Are you OK on Campus - 23 July 2014

R U OK?A request from a Unitec student has led to It's not OK's first partnership with a tertiary institution.

"A student was concerned that family violence was a big issue that students were facing in their communities," says Alison Dow, the Director of Student Wellbeing at Unitec in Auckland.

"She was also concerned with the way people sometimes talked and joked about family violence when the subject was raised and thought it was an important issue for us to do something about."

Community leadership

Unitec, which has more than 23,000 students in 165 programmes, saw the request as a chance to take a leadership role across the tertiary sector.

Unitec students

"Teams were keen to be part of It's not OK. It was a social campaign that was already gaining traction. We wanted to make the point that no form of violence is OK," says Alison.

It's not OK fitted in with Unitec's holistic view of staff and student wellbeing, which includes academic success and wellbeing factors such as smoking, healthy eating and positive relationships.

Multi-pronged approach

Activities that the campaign at Unitec developed included:

  • members of the leadership team signing a banner supporting White Ribbon Day which was hung in the Student Wellbeing building at the main Mt Albert campus
  • taking part in White Ribbon Day activities in 2010 and 2011
  • customising the It's not OK mini-booklet with photos of the chief executive and student association president, details of help available on campus and in the community, and including booklets in orientation packs given to students
  • inviting It's not OK Champion Vic Tamati to speak at a professional development conference held by Unitec's largest faculty, Social and Health Sciences
  • an Its not OK stall at orientation week with water and pamphlets, supported by Its not OK Champions and team
  • printing T-shirts for student and staff champions, posters and pens with pullout banners with healthy relationships information
  • publishing a two-page positive relationship quiz for students and contact information in the student magazine
  • handing branded lip balm out to students
  • training student association champions to talk to students
  • posting a banner ad and articles on Unitec's intranet
  • asking staff and students to send in photos of themselves to show their support for Its not OK. Unitec used the more than 400 photos to produce a staff mouse-pad and poster pinned up around campus spelling out R U OK? Both the mouse-pad and poster had contact details for support services.

It's hard to measure the results, but the popularity of the T-shirts and posters is encouraging, says Alison. The counselling team also believes increased awareness of family violence has enabled students to open up to counsellors.

Strong support key

One of the main reasons for the success of the campaign has been engaging strong supporters, says Alison.

"You have to have some people who are passionate and for whom it's a focus. I think the key is to have a few really good things that are effective and keep the message going."

Maintaining momentum is especially important at a tertiary institution which, by definition, will have a constant turnover of students.

 

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