It’s Oh so Quiet…..

I get in fairly early but I usually run into a few fellow staff and a fair few students – those 8am classes seem a little cruel to me, but walking on campus this morning I didn’t see a single person. I wondered for a moment if it was the weekend already and I had misplaced the second half of the week? It seems though that it is Thursday because my colleagues are now here and it’s just the end of exam period and beginning of semester break. I wanted to take the time to not only remind you all that the Skype Drop-In times are only during semester so if you want to catch up with the online counsellor you can either send an e-mail or call the counselling service to book a time during the break. I also wanted to wish you all a happy and safe holiday!

See (although for me it’s really ‘type’) you next semester

Take a break…..

Congratulations to those who have finished semester 1, 2015. For all you others have this final week of exams and/or supplementary exams to come in July, you are almost there. It’s time to kick back, celebrate and then take a break before semester 2 starts late July. Some of you may be lucky enough to be flying overseas for a holiday soon, others may be returning home or traveling around different parts of Australia. For those of you who are looking to do something but you have no idea what why not have a look at Trip Advisers options for traveling in Australia for some inspiration.

If you are like a lot of students and money is more of a desire rather than something sitting in your bank account why not check out what Newcastle has to offer on a cheaper budget.  Trip Adviser has made a list of the top 50 things to do when in Newcastle. A lot of these activities are free like the Memorial Walk, Blackbutt Reserve (Although if you are taking the car you will need to pay for parking), and the Newcastle Museum. Whilst the museum offers a lot of kids activities during the school holidays they finish the holiday period a week earlier than you guys do so you might want to save this one for the last week. The museum has a range of exhibitions and at the moment they have a few areas celebrating 50 years of UON. I checked it out last week and was able to find three past alumni and staff members I recognised.

For those who have a little bit of money and want something fun, or funny to do you could go for a round or two of Supa Putt Golf. I went last week and it was a laugh not only seeing if I could beat my husband now but also listening to the 90’s music and checking out the old style games machines. If you have a family this activity might suit you, although be warned that six year olds have an amazing ability to get hole in 1’s! From the Putt Putt course you can see the refurbished Go Karts track next door – a little bit of fun for those young at heart.

If outdoors are more your style then head over for some canoeing at Hunter Wetlands, a bush walk at Blackbutt Reserve, or a bike ride along Fernleigh Track. Or if you own a wetsuit and a surfboard you might like to check out the waves a little more frequently than you have over the past few weeks. Or if indoor adventure is more your style try the Rock Climbing Wall at Pulse Climbing in Admastown.

Regardless of what you like doing just make sure you do plenty of it over the holidays. This is your time to rest, have fun and recharge in time for semester 2.


Mens Health Week

In addition to this week being refugee week it is also Mens Health Week. This year the theme is ‘MOMENTS IN TIME’ recognising that every individual, family and community can find health-giving opportunities despite the many and varied challenges, barriers and obstacles to better health that life puts in the way.

Each year nearly 2000 men die by suicide in Australia. Whilst women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, men are less likely to talk about it and seek help. It can be difficult to ask for help or to find the time to make changes in your life to prioritise your health and wellbeing, by making small changes in your everyday life. You might make some time in your week to go for a run, surf or enjoy an activity you love but don’t often get to do. Or you might order grilled fish rather than battered next time you go out for a meal. People often think big when making changes and then they can’t find the time or resources to make them happen and give up. Making small choices slowly will help you reach the bigger goal of a healthier life one step at a time.

Another way to help you make some important healthy choices for yourself is to find local events where members of the community come together to more on a goal. This week, being Men’s Health Week there are a number of events happening across Australia to help promote health and connect with men, boys and their families in ways that makes it fun, engaging and positive for everyone.

This weekend if you are in Newcastle you could join the weekly Lakeview Park run. Held at Greenpoint Reserve the run is open to anyone, it’s free, 5km and is easy to take part in. If you want more information about this run or other events available across Australia then check out the details on the Mens Health Week Site.


With courage let us all combine

Written by Lauren Miles, Equity and Diversity Coordinator

The theme of Refugee Week 2015 is ‘With Courage Let us all Combine’. It is a good time to celebrate the contributions that refugees and asylum seekers make to our community locally and also to our society on a wider level.

Before joining the University this year I was working in refugee settlement and had the privilege of working with a great team of people, the majority of whom were from a refugee background. I can’t even begin to place value on the incredible knowledge that I gained from spending time with my colleagues and gaining insight into the refugee experience.

The challenges that people faced before getting to Australia often don’t end on arrival, but neither do individual’s resilience. It’s challenging to establish a new life here without all of your family and friends and the relationships formed at places like university are really valuable.

If you feel like you are accepted by those around you and that there is an exchange of knowledge taking place you can establish a sense of belonging. Having the opportunity to contribute to your society and the space you live in is essential to wellbeing. Feeling like you belong in the country you are seeking asylum and protection in is so important to someone’s recovery and success in their life. Insider knowledge such as understanding the driving license system or which Gum Tree ad is a scam can be really valuable to someone who wasn’t born locally. Sharing that knowledge can make a huge difference in the life of someone who is relatively new to the country. Sometimes it does take courage to talk to someone new or to do something different but it can make a real difference in someone’s day and experience in the community.

If you want to become more involved in supporting your local refugee community you could join one of the great student groups on campus like the UON Amnesty International group or get in touch with a support organisation like Northern Settlement Services.


Missing the comforts of home?

Coming to university to study results in a number of changes regardless of what stage of your life you are in, or where you are coming from. Adapting to the university community, learning the new rules that govern learning, or making new friendships are all challenges a new student faces. For some students they are still living at home but for others they are living away from the family home for the first time. Regardless of how far the distance is between the family home and where they are living now the unfamiliar people and places and being out of their regular routine can result in increased stress and anxiety and feeling disconnected or homesick from friends and family at home. They can experience loneliness or experience a loss of control in their daily activities, and I’m not just talking about the struggle with independence and chores like the washing up, cooking or laundry.

For some they are unaware that the stress and anxiety they are feeling is related to being away from home. For others they are aware of it and their yearning for home consumes their thoughts and they find it increasingly difficult to adjust to the new environment. Some are staying in constant contact with those back at home through social networks, phone calls or Skype and avoiding making the time to get to know the people around them. Some are comparing their current set of circumstances to how things would have been different at home, instead of figuring out how to navigate in the new environment.

There are so many strategies to try to help someone who misses home and is struggle to fit into and accept their new home. I came across this website for students considering traveling overseas and was struck by how many of the 26 tips they offer actually apply for those who move interstate, or an hour away from home or even those who move to the next suburb.  Of the 26 tips I have narrowed it down to a few that I think you might find helpful:

1. Don’t focus so hard on staying in touch with family and friends from home that you exclude the possibility of making new connections where you are now.

2. Create a new routine for your new home away from home. This will help you feel more in control and yearn less for the routine and comfort you got from being home.

3. Try and exercise regularly, eat healthy regular meals, and get a good nights sleep.

4. Keep up your old habits, if you played a sport or were part of a club or organisation at home then join a new team here

5. Seek help and support from others and don’t feel guilty about missing home, or making your new home a home you love as well.

I think the last point is the most important tip. It’s alright to admit you are struggling and ask for some help. It’s also ok if in moving away from home you are not struggling and are finding it exciting. There is no right or wrong when it comes to moving away from home.


In spirit of Stress Less Week here at UON I went looking for some online relaxation files for students to use to take a few minutes out of assessments and exam preparation. There are hundreds of these all over the internet. If you type in Relaxation audio into search engines, you tube or iTunes search engines you will get a wide selection. You can also access some via the relaxation tip sheet on the counselling website at UON. There are also a few sites with multiple links on them, one of these is the University of Western Sydney’s counselling service. UWS have recorded a variety of different audio scripts for students to use for relaxation. There are short and long files, some using imagery, others using mindfulness and others using progressive muscle relaxation. They are available for free download on the UWS website.

What’s good about it: There are over 10 different scripts available of different durations so there is bound to be something that suits you.

What’s not so good about it: The recordings are all in the one female voice, so if you don’t like the voice then the site isn’t for you.

Stress Less Week

For those of you on Callaghan campus this week you will probably come across various activities and events set up this week to encourage you to stress less. There are Yoga, relaxation and meditation sessions, a petting zoo, obstacle courses, arts ad crafts and inflatable slides to name a few of the activities. You can find out more information from visiting the UON current students page. If you can’t make it to these events or want a few more general tips you might like to consider these quick 10 tips that a colleague of mine put together to get you through the next four weeks of assignments and exams.

  1. Check your stress level & note the causes
  2. Take charge of things you can control & begin now
  3. Develop a flexible schedule for the next month
  4. Keep active & work if off e.g. take a brisk walk
  5. Use positive self talk e.g. “I can do this one step at a time”
  6. Relaxing helps focus the mind. Take slow breaths & think “calm” Hurry slowly.
  7. Be kind to yourself with healthy food & sleep.
  8. Take time out for rest & fun.
  9. Stay connected to friends & family & let them know your plan of attack.
  10. Ask for help

You might like to check out the UCS website for relaxation tips & meditation downloads. Also remember that the online counsellor is available on Skype this week for drop-in chats via messenger.





The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to
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