Collaborative Supervision: Best practice to improve student well-being and empowering student services staff

Helen Nicholls-stary1, Katy Dib1 Lisa Trevaskis1, Zoe Fang1

1Deakin University, Melbourne/Geelong/Warrnambool, Australia

International students are vulnerable to experiencing a range of issues, particularly mental health issues while studying in Australia. These mental health issues negatively impact on our international student’s academic capacity, their engagement in their social world and their overall ability to function in a healthy and adaptive way. At Deakin the International Student Advisers and the Senior Student Advisers – Case Management are supporting an increased number of international students studying at Deakin along with the multiple and complex presenting issues. A three tired collaborative supervision approach was implemented across all campuses in 2018 to ensure the health & wellbeing of the student support staff. The collaborative supervision allows staff to reflect on their practice, share information which supports the assessment of presenting issues and early intervention if required. These sessions also empower staff with knowledge and support tools to self-manage the complex presentations that often accompany an international student and ensures staff are able to build their skills and knowledge to continue to provide a high level support to our international students. The three tired supervision approach involves the staff accessing external supervision quarterly with an independent mental health expert, monthly peer supervision and weekly Manager’s supervision. In this interactive presentation, you will witness firsthand how collaboration leads to stronger more cohesive teams that are webbed together through shared knowledge and as a result we see improved outcomes for students.


Ms Katy Dib
Katy is an experienced and committed psychologist. Katy has extensive experience working with children, young people and adults in a wide range of settings including Schools, Universities, Community Organizations, Drug and Alcohol services, Housing Services, Immigration Detention and private practice.

Katy is capable and competent in treating issues related to: Stress, Relationships, Anxiety, Depression, Drug and Alcohol, Life Adjustments or Personality Disorders. She specialises in working with survivors of trauma, particularly childhood abuse.

Katy has been registered with the Psychology Board-Australia since 2007 and is registered and an accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructor. She is also affiliated with Deakin University as an Associate Lecturer.

Katy is committed to providing mental health services to the financially disadvantaged. She has founded a not-for-profit, low cost psychology service for individuals who are financially disadvantaged.

Mrs Helen Nicholls-Stary

With over 19 years working in international student support Helen has worked in the school and tertiary sectors. Recipient of three Vice Chancellor Awards at Deakin University, in recognition of her excellent contribution, Helen leads the Specialist Student Support team which comprises of the International Student Advisers and the Senior Student Advisers – Case Management.
With extensive experience travelling, living and working overseas Helen has developed a high level of cross cultural competencies which has enabled her to deliver quality intercultural programs that contribute to the students’ experience at Deakin University.
As a member of the Multicultural Action Plan Advisory Committee in Geelong for 10 years, Helen has been able to create opportunities for international students to become more connected with the wider community.
Helen has been a member of ISANA for 10 years and has been a regional representative on the Vic/Tas committee. Helen has presented at state and National conferences

Zoe is an international student adviser at Deakin University. She came to Australia as an international student. Like all the other international students, Zoe has faced a lot of challenges while studying in a different country and adapting to a new culture. This experience has assisted her in her current position where she provides support services to international students at Deakin, she likes to share her experiences with new arrivals and help them get through the challenges they face and settle comfortably in Australia.

Having graduated with a Masters degree at Deakin, Zoe started her career in the education sector. She has more than 8 years’ experience working with students and assisting both their educational and accommodation needs. Zoe enjoys communicating with students and supporting the talented and diverse international student community here in Melbourne. She finds it is extremely rewarding to meet and service brilliant students from all over the world.

Zoe is interested in culture adjustment, mental health support, language learning.

Lisa Trevaskis

I have worked in the welfare / education/ mental health field for over 25 years.

My most recent employment history has had a strong focus on mental health and complex needs.  I am passionate about supporting individuals to reach their full potential and equipping individuals with the capacity to deal with the challenges life throws them.