Prove your humanity

Nini Siddiqua – Illuminate

Nini Saddiqua. Photo: Curtin Guild.

What sparked your interest in student politics?
I have a strong interest in leadership and for the past year I’ve worked really hard to up my leadership skills through leadership roles and programs. With what I’m studying – health promotion and public health – advocacy is such an important part of that, so I kind of wanted to exercise my leadership skills and to improve the public health and wellbeing of our students. Health science students can be studying here at Curtin for several years so it’s important to me that we are adequately represented in matters that either directly or indirectly impact us.

What’s the purpose of the role you’re running for?
So this role focuses on being the voice of students, particularly health science students, and helping them out with any issues that they might be facing and also participating in things like committees and boards and student discipline panels. [It’s] also about fostering community through things like events and running the Facebook group … Just helping out students with any sorts of concerns they may have.

If elected, what will you do for Health Sciences students?
I will be a compassionate and pragmatic leader that will help any students with any sorts of concerns they may have. In terms of advocacy, I want to advocate for paid placements as a response to the cost of living crisis. Other things I hope to advocate for are Containers for Change on campus and improving access to medical and mental health resources, as well as free period products on campus.

What’s your own Confession at Curtin or what’s a Curtin life hack you’ve found?
A life hack is probably the South Oval – parking, there’s always a spot there during busy hours!


Noah Cox – Left Action

Noah Cox. Photo: Curtin Guild.

What sparked your interest in student politics?
I’ve always been interested in politics generally. I think a lot of people think politics is just old white men in parliament. It’s a lot more than that, it’s about advocating for people and fighting for rights and I think that’s really important everywhere – especially on campus, especially for students. And what really initially got me into politics, I was in primary school and I wrote a persuasive essay to the Councillor saying ‘We need more recycling bins!’ I’ve always been really passionate about what I think is important and what I think needs to change. Here at Curtin I got involved with Socialist Alternative and they are a student activists that fight for a number of things. They are socialists which means they think that people are being exploited and they deserve better. I guess that’s the basis of my university politics, and yeah I just want to improve student life and welfare and generally student conditions.

What’s the purpose of the role you’re running for?
To talk about the purpose of the Health Sciences Rep we need to delve into the role of the Guild in general. The Guild recently has been very removed from its original intended purpose. A lot of people don’t even know the Guild is the student union which means it’s supposed to be in opposition to university management and fight for students and fight for conditions. Right now when people think of Guild what they think of is discounts off your coffee, maybe a party here and that, Love Week – we all got that email. But the thing is, the Guild has lots of resources, there’s about $20 million under their disposal – probably not the whole $20 million but that’s the amount of money that they have represented. They have the ability to email all students, they have the ability to put action into different social issues. They have the ability to actually sit down with management. That’s the role of the Guild. They are a student union. They have a role to advocate for students and I think that currently what it’s doing … I mean I have no problem with a few cents off my coffee, but in a cost of living crisis there’s a lot more we can be doing, specifically for health sciences … What about the unpaid placement? I myself have 80 hours of unpaid work that I have to do that is mandatory for my course which is very important and I’m very much looking forward to it. But the thing is, I have to take time off my paid labour which means it’s going to be really hard to pay rent. It’s going to be really hard to put food on the table. So many students, specifically international students, who are already paying three times the amount we’re paying just to be here. Just to do the same courses, which is very much not fair … I have a number of mandatory health assessments, different certificates that I need to get privately that are mandatory to my course but are not included in my HECs debt. So I paid about $400 just this year out of pocket to get all of the competencies that I would need to undertake my course. If I didn’t get those I would fail. And I think that obviously students are a very vulnerable demographic and I think they can do a lot more to support them. We need to be looking at where the funding is going and what more we can actually do in health sciences. Because it’s a very old profession, there’s a lot of hierarchies, there’s a lot of ways of doing things and a lot of time with health sciences unfortunately when you try to bring it up, the kind of answers you get are ‘That’s the way it’s always been. That’s the way we do it.’ But I think students deserve better and I think that we can fight for better and that’s the role of the Guild.

If elected what will you do for Health Science students?
I think the two most pressing issues – well there’s more – but just off the top of my head; unpaid mandatory placements. We should at the minimum be getting minimum wage because it is valuable work and valuable contributions we are bringing to those work forces. And a lot of the time when you ask people at those places, I know specifically I can only talk about my context as a nursing student, but I’m sure you can apply that everywhere. If you look at the nursing homes first years are going to or any of the other hospital placements or clinical areas – a lot of the time the students and the efforts of the students provide relief to the staff there. So it’s not like we’re just taking up space because the students are very much active in their clinical assessments and very much deserve to be paid for their labour. As health science rep there’s a lot of social issues that I feel like the Guild should be supporting. Such as there’s been recent changes to abortion rights and WA has historically some of the worst access to abortion out of all of Australia. They made some amendments to those which is great and Left Action was part of that through protest, but still, if you as a student, or I as a student, or anyone that has a uterus requires an abortion, it costs $300 just to take that early access pill and I think that general health and wellbeing socially in WA and in Australia is another thing the Guild should be advocating for as well.

What’s your own confession at Curtin or what’s a Curtin life hack you have found?
I have a Curtin confession. So at the moment I am aware of a few cases where because the rent at Curtin accomodation is so high, there are a few people that I’m aware of at the moment in Curtin housing that have secret room mates that live with them to split the rent just so they can afford to eat and study. So there’s a Curtin confession for you and I think it says a lot about the cost of living crisis.

A full video of the interview can be found here: