We have got to that point in the year where we have our student load firmed up and we are all into the substantive work for the year. It has been a very busy time for all of us and I would like to thank you all for your efforts and getting the year off to such a great start.
One of our key actions resulting from the Voice survey has been to improve communication about important developments to help keep everyone across what is happening in the faculty. I would like to thank Troy Whitford, our Sub Dean Learning and Teaching, who has been instrumental in refreshing the faculty Newsletter and blog and improving communication within the faculty. I have been pleased to note the large number of teaching and learning news stories that have been posted. a feature of these posts has been interviews with individual staff about important aspects of their work and to provide a personal perspective on features of their work such as Kristy Campion’s engagement with EEL522, or Russell Roberts’ approach to EDRS. We will continue to do this over the course of the year, and I’d like to think those staff who will be asked to make contributions for sharing their experiences with their colleagues.
I would like to thank everybody for working to complete their work plans in the EDRS system over the past couple of months. Work planning is integral to mapping out individual work priorities, goals, and professional development needs for the year. And it is also, a great opportunity for one-to-one conversations with your line manager. If you have yet to finalise your work plans, please arrange to do that with your line manager at your earliest convenience.
The well-being of students and staff is paramount at Charles Sturt University. With thanks to Dr Stacey Jenkins Executive Director, Division of Safety, Security and Wellbeing the BJBS blog will, in the coming weeks, be posting some greater detail on working with students who may be struggling with life issues. It is likely you may experience students or work colleagues reaching out to us for support. They may be in heightened emotional states or unexpectedly sharing personal problems, sounding off in anger or frustration, upset or distressed, tense or anxious or just desperate for a listening ear.
In response to such an event I advise you to:
- Stay calm and be respectful
- Give the person your full attention; listen with empathy, compassion and non-judgement (or “be empathetic, compassionate and non-judgemental whilst listening”)
- Let the person take their time, and disclose the information they choose, using their own words
- Acknowledge their bravery and strength for speaking on a difficult matter e.g. “I can see this has been hard for you. Thank you for trusting me with this information”
- Ask open ended questions such as “Do you currently feel safe?” “What would you like me to do?”
- Assure them they have options regarding support and next steps and their choices will be respected – this is important in re-establishing their sense of agency
- Do not make promises regarding follow up and outcomes
- Please be clear regarding mandatory confidentiality (and limits thereof) mandatory reporting and duty of care obligations (for refresher training go to ELMO – Child Safety and Awareness and Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Assault and Abuse)
- Make sure to provide information regarding the support options available or assist them in contacting/ making a referral for support. For example:
- For students we have a range of services (at this webpage is a directory of all our services, including counselling)
- For staff we have an employee assistance program provider who also offers a range of support services (including manager assist, and specialist support e.g. First Nations, LGBITQA+, Domestic Violence and more)
- For external support: visit the NSW Health mental health services and support contact list
We are also on the cusp of a major public holiday, and I would like to encourage everybody to take some time away from their work. I would also encourage people to book some additional leave if that is appropriate. It is important to have that time away from work to rest and recuperate but also to spend time with friends and family and enjoy those pursuits that give us enjoyment outside of work. If you are travelling, please be careful on the roads.
Best wishes, Lewis