Study Melbourne’s student experience initiatives in the face of the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic

Ms Kim Cleary, Chris Lee, Kathryn Lysons, 

The purpose of this presentation is to share the lessons learned by Study Melbourne in effective delivery of student experience initiatives during the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic.
International students in Victoria have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, many experiencing financial hardship, accommodation insecurity, and social isolation. These impacts have been for extended periods in Victoria relative to other states and territories.
Study Melbourne responded quickly to help support international students during this time, not only through hardship payments, but also delivering enhanced supports and services remotely through the Study Melbourne Student Centre (SMSC). Importantly, this was not just about providing information, free legal advice, and practical support for students in hardship. Study Melbourne also implemented a number of free innovative and virtual programs to enable social connection, and to develop international student leadership and entrepreneurship capability. With a love of alliteration, these initiatives include: Leadership Labs, Confidence Crew and the Future Founders Festival.
When the pandemic hit, Victoria was well placed to meet the challenge. By moving to remote delivery and ensuring a balance between deficit and strength-based approaches, Study Melbourne was able to extend reach and scope. This helped provide a safety net for students and created opportunities for them to proactively connect with others and take charge of their own student journey.


Biography:
Kathryn is the Manager of the Study Melbourne Student Centre. She joined the Study Melbourne team in April 2019 and is responsible for the Centre operations and events delivery in partnership with leading Victorian organisations and international student groups. With over 12 years-experience working in the not-for profit and employment and training sector, she has managed Mentor Employment Programs, delivered training to international students and was the Operations Manager of the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Work and Learning Centres. An experienced project manager, she is passionate about delivering capacity building initiatives to vulnerable Victorians.

Chris Lee is the program lead on employability, entrepreneurship and empowerment initiatives at Study Melbourne, in the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. This includes work on a new ‘Empowered’ framework with key initiatives including an international student career accelerator model Career Catalyst to strengthen industry and community partnerships, Leadership Labs and a ‘pop up’ festival of belonging called Empower Fest.
Chris has worked in the Equality and Youth portfolio at Fairer Victoria (Department of Premier and Cabinet), Multicultural Affairs, Regional Development Victoria, and managed economic inclusion and social innovation initiatives in the Commonwealth and Queensland governments. Chris has a strong interest in the social enterprise and startup sector, as a co-founder of the not-for-profit Alt-F which supports queer, disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

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