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Support for students from equity groups

Everyone's journey is different and sometimes you need some extra support

You have the right to study in a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.

There is a lot of support available. All you have to do is ask or check your higher education provider’s website to find out what they offer.
Compare the websites of other higher education providers if you can’t find the support you need.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Most universities or higher education providers have Indigenous student support centres to support students with things like orientation activities, learning support, peer-mentoring, tutoring and cultural support. They can also help you to connect with university-wide support services once you have enrolled.
There are many scholarship opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

People who are culturally and linguistically diverse
Many universities offer support to help students make connections. These may include social and cultural clubs and societies. Your university may also offer additional support strategies or programs such as English-language support, orientation activities, peer-mentoring, and other academic services to help with your study techniques, research and assignments.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers
A number of universities now provide scholarships to people seeking asylum, and refugees on temporary visas. Some of these are full-fee waiver scholarships or bursaries to support living and study costs. Because of the significant financial barriers people face when seeking asylum providers may also offer other services such as peer support, learning support, counselling services or referrals to community organisations.
Find more information on scholarships for refugees and asylum seekers.

Students with a disability or health condition
People with a disability or health condition which can impact access to education are able to access and participate in higher education on the same basis as everyone else. The Disability Standards for Education 2005 requires universities to make reasonable adjustments to support access and participation for students with a disability or health condition.

If you believe there are barriers that might make studying difficult for you, you should contact your university to find out what reasonable adjustments they can make to help you study.
For example, your university may be able to help you by:

  • making reasonable adjustments to your studies in enable you to participate in all learning activities
  • referring you to disability support officers, counsellors, on-campus medical services or other student services as appropriate
  • coordinating support to assist you with managing your study load.

For more information, go to the Higher Education Disability Support Program and the National Disability Coordination Officer program.

Sexually and gender diverse (LGBTIQ+) community
The LGBTIQ+ Community is an alliance of people of diverse sexes, genders and sexualities. This includes, but isn’t limited to, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex, queer or are questioning their gender or sexuality.

Support for LGBTIQ+ students will vary between universities but all providers must adhere to relevant anti-discrimination legislation, which protects people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status (Sex Discrimination Act). You can contact the equity or diversity area of your university to find out more ways that you could access further support or get involved.

Rural, Regional and Remote
Universities will support students in regional, rural and remote areas while they study via distance education or online. See your provider’s website for further details on how they can support you.

Strategies to support students from rural, regional and remote backgrounds include orientation activities, accommodation officers, student support services, welfare services, clubs and societies, and academic support.

Some initiatives to support students’ access are:

  • Expanding accessibility of sub-bachelor programs
    More sub-bachelor (including enabling) places for rural and regional students to study at regional higher education providers.
  • Expanding accessibility for bachelor students at Regional Study Hubs (RSHs)
    There are limited places for students studying at RSHs, but there will be more in the future.
  • Regional Study Hubs
    RSHs will provide study spaces, video conferencing, computing facilities and internet access as well as pastoral and academic support for students studying via distance at partner universities.
  • Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships
    Students can apply for the Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarship, valued at up to $18,000 to undertake STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies, including in agriculture and health fields.

Find more information on payments and services for rural and remote students.

First in Family to go to university
If you are the first in your family to go to university, you might not have anyone in your family or community who you can talk to about your experience.

For more information on where you can go for help or find out more about what your university offers, ask your university student support centre.
You can also visit the First in Family website.

Students who are parents or carers
If you are a parent or carer most universities support students to manage carer responsibilities while studying. This may include flexible learning options (e.g. online or part-time study options); on-campus childcare; parent rooms and/or breast-feeding rooms; or parent support groups.

If students cannot attend lectures because of caring responsibilities, more and more lectures are available online to make it easier to listen to the lectures if you are not physically there.

If a lecture is not available online check with your university lecturer to see if they can make this option available for their class.

If you are a student with caring responsibilities whether it is young children, a sibling with a disability or aged parents, you can access various services listed below:

People from low-income backgrounds
Paying for study can seem daunting if you are from a low-income background or have experienced financial hardship that may have affected your education.

Australian citizens, permanent humanitarian visa holders and some other students can access Government loans.

Many universities have strategies in place to enrol and support students from low-income backgrounds. These include admissions pathways, peer mentoring, and academic learning support and staff who can provide advice on bursaries and scholarships, managing budgets and where to access emergency financial assistance.
Find further information on financial advice or support.
Find tips and advice on saving while you study.

Employment
Universities and higher education providers want to see their students achieve positive employment outcomes at the end of their studies. Most providers will have careers and employment services that can offer:

  • Career advice and counselling
  • Résumé checking and job readiness activities
  • Resources to help you find part-time employment opportunities while studying
  • Support for job placements, internships or industry placements (paid or unpaid placements that will be part of your degree, or complement your degree)
  • Support to connect to employers when you graduate

Check your provider’s career advisory centre for information on career advice, job placements, internships or graduate employment opportunities. Specialist career consultants can work with you to help you understand what you may be looking for once you graduate.
Find further information on how to get a job once you graduate.

Managing your mental and physical health
Managing your mental and physical health is an important part of your life as a student. Most universities have medical centres on campus. Doctors are available on campus who bulk bill you as a student, as well as counselling services and sometimes even pathology, physiotherapy, optometry and dental clinics.

If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, you may find it helpful to speak to somebody about your concerns. A few options you may be able to access are:

  • University-based services such as medical services, counselling, disability officers or social workers
  • Headspace is a dedicated mental health foundation for young Australians needing support.
  • BeyondBlue provides information on anxiety, depression and suicide. Chat support is available.
  • Lifeline is a crisis support and suicide prevention organisation.

Universities and higher education providers also want to keep you healthy and safe in other ways so they may also have services such as:

Access to health food options
Universities are working hard to give their students access to fresh healthy food options and plenty of food variety. They provide food options for various dietary requirements including vegetarian, allergies, Kosher and Halal. They are constantly reviewing and improving their food providers and options.
Find more tips and advice on how to eat well while you study.

Accommodation – on and off campus support
Many universities offer scholarships and bursaries specifically to help with the cost of accommodation, both on and off campus.

For more information on where you can go for help or find out more about what your university offers, ask the student support centre.

Welfare officers
Many universities have dedicated student welfare officers who are there to help you work through unexpected problems. These officers might provide general advice, or they may tell you who to contact if you need extra help. Some examples of issues that a student welfare officer may help you with are:

  • bullying
  • advocacy
  • sexual health
  • financial assistance
  • legal advice
  • student conflict

For more information on where you can go for help, ask your university if they have welfare officers.

Student representation through student unions
Student unions are organisations run by student representatives. The purpose of a union is to make sure students have a say in the way things happen at the university they attend. Unions are also a great way to network with your peers.
Check your university’s website to see if there is a student union you could join.

Safe campuses
You need to feel safe while you are at university. Australian universities are taking a proactive and preventative approach to student safety. Many universities have security staff, access passes for after hours and emergency procedures to follow if you feel unsafe. Some universities also have violence and sexual assault support.
To find out more about the security and safety measures at your university, visit their website or call the student administration area.