Staff Chaperone Orientation Camps

22 February 2017

The University has hired casual staff to fill positions as ‘Student Camp Wellbeing Advisers’ at first year faculty orientation camps.

This is the first instance in the camps’ history where University staff members will attend.

Seven advisers have been hired to attend each of the undergraduate faculty camps for arts, science, commerce, engineering, biomedicine, design and VCA students. The advisers are graduate students who will monitor the camps and assist the student leaders in facilitation.

“The University acknowledges that any event off-campus carries with it potential risk for both individuals and the institution, and it is our duty to ensure we provide the best support we can to minimise these risks,” a spokesperson said.

“It is not reasonable that student leaders ­– however willing and well trained – should have to carry sole responsibility for the risks involved in student camps without a greater level of support.”

The decision was made after consultation with UMSU’s Clubs and Societies Department, and went ahead despite opposition from the Department.

“The University has created a position where an unqualified, inexperienced student would be paid around $1,100 to be in charge of the camp leaders,”UMSU’s (University of Melbourne Student Union) Clubs and Societies Officer, Gulsara Kaplun said.

The position description outlined key selection criteria such as leadership ability, but did not mention any qualifications in mental health first aid or bullying and harassment training.

“If we were to agree to this decision, we thought it appropriate that they firstly comply with our minimum standards and then also have the bullying and harassment qualification to put them on an equal level of qualification with the existing camp welfare leaders,” said Kaplun.

The University reassured Farrago that the advisers would be given the necessary training.

“The Wellbeing Advisers will receive both the current camp leaders training and additional briefings in relation to their specific role,” the spokesperson said.

Marlo Zambelli, President of Melbourne Arts Student Society, has also expressed her discontent with the new role and the lack of consultation that was conducted with individual clubs.

“Clubs themselves, including my own, weren’t contacted until quite late in the process,” she said.

“I personally don’t think [the advisers] are necessary, given the huge lengths that UMSU and clubs already go to in order to ensure the safest and most enjoyable environment for clubs.”

According to Kaplun, the position was introduced due to an incident on one of the camps last year. The University has refused to provide details into what incident may have sparked this change.


Photo source: Melbourne Arts Student Society


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