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CAPA Newsletter

Edition One, April 2016
President's Welcome

Hi, I'm Jim, the 2016 National President of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations. CAPA is the peak body representing the 400,000+ postgrads in Australia through campaigns, lobbying, policy work and engagement with other partner organisations and affiliates.

I'm really proud to introduce the first edition of CAPA's newsletter, a new communications channel that will allow us to keep our affiliates and other postgrad students around the country updated on our activities and campaigns throughout the year.

Over the next few months we will be busy running our federal election campaign, informing voters of the impacts of the parties' policies and ensuring that higher education remains an important issue in the lead up to the poll. Stay tuned for further updates in the coming weeks.

As always, if you have any suggestions or other feedback on how CAPA can best serve our affiliates and Australia's  postgraduate students please contact me.

Universities Australia Conference Report
The peak body representing the university sector, Universities Australia (UA), holds its annual higher education conference each March. UA describes it as the signature event for the sector, attracting over 800 delegates. This year, representatives from CAPA and several postgraduate student unions attended along with, in no particular order, Vice-Chancellors, Chancellors, journalists, politicians, Professors, Associate Professors, plain old lecturers and other interested parties.

The topics covered by the conference are diverse, as are the backgrounds of the presenters. There were at least three Companions of the Order of Australia (AC) recipients, two Nobel Prize laureates, and a former Australian of the Year, and that’s before you get to the myriad of PVCs, DVCs, Provosts, Deans and Associate Deans. Board Directors and CEOs also turned up en masse to contribute their views about universities.

Largely absent from the program were students, and the conference was the poorer for it. 

Students are by far the largest group in the university community, numbering over 1.3 million individuals, and yet our interests were barely represented at the conference. Even when discussing issues that directly affect students, the interests of others took precedence. At the session ‘New Industries/New Jobs’, Kate Carnell, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the audience that industry wants students with relevant skills. She was joined by another presenter using the shift to the digital delivery of music as a metaphor for the changing workplace. Employability and post-study options are very big concerns for students. It would have been useful to hear ways in which employers are working with students to assist them in their transition to the workplace.

The session entitled 'PhDs of the Future' had some very interesting information about PhDs, particularly around completion rates. Despite the session title, there was little discussion on the future of the PhD. The imminent release of a review into Australia’s research training system, known as the ACOLA Review, seems to be where the future of Australia’s PhD will be decided.

The liveliest discussion I attended at the conference was on quality assurance. The session focused on the extraordinary rorts in the vocational education and training sector, which serve as a warning to universities of the enormous damage that deregulation could cause. The implementation of market reforms to universities is an issue for all students as it threatens the quality of the teaching that we receive. 

The only session directly focused on students was 'Student Expectations (campus and the surrounds)'. It consisted mainly of university administrators showing pictures of their campuses. We heard about the opening of department stores in regional cities. After the session on student expectations, this student had his expectations lowered.

There was just one session where a student did speak, as part of a panel on the ‘Respect. Now. Always.’ campaign. This commendable initiative aims to prevent sexual assault and harassment so that students and staff are safe on campuses. The campaign coincides with the release of the US film ‘The Hunting Ground’, which is being screened at campuses around Australia.

The UA conference is worthwhile if only to see the relative position of different stakeholders. It reinforces the need for organisations like CAPA and student unions to continue their strong advocacy and policy work. This is an important time for issues that affect students. The imminent release of the ACOLA Review may reshape the delivery and funding of PhDs, and the government has hinted that it is looking to reintroduce deregulation and increase fees for students.

Students need organisations to advocate and campaign on their behalf. We are by far the largest group in the university community and probably the most under-represented. CAPA will continue to campaign on student issues, because if the Universities Australia conference is any indication, no one else is going to do it.
- Peter Hurley, General Secretary of CAPA

Above: General Secretary Peter Hurley and Media Officer Natasha Abrahams with Monash University Vice-Chancellor Margaret Gardner at the Universities Australia conference

Equity Committee Update
Welcome to the first Equity Committee update for 2016!

This year the committee has started by drawing together key issues within each portfolio, and determining a cross-cutting theme within the equity space that we will all be working on: that of mental wellbeing. In particular, awareness raising of the importance of mental wellbeing, and ensuring adequate resourcing at Universities. 

Given the wide scope of issues the Equity Committee addresses, below are snapshots of the key areas the Officers will be focusing on this year. 

Please get in contact should you have any inquiries or want to be involved!

- Alyssa Shaw, Vice President (Equity)

Disabilities Officers – Md Aminul Haque & Katy Brownless
Aminul and Katy are collaboratively focused on improving access to postgraduate education for people with disabilities. This year, through strategic campaigns to ensure mobility and supportive provisions are implemented at all campuses, the Disabilities Portfolio provides advocacy for students with special needs within the arenas of academic success and targeted employment opportunities.

To connect with Aminul and Katy about this and other issues, please contact:

NATSIPA Liaison Officer – Sharlene Leroy-Dyer
Sharlene is a long time and respected advocate for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples and is appointed to CAPA by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA).  Sharlene is involved with a range of advocacy efforts, and can be contacted through:

International Officer – Roberto Fragoso
Roberto is focusing on the employability of international postgraduate students in Australia. If you have an interest in this, and other international student issues, please contact Roberto:

Queer Officer – Vibol Hy 
Vibol is focusing on Queer Representation at Postgraduate Student Associations and would like to hear from Student Associations as to how Queer students are represented on your campus. Vibol is also co-ordinating efforts on the National Marriage Equality campaign. To contact Vibol on this and other issues please email:

Above: National President Jim Smith and Queer Officer Vibol Hy with Senator Penny Wong at a panel about rainbow families.

Women’s Officer – Jo Ruksenas 

Jo is interested in a range of issues affecting women, such as maternity leave and child care for postgraduate students.Jo is also part of the organising committee for the upcoming Network Of Women Students Australia (NOWSA) Conference, to be held in UTS, Sydney from the 11 – 16 July. Tickets are now available on the NOWSA website. The NOWSA Committee is also accepting Expressions of Interest to run Workshops at the Conference. These are due May 10; see the NOWSA website for more details.

You can get in touch with Jo through:

Important dates:

World Health Day – 7 April

National Reconciliation Week – 27 May – 3 June 
South East Branch Update
I am Dylan Styles, this year's South East Branch President. The South East Branch comprises postgraduate associations in Victoria and Tasmania. In my time as South East Branch President, I aim to push crucial issues for the South East Branch; these include public transport concession cards, better postgraduate representation on campuses and developing further engagement with CAPA.

Over the Orientation period, I have been building members on the CAPA South East Branch Facebook group. I also went out to visit Swinburne at Orientation to discuss forward planning, campus support and engagement.I have also been developing closer relationships with universities by attending Melbourne University's Graduate Student Association event and RMIT’s Postgraduate Association speed friending event. 

In my time in this role so far  I have been in attendance at; Midsumma Pride March, Cuts to Medicare Rally, International Women’s Day Rally and am planning to attend National Day of Action.

To keep updated on the campaign for transport concession cards for all postgraduates in Victoria, please like the campaign's Facebook page, follow the Twitter, and visit the webpage. You can also sign the petition here.

Above: South East Branch President Dylan Styles with GSA president Sina Khatami launching the Fares Fair campaign.

Please feel free to contact me in regards to issues relating to the South East Branch, wanting further CAPA support or needing assistance in developing your Association and structures.
Staying in touch with CAPA
Keep updated on our latest news and activities at CAPA by liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter.
National Tertiary Education Union Free Postgraduate Membership

We encourage postgraduate students to join the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) as postgraduate members. The NTEU represents the university sector. They now have a free membership category for postgraduate students who do not have paid employment in the university sector. Find out more and join on the NTEU website.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association Update

President's Welcome

Welcome to NATSIPA! I am the 2016 NATSIPA President, Sadie Heckenberg. We at NATSIPA are very excited to be part of the CAPA newsletter. 

NATSIPA Executive is made of highly skilled Indigenous Postgrad students. We are Masters and PhD students, as well as experienced Indigenous academics and specialists. NATSIPA’s past membership includes some of the greatest authorities in Indigenous education and policy and we strive to continue this legacy. 

NATSIPA is also very excited to announce our inaugural Indigenous Postgraduate Conference 14-15th July 2016 hosted by GUPSA at Griffith University, Brisbane. We encourage all Indigenous Postgrads to come along to learn and share in a culturally safe environment. 

Please feel free to email me or come and visit me at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.


The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) is a national network of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander postgraduate students, non-Indigenous student supporters and Indigenous Elders/Alumni. Our goal is to ensure that Indigenous Australians can access postgraduate education in a fair and equitable manner. This is achieved by valuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders diverse cultures and histories, supporting their control over their own and their family’s education.

NATSIPA works towards better support, greater funding, and improved opportunities for Indigenous Australians in higher education. We strive to create a comprehensive program to increase public awareness and commitment to partnerships that restore and retain Indigenous spirituality, cultures and languages, social systems, economic systems and self-determination.

NATSIPA’s activities include:

• Providing a national Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander student voice to Federal and State Governments.

• Providing opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander postgraduate students to link-up, support each other, and share ideas.

• Advising universities on how to best support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students.

• Disseminating information to NIPAAC members, such as scholarship offers, upcoming events and relevant news.

• Assisting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students if they are experiencing problems at university

• Advise CAPA on all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols and issues.


The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association  membership is free and all who qualify are welcome to join our organisation. NATSIPA has four categories of membership: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Student Membership; Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders Elder Membership; Alumni Membership; and Friends of NATSIPA (non-Indigenous persons) Membership. 

For more information or to become a NATSIPA member please visit our website or email the NATSIPA President.

How to share this newsletter
If you wish to share this newsletter with your postgraduates or on your student association social media channels, please use the following link:
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