Woolyungah’s approach to student care and wellbeing hit the same hurdle we all did in 2020 — COVID-19. Understanding that each student would be affected in a different way was key to deciding what steps to take in making sure everyone was managing their way through this time as best they could.
Earlier in the year, students may have received a call from our staff, with 2400 calls going out and successfully reaching 96% of the student cohort during our cold calls campaign. From having a chat with everyone we found out about the range of different issues students were having, be it a lack of equipment to attend classes online, financial difficulties, having to relocate back home, or even just needing a bit of support from knowing that someone has their back.
“We had a lot of students saying it was great to hear from us, and if they needed something they knew who they could actually call. Of course, you can call us or UOW, it’s all there on the website, but the personalized connection of someone reaching out, someone that you know, makes a difference,” WIC’s student success specialist Adam Ridgeway said.
In response, WIC’s provided students with over $4000 in food and financial support vouchers, modems to get online at home, webcams to attend classes via Zoom, laptop hire to complete uni work, ITAP tutoring, and awareness of available support such as the UOW COVID-19 Financial Assistance Grant Scheme. Another care initiative undertaken by the centre was the sending of over 300 care packs containing hand sanitiser, masks, a note from WIC, and accessories like power banks, USBs, and phone ‘poppers’.
“I’m so happy to have such a strong Indigenous support system at uni. Remote learning has been a personal struggle of mine, from creating a study space to finding the motivation. WIC has been an amazing help, checking in on student wellbeing, offering any services they need, organising activities to keep the mob healthy & involved with the community, and now these little gift packs for us. I am truly grateful,” Meissa Mason wrote on her Instagram.
Throughout the year WIC’s also been host to other student activities such as craft afternoons with Caitlin, fire and feed sessions, walks with Indi, multiple movie nights, and two online trivia nights.
Support also came from a new partnership between WIC and Dr Christine Gillies, a local psychologist who specialises in Indigenous psychology. The joint program was adapted to run online with students requiring both support with pre-existing mental health conditions and conditions that only presented themselves for the first time in this current situation.
WIC looks forward to continuing to support our students throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond.