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Meet your Student Liaison Officers

11 May 2018
Helping students find support when they need it most
Get to know Sharon Chung and Alicia Varley, who have recently joined the University to provide one-on-one support, advocacy and case management for students who have experienced a critical incident.

What is a Student Liaison Officer and what do you do?

Sharon: We support students who have experienced a critical incident such as sexual assault, sexual harassment or domestic violence. We provide one-on-one services tailored to each student’s needs to ensure they are getting the appropriate support.

Alicia: Students don’t need to disclose every detail to us – we don’t expect that. We want them to feel comfortable and safe to be able to come to us for necessary support. Coming to see us is not a formal complaint – we’re focused on supporting your needs.

How do you differ from Counselling and Psychological Services?

Sharon: We primarily provide case management advocacy. This includes meeting with students to work out exactly what kind of support they need and then liaising with other services within the University to provide practical solutions.

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you came to work at the University?

Sharon: I was actually a student here about 10 years ago – I did a science degree and then went on to study psychology. After university I worked in the mental health sector and now I’m here! I enjoy helping people in different situations and being there for them when they’re most in need.

Alicia: I also studied here – I have a social work background and a Masters of Counselling. I worked in health for many years, and then went to the NGO sector within domestic violence and sexual assault services. When the opportunity to work at Sydney Uni came up I thought it would be a great opportunity to create some positive change in this space.

Why did you become a Student Liaison Officer at the University?

Sharon: I think I’ll always have a strong connection with the University. Coming back to support students when we’ve also been through the university experience has been quite helpful. While I am aware of the pressures and competing demands they are dealing with, students today are dealing with a lot more than we did. The introduction of social media and the online world gives rise to a number of new challenges.

Alicia: I was interested in not only directly supporting students, but also looking at the bigger picture here in terms of cultural change. I think it will be a really long process with many challenges, but one that is really needed and it’s about time that things start happening in that space.

When should a student get in touch with you?

Sharon: A student should get in touch with us if they’ve experienced issues around sexual assault, harassment or domestic violence. Whether it is recent or something that happened in the past, if a student is feeling distressed and these feelings are impacting their life and studies then they should definitely connect with us.

How can students get in touch with you?

Sharon: They can get in touch any time through email at safer-communities.officer@sydney.edu.au or by phone between 8:30am and 5:30pm on weekdays at 02 8627 6808.

What have you learned in your role so far?

Alicia: We’ve both learnt how large and diverse the student body is and that there’s a real need for Student Liaison Officers on campus. We’re really glad that the University took the opportunity to employ people in this role so that students are better supported and have somewhere safe to go and get help when they are dealing with critical incidents.

What can we all do to make campus a safer place for everyone?

Alicia: We’ve all got a responsibility to be aware of our own behaviour. It’s about being able to reflect on how we behave individually, but also to be able to look out for others and to stand up and intervene appropriately. We can show you how to step up and intervene in situations that make you uncomfortable with the bystander training we’re organising.

Sharon: Our bystander training is a really important way to learn to look out for each other and to know what to do and where to go if things don’t look right on campus. It’s also about how we can help students to have a sense of belonging and community whilst they are a university, because without that it’s hard to feel a sense of responsibility.
 

If you are interested in registering for bystander training or would like to know more, please contact our Student Liaison Officers at safer-communities.officer@sydney.edu.au

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