Bridget Rumball – Can you give a bit of background about what you’re studying at university, why you decided to join with STAR in the first place, what your journey to STAR looks like, and firstly disclose if you are a member of any political party – Young Liberal or Young Labor or anything to do with that.
Bre Shanahan – Okay, oh that was a lot. Um, I guess first of all, I am a member of the UWA Young Labor Branch. In terms of what I’m studying at the moment, I’m a first year Juris Doctor, as I hope you know.
BR – Yes, yes, I know you well.
BS – And then my journey with STAR, was that the next part?
BR – Yes.
BS – Okay, oh god, um, okay, the big picture – I first got involved in Guild Elections in First Year, running with Launch when it was reformed as a new ticket. I had no idea what was going on, basically, didn’t do anything. Um, I then took a year off, because I was at college, and college isn’t really into the whole Guild Election thing. Before joining STAR last year towards sort of second semester. And the reason I got involved, was because last year as the President of St George’s College, we went through a lot of cultural change. Because there was all the scandals over east with the residential colleges over there as well as the release of the Australian Human Rights Commission report. And we know that colleges are a um sort of risk factor for experiencing sexual violence on campus. So, in my time as President, um, I put in a lot of work to try and reform the culture of St George’s away from being ladsy rape culture to a place that was inclusive of all our residents. That sort of made me realise how much I cared about women’s issues, I’d always been very interested in um women’s policy um but I realise that moving out of college I still wanted to be able to have that impact and make women identifying and non binary people feel safe on campus. Um, so I got involved in the STAR ah campaign, helping out Roshni, who is now the women’s officer, um, and then applied for the Women’s Department Committee, and have been involved this year as the Women’s Department Vice President, so have done lots of work…
BR – Wonderful work with the Women’s Department…
BS – Yep
BR – So was that one of the reasons that you decided to switch from Launch to STAR in the first place, why not just go back to Launch?
BS – Um, well, being the naive fresher that I was, I got sold the story that Launch was a new independent ticket. I was kind of aware coming into uni that Liberty was the Young Liberal ticket and um STAR was the ah more left wing ticket um and as I progressed through the election after signing up, I realised that my values didn’t really align with Launch and I wasn’t big on the whole…on everything they were promoting. Um and in the end realised that yeah my values and that the things I wanted to achieve aligned more with STAR, and that’s why I joined.
BR – So with the work that you’ve done with the Women’s Department this year, that’s why you want to involve yourself with the Guild as women’s officer this year? So to continue the work that you’ve done?
BS – Yeah, yeah. And basically yeah following on from college, just realising that as a student you can have an impact on um how people feel at university. Um and I thought that the Women’s Department was a good way that I can use my skills and experience to benefit other people if that makes sense.
BR – Wonderful. Um, so, like you’ve already said, you’ve worked with Roshni extensively this year, um, how do you plan to continue the work that Roshni has kinda done and the Women’s Department has done if you were to take over the role of Women’s Officer?
BS – Sure. So, the, I guess, a big part of the Women’s Officer position that people don’t tend to see is um how the Women’s Officer works with the University. Um, so the Women’s Officer sits on the ah, I think it’s called the campus…they sit with campus management, I can’t remember what it’s called…it’s like a working group….the lighting on campus working group, that’s the one. So a big part of the role is working with the university and maintaining a strong relationship to work towards progress um so I plan on continuing working towards more lighting on campus. Because as we’ve seen, the Women’s Department did run a survey and identified the places that needed improvement this year…
BR – Definitely in your policies, looking back and over them, lightning on campus is something that comes up year after year….
BS – Exactly. This year we did do um some campus nightwalks with security to sort of show them where the places….to show them so they would believe us in a sense…because um they gave us this map that was like, ‘the safe places to walk,’ which were all the places that needed more lighting.
BR – Yep
BS – Um, so a big part of the role is pushing for more progress, because they have continually like not done anything about it. They haven’t filled out a application for funding and that’s the next step that we need to take. So that’s my position in terms of that. Um, Roshni has also done an excellent job um bringing in more social events in the Women’s Department. Like Women’s Week was amazing this year with the um Tav Show ah the shirts we had down on Oak Lawn so yeah, continuing to foster that community among women and non binary students is a big deal for me as well.
BR – Wonderful. And you kind of touched on it earlier, briefly discussing the respect now always survey which came out last year, um which was ah kind of an investigation into campus sexual abuse, harassment into colleges, what universities should be recommended to do in the face of that. Whilst it isn’t specifically a women’s issue, a lot of victims of sexual assault on campus are women and female identifying, non binary students. What are the womens department, or your plans, to continue the implementation of the recommendations that were a part of that a report on behalf of UWA.
BS – Sure. Um so as I said, the respect now always um campaign that they’ve committed to sort of has three components. So the first part is ah making sure that services are um uplifted in the community so that everyone is aware of them um and I’ll be collaborating with Maddie Hedderwick the Welfare Officer to ensure that continues. A big part of that is also introducing ah sexual violence specific training for Counsellors at UWA um so making sure that we have those resources available.
BR – How easy do you think it will be to implement those types of resources?
BS – Well obviously I don’t have experience in that area in terms of because counselling is run by UWA that’s another area we have to collaborate with them on. Um in terms of what there is already, to be honest, I don’t think that six full time equivalent counsellors for a university of 20,000 students is enough. Like that’s completely ridiculous and if you look at the statistics of the number of students in crisis at anytime at this age group, the equivalent is 6,000 students that need urgent key. And for what six counsellors, that’s completely unacceptable
BR – A thousand a piece isn’t really going to cut it
BS – Exactly. Um and there’s extensive waiting periods and so on. So another policy that we were going to advocate for was the introduction of two full time equivalent sexual violence only counsellors which I think will yeah alleviate that issue. And counsellors have to undergo professional development and from what I’ve read in the Respect Now Always campaign, the government is working with universities Australia to make those Professional Development um ah training modules for counsellors so hopefully we can just piggy back off that and they can give us a hand
BR – An interesting policy that at least I saw on the STAR Website or at least the ticket, was PAM Parties, which was something that was kind of new and refreshing to see, a new policy. Can you kind of explain that a little bit more, why UWA might need a system like that in light of everything?
BS – Sure, so the way that I see PAM at Parties working is similar to those hotlines they have at music festivals that Camp Cope sort of brought in
BR – Yep
BS – For Falls, not Falls, Laneway. The way that I would see it working is that Student Assist does attend on Campus events at times, so events like Mexicana or EMAS ah those kinds of things um they would have their sort of area the um phone would be with them and it’s sort of takes the onus off the victim to be hunting down someone to look after them. So the idea is that the person in the um area would go and try and help the um survivor um or the survivor can come to them. It’s also more accessible because it’s a tech service rather than ah for people with ah hearing ah issues you know like talking on the phone
BR – So you’ll be able to text a certain number
BS – Yep
BR – and they’ll report an incident and you’ll be able to access help that way
BS – Yep, and the idea is more mental health first aid response in that sense because this year we have implemented an SMS service for security which is rolling out I think next year um but that’s obviously more focussed on dealing with um you know ah like kicking people out and that kind of thing when I think that a lot of the time we need first responders to have the appropriate training to help people if they are experiencing that kind of behaviour at events
BR – So it’s more like a logical extension of the ASK for Angela campaign that the Tav has been doing
BS – Exactly
BR – Except in a big social situation like Mexicana or EMAS or any of those events
BS – Yeah
BR – Right
BS – And I think in that context, Ask for Angela, we’d also be able to implement at those events, but once again, you’re having to go to a certain place and yeah go through the process so hopefully this can make it um it’s with someone who has mental health first aid not someone that’s just going to call you a taxi or try and make you go home if that makes sense
BR – Someone with more specialised
BS – Yeah, exactly
BR – Yep, okay, and just to finish, what is one thing about your ticket or about STAR or about yourself that people should take into the voting booth to remember why vote for Bre? What’s the one thing?
BS – Oh, um, I think the biggest thing in terms of me is that I’m, I perceive the role as me trying to do the best that I can to make the university experience safer and better for all students for female identifying and non binary students not just non binary students as an afterthought and I have the capacity to perceive every person that the women’s department is supposed to be looking after. And I think in terms of STAR, we’re the only ticket that has the experience, the relationship with the university, um, and yeah, the drive to be able to pursue the goals that we’ve been building on yeah after year
BR – Beautiful, cool, Bre Shanahan, thank you very much.
BS – Thank you.