Census date is here

So as most of you would be aware, census date is approaching fast. Census date is the last day that you can withdraw from or drop a course without financial penalty (i.e., still having to pay the fees).

In Semester 2 2017, the census date is 31 Aug 2017 at 11.59pm, that is Thursday – tomorrow! If you drop a course after this date, you will still be required to pay for it, unless you have grounds to apply for remission of fees. The last day to drop a course without academic penalty (i.e., a fail grade), is the 3rd of November.

If you are considering dropping a course, but having trouble deciding for sure, one simple strategy to help you to decide is to write down the pros and cons of dropping the subject. Usually, if we are struggling to make a decision we tend to go back and forth about the pros and cons in our mind anyway, however because there is so much information to juggle we can just end up feeling confused. Writing it down can stop going over and over it in your mind, help you to figure out where you may need more information, and help you come to a decision. You could use this template as a guide.



Pros of dropping XXXX1001 course Cons of dropping XXXX1001
I have more of a chance to pass my other 3 courses Will extend my degree by 6 months
Reduce stress levels May impact on program next semester *need to check this with program advisor
Able to continue working 3 days per week May impact on visa *need to check this with student advice
May get better grades in my other subjects


It would also be important to consider the impact that dropping a course might have on Centrelink support, meeting visa requirements, or meeting prerequisites for courses you want to take next semester. The Student Advice team can help you with any visa questions, and your Program Advisor can provide advice about how to minimise disruption to your degree.


For those who do not need to drop a course, census date could be a good reminder to ‘take stock’ of where you are at.

  • How are you coping with the workload?
  • How stressed are you feeling?
  • How is your sleep and energy levels?
  • Is perfectionism or procrastination or anxiety or something else getting on top of you?

If things are going well for you – great! Perhaps take a note of what you think is making it work well – and keep doing it.


However if things are not going so well, then now is the time to make a change. Really stop and consider what are the factors that are contributing to your difficulties at the moment?

  • Do you have too much on your plate? Is there something you can say no to for a few weeks to help you get on top of things? Do you need to consider dropping one course?
  • Do you need some more support to manage anxiety or low mood? You could book in with a counsellor, chat to someone on skype drop in, complete an online treatment program such as This Way Up or eCliPSE, or talk to a close friend for support.
  • Do you need to make some more time for activities that rejuvenate you? E.g., being in nature, exercise, or something creative?

Equal rights…to vote

On September 12 this year Australians will be asked to vote on amending the Australian Marriage Law to enable same-sex marriage. For those of you who have missed all the social media on this important event, one of the most important things that hopefully you won’t have missed is that the vote is taking place old-school. Yep. By snail mail. What that means is that if you are wanting to vote you need to make sure that your enrolment details are correct by THIS FRIDAY 24th August. It’s estimated that over a quarter of a million Australians between the age of 18 and 24 years are currently missing from the electoral roll. That is a huge number who will miss the chance to have their say. According to TripleJ’s Hack some of those ineligible to vote may be due to traveling or living overseas, as well as people who have recently moved or are not really staying in one place.

Needless to say, from my contact with students who are currently enrolled, you may fall into that second category, perhaps having only moved recently and not worrying so much about whether your electoral details are up to date. You may be spending some time thinking about whether you agree with the proposed changes, or whether the vote will even count, but all that debating is worth very little if you don’t even get the chance to vote. I am not going to get into whether you should or should not vote, but the fact remains that it is your right to be able to vote so if you are thinking you want to have a say or are not yet sure, then make sure you check your details or enrol to vote today.

If you are finding yourself upset or in need of support at this time, then you may want to speak to someone about how to manage what is going on. Our Student Support Advisors are always a great place to start if you want a confidential chat with someone at Uni and you might also find the tips provided by ACON helpful.

Weighing in on the issue..

We all know that Netflix is not afraid to push boundaries and air controversy. It seems their new film To the Bone is picking up where 13 Reasons Why left off by bringing an important issue to light but perhaps not doing it in an appropriate and respectful way.

According to the CEO of The Butterfly Foundation the movie may promote “copycat behaviour” and that the graphic nature of images in the movie were potential triggers for those with an eating disorder. Additionally the stigma of the disorder means that many who are impacted by this mental illness do not seek support or treatment. While some argue that films such as this break down that stigma, it is crucial that we are responsible and respectful to those who have lived experience of this condition. This movie is accessible easily to a wide range of audiences and was released just in time for uni holidays! This has meant that the movie has slipped into peoples’ lives without the opportunity for many of us working within mental health to be aware of it or respond with appropriate support details.

So let’s rectify that in today’s blog post. Hack published a great piece a couple of weeks ago in regards to supporting loved ones with an eating disorder. I have included some of these strategies below, along with some others that may be of assistance if you are looking for more information.

  • If you already know that your friend or family member has an eating disorder then do some research yourself and understand the actual facts rather than the myths of eating disorders.
  • Choose the right time to talk. This is true of talking to anyone about a mental health illness. Make it as private and safe as possible, use normal cues to frame the conversation.
  • And when you talk to them be prepared to listen and not give advice. See what they know about support options by asking them and provide these to them if they are open to this information.
  • Be truthful. That doesn’t mean being hurtful but don’t glamorise the impact that the disorder is having on the person’s physical appearance.
  • If the person is defensive about talking or in denial then be respectful. Don’t give up and think that you can’t try again at a different time or that even trying might be enough to bring the person back to the topic when they are ready.
  • That being said you might not be the right person to have the conversation with them and so letting them know that they can talk to their GP about it or if they are a student at UON they could see a Student Support Advisor–Health and Welfare to talk about their options for support.
  • People with eating disorders often feel isolated and alone so stay connected with them and encourage them to be involved in your activities and invitations. Support is sometimes not talking about something, so don’t feel you cannot stay friends with someone if they are not ready to talk to you about their mental health.

Of course there is more information and tips available on The Butterfly Foundation tip sheet if you want to know more. Or you can contact The Butterfly Foundation Support Line on 1800334673.

Finally, I would like to leave you with this video from The Butterfly Foundation about the importance of positive body talk for everyone!



A National Report on Sexual Assault and Harassment in Australian Universities – How to look after yourself

Today, the Australian Human Rights Commission has released the findings of a national survey commissioned by Universities Australia to provide a greater understanding of the scale of sexual assault and harassment experienced by university students and to inform strategies for prevention and support for survivors.

All 39 Australian universities, including the University of Newcastle (UON), participated in the project, which involved a survey of a representative sample of students’ experiences and an open call for submissions.

The release of the findings, or the associated media coverage, may cause challenges for some survivors of sexual assault. Media portrayals or discussions within the university about sexual violence may evoke reactions such as intrusive memories, anxiety, feelings of sadness or irritability.

If this is the case for you, there are a number of options available to you. As a student at UON you can talk to Counsellor or UON Campus Care, who are able to provide you with advice, connect you with specialised support and help you through the reporting process if you choose.

For some people, the discussions about the findings of the survey may lead them to reflect on past experiences of sexual assault or harassment and decide to come forward to make a report.

The UON website provides further resources and advice on how to make a report to the university or police, where you can go to get help, information about sexual assault and how to support someone who discloses sexual based assault or harassment.

Below are some tips on how to look after yourself if you are feeling distressed:

  • Let people close to you know what is going on for you. This will allow them to be better able to support you.
  • You may like to minimise contact with media sources for a short time. In particular, try to avoid reading the comments sections of online news stories or social media, as these can be a forum for extreme reactions both for and against allegations of sexual assault.
  • Find comfort in talking to someone you trust about your feelings or reaction. You could talk to a counsellor or psychologist, campus care, someone close to you, or a specialist helpline such as NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017).
  • Make space for the feelings that come up, whatever they may be. Be aware of any ‘shoulds’ about your feelings, for example, “I should be over this already”, “I shouldn’t be upset about this”. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel, and no set timeframe for recovery from a trauma. Be gentle with yourself.
  • You may like to express yourself by writing about your feelings in a journal, artwork, listening to music, singing or any other creative outlet you enjoy.

This information is also relevant for people who are supporting someone who experienced a sexual-based assault (e.g. partner, friend, family member, etc).

UON Counselling, Online Counselling, Campus Care and the NSW Rape Crisis Line are available to provide support.

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 RPS@newcastle.edu.au.
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