FAMILY VIOLENCE RECOGNITION
At the end of 2017, the LLSN achieved a massive victory for law students by succeeding in getting family violence explicitly recognised in Melbourne Law School's internal Procedures and Guidelines for extensions and special consideration.
Read more about how MLS supports students dealing with family violence situations, as part of the special consideration policy.
This is directly attributable to our advocacy. The preliminary results of our 2017 survey categorically supported our argument that students were unaware of their right to apply for special consideration if they were experiencing family violence. The stats are unequivocal:
235 responses were received.
When asked if family violence was a ground for special consideration at The University of Melbourne, 90% of students surveyed said 'no' or 'I do not know'.
When asked if they would feel comfortable reporting family violence to the university for special consideration purposes, 72% of students said they would not.
The LLSN is grateful to MLS for listening to our concerns and accepting our submission.
But there is more that needs to be done. The university-wide special consideration policy still does not make any mention of family violence.
After this big win, we are in discussion with the GSA and LSS about how they can support us to bring these changes across Grattan Street to main campus. This gap in the Special Consideration policy affects all students, not just law students.
In 2018, we will continue the fight to get family violence explicitly recognised as a eligible category in The University of Melbourne's special consideration policy.
Why did the LLSN take this on?
As the representatives of parents, carers and working professionals studying law at The University of Melbourne, the LLSN is concerned with the way our studies interact with family life.
In light of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, we cannot condone the Special Consideration Policy at the University of Melbourne because it does not specifically mention family violence as a ground for special consideration.
The eligibility criteria requires a student to show that an ‘exceptional cause or extenuating circumstance’, an ‘extraordinary cause’ or an ‘illness’ has ‘hampered, to a significant degree’, ‘prevented’ or ‘adversely affected’, their ability to complete an assessment task.
Such a high threshold arguably prevents students who are experiencing family violence from knowing they are covered by the policy. The policy deters victims from accessing equitable support and the experiences of our members demonstrate this.
The policy should explicitly state family violence as a ground for special consideration. Applicants should be provided with equitable adjustments that enable them to fully participate in their course. This will help ensure victims of family violence can secure the benefits of a higher education and provide an avenue for referral to expert support services.
In 2016, our position was put to the Special Consideration Academic Advisory Group to no avail. We justified our stance by way of the work in other sectors, the policies of other Universities and the findings of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
This year, the LLSN will renew its efforts so that victims feel supported by university policy and comfortable with the knowledge that they can access assessment adjustments if they need to.
If you're experiencing family violence, seek help: http://www.vic.gov.au/familyviolence/family-violence-support.html