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Jess McNamara

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I need help and I don’t know where to start

Support within the University
The best place to start is to tell someone in the University that you need help, and what you need help for. They then should be able to make the most appropriate referral. As your student advocate, I can be the hub in the wheel – the central point for referrals, providing you referral to the person in the University most appropriate to your situation. Sometimes, you may need to talk to two or more services. With your permission, I can fill them in on some details to avoid you having to re-tell your story.

Student support services include:
• Department based student support for advice about your subjects and course
• Support coordination for help with academic progress and study plans
• Academic skill support for improving writing and referencing skills
• Equity & Diversity (recently re named AccessAbility) Advisors for discussing and planning reasonable adjustments to study regarding mental ill health, health conditions, caring responsibilities, neurodiversity or disabilities
• Short term counselling
• Indigenous Academic Advisors for working with First Nations students
• Students Complaints Office
• University Ombudsman
• Student advocacy (that’s me!) for representation at formal or informal Hearings and meetings (academic misconduct, general misconduct), help with University-related problems such as Appeals, applications for Remission of Debt, enacting policies such as the Conceded Pass Policy, and referrals

Sometimes it is better to access one of these services before others for the most timely and useful outcomes. You are always welcome to email me and ask a question:

Support in your community
The University has lots of different, free support for students. But sometimes, it isn’t what we need. Here’s a breakdown of free or low cost support services and how to find them in your local community.

What COVID-19 restrictions apply to me?
• Victorian government
• Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria)
• COVID-19 testing sites (you can now have testing done at home in some circumstances – call the hotline on this page to find out more)

I’m overwhelmed/scared/sad/anxious/angry and I need to speak to someone right now
• Lifeline tel. 13 11 14 or see
• Parentline tel. 13 22 89
• Suicide call back hotline tel. 1300 659 467 or see

I need longer term psychology/counselling support
• Psychology Association
• Find a GP
• Bendigo Community Health Centre

I need help with Centrelink
• Financial counselling
• Centrelink social worker (call the usual Centrelink number and then ask for the social worker)

Centrelink crashes – I can’t apply online and I’m on hold if I call
• Services Australia – you can find forms and submit an application via Services Australia WITHOUT logging in using a mygov account
• Financial Counselling – a financial counsellor can advocate on your behalf with Centrelink (not just for debts) and

I am struggling to pay bills, get my car fixed or buy groceries
• Financial counselling
• Your utility company – financial relief, payment options (call the number on your bill and ask to discuss your situation)

I need food for my family and myself
• Bendigo Food Share (click then scroll down and click again on your local area to find organisations distributing food)
• Food Bank Victoria

I need legal advice about e.g. my rental agreement, charges against me, Court proceedings, or with Victim of Crime compensation applications
• Loddon Campaspe Legal Community Centre
• Victorian Legal Aid
• Find a lawyer
• Specialist Community Legal Services

I’m lonely
• Join a social Zoom catch up for your course/subject – other students want company, too
• Community events - type “events near me” in your browser
• Student union/association events
• Australian events or check Facebook for ads e.g. art gallery tours, comedy nights
• Live music

I don’t feel safe
• No to Violence – support for men
• Men’s Referral Service – for men who use violence
• WIRE – support for women, non binary and gender diverse people
• Safe Steps – 24/7 family violence response service
• 1800 RESPECT – confidential information, counselling and support service for people who are experiencing violence in their family or intimate relationship
• The Orange Door – for families experiencing violence or who need extra help caring for children
• Centrelink Social Worker – call Centrelink (any number) and ask for the social worker

What do I do if get sick or need a dentist?
• Check or telephone a local clinic or pharmacy – they will let you know about GPS taking new patients or GPs available by telehealth appointments; they should also be able to tell you about dentists in your area

If you would like to share your experience of using one of these resources, please email Michelle