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Welfare Action Group holds speak-out

Students spoke out about issues such as public housing and financial difficulties faced by University students.

Photo: Nandini Dhir

The USyd Welfare Action Group hosted a speak-out at midday on Wednesday outside Fisher Library. 

Students congregated and stepped to the mic to share their thoughts on issues such as housing, sexual assault on campus, disability exclusion and welfare payments.

SRC Co-Welfare Officer Lia Perkins, who organised the speak-out, opened the space with the focus on “fight[ing] for students, the unemployed and against the injustices of the capitalist colonial state.” 

“The welfare rate should be at $80 per day and it’s clearly evident that the Liberal Government can do it… and COVID is far from over,” Co-Welfare Officer Shreyaa Sundararaghavan said.

Perkins mentioned how the acquisition of land by property developers, such as at a public housing auction in Glebe that day, decreases affordable and accessible housing for university students. 

“Colleges are taking up valuable housing that should be affordable for all students,” said Owen Marsden-Readford.

SRC Women’s Officer and Convenor of the Women’s Collective, Kimmy Dibben spoke on sexual assault on campus, saying: “Welcome Week is the most dangerous time on campus for students during which one in eight of sexual assaults on campus will occur… These colleges are not safe for students, they are hotbeds of sexual violence [and] predatory behaviour.”

“The fight for student welfare on campus is necessarily the fight against the cultures of sexual assault and the financial precarity that survivors face”, noted Alana Ramshaw. 

The speak-out also covered issues of education cuts and disability exclusion, with SRC Education Officer Madeleine Clark saying: “We’re seeing our courses being cut, staff being paid less, and meanwhile we have our Vice Chancellor being paid over 1.6 million dollars.” 

SRC Disabilities Officer Margot Beavon-Collin criticised Australian Disability Enterprises as “institutions that are allowed to pay employees significantly less than the minimum wage, as low as about $2.48 an hour.”

The Welfare Action Group will be supporting an education rally on March 24th as the issue of welfare cuts align closely with education cuts.

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