Peer advice, support and communication – using students to inform students at La Trobe Melbourne Navitas Bundoora Ltd

Mrs Usha Rao1

1La Trobe Melbourne, La Trobe University, Australia

Customer service surveys filled out by students over many years have indicated time and again that the most requested and appreciated student activities organised by La Trobe Melbourne (LTM), are those which offer international students the chance to meet Australian university students. This paper presents s historical aspect of such student activities. This includes  providing peer to peer advice and communication, . In some cases peer support may involve sitting down with students and having conversations with them. This gives LTM students the opportunity to increase their fluency and accuracy in speaking English. In other cases, high achieving members of LTM alumni join teachers in classrooms to assist with group discussions, to aid in better understanding of the subject matter. This paper will discuss the peer advice program in more detail particularly in terms of its development and evolution.  What are the merits and weaknessess?  What are the improvements, adaptations and changes?  What are the successes and failures?

An overall summary of why some peer to peer advice and communication programs have been successful at La Trobe Melbourne and others have not will form the conclusion of the paper.


Usha Rao is the Director, Student Services at La Trobe Melbourne, a pathway college of La Trobe University. She has worked for La Trobe University and La Trobe Melbourne for over 20 years. Before that, she worked at RMIT and Monash.  Usha holds a Master of Arts degree from Monash and Master of Education degree from University of Melbourne. She also trained in language teaching management at University of Queensland. Currently, she is doing a MOOC course from Monash in Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance. Usha has received acknowledgement and awards from ISANA and English Australia for her contribution to international education. She has been a member of ISANA from 1993, and has contributed for many years on ISANA’s conference organising committees. Usha is a fellow of Australian Institute of Management. She is a member of Special Interest groups at IEAA. Usha’s pastime activities include Pilates, Meditation, reading, Hatha yoga and walking. She has been a volunteer careers mentor for students of Monash and La Trobe University over many years. She has also done volunteer work with Red Cross, Able Australia and Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre. Usha’s greatest pride and achievement are her sons and in having four delightful grandchildren.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at

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