After being “temporarily rested” last year, the QUT Student Guild’s Women’s Collective is searching for a fresh start, led by Women’s Officer Sia Hills.
The Guild currently facilitates the work of three other Collectives on QUT campuses, which are volunteer, student-run groups each with a specific focus on LGBTQIA+ students, disabled students, and the environment, respectively. Each Collective receives approximately $5,000 in SSAF funding via the Guild each year.
Hills describes the currently non-operational Women’s Collective as “…a group for women to come together and support each other, to build connections and bonds, and is a safe space for people to come together.”
The Women’s Collective became defunct last year due to a lack of students willing to fill its Executive positions. These positions are unpaid and voluntary, filled by election at each Collective’s AGM.
Katherine Nguyen, former Convenor of the Women’s Collective, said that she believes the Women’s Collective still has “great potential”.
“Lots of students came to our stall during O-Weeks. Students expressed their interest in our activities and in volunteering/engaging more with others.”
“The main challenge we faced was human resources. All our Execs were doing multiple roles within the university (and work). With only five of us (then dropped down to 3 then 2), without proper guidance and support, it made it hard to transform ideas into action.”
The Guild’s Women’s Officer supports the work of the Women’s Collective, under the Guild Regulations. At some point last year, the former Women’s Officer, Natalie Tew, resigned. This resignation was recorded at the 2022 AGM, but never appeared on a Council meeting agenda for noting. The casual vacancy of the Women’s Officer position was also never advertised to students, as it should have been done under C23.7 of the Guild’s Constitution.
Today the Guild President, Zoe Davidson, told Glass that she does not have the details of why this casual vacancy was never advertised or when it arose. Glass understands that advertisements for casual vacancies are usually handled by the Guild’s Secretary. Aamna Asif has held this position since December 2021. You can read Davidson’s full comment below.
This year, the Guild’s new Women’s Officer, Sia Hills, is hoping to “…provide something wholesome for the students…and deliver something meaningful that will have a lasting legacy. Might sound grandiose, but it’s something I just feel I need to do. We all need something good in our lives, especially post-Covid, and the stress of the last few years.”
Should all students care about the Women’s Collective? Hills thinks so: “At the end of the day, it’s about support. And challenging dominant societal discourse. This starts by having conversations, opening discussions, and showing support for those in the community experiencing marginalisation and oppression.
...I want to challenge dominant thoughts, ideologies, and discourses. I want to be a voice for change. You can do that too. It all starts with discussions.”
She is aiming to get the Women’s Collective up and running this year, but plans have not been solidified yet. “I will be sure to update the socials when I have more information.”
Since Hills spoke to Glass earlier this week, the new terms of reference for the Women’s Collective were ratified by the QUT Student Guild Council at their reconvened AGM on Wednesday 8 March 2023. Before the terms of reference were ratified at the meeting, multiple students questioned why President Zoe Davidson brought the motion to ratify the document, rather than Women’s Officer Sia Hills, and questioned whether this move was constitutional. When questioned, Hills said she had given Davidson permission to talk on her behalf. Davidson stated she was the “….owner of the document…” and said the number of hours Executives like the Women’s Officer are paid each week is “…really small.”
QUT students can look forward to the relaunch of the Women’s Collective in the near future. In the meantime, students can support the Women’s Collective by following them on Instagram and Facebook. Hills says this is where information will become available about the Women’s Collective AGM, where all Executive positions will be “up for grabs” for students. These positions will include Convenor, Deputy Convenor, Secretary, Events Officers, and Engagement Officers.
Full comment by Guild President, Zoe Davidson, provided to Glass today:
“Sadly, I do not have details on specific date/time of the 2022 Women’s Officer resignation as it was handled by a team before me. As such, I cannot speak to those decisions and reasons from the previous President. Conversely, swift solution-finding shown by myself at QUT Council yesterday evening regarding Council attendance, that my priorities lie in ensuring strong, and present, advocation of student needs.”