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Student Advocacy: Where does my SSAF payment go?

Student Advocacy: Where does my SSAF payment go?

Written by Faith Hanstock

At the beginning of each session, we get that dreaded ‘Total Amount Owing’ message on the Student Portal to pay off the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). But what exactly is SSAF and how does it benefit me?

SSAF is a compulsory fee that provides funding to all types of services within Charles Sturt, and in particular, the Student Advocacy Team. But now there’s another question – what is the Student Advocacy Team?

What is the Student Advocacy team?

The Student Advocacy Team was established in 2021 as a support preference for online students. The two-person team, Erika Cross and Rachel Stewart-Allan, support anyone and everyone at Charles Sturt, all while navigating Charles Sturt’s rules, policies, and procedures by providing information, referrals, and advice.

Even though they were created as a main support for online students, the Student Advocacy Team works with both on-campus and online students. So, no one is left out!

Rachel Stewart-Allen

Not to get all numbery on you, but last year 398 students contacted the team. Now you’re thinking, ‘I don’t care about numbers why are you telling me this?’ I’m telling you this because those 398 students included 238 students working online, 108 students on campus, and 52 students in mix-mode – I think these numbers alone show how the Student Advocacy Team is available for everyone, no matter what how you’re doing your course.

Much of their work focuses on supporting students who experience personal challenges that have impacted their study, or students who struggle with complex academia.

Erika Cross

What exactly do they help with?

The key focus of the team is advising, supporting, and guiding students through academic and general misconduct matters. Erika and Rachel are able to provide support on matters such as:

  • Academic or General Misconduct
  • Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Appeals Process
  • Academic Process
  • Review of Grade
  • Special Consideration
  • Student Feedback and Complaints

Extra support

The team also helps with enrolment questions, administrative processes, exams, and study skills. And if they don’t already help enough, the Student Advocates can refer you to special support areas if required! This helps to ensure that if the team is unable to help, you are appropriately supported to help manage stressors, academic, equity or personal issues.

The team also works closely with the Counselling Team to ensure that if you’re going through a stressful appeal (such as misconduct), you are supported emotionally and personally while misconduct matters are investigated and heard.

What have the Student Advocacy team done recently?

Besides being the superheroes for students in distress, the team created a website in 2021 to showcase all the types of services and support services they offered. This allowed them to create an online form for anyone to easily contact the team, along with what service you would need. This not only made it easier for particularly online students to gain support, but for Erika and Rachel to respond faster to any enquiries you might have. This year, the team is focusing on developing the website for readily accessible templates and resources whenever you need them. Yes please!

You can contact them at:

The Team has also:

  • Worked with the University Communications Team to raise student awareness about the risks of contract cheating
  • Collaborated with colleagues from People and Culture and the University Communications team to deliver an event and campaign marking University Mental Health Day
  • Worked in conjunction with the Equity & Diversity Project Manager to update the LGBTIQA+ inclusion webpages

I think it’s safe to say that I’m happy that some of my SSAF money is going to the Student Advocacy Team, and I hope you agree!

Have an idea for SSAF funding?

If you have an awesome idea but need some moola, why not propose your initiative to SSAF! Applications open August 8th and close September 16th, so follow this link and get preparing:

Want to find out more?

This is an SSAF funded initiative
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