NatCon 2020: who’s who at the National Conference?

9 December 2020

What is NatCon?

NatCon stands for the annual National Conference run by the National Union of Students (NUS). Normally, student politicians from around the country descend on a rural university campus to debate policy and determine the direction of the NUS for the next year. On the final day, delegates are able to vote for campus representatives, state branch representatives and national office bearers. This year, NatCon will take place via Zoom, starting Wednesday 8 December. 

So, who’s the campus representative for the University of Melbourne?

Thonya Deverall is a member of the NLS. This year she helped with communication between the NUS and the UMSU Education department. She says that “it was a pretty chaotic year with lots of things to do and COVID definitely affected our ability to communicate”.

Who are the major factions?

Student Unity: the majority faction

Made up of mostly members of the Labor Party of the right faction. They are made up of many different sub-factions, the most prominent of which is the SDA (the Union for Workers in Retail, Fast Food and Warehousing). They tend to hold majority on the NUS Executive Committee and the National General Secretary

Also known as: Unity, SU, “the right”

What does this look like at UMSU?

Student Unity aren’t super prevalent at the University of Melbourne. Members of AWU (a sub-faction of the Labor party that caucus with Student Unity) have run on the Stand Up! ticket and it is rumoured that members of the SDA ran with Community this year.


National Labor Students: the President’s faction

This faction can be described as the Labor left. They tend to hold the National Presidency.

Also known as: NLS, “the left”

What does this look like at UMSU?

The NLS have traditionally been the majority faction at the University of Melbourne. The NLS runs the ticket Stand Up! and the current UMSU President Jack Buksh comes from this faction. Current NUS President, formerly UMSU President (2019) and Women’s OB (2018), Molly Willmott is a member of this faction and was national convener for NatCon 2018. Willmott is also the 2019 NUS President. 


Socialist Alternative: the Baillieu library faction

This faction most closely aligns with the Victorian Socialists. Their politics tend towards Marxism/Trotskyism. 

Also known as: SA, SAlt, the trots

What does this look like at UMSU?

SA are commonly found campaigning outside the Baillieu library and have a keen interest in social justice issues. Their ticket, Student Resistance, often picks up a couple of council spots and this year, two of their members ran unsuccessfully on the Stand Up! ticket for the Environments office.


Grassroots/Independents: A mixed bag

This faction at times aligns with the Greens, but members are not necessarily politically aligned. Traditionally unsuccessful in National Office Bearers position, the Grindies surprisingly picked up a few spots last year including the National Queer Office. They tend to do well in Western Australia.

Also known as: Grindies

What does this look like at UMSU?

Grindies are currently the majority holders of UMSU (well, kind of). Those who align with this faction ran on the Community ticket, but in the past have run on a variety of tickets including Pride in 2019.


Who are UMSU’s delegates to the National Conference?

Name Ticket in the UMSU election National Faction
Devindee Nugawela Community Unknown
Max Dowell Stand Up NLS
Phoebe Chen Community Unknown
Lachlan Hinds Stand Up Student Unity
Eleanor McMurtry Community Grindies
Thonya Deverall Stand Up NLS
Andie Moore Community Grindies


Follow the Farrago liveblog here for all things NatCon 2020.

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