Joshua Cahill: Give us a bit of a rundown of your journey through guild and where you are now in your uni life. So, what are you studying? What year are you in? How did you get involved in the guild?
Maddie Hedderwick: So, I’m in my second year of uni. I study sports science, as my first major and recently picked up business law as my second major. I am a college student, so most of my student rep leadership journey has been through college. I was elected, independently from the guild, so I had absolutely nothing to do with the guild in my first year, as the RSD president at the end of last year. Then after I was elected I was told, “Oh you’re actually an office bearer of the guild now”. And I literally sat down for coffee with Megan Lee and said, “what’s the Guild?”. But here we are, 10 months later and I love it. I love being a part of the guild community. I think everything it does for students is incredible. I think there’s a lot to improve on and a lot of opportunity for the guild in the future. But I love being a part of this community and having not being involved in the past when I came on to Guild council, STAR was the team that welcomed me in. They supported me, believed in my vision for colleges and essentially that’s why I ran with them. And ever since that moment, have not had any regrets, they inspire me every day and the STAR team are the only team that I believe can lead the guild in the future to what students need.
JC: Do you have any political affiliations?
MH: No. I’m not [a member of any political party]. I’m just Maddie.
JC: Given that you’ve come out of not really being involved with Guild, you were thrust in it essentially, do you feel there’s a bit of disconnect between your experience at colleges and that presence of Guild there at that time, that could have been fixed?
MH: Yes. I feel like I have a kind of unique perspective from where I see it from the side of college leadership and having absolutely no idea what the Guild was, or what the Guild can offer us or why we should connect with them. And then from the other side of being heavily involved and recognizing the issues in colleges and how the Guild can help colleges. And I think because I have that unique perspective from both sides I can then see how the gap can be bridged.
JC: You’re running for Welfare and a lot of the policy that is written up on the page is quite comprehensive, where do you think the greatest issue of welfare lies, is it with issues of stigmatisation or access? Which you prefer to try and focus your efforts on?
MH: I think the main issue is stigmatisation. But I want to focus my work on (touch wood) access. Because, I think too many people, and nothing wrong with this just creating awareness and doing things to create awareness about mental health but not actually doing anything about mental health. And that’s why my policy on the website, STAR’s policy, is so broken down into literally step by step what we want to do next year, because I want to prove to people that I’m actually going to do things and take action to improve support services. Not just go out there and be like, yeah, we’re going to get rid of triage waiting times and create better support. Welfare and mental health are something that is so important to every student at this university, as well from my own experience, I understand we actually need to take steps forwards and not just be out there saying, “we’re going to make a difference”. We need to take that extra step and say this is exactly what I’m going to do.
JC: Do you think that’s unique to different types of students at university, particular looking at college experience and international experience and just general student experience? Do you think there’s more that the university, or your portfolio, can do to try and diversify those experiences?
MH: Definitely, and I think that by diversifying them and taking specific action for different areas of our community will then eventually, for example, decrease the pressure on counselling services and the medical centre. If you focus on specific areas of the university and different populations of students and what they need. Then you’re going to reduce the overall backlog of students needing support.
JC: How much of a role does Welfare have in other portfolios, particularly a lot the “Collectives”, in the way in which they have to access those services and do you think more could be done to provide them with the adequate support? Particularly when we’re looking at what happened with access most recently in the division of help that they got. Do you think more could be done internally to try and curtail these problems?
MH: Absolutely, I think every department, every club, every FAC SOC, all have a welfare aspect to them, for the students that they represent and internally. Something that I’d like to do next year, that I don’t know if I put word for word in my policy is a focus on the student leaders themselves and the committees themselves, their welfare and wellbeing. So that they’re working as cohesively as they can and their taking the action that they need to for their respective areas.
JC: What do you think makes your position, or STAR’s position, so unique to the other candidates and why you think we should put 1 next to the “Maddie Hedderwick” on the ballot paper?
MH: STAR has the experience, they have the knowledge. I know we always say, “STAR, independent, progressive, experienced”. STAR honestly is the only ticket who have that experience to then take it forward. I as welfare candidate Have worked so hard with colleges this year and have been working with the university from a college perspective that it’s taken me this long in my term as RSD president to establish that relationship. Which means if I’m elected as Welfare officer, I can step right in and start making change from day 1. I don’t have to sit there and build a relationship with them. I am the most experienced welfare candidate that there is to vote for. I know if you put a 1 next to my name I will deliver everything I’ve promised because I am so passionate about it and so dedicated to it. That’s why you should vote 1 STAR.