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Western Sydney University students run a bake sale to raise money for charity

Alicia Deans tells us about how Western Sydney University students have run a bake sale to raise money for charity......
Jacob Chan (pictured left), Sophie Pozzato (pictured middle), Michaela Rattos (pictured right), selling a cupcake to a customer. Photo: Alicia Dean.

Three Western Sydney University (WSU) students gathered their baking skills for a heartwarmimg cause, supporting Northcott Disability Services. Sophia Pozzato, who studies a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Business, was one of the three students who helped run this bake sale.

“We raised just under $500 within three hours of selling cakes! Our baking skills were better than we expected,” she said.

Pozzato was joined by Michaela Rattos, who also studies a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Business, and Jacob Chan, studying a Bachelor of Business.

The three students set up a table full of homemade sweets, including cookies, caramel slices, cupcakes and chocolate crackles. They were selling for a price ranging between $2 and $3.

This endeavour arose from a sports management assignment for a class they studied together at the Parramatta City campus, where they were tasked to create an event to raise money for Northcott. Opting for a bake sale, they believed it would be the most efficient way to raise money where each member could contribute meaningfully.

Northcott was established in 1929 and is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit disability service organisations, providing personalised services to over 13,500 people annually. Northcott has a longstanding partnership with WSU starting in 2020, working together to upskill, retrain, and employ displaced workers rapidly.

WSU provides continuous support and encourages students to raise money for Northcott. Over the last 14 years, WSU has raised over $185,000 for Northcott through fundraisers.

This bake sale is just one of the many examples where students took the initiative to provide positive community support to an fantastic organisation.

“Honestly, we were expecting just to break even. We didn’t have high hopes for our baking skills, but the sweets turned out to be a hit!” Chan said.

Over three hours, the students’ bake sale drew in around 50 customers. Some people even stopped by to donate without making a purchase. One generous lady donated $50. She said she was just glad to see students taking the time to organise and run such an event for a fantastic cause. 

With the students raising a total amount of approximately $650, the bake sale had shown to be a success. This figure was much more than expected, as they only had around $400 in sweets to sell.

The students attribute a significant portion of their success to people simply passing by to leave a donation. All the funds raised went directly to Northcott. Through the joy of baking, these students demonstrated the power of collective effort for a noble cause.

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You’re not always fine and that’s okay 

Being honest with your feelings will make you stronger, despite the struggle...

Laughing doesn’t always indicate that you’re happy and joyful.  

Similarly, ‘I am fine’ often has different definitions. 

‘I am fine’ might mean you’re hurt, you’re anxious, you’re feeling sad but you’re simply trying to ignore or suppress it. 

Allow yourself to recognize and accept the variety of definitions hidden behind ‘I am fine’. Stop running from these emotions that we often label as “negative.” 

You’re always trying to keep a straight face. You want to be okay because someone at some point of life has told you that not being fine makes you weak. 

A strong person is supposed to be tough, not affected by their surroundings, always have a smile, control over their mind and emotions, and pretend to be happy.  

But you’re strong the way you are, despite the times you cry. 

Allow yourself, permit yourself to feel them. Refocus on yourself, stop controlling, hiding, suppressing, ignoring or even being afraid of them. Liberate yourself from the pressure of constantly feeling positive and happy. This constant pressure just creates more misery. It’s important to understand this, the more you try to suppress them, the more intensely you feel them. So let them flow in their pure way, it may be hard. But isn’t this hard too? 

You cannot change how you feel, accept this. 

You cannot control what you feel, accept this too. 

Normalize yourself with these emotions. 

Pick yourself up and say to yourself, “I’ll feel what I want to feel” Get over this fear and rip apart the emotions attached to the label that says, “Be strong and tough”. No one is judging you as hard as you are judging yourself. 

It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay if you want to cry. It’s okay not to smile all day. It’s okay if your soul is weary. It’s okay to feel low, to get hurt, to get upset. It’s okay if you don’t have the capacity to run through the entire day. 

Forgive yourself for the fake smile you couldn’t put over your face when you were hurt. 

Notice this, be empathetic to yourself before anyone else, listen to yourself, and listen to what you are trying to hide. And most essentially feel it. 

This “c’mon, cheer up! Be happy!” doesn’t always work. Sometimes all you need to say to yourself is “I am not fine today and it’s okay” and give yourself space and the freedom to express yourself without any pressure of being happy. 

This beautiful little heart of yours is not meant to be bottled up but to be poured.  

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Interest rate hikes and the poor

Amidst the current cost-of-living crisis, read how interest rate hikes affect low-income individuals and vulnerable communities. ...

Interest rate hikes have long been a central monetary policy tool wielded by central banks to regulate economic activity and maintain stability. While these adjustments may seem impartial, a closer examination reveals that interest rate hikes can have a discriminatory impact and disproportionately affect low-income individuals and marginalised communities.

Interest Rate Hikes and The Double-Edged Sword.

Influenced by various economic factors, interest rates are pivotal in how much it costs to borrow money, and how much you earn from savings. While intended to curb inflation and stimulate responsible borrowing, the impact of interest rate hikes is not evenly distributed across society.

Low-income households, more likely to rely on credit for everyday expenses, often bear the brunt of these rate adjustments. As interest rates rise, the cost of servicing debts – from credit cards to mortgages, becomes a heavy financial burden. This can potentially lead to a cycle of financial stress and mounting debt.

One of the most evident manifestations of the discriminatory nature of interest rate hikes lies in the housing market. Low-income families often struggle to secure stable housing, and when interest rates go up, the homeownership can make this more challenging.

As mortgage rates increase, the affordability of homeownership becomes a barrier, widening the gap between those with access to homeownership and those forced into perpetual renting.

The result perpetuates housing inequality, with the poor being systematically excluded from the benefits of property ownership and wealth accumulation. On top of that, Australia suffers from a nationwide housing crisis, so some low-socioeconomic-status households risk losing their properties.

The Reserve Bank Board raised the cash rate ten times this year, which begs the question: was it necessary? And if so, was it ethical? Leader of the Greens party, Adam Bandt, says: “In the middle of a housing and rental crisis, there is a real risk the Reserve Bank is going to ruin lives and undermine our collective future with further rate rises.”

Access to Credit: A Catch-22

Interest rate hikes can also perpetuate the cycle of unequal access to credit. Financial institutions seeking to mitigate their risks in times of increased interest rates, become more stringent in their lending practices.

This exacerbates the difficulty vulnerable communities face in accessing credit, as lenders hesitate to extend loans to those with already limited financial resources. As such, people experiencing poverty are caught in a catch-22, where the mechanisms meant to encourage financial responsibility only reinforce economic barriers.

Policy Considerations and Different Approaches

Addressing the discriminatory nature of interest rate hikes requires a comprehensive approach that considers the unique challenges faced by vulnerable communities. Central banks and policymakers need to factor in the potential uneven impact on low-income households when formulating monetary policy.

Providing targeted support, such as financial literacy programs, affordable housing initiatives, and credit access programs, may help mitigate the adverse effects of interest rate hikes and empower vulnerable communities to navigate economic challenges.

Greens treasurer, Nick McKim, says: “Instead of getting rid of his existing power to set interest rates, the Treasurer should be using this power right now to help renters and mortgage holders by freezing interest rates.”

While central banks employ these measures to achieve macroeconomic stability, their implications for people experiencing poverty cannot be overlooked. Understanding how interest rate hikes disproportionately impact low-income individuals and marginalised communities is essential for developing inclusive monetary policies that promote financial well-being and equal opportunities for all.

As we navigate the intricate landscape of monetary policy, it is essential to recognise the broader societal impact of interest rate adjustments and work towards financial system that’s fairer for everyone.

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Interest rate hikes and the poor

Amidst the current cost-of-living crisis, read how interest rate hikes affect low-income individuals and vulnerable communities....

Interest rate hikes have long been a central monetary policy tool wielded by central banks to regulate economic activity and maintain stability. While these adjustments may seem impartial, a closer examination reveals that interest rate hikes can have a discriminatory impact and disproportionately affect low-income individuals and marginalised communities.

Interest Rate Hikes and The Double-Edged Sword.

Influenced by various economic factors, interest rates are pivotal in how much it costs to borrow money, and how much you earn from savings. While intended to curb inflation and stimulate responsible borrowing, the impact of interest rate hikes is not evenly distributed across society.

Low-income households, more likely to rely on credit for everyday expenses, often bear the brunt of these rate adjustments. As interest rates rise, the cost of servicing debts – from credit cards to mortgages, becomes a heavy financial burden. This can potentially lead to a cycle of financial stress and mounting debt.

One of the most evident manifestations of the discriminatory nature of interest rate hikes lies in the housing market. Low-income families often struggle to secure stable housing, and when interest rates go up, the homeownership can make this more challenging.

As mortgage rates increase, the affordability of homeownership becomes a barrier, widening the gap between those with access to homeownership and those forced into perpetual renting.

The result perpetuates housing inequality, with the poor being systematically excluded from the benefits of property ownership and wealth accumulation. On top of that, Australia suffers from a nationwide housing crisis, so some low-socioeconomic-status households risk losing their properties.

The Reserve Bank Board raised the cash rate ten times this year, which begs the question: was it necessary? And if so, was it ethical? Leader of the Greens party, Adam Bandt, says: “In the middle of a housing and rental crisis, there is a real risk the Reserve Bank is going to ruin lives and undermine our collective future with further rate rises.”

Access to Credit: A Catch-22

Interest rate hikes can also perpetuate the cycle of unequal access to credit. Financial institutions seeking to mitigate their risks in times of increased interest rates, become more stringent in their lending practices.

This exacerbates the difficulty vulnerable communities face in accessing credit, as lenders hesitate to extend loans to those with already limited financial resources. As such, people experiencing poverty are caught in a catch-22, where the mechanisms meant to encourage financial responsibility only reinforce economic barriers.

Policy Considerations and Different Approaches

Addressing the discriminatory nature of interest rate hikes requires a comprehensive approach that considers the unique challenges faced by vulnerable communities. Central banks and policymakers need to factor in the potential uneven impact on low-income households when formulating monetary policy.

Providing targeted support, such as financial literacy programs, affordable housing initiatives, and credit access programs, may help mitigate the adverse effects of interest rate hikes and empower vulnerable communities to navigate economic challenges.

Greens treasurer, Nick McKim, says: “Instead of getting rid of his existing power to set interest rates, the Treasurer should be using this power right now to help renters and mortgage holders by freezing interest rates.”

While central banks employ these measures to achieve macroeconomic stability, their implications for people experiencing poverty cannot be overlooked. Understanding how interest rate hikes disproportionately impact low-income individuals and marginalised communities is essential for developing inclusive monetary policies that promote financial well-being and equal opportunities for all.

As we navigate the intricate landscape of monetary policy, it is essential to recognise the broader societal impact of interest rate adjustments and work towards financial system that’s fairer for everyone.

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Blak and white thinking: What is my place in the 2023 referendum?

Ruby Ritchie explores the meaning of Blak identity in the context of the Voice to Parliament Referendum. ...
Invasion Day 2020, Melbourne || Photos by Johan Mouchet via Pexels

“Questions of identity thus run far deeper than skin colour. And that identity crisis is not born out of a lack of love from Blackfullas. It is a product of proximity to whiteness” – Chelsea Watego, Another Day in the Colony.

I can’t remember it ever being announced that I was Blak, other than knowing my dad told me when I was little; just like I accepted that the sky is blue, I also accepted that I was Koori. What I was made to understand by white people, though, was that I wasn’t like ‘other’ Blak people. I was a fair-skinned and red-haired kid, growing up in a family and community that looked the same.

My first relationships with Aboriginal people was at University when I met friends at the Badanami Centre. Our family didn’t know much of our history beyond my great-grandfather, our family name ‘Ritchie’ even being called into question by a lack of paper trail.

There existed a lot of trauma around our heritage, with my grandfather punished for his father being Blak. Self-loathing, internalised racism and an ill-formed sense of identity persevered throughout the generations of my family.

My school friends felt comfortable being racist, and even after identifying myself, would call me slurs as a ‘joke’, whilst other people would simply say, ‘You aren’t Aboriginal.’ I would awkwardly laugh it off and pretend I was not hurt, attributing it to ignorance and suppressing the doubt I began to feel.

Yet after the government released the Voice proposal, my white friends suddenly became more vocal about First Nations issues. They would post colourful social media graphics with statistics about youth incarceration or Indigenous deaths in custody in pretty, frilly font and a caption with the hashtag #voteyes.

It was unbelievably grating. I felt like I wasn’t Blak enough to contribute to the discussion. Yet, white people could get on a social media soapbox to preach about Blak issues remaining secure in their racial identity.

Even though I had concerns about the Voice proposal, I would tell myself that my future wasn’t directly impacted, so I shouldn’t count in the discussion. Gnawing away at these thoughts was an overwhelming question of why? Why do I feel I don’t have a place in the discussion?

In November 2022, I met Mark Dreyfus KC, the Attorney General of Australia, who came to speak to the University. There, I dared to ask a powerful figure about First Nations issues for the first time. Asking those questions made me realise why I never felt entitled to contribute to conversations about Blak issues in the first place; the ‘white trespasser complex’.

When non-Indigenous people have told me that I am not ‘really Aboriginal’, I felt like a white trespasser in a conversation with First Nations peoples. When you are a trespasser in a community, how could you possibly have a right to speak about changes to that community?

You feel like an alien stranded between two nations, able to understand what language each group is speaking but unable to respond to either group. Blak and white, racialised and privileged, included but simultaneously othered; these binaries encompass the struggles that come with Blak identity and leave you stranded out of the conversation.

However, it was never Blak peoples that excluded me, I have never felt so supported by a community before I met my Blak brothers and sisters in Badanami. It was always white people who enforced this complex.

Having understood this complex, I enrolled in a unit called Law and Public Policy: The Voice to Parliament Referendum. The unit involved students engaging with local communities surrounding the factual background of the Voice. I opted to write an article on W’SUP called ‘Vote with Care; A Guide to the Voice to Parliament; It was an article that empowered me as an Aboriginal woman, as I finally got to spread awareness about issues that affect Blak people without feeling fraudulent.

As new insights are revealed about the Voice to Parliament referendum, I remain confident in my stance. If you were to ask me my view a few months ago, however, I would have told you that I was unsure whether I deserved to have my voice heard. Now I know that no matter the stance taken, we must endeavour to listen to all First Nations peoples’ perspectives.

Questioning your racial identity as a First Nations person can be a lifelong struggle, but it does not make you any less entitled to contribute to Blak conversations; if anything, you add a new perspective. Actively concealing your opinion for fear of not ‘being Blak enough’ goes against the purpose of the referendum.

No definitive standard of ‘blakness’ is required to share your opinion about issues affecting you, your kin, and your community. It is the inclusion of First Nations voices that is essential in this referendum proposal. So don’t fret; understanding your racial identity isn’t always blak or white, and it does not make you a trespasser in community conversations. Blak identity runs much deeper than a referendum.

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The cost-of-living crisis and how it’s affecting uni students beyond finances

Natasa covers uni students’ mental health struggles amidst the cost-of-living crisis in 2023....

Trigger warning: This article contains mention of suicide statistics.

Many uni students who have weathered and beaten the two-and-a-half-year COVID blues now face an equally hard struggle in 2023 that leaves dwindling sums in their bank accounts. This new challenge they face is none other than the cost-of-living crisis, which is also impacting their mental health. This year, the escalating costs of rent, food, fuel, and education have become pressing health issues that university students face daily.

(Credit: Pexels)

Choice between work and education:

There has been an increase in uni students who are now pressured to juggle the demand of their studies with paid work to continue supporting themselves – whether that be picking up casual gig, or taking up demanding, often unmanageable hours.

Jacob Nye, a 31-year-old former university student, now works full-time in a management position and yet, is struggling to afford essential commodities such as cereal, meat and electricity due to his rent prices rising from $350 to $600 this year.

“The only way I could study is if it was self-paced with zero class time and extremely flexible practically. Otherwise, if it cost me any time at work, it would become impossible to study with the cost of living,” says Jacob.

The preferred schedule described by Jacob could work with Zoom classes – but what happens when students are required to attend classes in person?

A 2023 survey by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) in the UK reveals that more than half of the 10,000 uni students surveyed are simultaneously grappling with the demands of work and education – from attending lectures and tutorials and hastily completing assignments during the semester.  

(Credit: Pexels | Ketut Subiyanto).

Jacob states that he feels more “anxious than depressed” about his current economic situation and the knowledge that another rent increase is sure to come soon, which could jeopardise his prospects of pursuing further education.

“[The] biggest hurdle is cost-of-living; for me, uni would only work if it didn’t impact my job. But I’d be too tired to study after working full time,” he adds.

In an SBS News interview, one international student believes overwork is one of the reasons students have resorted to the ‘emergency measure’ of using Chat GBT to complete assessments.

(Credit: Ron Lach | Pexels).

The strain on mental health and the rise in suicides:

In 2023, 46% of Australians experience feeling troubled and worried due to economic pressures.

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) have released results that the cost of living has, for the fourth quarter in a row this year, been one of the two leading causes for adults over 18 feeling “distressed”, leading to a heightened suicide risk. The study reveals a 19% increase in the likelihood of experiencing harmful thoughts for those anxious and stressed “beyond normal levels”.

SPA’s Chief Executive, Matthew McLean, acknowledges that social isolation and loneliness drive this distress. According to ABC News, some often don’t have the time and money to socialise amidst the rising cost-of-living. In this climate, fears about the growing cost of a beer ($8+) or an adult movie ticket ($26.50+) can prompt people to skip a friend’s gathering or miss out on socialising altogether.

Additionally, findings from SPA and a Longitudinal study show that human interaction is not as frequent as in previous years, despite the accessibility of social media. In this digital climate, it can easily seem quicker, cheaper, and easier to communicate with a friend via text or DM than to physically show up to lunch amidst the pressures of budgeting, work, and study.

With no relief in sight for this cost-of-living crisis, young adults like Jacob will continue to adhere to their preferred schedule – a choice based on necessity. They may do so while hoping the price they pay,+ does not become too high a cost in the future.

If you or someone you know is struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, remember you are not alone, and there is support:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

Mission Australia: 1800 88 88 68

Headspace:1800 650 890

Link2home: 1800 152 152

Western Sydney Students Financial Support: 1800 668 370

WSU Renter Support: 1800 668 370

WSU Emergency Accommodation: 1800 668 370