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W’SUP team at the student leaders’ retreat: discovering community and building connections

W'SUP News team members share their experience at the recent Student Leaders' retreat at Crowne Plaza hotel in Hawkesbury Valley. ...

A two-day annual getaway on the 12th and 13th of February 2024 organized by the student community staff, took the W’SUP team away from campus and into Hawkesbury Valley’s gorgeous Crowne Plaza hotel. This was the perfect breath of fresh air they needed to revive their spirits.

The retreat was exclusive to Student Leaders of the university and executives from the Student Representative Council, as well as the University’s many clubs and associations, were also present to take part in this rewarding experience.

Activities in the retreat were tailored to develop their leadership skills and allow them to network with each other, but there was so much room for fun as well! For the W’SUP team especially, this was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with fellow students and rejuvenate their connections.

With its sweeping lawns, shimmering lake, delicious food, exquisite rooms and alluring pool, the venue was the perfect setting for the exciting memories that were made, as well as the learning and growth of the team as they harnessed their potential as representatives to their peers.

(Credit: Shabnam Siddique)

Ray, who is W’SUP’s Social Media Officer, was especially touched by his experience at the retreat. Ray says.

“For the first time since I’ve moved to Sydney over an year ago had I felt that I found my people. Everyone was weird and annoying and passionate about the strangest things (just like me).”

His experience seems to have changed his life in Sydney. According to Ray, the retreat not only inspired supporting other’s success but also equipped student leaders with tools to create a community and made them realize why taking initiative is a worthy cause.

(Credit: Raynesh Charan)

Luci, one of W’SUP’s Editors, has a similar take. He describes how the retreat was a fun opportunity to socialize and get to know his teammates and is excited to move forward with this new found sense of comradery and familiarity.

Luci adds, “What I found valuable during the workshops for my role and myself was learning how to network and understanding having to develop a proper action plan and setting clear goals.”

He believes these are important for forging connections that could be pathways for inter-club collaborations.

(Credit: Shabnam Siddique)

Speaking of collaborations, Julia, a long standing W’SUP Editor, elaborates on how the growing popularity of student clubs and organizations makes it all the more important that W’SUP works together with them.

She says that the retreat provided an opportunity to meet such club members who are already involved in the community and create a blueprint for upcoming content.

Julia shares her thoughts by saying, “clubs can pool their resources, creativity, and expertise to create engaging and diverse content that resonates with a wider audience.”

She is certain that this is a huge step forward in elevating W’SUP’s work as this will not only enhance the student experience by sharing their voice, but will also build a sense of unity within campus.

(Credit: Shabnam Siddique)

Nataša, W’SUP’s Acting Director of Student Publications, is also very enthusiastic about the connections she acquired during the retreat and the impact this has on her interest in journalism.

She shares her insight on what she learnt during the workshop conducted by Josh Farr on day one of the retreat, “I learned how valuable and useful it is to be able to verbally communicate with others.”

Nataša says that talking to peers and clients is a chance to identify issues that could hinder their potential and let them know you can help find solutions.

She further adds, “I found that activities outside of class and work – such as workshopping ideas for fun content, and talking about hobbies – help build solid relationships, and can last all through your uni life”

(Credit: Nataša Aster-Stater)

Looking back on the retreat and hearing my fellow W’SUP teammates experiences and reflections, I cannot agree more: The student leaders’ retreat was indeed an amazing space for discovering community and building connections.

The stunning aesthetic of the hotel and its surrounds created beautiful memories that I captured in photographs. The skills we learned and the connections we created, and the fun we had during those two days were beautiful and will certainly prove to be long-lasting.

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Diversity Fest 2023: What you need to know about diversity at Western Sydney University.

Samanda Mularachchi tells us all we need to know about Diversity Fest 2023, and how we can celebrate at Western Sydney University....
Caption: Holi Festival (Pixabay)

Have you ever wanted to know more about our diverse Western Sydney University (WSU) community? This September, Diversity Fest takes stage, uniting students to celebrate and embrace the rich diversity of students at Western Sydney University.

This highly anticipated festival is organised by the Inclusive Communities team this year, to celebrate the many facets of diversity, including culture, sex, gender, physical and mental abilities, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political beliefs, religious practices, and socioeconomic status.

The festivalwill take place across all WSU campuses, including a mix of live performances, artwork, panel discussions, stalls, food trucks and more.

Marissa Waddington shares the theme for Diversity Fest this year, and what this means for our WSU community.

“Spring Diversity Fest will be a celebration of inclusion and diversity. This of course includes, but is not limited to, cultural diversity,” Marissa tells W’SUP.

“We are aiming to embrace the diversity of our Western community and foster conversations about how we can be inclusive to all. We would like to acknowledge cultural diversity as well as gender diversity, first nations knowledge, LGBTIQ+ inclusion and mental health awareness,” she adds.

Western Sydney: A diverse hub of people:

In the heart of Western Sydney lies a diverse hub of individuals, making it one of Australia’s most culturally diverse areas. The 2021 census reveals that four regions in Western Sydney, including Auburn, Fairfield, Parramatta and Canterbury, all have at least half of their resident population born overseas. Additionally, 24.3% of the Western Sydney population practise a non-Christian religion, making religious diversity significant in the Western Sydney LGA.

According to WSU’s Sexuality and Gender Diversity strategy (2017-2020) at least 4500 students and 350 staff are likely to identify as part of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Data also shows that 5.8% of the Western Sydney LGA population report a need for help in their day-to-day lives due to living with a disability.

So, all in all, we know that Western Sydney has a high level of diversity, reflected in the diverse community of students and staff at WSU. But where does that lead us in terms of the reasoning behind the festival?

Caption: Pride Flag (Pixabay)

The driving force behind Diversity Fest:

Bayan Sohailee, the Student Representative Council’s Vice President of Activities at WSU, shares the purpose behind Diversity Fest.

“[It is] a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diversity that exists in the Western community and to also create a way to bring us all together. Unity is the way we thrive and succeed here in the West,” Bayan tells W’SUP.

“It is a great time to learn about others and how they see the world. If we could walk in the shoes of others and see life through their lens, we would come to understand that we are one,” Bayan adds.

He shares that a huge focus will be on mental health and First Nations knowledge in this year’s efforts.

Earlier this year, the Student Representative Council (SRC) showcased their solidarity and support for Diversity Fest in a statement to showcase their dedication to providing a voice for multiculturalism and diversity on campus. In March, they co-hosted a tremendously successful Harmony Day event, with a special emphasis on Persian New Year and Holi.

“The festival featured a wide range of cultural events and performances, including music, dancing, and traditional cuisine,” says the SRC in the statement.

This will be reflected in the contributions of WSU’s Equity Collectives, including the Queer, Women, Ethno-Cultural, Disability, Indigenous and International and Environment collective.

Tiffany Sharpe, the former First Nations Representative of the SRC, proposed a resolution for the SRC to donate $10,000 to the university’s Diversity Fest efforts, with the Harmony Day event being the first use of these allocated funds. 

The remaining funds will help the Diversity Fest Committee and Inclusive Communities team stage larger events that reach more students, demonstrating the Western SRC’s commitment to WSU’s varied student body.

Stay tuned and keep an eye out for this semester’s latest Diversity Fest in September – you don’t want to miss it! For more info on Diversity Fest, click here.

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Final week to enjoy Ramadan Nights at Lakemba

With only few days left to enjoy, the Ramadan Nights Festival showcases Australia's diverse cuisines. ...

The Ramadan Nights Festival at Lakemba which began on 2 April has entered its final week and will be concluding on Friday 1 May, 2022. The festival has been taking place on Haldon Street and Railway Parade of Lakemba in the city of Canterbury-Bankstown. The streets transform into a bustling hub of food, culture and diversity from 6.30 pm to 1 am each evening with crowds flocking to the various food vendors adorning the streets of Lakemba. Visitors can enjoy delicacies of Middle-Eastern, South Asian and various other cuisines which reflect the diversity of the flavours and people of the region.

Credit: City of Canterbury Bankstown – NSW Government

Ramadan is a holy month for the Muslim community. Members of the faith observe a fast each day of the month from dawn till dusk, abstaining from food, drink and any impermissible behaviour. The fast is concluded with a meal after sunset known as Iftar. The Ramadan Nights Festival at Lakemba has extended the Iftartradition beyond the Muslim community allowing everyone to experience in the delicacies that are relished in the holy month.

Satays from the Island Dreams Café are a good start to the night serving as an introduction to Malaysian/Indonesia cuisine. As visitors move further into Haldon Street, the aroma from Indian and Pakistani style kebabs grilling over hot coal will invite their tastebuds to a quick detour into South Asia. Bangladeshi restaurants serving biriyani and traditional snacks on Railway Parade also add a flavourful punch to the event.

Middle-Eastern cuisine is ubiquitous throughout the festival. Visitors can line up for the delicious camel burger, traditional kebab wraps, doner kebab or keep it simple with the crowd favourite chips on a stick. Murtabaks, egg paratha and fried foods are in abundant supply. Visitors can hydrate with a range of drinks from lemonades, sahlab, slushies and sand-heated coffee.

Credit: City of Canterbury Bankstown – NSW Government

Dessert connoisseurs should try the cheesy, crispy, sweet and savoury knafeh which has become the highlight of the culinary event. Each vendor adds their unique twist thus it is recommended to try them all. Crepes are also on offer for those looking to satisfy the post-dinner Nutella cravings.

Beyond feasting on the various dishes from around the world on display, the event allows visitors to talk to the vendors to know more about the history and significance of the dishes they are savouring. For those looking to explore cultures through food, the Ramadan Nights Festival is an excellent gateway to enter the diverse communities sprawled across Greater Western Sydney.

Getting to the festival

The City of Canterbury-Bankstown is offering free shuttle buses from Shakespeare Street car park at Campsie and Parry Park, Punchbowl Road before Wangee Road at Punchbowl. The festival is best accessed via Lakemba train station which is a 2-minute walk from the festival. Driving to the festival is an option but parking spaces become scarce as soon as the festival starts.

Other festivals

Most Blessed Nights Street Food Market at Liverpool’s Macquarie Mall is celebrating the various holy observances taking place in the month of April. Details can be found here.

 

 

 

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A university of the people: the 200-year story of Parramatta campus

A trip down memory lane as we continue to rebuild and celebrate the history and culture of Western Sydney University....

 

A university of the people: the 200-year story of Parramatta campus

Story by Sarah Cupitt

 

A trip down memory lane as we continue to rebuild, immortalise and celebrate the history and culture of Western Sydney University.

 

If you’ve ever stepped foot on Parramatta South campus, chances are you’ve seen a few historical landmarks. Mainly the old orphan school building, which usually has a ton of fancy vintage cars parked outside when an event is happening. Though for most students (thanks to COVID-19) chances are, you’ve been online for the majority if not all of your degree.

 

So, I hope this interactive story makes up for the lack of face-to-face interaction and provides a source of comfort and curiosity for all of you returning next semester. Plus, a few fun facts up your sleeve don’t hurt if you need some small talk conversation starters about the weather.

 

WSU celebrated 30 years in 2019 (a young and proud overachiever). However, the university itself is a holder of memories built over two hundred years of history and community impact, deeply rooted in the region’s exceptional development and prosperity.

“Our successes and aspirations reflect those of the region and its people. Not only is Western Sydney University a world-class teaching and research institution, but it is also a thought leader; a knowledge and employment generator; and a catalyst for the region’s economic and social prosperity,” said vice-chancellor and president, professor Barney Glover to the WSU News Centre in April 2019.

 

10 things you might not know about WSU by Sarah Cupitt. Source: W’SUP Spring Edition 2019.

 

The history of the Parramatta South campus

The Female Orphan School building has witnessed some of Australia’s most profound societal shifts. Over the two centuries that this hidden treasure has stood on the banks of the Parramatta River, the structure has influenced thousands of lives. The structure is of enormous significance to Australia’s social history, being both one of the few large public structures that survived the early colonial period and additionally is Australia’s oldest three-story building, predating even Hyde Park Barracks.

Parramatta South is home to many historical interactions over the past 200 years as a place and keeper of collective memories. Infographic: Sarah Cupitt.

 

Its original purpose was to house, educate, and train Sydney’s “orphaned” children. It then functioned as a psychiatric hospital, and its varied usage over the next 100 years represented society’s increasing understanding of mental illness. By the mid-1980s, the philosophies that the building represented had become obsolete, and the structure had fallen into neglect and decay.

 

Watch: If Those Walls Could Talk – A History of the former Rydalmere Hospital (Sept 1999)

 

 

Acknowledging the building’s historical value, the University of Western Sydney (now Western Sydney University) began a series of restoration work in 2000. The Female Orphan School was resurrected as the university’s campus centerpiece for Parramatta. In addition, the Whitlam Institute, which presently inhabits the building, is dedicated to preserving it as an open, public, and democratic environment for future generations to admire and enjoy.

 

“Being able to study at the Parramatta South campus, knowing that there is so much history there, makes me feel honoured. I feel a sense of pride that I have been able to contribute to that history and culture,” says third-year Bachelor of Arts student Lauren Rainey.

 

 

The Whitlam Institute: facilitating bold and transformative discussions

The Whitlam Government passed 203 bills in its first year alone, more than any other Federal Government had achieved in a single year. Not only did Gough Whitlam transform Australia’s laws and institutions, but he also changed the way the country views and defines itself.

Leanne Smith has led the Whitlam Institute as its director for the last four years, having previously held the role of associate director since March 2017. The result has seen a renewed strategic direction for the Institute, fulfilling Gough’s wish that it would “… help the great and continuing work of building a more equal, open, tolerant and independent Australia”. Under Leanne’s leadership, the Institute has produced policy research (including with international partners) on topics from access to education and disability discrimination, to the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage and international best practice in sustainable development goals implementation.

 

“What I’ve worked hard to do, is to connect our local communities and local issues of concern to national policy debates, for example by hosting the 2021 Refugee Alternatives Conference …

 

We have worked with WSU students offering internships, placements, consultancies and volunteer opportunities around our research, exhibitions and events and the incredible Prime Ministerial archive collection at the Whitlam Institute,” said Leanne Smith.

 

Embedded video of Leanne talking about the history of the building https://youtu.be/WkSKsnOrJr0

 

“Last year we opened a beautiful reading room, named in honour of our Distinguished Fellow, The Hon Susan Ryan – this room is intended to bring students and scholars into the Female Orphan School where we work to learn about the Whitlam legacy,” says Smith.

 

Take a digital look around Australia’s oldest three-storey building here.

 

At WSU students and staff are proud to have such historically significant campuses, including South Parramatta, where the Female Orphan School is located. For Leanne, bringing that history to life is a real joy for staff and volunteers.

“One of the most wonderful moments during my time as director was hosting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr Michelle Bachelet, as our 2019 Whitlam Oration guest speaker. Dr Bachelet has been an inspiration to me since we worked together at the United Nations, and it was an honour to have here with us in Sydney, honouring Gough Whitlam,” she said.

 

Photos supplied by Sally Tsoutas

 

Leanne will be leaving the Whitlam Institute to take up the position of chief executive of the Australian Human Rights Commission, with her final day as the 29th of November. However, she will continue to have a relationship with the University as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Law.

Adjunct Professor Eric Sidoti will take up the role of interim director of the Whitlam Institute whilst recruitment for the substantive position is progressed. As well as being adjunct professor at the university’s Institute for Culture and Society, Professor Sidoti is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and was previously the director of the Whitlam Institute between 2007 and 2017.

 

Expressions of Interest are now being received for Whitlam Legacy Essays by November 28.

 

From bird to shield, blue to red – Western’s courageous rebrand

The University of Western Sydney rebranded in August 2015. It was the first identity shift in over a decade. WSU’s makeover symbolised the university’s commitment to its community, putting Western Sydney first. Combined with a more relevant brand attitude and voice for the upcoming wave of students and an international audience, the aim was to reflect the changing landscape of Western Sydney, which is now the country’s fastest expanding region, with an enormous amount of investment in infrastructure, innovation, and the arts.

 

Some students started a social media campaign called “Save the Bird” in an attempt to save the then-UWS logo, which cost a whopping $20 million. The campaign resulted in students wearing blue ribbons in support of keeping the bird, others signing a petition with over 2500 signatures, and finally – bold students taking to Twitter the frustration of zero student consultation.

 

Read More: University Of Western Sydney Spending $20M On “WSU” Rebrand, Bird-Less Logo

 

It’s from this point that the “student voice” changed at Western, not only in terms of diverse student leadership and thought – but also the rebrand of Cruwsible to W’SUP News (the student publication of Western Sydney University).

 

For third-year nursing student and SRC international student representative Loore Muravu, The Whitlam institute has shaped her values and taught her to be culturally aware and to value diversity and people’s opinions.

 

“I believe diverse student representation and leadership helps to give students a voice because it breaks the silence and allows students to feel recognised and appreciated. For instance, as an international student like me, I never thought that I could raise my concerns and be heard until I became part of the SRC team and learnt about my rights as a student,” says Loore.

 

A university of the people

Students, staff, and volunteers hold memories of the beloved Parramatta Campus before the COVID-19 lockdown; these are some key moments of inspiration to drive change, leadership, and community when you return to campus next semester to build your story.

 

Crystal Ram (SRC ethnocultural representative) is inspired by the new generation of creators, innovators and leaders; having a strong foundation enables newcomers to grow and fuels ideas, “In Australia, we are so fortunate to even has access to tertiary education, when I reflect and recall what individuals like my grandparents and mum went through it gives me the motivation for continual improvement everywhere I go,” she says.

 

Jacki Montgomery (Director of Academic Program – Creative Industries, Communication, Screen Media) echoes the culture at our university for innovation and collaboration.

 

“We are so fortunate to have one of the most diverse cultural cohorts of any university in Australia. Our students bring many different perspectives to their studies, and we see wonderful collaborations and expressions of culture in their creative outputs,” said Jacki Montgomery.

 

 

Next, we have Razin Polara, who says studying at the WSU Parramatta South campus is one of the best experiences he’s ever had. He’s proud of the development of student clubs that organise events and activities that have impacted the student community in a broader range – additionally as the SRC Parramatta South Representative (no bias to the campus of course) and a leader of several student clubs, he believes that driven young students will make Australian youth stronger and powerful –  and bring change to the WSU community.

 

“Studying here for four years, I have made many incredible memories: the chit-chat at the Oliver-Brown cafe before lectures, challenging mates in video games and playing Football in the field are some of the unforgettable memories. From this, I can say that Parramatta is one of my favourite campuses,” says Razin.

 

Finally, we have the director of W’SUP News, Ishmamul Haque, who’s studying a double degree consisting of a Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology and a Bachelor of Business majoring in accounting. He’s had the honour to be an advisor to the Vice Chancellor as a member of the Vice Chancellor’s International Student Advisory Committee and has worked in different roles across the Department of Project Management, Student Experience and the School of Nursing and Midwifery.

 

“I think the best memories at Parramatta all revolve around the many events I have attended on campus since my first year. My particular favourite was the trivia night which was my first time at a trivia and my very first experience of interacting with a person in drag. The make your own taco bar should have become a permanent fixture at Parra South!”

 

“The people is what makes WSU. It hosts some of the most inclusive people and organisations I have come across as a student. I have left every on and off-campus event with more friends than I had started off with. The range of perspectives and the collective experiences of the people I have interacted with, have crafted the essence of my personality as an adult.

We have the most multicultural student population in Sydney as well as students coming from low-ses backgrounds, refugees and first in family to study at uni. The people at WSU, the staff, the students and all the friendly faces whose names I am yet to discover, will be missed the most when I graduate,” says Ishmamul.

 

Western Sydney has so much to teach Australia and the world and this University has an important role to play in making sure their voices are heard,” says Leanne Smith, director of the Whitlam Institute.

 

If you want to share your student experience with W’SUP News, reach out to the team via wsup@westernsydney.edu.au or check out the submissions page for more information

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From chaplain to chef: how Western Sydney University staff are bringing students together with virtual cooking classes

Community and cooking go hand in hand at WSU's Campus Living Village. ...

One Western Sydney University Chaplain’s passion for creating community and social connections won’t be flickered out by COVID-19 restrictions.

At the front of this operation is Daniel Jantos, the Chaplaincy Coordinator at Western Sydney University. llustration: Canva

The Chaplaincy team offers an online soup kitchen program that runs each Wednesday from 5:30 pm. The experience promises a fresh, wholesome meal, ready in less than an hour, prepared under the guidance of your Chaplaincy team. Grocery packs, filled with ingredients needed for the recipe of the day, are delivered to the Campus Living Village front desk for on-campus students to pick up.

If you live off campus, you are still welcome to join. The team will do their very best to get the ingredients to all interested students at their designated addresses. Students then join the zoom call or tune into Instagram live and cook alongside the Chaplaincy team. They follow a recipe and turn the fresh ingredients into a scrumptious meal.

At the front of this operation is Daniel Jantos, the Chaplaincy Coordinator at Western Sydney University. The Chaplaincy team offers a caring presence to all staff and students at the University; encouraging spirituality while prompting unity in all matters of faith, offering hospitality and creating community programs.

Daniel believes that, “Hospitality is the essence of the chaplaincy service’s purpose. You are welcome here, you belong here, we are in this together.”

Daniel tells me that Western Sydney University started the soup kitchen program approximately three years ago after a student leader suggested the campuses have food pantries for students to access. The Western Sydney University the webpage says the program launched at Campbelltown and due to its popularity it has since expanded to Hawkesbury, Bankstown, Kingswood, 1PSQ and also at Parramatta North [student residential] village every fortnight.

Daniel also mentions,“When COVID came along a lot of students were very saddened by the need for us to end the program – we decided to go online.” 

This is not the first program of its kind as several famous chefs have been using social media to share cooking classes with their fans. More recently, several small cafes and restaurants have also been participating in similar programs. Research conducted by the Australian Catholic University suggests that online platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, have positive impacts on feelings of connectedness.

Describing the experience, Daniel said,“It connects my kitchen to the kitchen of a whole lot of students and connects us in a way that means everyone is holding up their bowls to the camera to show off what they have made.”

Daniel admits the jump to the virtual kitchen was challenging and that he was a little resistant to the idea. However, he was surprised by how much of a community had been formed online.  Mr. Jantos explains that students from across Western Sydney are participating from Sutherland, Kensington to Campbelltown, and even out at Richmond. He gushes about the program’s support staff, Larissa Baker, Emily Liddell and Cheryl Jendrachowski, who have been working hard to get the groceries to people.

When asked about the challenges faced, Daniel joked about people’s chili tolerance. He tells students not to dump all the chili in and that it is only for those who absolutely love it hot. He says, “A student once dumped all their chili in the soup and said, ‘Whoops, that’s going to be a hot soup.’”

Daniel talks about these weekly events with so much conviction, noting that he feels overwhelmed by the amount of love and gratitude in the online space.  He tells me he feels the program offers students relief from isolation and loneliness and that’s what’s important during these trying times.

If you’re interested in joining the weekly cooking class register here. If you’re not a Western Sydney University Student, you can still watch all the fun on their Instagram wsustudentlife.

 

 

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Single parent payments and COVID-19

We were doing okay, until COVID-19 hit and once again I was a single mum doing a university degree....

We were doing okay for a little bit, until COVID-19 hit and once again I was a single mum doing a university degree, living on benefits. Benefits that could hardly cover the cost of living. When my employer went into self-isolation because of his health, all future projects were put on hold.

 

Since Sunday, I’ve been living off $35 that has dwindled down to $25 on Tuesday and now it’s a $15. This isn’t the first time I’ve been broke, and so far, $15 at Friday seems okay. But I know what I can manage this week, will not be what I can manage the next.

I’ll get a bill. It’s always a bill that upends a delicate balance between staying afloat and pawning the few valuable items I have left. If I go to my ex-husband, he’ll say I don’t know how to spend money. Even though he knows we live on government support, he will say I’m irresponsible with money and that I just want to go out and have fun.

 

I don’t have a bed for my four-year-old. Baby sleeps in my bed, wriggling through the night clutching to me. I can only afford one bedroom. We had to move to the Inner West to be near childcare, because my ex refused to change, stating that if I did, I would have to pay the fees. When I had an income, it was meagre at best, though it made saving up for payments easier.

Our place has a garden, concrete, and plants. Filled with junkyard toys found on the street, rusted and flaking. People leave out forgotten toys, broken or old. There was a pair of wellies left on our doorstep once, but they didn’t fit him. Shame. He really needed wellies, still does, and the rainy season is yet to come.

I stopped the gym membership first, then a forgotten Celtx subscription that billed $30 monthly for scriptwriting services. Then came the take-away coffees and baby’s kinder surprise eggs. I’m frugal with bills, shutting off lights every night, unplugging the unnecessary. I have this flatmate who puts the kettle on twenty times a day but only uses the water five times, constantly flicking the switch but rarely relieving the contents. I haven’t had a hair cut in five years and when it gets too long, I cut it myself. I used to dye it black. I still have a packet of dye in my cupboard that I’m saving for when I’m in a particularly sorry state. The ends are a charred brown, but since there are no friends to visit, it feels like a waste to use it now.

I regret the trip to the dentist before all this happened. It was only a month ago. A dip into my savings, but I was working, earning money, so I knew I could replace the funds. I paid my university fees just before I lost my work. As a resident, I can’t apply for HECS. The paperwork is in the works and even so, I won’t be a citizen for at least another eighteen months. Until then, we are floating like a life-raft with a punctured hole, slowly and surely sinking to the bottom of a financial abyss.

 

 

 

Editor’s note: If you are undergoing financial hardship, you may be able to receive support from the following services:

Community charities: