interest. He said he would not allow it to, and would ensure other members presented the report or put forth motions, as needed.  

Once the Chairperson was selected, they would immediately begin to chair the meeting. Therefore, it was decided the SRC would vote on this position straight away, and then vote on the remaining positions once all candidates had presented. This report will include the votes after each relevant section, to make it easier to follow. 

A motion was raised by Lauren Cuthbert and seconded by Milani Rawlinson to have an in-camera session for the SRC to discuss and vote on candidates for Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson.  

The Chair took a vote; 12 for, 3 against, 3 abstained. The votes were as follows:  

For: Aaron Bui, Deepika Sharma, Gia Fisher, Lauren Cuthbert, Ethan Johnstone, Archer Skinner, Mal Fituch, Courtney-Elyce Lewis, Milani Rawlinson, Eli Spencer, Ella O’Brien, Juliet Veskova.  

Against: Georgie Dobbs, Erin Milne, Daniel Soltermann.  

Abstain: Moin Rahman, Muskan Sharma, Arya Chaudhari 

The motion passed. The same motion was later raised to move voting and discussion for all positions in camera, which also passed. 

The Chair decided there would be a strict time limit on all discussions. This would hopefully prevent a repeat of last year, when students were left out in the cold for an hour while the SRC discussed and voted on casual vacancies. 

The SRC left the room and took their discussion outside. We didn’t quite keep to the 10-minutes allocated by the Chair, but it was pretty close. 

Taav’n Clark was voted in as Chairperson with 14 votes. Michael Pendergast was voted in as Deputy Chairperson. 

Clark then took over chairing duties for the remainder of the meeting. He almost immediately seemed at ease in his new position, easily finding clauses in the Regulations and Constitution, and keeping the room in check.  

Welfare Officer 

The first candidate was Paulina Luisce. Paulina is a Masters of IT student and has completed a Bachelors in International Business Administration. She has an extensive work history – she has worked in retail, hospitality, banking and finance – and believes that this will allow her to gain a lot of transferable skills.  

She is passionate about the role because she has personally struggled with the cost-of-living crisis and believes there is a lot more the Guild can do to help students right now. She would like the Guild to invest in mental health services, particularly for international students, and organise regular catch ups for students who are looking for a support system. 

The second candidate was Sean Flynn. Flynn is an Accounting student, who plans to work in the public sector. He said he currently works as a policy and admin officer for the PNG Federation Queensland. His role is diverse: sometimes he is dealing with lawyers, immigration agents, farm workers, or local politicians.  
He also said he volunteers at a soup kitchen and works alongside the Development Foundation, which he stated is a charity that supports children with developmental disabilities. He then said that he had contacted the previous Welfare Officer, who told Flynn that he wanted to expand mental health outreach on campus but was not able to do this during his term. Flynn promised he would make sure this happens, if he was chosen to be the Welfare Officer.  

He was asked whether he had time for the role, due to all his other commitments. He said that he would – he is currently studying part time and his other roles are part time. Someone asked if he had any ideas to expand the foodbank. He said the Guild could collaborate with other businesses who are looking to invest back in the community.  

Flynn was bombarded with questions from the audience and answered each one with confidence and eloquence. Things got a little heated after some confusion over his connection to a Liberal Party staff member, but he stated that he is definitely not affiliated with the Liberal party.  

Flynn also applied for the First Nations role, but waved his right to speak again as he had just presented. He was asked questions relating to both roles during this time. He stated that he believed he was more suited to the First Nations Officer role, but applied for both because he had relevant experience.  

Before voting began, Glass received a message from the previous Welfare Officer who stated that they had never spoken to Flynn, and he had not reached out to them. When Flynn was asked to clarify his previous statement, he admitted to “making it up” and said he had also lied about some of his other qualifications.   

Unsurprisingly, Paulina Luisce was voted in as Welfare Officer unanimously. 

First Nations Officer 

The second candidate for the role was AJ Lee, who was voted in as the previous First Nations officer at the August 2023 council meeting. Lee presented in person. Before he began his presentation, he handed out some flyers outlining his agenda for the role. He also said that he had submitted a nomination for the role in the previous Guild election, but missed the cut off by one hour.  

He is studying a Bachelor of Science and plans to do his Masters, and eventually PHD, here at the University. He wants to increase engagement of First Nations students with the Guild, and has a lot of motions and ideas he wants to put in place. He would like to host more Aboriginal spiritual events, like a celebration of the Bunya Pine, create a culturally inclusive space, and install an Aboriginal flag at both campuses.  

He also said that he thinks it would be beneficial for the Guild to have a male and female First Nations officer, due to the cultural practice of “women’s and men’s business”. He said that while he doesn’t necessarily agree with the practice, he thinks it would make other First Nations students feel more comfortable in engaging with the Officer.  

The third candidate was Portia Rennie, who presented over Zoom. She was in Tasmania doing an Indigenous Women in STEM program, but would be returning to Brisbane shortly. She is a third year Education student, and feels that she is now ready to put herself out there for this role.  

She is connected to the Oodgeroo unit here on campus, and feels like she can create a safe space for students to feel like they can open up to her about how they are feeling. She comes from a small rural community, and said she feels like this makes her the perfect person to speak up for students who feel like they don’t have a voice. She also said she would like to work with other members of the SRC, because there are many other issues she is passionate about and would like to collaborate with others to get things done.  

Portia Rennie was voted in as First Nations Officer with 10 votes. 

Treasurer 

We have a massive list of applicants for the Treasurer role! Almost as many people have applied for the role than positions were contested in the 2023 Guild elections. 

The first candidate was Koen Willems, who presented via Zoom. Willems is a second year Bachelor of Science student, majoring in Environmental Science. He is originally from the Netherlands and has lived in Australia since 2010. He has been part of various clubs, including working as Treasurer for the White Hats club and Engineers Without Borders. He held the finance lead position for QUT STEM ball for two years, and was part of a team who raised thousands of dollars in profits, which was then invested in workshops and networking events for students.  

He applied for the role because he believes the Guild has can have a profound impact on individual students’ journeys, particularly in the clubs space.  

“As a dedicated club member and student, I have observed the Guild’s pivotal role in providing resources that empower students beyond what the University can offer.” 

The second candidate was Kajal Rana, who presented in person. She is a Master of Professional Accounting student, who has five years of experience working in the banking sector. She also has a Master in Business Administration. She believes she would be the right person for the role because she has extensive experience in financial management and financial analysis. She doesn’t have any connection to the Guild and is not a member of any affiliated clubs.  

The third candidate was Archer Skinner, who is the current Education Officer. He also presented in person. If elected as Treasurer, he will step down from his current role. Skinner is a Business student, majoring in Finance. He is studying part-time, which will allow him to take on the Treasurer role.  

“I’ve seen the difference the Guild can make in people’s lives. And I believe that we’ll be able to make so much more difference if we have a Treasurer who understands how the Guild operates and is dedicated to making sure that all the clubs, all the societies, all the collectives, and especially the  
Execs, have suitable funding and funding on time.” 

He believes that students deserve to know that is happening with their SSAF, and wants to fight to ensure that the Guild’s financing is open and transparent. He also wants to make sure the Treasurer is available to meet and work with everyone, and doesn’t believe there should be any “little factions or clubs” within the Guild.  

He thinks Glass is an important service! 

He is currently the treasurer for the QUT Progressives club, but will step down if he is chosen for this role. He also had experience in high school as treasurer for mock parliament.  

The fourth candidate was Ashmeet Kaur, presenting in person. Kaur is a second year Business student, studying Accountancy and Finance. She has experience organising events, customer service, and working with students. She was the president of the QUT Sikh Society, has been involved in a peer mentoring program, and was involved in the Asia Pacific Cities Summit, an event bringing together professionals to build connections and express ideas. She also has a certification in advanced excel. She enjoys analysing data, making reports and community building.  

The fifth candidate was Euan Tiernan, the current undergraduate representative for QUT Council. He also presented in person. He was a banker for the Commonwealth bank for two years, and applied for the role because he wants to make real change for students and believes that as Treasurer he could communicate the Guild’s concerns directly to the University.  

“I know that the University has some plans to ensure that [the Guild] isn’t as effective as you are, because the more effective, and the more involved, and the stronger the Guild is, the harder it is for those executives and QUT to do their job.” 

He made some serious claims about the Guild run businesses on campus; he said the Guild’s leases have increased by 150% and that an EzyMart would be taking over the General Store/post office space. He said that it’s really hard to get things done and to bring ideas to the University, but being part of QUT Council allows him to speak directly to the people who can make change. 

He also said as Treasurer he would make sure the Guild and the First Nations Officer are involved with the new Faculty of Indigenous Knowledges and Culture.  

There was another applicant, Mez Braaksma, but they were not present for the meeting. 

Archer Skinner was voted in as Treasurer with 9 votes. 

Health Faculty Councillor 

There were two candidates for Health Faculty Councillor; Maya Rawlinson (sister of Environment Officer Milani Rawlinson) and Irene Susan. However, Susan was not present in person or online. 

Rawlinson presented in person. She is a second-year Biomed student, and is involved in numerous clubs and societies here on campus. She is involved in the Disability and Queer Collective, and is part of BiOMS, the Biomedical Science Society. She has volunteered for the Guild in the past, has been selected to be a peer leader helping first-year BioMed students, AND was on her high school SRC for three years. Phew! 

Rawlinson said she is passionate about the inclusion of gender studies within the Health Faculty as her partner is trans, and they have already been talking to the main head of Physiology about potentially adding a unit about trans healthcare.  

Maya Rawlinson was voted in as Health Faculty Councillor unanimously. Not much of a shocker there. 

There are still a few positions available. You can view all the casual vacancies here.  

ALL DISABLED PEOPLE DESERVE ACCESSIBLE SUPPORT SERVICES   

Disability Officer Ethan Johnstone raised a motion that the Guild stands in support of disabled students and NDIS recipients, believing that disabled students’ access to support services is inextricably linked to multiple human rights, including the right to access education, and as such should be protected. The motion was seconded by Michael Pendergast. 

You can read the complete motion here

The NDIS has recently undergone a review, but there is great concern that the recommendations will not be listened to or enacted correctly, and that support may become inaccessible for many people. 

“As a student union, it is our responsibility to fight for the rights of students. This includes ensuring disabled students, not just at QUT but all across Australia, have access to the support they need, not just to survive university, but to thrive,” Johnstone said. 

Pendergast said he personally accesses support through the NDIS and can say first-hand how invaluable the service is.  

“It’s something that has given disabled people the ability to choose their own services, get the support they need when they need it, get personalised and tailored support, not just the cookie cutter based model we had before.” 

He also said that if the NDIS moves to a needs-based model, he may be one of the people removed from the service, and is concerned about the availability of other support services in the community. “Having support services available in the community, and not just for NDIS recipients, means that more people will be able to get the care they need.” 

CIESJ Councillor Erin Milne moved to amend the motion. They said that it was appalling that the result of the review was not calling for more funding, instead it seems to be about finding ways to cut costs. Milne also said the Guild should be taking a stronger position on this issue. 

“I think the union should be taking a position that is not for just like a softening of the blow of the attack that this is, but actually one that says the union stands for free and accessible healthcare and disability care for all people.” 

The proposed amendment would be to change the first position from “The NDIS is an invaluable asset for disabled Australians and must be protected” to “The QUT Student Guild stand for free universal healthcare and disability care for everyone.” 

Declan Kerr seconded the motion. They said the broader issue is that the situation in Australia is that healthcare and disability care are separated, and that the government wants to section off disabled people and apply a different level of care to them. 

“I don’t think our conduct as a student union should be to basically say ‘we’re for the cut the government is doing, we’re just for a less bad cut. We’re for making sure that they minimise the harm against the people who are going to be using the NDIS.’ No, I fundamentally disagree with that. So, what our amendment is about is actually ensuring that this student union takes the position that we’re not for any cuts to the NDIS at all.”  

There was a lot of discussion about what this would actually mean in reality, the difference between healthcare and support services, and whether this was the right time and place to be fighting for universal healthcare. After all, the motion was moved by the Disability Officer, seconded by the Disability Collective Convenor, and was specifically about the NDIS, a service that provides funding for people with disabilities.  

The Chair took a vote on the amendment; 5 for, 6 against, 3 abstained. The votes were as follows: 

For: Georgie Dobbs, Erin Milne, Daniel Soltermann, Juliet Vesvoka, Jasper Vermeulen   

Against: Aaron Bui, Eli Spencer, Lauren Cuthbert, Ethan Johnstone, Deepika Sharma, Archer Skinner   

Abstain: Courtney, Milani Rawlinson, Ella O’Brien. 

The amendment did not pass.  

The Chair then took a vote on the original motion; 11 for, 0 against, 3 abstained. The votes were as follows: 

For: Juliet Veskova, Jasper Vermeulen, Aaron Bui, Eli Spencer, Lauren Cuthbert, Ethan Johnstone, Deepika Sharma, Archer Skinner, Courtney-Elyce Lewis, Milani Rawlinson, Ella O’Brien   

Abstained: Georgie Dobbs, Erin Milne, Daniel Soltermann 

The original motion passed.  

STOP BLAMING THE BOM FOR YOUR INADEQUATE NATURAL DISASTER RESPONSE! 

CIESJ Councillor Erin Milne moved a motion that the QUT Guild calls for the Labor government to help insure homes in disaster zones and stop building new fossil fuel projects. The motion was seconded by Juliet Veskova.  

You can read both Left Action motions here

In December last year, the Australian Emergency Management Minister, Murray Watt, ordered a review of weather warning systems. This happened because the Bureau of Meteorology issued emergency alerts in insufficient time or even after catastrophic weather events occurred across Queensland during the Christmas period. Milne says the government should not be putting the blame on the BOM and should actually do something to fight against climate change. 

“These events (cyclones, flooding) will just continue to get more dramatic and more frequent. And the impact that climate change generally has on weather patterns also means that these extreme weather events are increasingly hard for organisations like the BOM to predict.” 

“Effective alert systems are such a tiny fraction of the much larger problem that people in Australia are facing, as well as around the world, as a result of climate change. The government should be doing something about that, not continuing to approve more fossil fuel projects that will just do more to damage the environment and therefore do more to actually cause these events to occur.” 

Veskova said she supported the motion and had first-hand experience seeing how difficult it can be to predict erratic weather conditions. 

There was general discussion around the room, with many students speaking in support of the motion. There was some confusion with the correct procedures, and whether you could have more people speaking for the motion once the mover and seconder spoke.  

The Chair decided to allow two more students to speak for, but then apologised later for misinterpreting the Regulations. He said in future we would be following R7.3(f), which states “After a motion or amendment has been moved and seconded, no more than two students shall speak in succession on one side, either for or against the motion. If there are no further speakers on one side of the debate after there have been two speakers on the other side of the debate, the motion will be put to the meeting, subject to the mover’s reply”.  

In simple terms, once two people have spoken for the motion, if no one wants to speak against, the motion goes to a vote (unless the mover wants to exercise their right to reply). Simple, right? 

The Chair took a vote; 10 for, 0 against, 3 abstained. The votes were as follows: 

For: Erin Milne, Juliet Veskova, Georgie Dobbs, Daniel Soltermann, Eli Spencer, Lauren Cuthbert, Ethan Johnstone, Deepika Sharma, Courtney-Elyce Lewis, Milani Rawlinson  

Abstained: Aaron Bui, Archer Skinner, Jasper Vermeulen 

STAND AGAINST ‘AUSTRALIA DAY’ NATIONALISM 

Engineering Councillor Georgie Dobbs moved a motion that the SRC rejects the ethos of Australia Day and the idea that Australians should embrace nationalism, and that the Guild will share graphics on its social media platforms to advertise the Invasion Day protest in Brisbane. Isabella Foley seconded the motion.  

Peter Dutton has called on Australians to boycott Woolworths after the corporation’s decision to no longer sell invasion day merchandise. He stated that Woolworths is “pedalling woke agendas” and “trying to cancel Australia day.” This has been the latest in a series of racist and nationalist dog whistling and opportunism from Dutton as he seeks to further saturate Australia with right wing politics. 

“There’s a right-wing force in this country that’s trying to push for nationalism and this idea that all Australians can be connected by some kind of national spirit. And the Prime Minister of Australia has nothing to say to that. And is actually more than happy to go along with it,” Dobbs said. 

Foley said that supporting this motion is important because it’s saying that the Guild stands alongside Indigenous people and their struggle against racial oppression. 

“It’s about saying that we condemn when the police murder Aboriginal people in custody. It’s about saying we condemn the building of more youth detention centres, which want to lock up kids. We condemn the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to put children in adult prisons. It’s about saying that we condemn that Aboriginal people are more likely to go to prison than university.” 

As often happens in these kinds of discussions, no one wanted to speak against the motion but there were calls for Labor members to speak up and condemn their party. No one took up the challenge.  

There was some tentative discussion among students because no one really wanted to speak against, but the mover wanted to keep the discussion going. The Chair said he would allow it, but was keeping an eye on it. After a few minutes, we moved to a vote. 

The Chair took a vote; 8 for, 0 against, 4 abstained. The votes were as follows: 

For: Georgie Dobbs, Erin Milne, Daniel Soltermann, Eli Spencer, Lauren Cuthbert, Ethan Johnstone, Milani Rawlinson, Juliet Veskova  

Abstained: Deepika Sharma, Courtney-Elyce Lewis, Archer Skinner, Aaron Bui 

CALLS FOR QUESTION TIME 

Student and previous Board Member Juval Stephens moved a motion that the agenda of the SRC council meeting held on 24 January be amended to include question time, as prescribed in R12.1-16.

According to the Regulations, question time is a standard inclusion in council meetings, however there has been a pattern over the last 12 months of not including it in the agenda and not leaving time for students to ask general questions.  

Before Stephens could speak, Declan Kerr raised a procedural motion that the motion now be put to a vote. This means that the no one will be allowed to speak in support of or against the motion and we go straight to voting.  

The Chair accepted the procedural motion and took a vote on Stephen’s motion; unanimous votes against.  

The motion did not pass, there will be no question time tonight.  

The Chair closed the meeting at 9:53pm. Bedtime for everyone!

Celeste Muller
Celeste Muller

Celeste (she/her) is a Meanjin/Brisbane based writer and Editor at Glass Media. She has a Bachelor's degree in Design (Interior Design) and is currently studying Journalism and Economics at QUT.

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