‘Just what the doctor ordered’: Promoting wellbeing with medical students

Dr Hannah Sloan1, Ms Danielle Clayman1

1 The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne VIC

The tertiary student experience is not the same for all. Some students navigate the challenges of student life and flourish amidst stresses, whilst others experience considerable distress and disengage (Stallman, 2010; Larcombe et al., 2015). Much research has sought to identify what factors contribute to students thriving at university and what constitutes a successful student. Medical students have long been thought of as ‘successful’ students with high academic attainments and abilities, however recent research suggests medical students experience higher rates of mental health distress and suicidal ideation compared to the broader student population (Rotenstein et al., 2016). In recognition of the challenges faced by medical students, the Melbourne Medical School developed a new proactive approach to student support through the appointment of two Health and Wellbeing Practitioners. The Health and Wellbeing Practitioners have adopted a ‘Health Promoting University’ strategic model (Okanagan Charter, 2015) that focuses on the implementation of proactive individual interventions and group based programs. These programs have been designed in close consultation with medical students, and seek to broaden the scope of what constitutes a successful medical student to include mental wellbeing. This innovative approach to medical student health and wellbeing demonstrates a school wide, preventative-based approach to promoting student mental health. The authors detail the design, delivery and evaluation of this evidence based model to student wellbeing.


Hannah is the rural based Health and Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting medical students across their long term rural clinical placements. Hannah is a clinical psychologist and has practiced in both public and private sectors. Hannah’s research interests are in the area of student mental health, coping styles and adjustments to student life.

Danielle is the metropolitan based Health and Wellbeing Practitioner, supporting metro and outer-metro based medical students. Danielle is a Social Worker with extensive experience in community based settings, as well as the tertiary sector. Danielle has a particular interest in mental health promotion and addictions, as well as student equity issues

Transient homes: A visual material perspective of international students in the city

Catherine Gomes1, Edgar Gómez Cruz2

1 RMIT University, 123 LaTrobe Street, Vic, 3000, catherine.gomes@rmit.edu.au
2 RMIT University, 123 LaTrobe Street, Vic, 3000, edgar.gomez@rmit.edu.au

Melbourne is an international student city with large parts of the Central Business District host apartment blocks catering almost exclusively to international students.  The Melbourne CBD is an ideal location for international student accommodation, primarily because the area is home to the main campuses of three major Australian universities as well as a host of state colleges and private education providers.  Accommodation for international students, in other words, is a vital service Melbourne provides and becomes the ‘home away from home’ for them.  What spaces and material possessions are significant and insignificant to international students who live in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD? Based on a pilot project conducted where we asked 10 international students living in the Melbourne CBD to photograph their surroundings, this e-poster is a visual presentation of what international students both value and dislike about where they live and what they live with. By giving a voice to international students through visual expression, this e-poster allows us to understand not only how international students make a home away from home for themselves in Melbourne city but also to inform international student services of the future of (accommodation) needs for international students.


Catherine Gomes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Media and Communication where she teaches Asian Studies.  She is leader of the Migration and Digital Media Research Lab.  Catherine was also an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow (2013-2016) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Singapore Management University.  Catherine has worked extensively on the themes of of identity, migration, ethnicity, memory, multiculturalism and transnationalism in Australia and Singapore as well as on the information-seeking behaviour of international students in Australia.

The VET Student Loans Ombudsman and the Overseas Students Ombudsman

Mr Ron Colley1

1Overseas Students Ombudsman, Canberra, Australia

We will deliver a presentation about the role and function of the VET Student Loans Ombudsman and the Overseas Students Ombudsman. Our poster will incorporate engaging visuals, QR codes linking to interactive content and what we do will be communicated mainly through visuals and a few dot points.  The Commonwealth Ombudsman investigates complaints about the administrative actions of Australian Government entities and prescribed private sector organisations.  We provide a free service, are independent and impartial and can make recommendations arising out of investigations. Two of our functions directly relate to students.

VET Student Loans Ombudsman

The Australian Government has established the new Vocational Education and Training (VET) Student Loans (VSL) program to replace the VET-FEE-HELP (VFH) scheme that ceased on 31 December 2016.  As a part of the new program, a VET Student Loans Ombudsman (VSLO) function is being created within the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman to manage and investigate complaints regarding both the VFH scheme and the new VSL program. The VSLO function will commence on 1 July 2017.

Overseas Students Ombudsman

The Overseas Students Ombudsman (OSO) investigates complaints about problems that intending, current or former overseas students may have with private schools, colleges or universities (education providers) in Australia.  The OSO also provides information about best practice complaint-handling to help private education providers manage internal complaints effectively. The OSO publishes reports on problems and broader issues in international education identified through investigations.


Ron Colley works for the Commonwealth Ombudsman and is the director of the Ombudsman’s Overseas Student Ombudsman and Postal Industry Ombudsman schemes. With over 40 years in the workforce, Ron draws on his vast experience in marketing, sales and stakeholder engagement in Government, private industry and community organisations, to work with industry to improve the quality of complaints management. Ron is married, lives and works in Melbourne and has family in both Melbourne and Perth.

Study abroad and student success: What’s the connection?

Ms Rebecca Cozens1, Dr Amanda Daly2, Dr Matthew Xerri1

1Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia, 2Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

‘Student success’ and ‘study abroad’ are two terms which are not often associated with each other. Yet, in an environment of strained resources, many Australian institutions seek to benefit from utilising study abroad programs as a means of encouraging student success for both domestic and international students. Nationwide, institutions have developed strategies to increase student retention and academic success. In parallel, many have also created goals to increase participation in study abroad programs in an effort to internationalise the curriculum and create globally competent graduates. However, despite these efforts, little evidence exists to show the relationship between student success and study abroad and, furthermore, whether the relationship acts as a facilitator or barrier for each institution in achieving its goals. With this in mind, this presentation will introduce preliminary findings in innovative Australian-centred research and will propose a model to highlight the potential ways in which mobility offices may collaborate with faculties and student success staff to develop an integrated approach to actively engage and retain students through participation in study abroad experiences. Through exploring the transformative outcomes of study abroad programs, delegates will understand the similarities to the critical factors and determinants of student success.


Rebecca has spent eight years working in international higher education, particularly in global mobility. After several years with a focus on inbound study abroad and exchange programs, Rebecca now coordinates all outbound mobility programs at Griffith University. Rebecca completed a Bachelor of Business at QUT and is currently undertaking Honours research at Griffith University, examining the relationship between mobility and student retention at Australian universities.

Challenges and issues related to counselling referral in higher education – the professors’ perspectives

Mr Steven Ng Poh Yaip1, Miss Ada Chung Yee Lin2

1Singapore Management University, stevenng@smu.edu.sg , Singapore, Singapore, 2Singapore Management University, adachung@smu.edu.sg, Singapore, Singapore

This phenomenological study analyses the perspectives of professors towards issues related to counselling during their course of work.  It seeks to understand the challenges and difficulties faced by teaching faculty staff with university students in Singapore who might require counselling referral and help.  As an academic teaching staff, the Professor is an important stakeholder in the counselling referral process with the impact to affect the students’ learning and potential in a holistic manner.

12 thematic factors were derived from the results.  Implications arising from the findings, as well as future research possibilities and recommendations to improve the overall counselling process, and ways to ensure collaborative efforts amongst various university department groups were discussed to provide leaders, policy planners, administrators, educators and counselling practitioners with new insights and considerations for future implementation.


Steven Ng is a full-time counsellor with Singapore Management University and a member of its Diversity and Inclusion Committee Board.  He received his teacher training from National Institute of Education, Singapore and possess a Master In Counselling from Monash University.  He is a trained Crisis Responder with National Organisation for Victim Assistance (USA), certified Stress Management Consultant with Institute of Motivational Living (USA) and Job Career Development Coach with Career Planning and Adult Development Network (USA).  Having worked in social service and mental health sector for more than a decade, his working experience focused on education, special needs and counselling.

Challenges and enablers for study success for students over the age of 25 living in regional Victoria

Mr Jim Young1, Ms Shannon Kerrigan1

1Manager – Student Counselling, La Trobe University, Bendigo, VIC

Mature age students (MAS) make up approximately 41 % of the national student population but only 58% complete their degrees. Students over the age of 25 are three times more likely to drop out of their first year of university than school leavers. In addition, MAS studying part time, living in rural and remote Australia and who are indigenous are at higher risk of drop out from university. This study identifies both risk factors for early withdrawal and enablers for study success for students over the age of 25, living in regional Victoria.  Findings of the study revealed that university related risks for early drop out included poor adjustment to university culture and difficulty navigating university systems. Conversely, timely access to lecturers and provision of preparative resources prior to commencing university study enabled success. Personal factors most cited as barriers to success were balancing work and family demands with study commitments and negotiating finances. Loneliness and isolation were compounding factors. This data raises significant issues for retention of MAS in Australia. The findings of this study indicate a need for targeted arrangements to meet the special needs of MAS on Australian university campuses.

Participants will be provided with practical strategies that can increase the likelihood of study retention and success.


Jim currently works as the Regional Manager of Student Counselling at Latrobe University Victoria. Jim has worked in health, higher education and management including various Senior Clinical roles in both public and private organisations. Jim holds a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Melbourne and post graduate qualifications in Mental Health Sciences and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy from Flinders University. Jim has a special interest in lifestyle based approaches to managing mental illness.

Shannon currently works as the manager of Equity and Diversity at La Trobe University. Shannon has worked in the Disability and Inclusion space for many years. She has experience working on diversity and inclusion programs for women, the LGBTIQ community, people with a disability and those from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. She was responsible for establishing the ALLY program at La Trobe University and is currently working on the development of an LGBTI strategy at La Trobe University which will encompass staff, students, the community and research.

Building positive homestay experiences

Ms Jennifer Walsh1, Ms Jennifer Chow1, Mr Ian Teo1

1Trinity College, The University Of Melbourne, Carlton, VIC

The export of Australian education is currently valued at approximately $20 billion (AUD) and is our third-largest export after coal and iron ore. A significant gap in the provision and regulation of this export, however, exists with regards to homestay regulations and standards across the higher education, vocational education and training, schools, English language intensive courses and non-award courses sectors. Specifically, of the 382,106 students who started nationally across these sectors in January 2017, little is known about the number of individuals involved in homestay or the nature of their experiences.

To address this gap in the literature, this presentation will seek to outline several issues. It will begin by providing a description of homestay data within Victoria to showcase student trends and knowledge gaps. This will be followed by an overview of incoming legislation relating to homestay and 1) how the regulation of service providers remain unarticulated; 2) the problematic nature of third-parties engaging homestay providers to organise and assess student welfare and accommodation arrangements; 3) the attitudes and intentions of homestay providers; and 4) the legal responsibilities, especially in regard to the Victorian Child Safety Standards to support students and the need to train hosts on cross-cultural communication, food, and child safety.

Importantly, this presentation will provide new data on the nature of Victorian homestay students’ experiences as they transition into life in Australia and how these findings are entwined with the issues outlined above. Recommendations regarding a set of national standards to ensure the safety and security of homestay students will be proposed at the end of this presentation.


Jen Walsh has an extensive professional background in adult education, spanning numerous facets including international students, oversight of learning programs, project management and the promotion of public education.  Jen is currently the Housing and Accommodation Manager at Trinity College, University of Melbourne, working closely with external partners to ensure consistently high standards of student safety, security and wellbeing within a range of approved accommodation options.  Jen has worked in a leadership capacity within the Victorian arm of the Australian Education Union (AEU), an organisation which campaigns in the interests of public education and supports the personal, professional and industrial needs of its members. She has also managed programs at Victoria University, an institution recognised for its empowered student growth as well as for community engagement in research and knowledge exchange. Jen is currently Vice President ISANA International Education Association Inc. Victoria/Tasmania Branch.

Ian has been working within the Trinity College Foundation Studies since 2004. For much of this time he taught as a Psychology lecturer within this program while pursuing postgraduate qualifications in Higher Education. His PhD thesis, “Transitioning from a Chinese education to an Australia education – A study of FSP students”, emphasised the critical role that the social dimension has in shaping international students’ university experiences. Since 2016, Ian has transitioned into the role of Research Coordinator: Foundation Studies Program to further investigate issues relating to international education and provide research support for Trinity College staff.

Enabling student success in Victoria: Student projects funded by Study Melbourne

Ms Diana Crvenkovic1

1Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Melbourne, Australia

This presentation will provide detail on the wide variety of projects funded by Study Melbourne over the last two years to support and enhance the experience of international students living in the state.  Study Melbourne invests in projects delivered by student associations, international education associations, not for profits, companies, local governments and various partnerships.  These investments, primarily through the $4 million International Student Welfare Grants program, have supported international students living in the state to excel beyond the classroom in many areas.

These projects closely align with the conference theme of ‘Connectivity’ and ‘Enablers’ as they support successful connections between students and the wider community, ensure that students social, cultural and spiritual needs are being met and ensure conditions are in place for students to succeed in their own education journey.  The projects have:

  • built links between students and the wider community, for example through the Bendigo and Geelong based community engagement projects
  • created cultural understanding and cross cultural transition for example by supporting students to connect with their domestic counterparts through common areas of interest i.e. sports, arts and fashion
  • offered support to students navigating relationships and their sexuality, by supporting a number of different sexual health projects and mental health initiatives
  • created volunteering opportunities as a core requirement of many of the funded projects, and
  • worked successfully with student unions and student clubs/societies as key partners to the successful delivery of all projects

Another key area of focus has been supporting students facing workplace exploitation, with a concerted campaign implemented over the past two years including the establishment of the International Student Work Rights Legal Service which providing free and confidential legal advice including case work to all international students in Victoria.


Diana Crvenkovic is the Manager, Student Initiatives for Study Melbourne.  Diana is responsible for overseeing the delivery of student experience investments of the Victorian Government, including the Study Melbourne Student Centre, the International Student Welfare Program, LIVE, and other student experience-related initiatives.  She has worked in the Victorian Public Service for the last nine years, in roles supporting the Design, Biotechnology and now International Education sectors.  Diana holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Public Policy and Management and an Executive Masters of Public Administration from the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.

Next steps: Enhancing success for students with disabilities in graduate employment

Cathy Easte3, Alisha Larkin1, Natalie Searson2, Gabrielle O’Brien4, Jenny O’Neill5

1Consultant, MindBodyCreate alisha@mindbodycreate.org
2Job Development Officer, Mylestones Employment nsearson@cpl.org.au
3Coordinator, Disabilities Service, Griffith University c.easte@griffith.edu.au
4Manager, Student Diversity and Inclusion gm.obrien@griffith.edu.au
5Manager, Employment Liaison and Graduation Promotions j.oneill@griffith.edu.au

This presentation outlines a pilot project trialled in 2016/2017 to enhance the employment prospects for students with disabilities (SWD) graduating from university. The University Specialist Employment Partnership (USEP) has several aims: to connect students with employment opportunities through timely and appropriate support from an on-campus USEP consultant; promote strong linkages between partners, and foster cross-training and upskilling of university careers advisors and Disabilities Services Officers around the types of supports available within the employment environment. This unique project is a tripartite collaboration between the National Disability Coordination Program, Mylestones Employment and Griffith University. This presentation will allow participants to glean strategies which specifically target students with disabilities taking into account the intersection of disability support, career development and graduate employability.


The combined experience of the presenters represents many decades of expertise in fields such as equity, disability, disability employment, and career development. The involvement of the presenters in the University Employment Specialist Program has been crucial in managing this project. Gabrielle O’Brien has over 20 years of experience in Higher Education across various areas and is currently the Manager, Student Diversity and Inclusion at Griffith University and the President of EPHEA. Alisha Larkin is a disability advisor for the Government, a corporate consultant at mindbodycreate and previously worked with the National Disability Coordination Officer Program. Cathy Easte is the Coordinator, Disabilities Service at Griffith University and also has previous experience as a disability consultant at TAFE. Natalie Searson is a Job Development Officer with Mylestones Employment which focuses on recruitment and employment of people with disabilities. She is currently working as the University Specialist Recruitment Consultant at Griffith University. Jenny O’Neil is Branch Manager of UniTemps Griffith and Manager of Griffith University’s Employer Liaison and Graduate Program within Griffith’s Careers and Employment Service.

Enabling students in a multicultural institute

Mrs Nicole Henry1, Mrs Nippy Paea, Ms Helen Berdebes

1Manukau Institute Of Technology, Otara New Zealand

This workshop explores an insight of how the Institutes Student Support Team works together to ensure the well-being and emotional needs of their students are enhanced so the academic journey is stress free.  Manukau Institute of Technology is one of eighteen Polytechnics in New Zealand, located in Auckland New Zealand.  With approximately 16,000 enrolled students, the Student Support Team facilitates and triage’s students through to success with a number of variables within its Service Department.  Demographically, Manukau Institute of Technology is situated in South Auckland where the low socio-economic need is evident amidst the back drop of a diverse multicultural community.  Fitting as it maybe, the Student Support Team is made up of Counsellors, Doctors, Nurses, Chaplains, Pastoral Support Advisors, Disability Support as well as an Academic Learning Support Centre.  The Student Support Team are the first point of contact after enrolment, with an orientation programme that imbeds navigational assistance covering a range of pastoral support initiative’s  with effective and informative strategies that enable our students to transition into Tertiary education addressing those factors with solution based examples.  In this workshop, the presenters display an individual lenses insight into their delivery.


Nippy Paea (New Zealand Maori) is the Student Support Team Leader at MIT. She began her journey within the tertiary sector as an Enrolment Co-ordinator within the School of Communication Studies at MIT. She was then seconded to implement a mentoring programme specifically for indigenous students. Also collectively with our Pasifika students within the School. Nippy then moved into a newly established Student Support Team Co-ordinating a Maori and Pasifika Student Support. Also teaching casually on the Diploma in Maori Media. She has sat on many boards of trustees within the community around Maori Education. One of Nippy’s highlights has been developing Mataatua Marae into a community based hub for health education in a culturally appropriate way for Maori people in Mangere, Auckland, New Zealand. Nippy’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Communication Studies, a Postgraduate Certificate in Cross Cultural Supervision and a Certificate in Tertiary Teaching. She is also commencing a Master’s Programme in Indigenous Studies.

Nicole Henry is a Student Advisor in the MIT Student Support team, providing Pastoral support and advice to all students.
Additionally, she is currently working on a pre-emptive project for MIT . The aim of the project is to improve outcomes for Maori, Pasifika and Under 25 cohorts.
Nicole holds a Bachelor of Applied Communication Degree and has been at MIT for 3 years.

Helen Berdebes is a Student Advisor for MIT Student Support – Disability Support team.
Holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree majoring in Microbiology.
Has been at MIT for 3 years and previously worked at MIT as an in class and exam support worker. Has a background in Customer Service prior to entering the Disability Support area.



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 anzssa.com.


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 www.isana.org.au.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.