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Meet the Execs! Executives Edition – Part II

By February 25, 2022 September 26th, 2022 No Comments

It’s time to meet the final Executives who make up the team at the QUT Guild this year! These of your fellow students have been elected to paid positions for the purpose of advocating for you, the students, in order to make your experience of studying at QUT the best it can be.

Anne Kelly – Abilities Officer 

What are you studying and how many years of your degree have you completed? 

I’m studying Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Arts) with a minor in Japanese. I’m in my second year, and have previously studied with QUT in the early 2010’s. 

Why did you run for this position? 

I ran for the Abilities Officer position as I wanted to bring my professional experience to the position. Having worked as a disabled, trans person in many professional positions, I understand what is needed to drive accessibility in differing spaces. 

How do you hope to be able to support students? 

Part of my supporting of students has been in revamping the design and information available to them. With so much information being hard to access due to poor design, lack of access, or just not even being explicitly said, I have begun to tackle the issue head on. I’ve already been talking with fellow Guild members about best practice when it comes to newly published items and working on accessibility for club events. 

How do you believe the QUT Student Guild can be improved? 

Aside from the design and accessibility issues, I feel the Guild could use a revamped method for getting their message out there. With the amount of people who don’t even know what the Guild is, messaging seems to be half the struggle. 

What are the main challenges for your portfolio? 

My portfolio faces a lot of challenges, in so much as being disabled and running it means I face my own health issues with ensuring things go smoothly. I must battle ableism from so many levels when attempting to implement things, and knowledge again, is half the battle. A lot of the time people are completely unaware that they may have made an event or lesson inaccessible, or that they even need guidance to improve this.  

Why are you interested in this position? 

I was interested in the position originally because I noticed some of the amazing work done by my predecessor (including free AUSLAN lessons) and I wanted to be a part of continuing that work. I also wanted to continue my disability advocacy in a more professional setting. 

What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months? 

In the next 12 months, I am hoping to have an Abilities Room open at Gardens Point, clean up and improve the messaging on the Guild website and to clubs, and have regular meet ups with the Abilities Collective in order to generate a sense of continuing community. 

Queer Officer – Julian Palacios 

What are you studying and how many years of your degree have you completed? 

I’m studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science and I’m in my second semester! Although this is my second degree (I have a Physics degree from an Unnamed Rival University), so I am no stranger to the university rodeo. 

Why did you run for this position? 

I’ve been Secretary of the Queer Collective for the past six-ish months and it’s been the most rewarding extra-curricular I’ve ever done. I’ve always been passionate about building queer community everywhere I study and work, having run Diversity & Inclusion committees including facilitating a lot of LGBT+ specific events at my previous workplaces. Coming back to study, compared to other unis I’ve studied at, I was really heartened to see how strong and positive the queer community at QUT is. I’ve also seen how important it is for the Queer Collective to have a positive working relationship with the Guild, and when the casual vacancy opened I knew my knowledge of how the two groups work together would come in handy! I’m really excited about having the funding and power to implement more institutional change beyond building community. 

How do you hope to be able to support students? 

I think the role of the Guild Queer Officer is to implement real systemic change at QUT that tangibly improves the lives of queer students. I want to listen to students and ask what they need, which I think I’m well positioned to do already being connected with the Queer Collective. I strongly value advocating for all LGBT+ students – there is so much work to be done for trans students, heartbreakingly so, to achieve equality in education. But as a gay man I am also aware that the fight is by no means over for the safety and dignity of queer youth who “just” have a diverse sexuality. I want to use the budget and influence the role has to really change things – like actively assisting in providing access to healthcare which I’ll elaborate on in a later question… 

How do you believe the QUT Student Guild can be improved? 

I am honoured to work with such a fantastic, committed, passionate and empathetic team of people who take their roles seriously and deeply care about the wellbeing of QUT students. From what I have seen so far, everyone on this team is open to constructive criticism and continually doing better by the student body. From observation, in my portfolio area, I think we could do a better job this year around platforming those big calendar events for queer visibility, like Wear It Purple Day and Brisbane Pride. I think we are already doing this, but we need to actively continue to really push the university to call for student feedback on initiatives designed to improve the student experience. In my portfolio, this includes putting the pressure on the LGBTQIA+ Working Party to consult with students – beyond the designated Guild & Queer Collective representatives that are invited to their meetings. 

What are the main challenges for your portfolio? 

Thankfully, I think the Queer Officer is pretty well set up for success at this point in Guild and QUT history. I think one challenge is supporting the Queer Collective while also respecting their autonomy. I think another is making sure we consider the individual needs of each of the “Diversity & Inclusion” portfolios when running events that try to cover all three, like the AQW ball. And I think a third one is that I need to actively be checking in with other students about what they actually need. While I have a lot of lived experience of queerness as a person who is neither cisgender nor straight, I can’t understand every identity under our umbrella and their experience of student life at QUT, let alone how that intersects with other factors like cultural background and class. I’m very committed to making sure I’m not limited to my own perspective. 

Why are you interested in this position? 

Gosh, I feel like I’ve already answered this in far too many words – but essentially what interests me is the capability to be a voice and advocate for those in the LGBT+ community who can’t advocate for themselves. I’m very “out and proud” as a gay man and a nonbinary trans person. When I came out as trans, I was working a full-time job where my gender affirmation was very public in the organisation. Rather than shy away from that I took it as an opportunity to use my visibility to draw attention and action to the challenges people like me face. There are always drawbacks to being so visibly “out”, especially as a trans person – feeling like a circus attraction at times is one of them. But the private conversations I’ve had with other queer people about the confidence they’ve gained in seeing me exist uncompromisingly is more than worth it to keep putting myself out there. I’m also chronically, devastatingly organised and enamoured with strategic planning, so this was basically a dream role in terms of what I practically do and its purpose! 

What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months? 

Lots of things! I’m still finding my feet in the role, but I hope to continue a lot of the excellent work already being done, such as supporting initiatives like the Binder Drive and running “home” which is our trans and gender diverse youth support group. I would love to connect this in with the QUT Health Service to actually deliver proper psychological support group sessions in addition to the existing social function of the group, as was originally intended. I’m hoping to bring back RAPID Sexual Health Testing to campus, as accessible, queer-informed sexual health testing is crucial to the health of our communities, and follow up with the Equity office to ensure name change bursaries are available to students ASAP as this has been something in the works. I’m still in the brainstorming phase for this, but I am trying to develop a printed guide around accessing medical transition (and the healthcare system in general) as a trans person in Brisbane. I’m also excited to collaborate with the Women’s Officer around some sexual wellness initiatives she has in the works, including ensuring the period products drive is supplying those items in a way that is accessible to students of all genders who need them. 

Environment Officer – Austin Melloy 

What are you studying and how many years of your degree have you completed? 

I am studying a double degree of Law and Justice. I am in my fourth year, and I major in policy and governance.  

Why did you run for this position? 

I have always been very passionate about the environment, I absolutely love nature and spending time outdoors, so it is very important to me that QUT is as environmentally friendly as it can be. I came to this position because I believe that is it the responsibility of all of us to improve the communities that we are a part of. 

How do you hope to be able to support students? 

I hope I will be able to support the students of QUT by providing information, resources, and opportunities for them to reduce their personal impact on the environment, as I work to reduce the university’s impact on the environment. 

How do you believe the QUT Student Guild can be improved? 

I believe that the QUT Guild, like any organisation, can always benefit from introspection and reflection in order to make sure it is as efficient and as effective as possible. The Guild provides as voice for students, and it is very important to me that it is working as well as possible. 

What are the main challenges for your portfolio? 

As the Guild’s Environment Officer, the main challenge that I face in my position is motivating people and organisation to act out of their own interest for the sake of the environment. All too often the ‘green’ choice is perceived as the harder and less attractive option, so a big challenge that I face is changing that perception.  

Why are you interested in this position? 

As a resident of this planet, I believe I have some duty to protect the environment (if only for the sake of self-preservation) and as a citizen of Australia I believe that I should protect the beautiful flora and fauna that call this country home. 

What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months? 

In the next 12 months I hope to increase awareness about key environmental issues and to modify the universities behaviour to become more environmentally friendly. 

Post Grad Officer – Liya Babu 

What are you studying and how many years of your degree have you completed?  

I’m pursuing my Masters in Information Technology majoring in Computer Science and I have a year and a half to complete my degree.  

Why did you run for this position?  

Postgraduate students, including me, are one of the most versatile groups with respect to age, culture, and work-experience and so many other factors, but the same factors that make us unique create a gap among us. I decided to run for this position not only to represent interests and solve their problems but also to ensure this gap is addressed, thereby creating a platform for being there for one another. As a student who has been adversely affected by the ongoing pandemic, I know how relieved and confident a student would be with a dependable voice.  

How do you hope to be able to support students?  

The problems and needs of the postgraduate student body are as different as they come. Continuing to actively interact with the current student body gives me valuable insight into their needs.  

Through this networking with students, my peers at Guild and I have identified some key priorities. These include connecting students with industry, supporting mental health initiatives, providing assistance with academic work, helping them find accommodation, etc.  

I aim to support the student body by hosting events and social media campaigns that support these aforementioned needs/causes.  

How do you believe the QUT student Guild can be improved?  

I found my team members really helpful and supportive. As I’m new to the Guild and this environment I can’t much state as to how or what could improve the Guild. In general, with hard work and being there for each other, a team could overcome any situation or struggle in the way.  

What are the main challenges for your portfolio?  

This student community, as said, is diverse, so it is challenging to bring these students out of their comfort zone or shell.   

It is challenging to foster a sense of community within the post-graduate cohort because the students come from a wide range of backgrounds and diverse experiences. Therefore, many students may not have time due to work commitments or they may be at different points of life, these students may not be able to enjoy their student life to the fullest. The Guild can overcome this by creating events and programs that address the needs of the student body.  

Why are you interested in this position?  

It is really important to have a platform that voices the concerns, desires, and needs of students. The Guild is truly that – a platform for the students, by the students.  

What do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months?  

My key priorities for the next 12 months include, but are not limited to – 

Promoting a sense of community within the postgraduate student body by hosting regular (and fun!) social events throughout the semester.  

Hosting social events that celebrate the diversity and multiculturality ever-present in QUT.  

Providing students with industry networking opportunities throughout the year. Possibly starting a mentoring program that allows students to interact with seasoned industry experts. 

Ciaran Greig

Ciaran Greig

Ciaran (she/her) is a Meanjin/Brisbane-based writer and an editor at Glass Magazine. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative Writing)/Bachelor of Laws.

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