Sunday, March 25, 2012

Newsletter 23rd of March 2012

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1.1 - 23rd of March
Hi posties!
A big week! Most of you will have received by now your SSAF bills from the University, and I know many of you are unhappy. The Guild is facilitating a forum on SSAF on the 27th of March in the Sue Boyd Room from 1pm-2pm. I'll be there, and so should some university staff to answer your questions.
A lot of misinformation is circulating about SSAF, which I would like to try and address. Unfortunately, information has been a little scarce - which is what has lead to so many rumours!
SSAF is a compulsory fee, which universities have the option to charge their students under legislation passed by the Federal Government. This fee must be put towards the provision of services for students. The current arrangement is that UWA takes about 10% of the gross fee, then 70% is allocated to the Guild and 30% to the Sport and Rec Centre. 100% of the PSA's funding comes from the Guild - so this fee funds the representation, services, and social events we provide for postgraduates. If you are a full-time student on Crawley campus, you are liable for the full fee. If you are part-time, regional, and/or off campus, you're liable for a reduced fee. If you're an HDR student undertaking your research overseas, you're able to have the fee set to $0.00 by applying to the GRS with your details and the period of time you will be overseas.
If you're currently paying for your course using HECS, you can defer your payment through there. Otherwise, you need to pay up front - you cannot have the fee taken out of your scholarship before it is credited to you. This is part of the conditions of the scholarship award. There is one exception, which is the Healthway Scholarships - students on this scholarship may use the operating/maintenance budget to cover the fee.
Why has the fee gone up from $120.00 per annum to $198.00? The fee is now set by the University, in consultation with the Guild - and it will continue to rise over the next three years, so please be prepared for this. The Guild affiliation fee has not been indexed for the last 10 years, it has remained at $120.00 for that time. This rise is bringing the fee into line with inflation.
What happens if you don't pay the fee? An encumbrance will be put on your enrolment until you pay the fee. This means that you can't graduate, re-enroll, or receive results. Not a good situation!
If you want to enquire about the reduced fee for off-campus students, please contact Student Administration: 6488 3235. If you want to complain about the fee, contact me and I'll see what I can do to resolve problems. I'm currently working with the GRS to make sure that students who submit their research don't get charged for more than the semester in which they're enrolled, we're just waiting for confirmation from Student Administration.
Some good news is that the printing fiasco at the start of the year should be fully resolved - all postgraduates who are entitled to printing credit from their faculties should now have the correct amount credited to their student cards through the central system. IF YOU DON'T please contact me! Please note that not all schools/faculties provide printing credit for their postgrads, and often it is restricted to research students.
What else have I been doing? Coordinating sub-committees organising Prizes, Quiz Night, Postscript, and the combined LACE/PSA dinner, attending Scholarships Committee, Academic Board, graduations, drafting some documents for the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations... this role keeps me out of trouble! I'm loving it after three months, and loving meeting all the lovely people doing postgraduate study at UWA!
Good news that came out of the Scholarships Committee meeting is that it looks like Completion scholarships are not being cut - but let me get final confirmation of the changes they are making and I'll write a blog post up for you all to read at your leisure.
Email, drop by the office, Facebook me - I'll always be happy to talk!
Aisling Blackmore
Phone: (08) 6488 3194
Office: Room 1.03 (First Floor), Guild South Wing
Twitter: @ACBlackmore


28 March - Atmospheric and Oceanic Waves
An IAS Masterclass with Bruce Sutherland, Professor, Physics, and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta and 2012 UWA Gledden Visiting Senior Fellow
Date: Wednesday 28 March 2012 | Time: 10am-4pm (a light lunch will be provided)
Venue: Old Senate Room, Irwin St Building (IAS), UWA
Registration close: 21 March or until full
4 April - Giving Voice to Values
A Conversation with Mary C. Gentile, Director of Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum, Babson College
Date: Wednesday 4 April 2012 | Time: 10am-12noon
Venue: Old Senate Room, Irwin St Building (IAS), UWA
Cost: Free but registration is essential.
Registration close: 28 March or until full
Mark Dixon, the Associate Director of Research Ethics and Biosafety, sent us some great information about the requirements for and processes relating to ethics approval at UWA. It's a little too long for the newsletter, so please find it on the blog at:
I encourage you once again to read this information - it's extremely important and very clearly written!


Committee vacancies currently:
Faculty Rep: Law
Nominations for Engineering Rep and OCM have closed and there will be a secret ballot in at the next Connect. Please look out for an email next week with statements of interest from the candidates!
A candidate has been found for the Education Faculty Representative - the constitution requires that before filling a position when there is only one nominee I post notice for a 7 day comment period on the website and the noticeboard, which I will do next week!
Email to nominate yourself for the Law Rep!
The much promised OneSearch tutorial is happening! It includes an EndNote tutorial! I'm very excited!
Venue: Reid Training Room, 1st floor Reid Library
When: Wednesday 28th March 1 pm- 2.30 pm
Information covered:
  • Who should use it
  • Basic search techniques
  • Alternatives to OneSearch
  • What is it?
  • How it works with Microsoft Word
  • Will it save you time?
No need to RSVP, just show up in Reid at 2.30pm!
Everyone's favourite social event is back in 2012 - Quiz Night! It will be held in the Tav on the 10th of May, starting at 7.30pm sharp! Start getting your table of 8 together, tickets will be on sale at the next Connect.
Applications are open for PSA Small Grants and PSA Travel Awards! Applications close the 4th of May at 5pm, no late applications can be accepted.
Travel Awards: Up to 5 awards of up to $750.00 will be given to postgraduate students to present their research at a conference.
Small Grants: Have a group which facilitates academic discussion and/or networking for postgraduates? PSAprovides grants of up to $200.00, and up to 3 will be awarded this semester.
Please note that we are unable to fund the Research Training and Development Award this year, at this stage.
For more information and application forms, see the website:
Postgraduates are a significant proportion of the casual and sessional teaching staff, but are often not well informed about their rights.
Do you know what you should be getting paid for? Do you know what information you should have access to before signing your contract? What happens if it all goes wrong?
PSA and the National Tertiary Education Union are here to help! We've organised for the NTEU to give a short presentation and have a question and answer session on Tuesday the 3rd of April from 1pm to 2pm, in the PSALounge (Guild South Wing, Room 1.05)
Please come along, tell your friends, and get informed in a friendly and informal environment!
Also, CAPA and NTEU would love it if you would fill out their survey!
So would I, incidentally.
One of the other things I love are our monthly gatherings at the Uni Club! The next one is at 5pm on the 5th of April, on the Uni Club balcony - just look for the purple banner and the blue shirts.
What is a Connect, some of you may ask? First and foremost, it's a free social event! PSA pays for food and drink, and you come along and make it fun - bring your postgrad friends along, or make new postgrad friends, and meet your committee!
You can also:
  • Buy a T-Shirt ($10.00)
  • Buy a ticket for Quiz Night ($10.00 per ticket, 8 per table)
  • Sign up to the mailing list (well... sign up your friends who you're going to bring with you)
  • Like the Facebook page (114/5000 enrolled UWA postgrads do!)
  • Join the Guild (discounts!)
  • Pull aside the President/a committee member and tell us what you're happy with and what you're unhappy with (we really do want to know!)


Chinese students are required for a research study at UWA investigating the relationship between asthma/allergy and changes to the immune system.
Students from mainland China who are currently living in Perth are invited to participate in the study.
The study will involve one recruitment session at Princess Margaret Hospital (Subiaco) lasting approximately 30 minutes. We will be collecting 1) A short questionnaire, 2) 10 ml of blood drawn from the vein (anaesthetic cream available) and 3) Skin prick tests for skin reactivity to allergens.
Volunteers will be reimbursed $20.
CONTACT: Alicia at or on (08) 9340 7414
4.2 - LIMINA
Call for Papers for the 7th Annual Limina Conference: "Humanising Collaboration".
The conference will be held on the 7th of June 2012 at the University of Western Australia, Perth, with supplementary events on the 6th and the 8th.
Abstracts due 30th of March.
Please spread the word amongst your postgrad/ ECR friends, and find further information here:
Aisling Blackmore
President, UWA Postgraduate Students' Association
Phone: 6488 3194
To subscribe or unsubscribe from the postgrad mailing list, please follow the instructions at:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

UWA Research Ethics

Hello postgraduates and welcome to 2012.
If you are new to academic research there are several sections of the University that can assist you, help you understand our processes, and help you meet some obligations that arise when performing advanced research.
One of these sections is Research Services, which is located in the Administration building at the north end of the campus, west of Winthrop Hall. My section of Research Services is called “Research Ethics and Biosafety” and we are here to help you understand the expectations and obligations you have regarding legislation and regulation governing research that involves animals, people, genetically modified organisms, and other bio-hazards. This area is one that requires detailed compliance with laws and the highest ethical standards in working with people, animals and biological safety.
If your research deals with people, even data about people, or just observing people in day to day activities, you will need to submit your project proposal for review, possibly by a formally constituted Human Research Ethics Committee. Our Human Research Ethics Office can help you to prepare for this review.
If your research deals with animals, even for observation in the wild or the study of tissue samples, you need to submit your project proposal to a formally constituted Animal Ethics Committee. Our Animal Ethics Office can help you to prepare for this review.
If your research deals with genetically modified animals, plants, bacteria, viruses, prions, or any bio-hazardous material we have a Biosafety Office that can arrange to have your research proposal reviewed by a formally constituted Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).
The University will not approve your research to begin without the required reviews, and you will not be able to publish your work without these reviews either. Further you, your supervisor, your school, and ultimately the University itself are also held accountable for complying with the laws and regulations on research with people, animals and biosafety.
These review committees are made up of senior researchers, specialists external to the University, representatives of organisations with an interest in research ethics, safety and animal welfare, and members of the public. These people volunteer their time and meet roughly once per month to review research proposals. Often a review will result in concerns about the ethical, welfare or safety matters of your plan being communicated to you, such that you will need to alter the practical details of your research plan and re-submit it for a second review. This all takes time.
The meeting schedule means that you are wise to consider the research ethics and safety aspects of your proposal very early in your research project plan.
We are here to assist you with that and to help you navigate the ethical, welfare and safety labyrinth of modern research. Please contact us or come and see us. You can find out more about Research Ethics and Biosafety at: or, UWA website -> Research -> Staff.
I hope you enjoy your postgraduate research here at UWA. I certainly did and trod this same path myself in the mid-2000s with human ethics review of my research.
Sincerely, Mark Dixon
Associate Director for Research Ethics and Biosafety
Research Services, The University of Western Australia

Monday, March 5, 2012

Casual Staff and Marking Pay

Hi Postgrads,

A heads up to those that are casual tutors.  At the end of 2010 the Academic Staff Agreement was renegotiated.  This affects you because it was agreed that casual staff would be paid for marking that occurs outside of class time.  That is, any assignments that students hand in that are separate from in-class work. (i.e. research essays).  Any tutors who do this type of marking should be paid.

This new arrangement came into force in the second semester of 2011.   However, a large number of tutors in Arts have had problems getting paid in a timely manner. 

In response to this situation, as PSA Arts Faculty representative, I have raised the issue with the Dean of Arts, and talked to the Faculty Manager Scott Sullivan.  He has apologized for the delay, noting it has taken the faculty longer than foreseen to consult and negotiate with unit coordinators to standardise marking loads across units and identify which units have assessments that require marking outside of class.

I was assured that eligible tutors (that the faculty are aware of) would be paid on 7th of February for marking.  Scott says they may still have missed some eligible tutors and advises anyone who thinks they may have been eligible for marking pay to contact their school’s manager:

Social and Cultural Studies: Tim Stewart

6488 284

Humanities: Vicki Wilson
6488 2170

Systems should now be in place to prevent a repeat of the delays to marking pay this year.  But keep me posted if there are further problems in Arts.  My email is

If there have been similar problems with tutorial marking pay for Semester 2 2011 in other Faculties, please let your PSA Faculty Representative know.  If you are unsure who your representative is, contact Aisling at