‘Psyc Cares’ launched to provide anonymous access to basic necessities

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, two-thirds of Australian university students were reported to be living below the poverty line, with an average annual income of $18,000. In addition, 15% of full time domestic students regularly went without food or other necessities to make ends meet, which increased to 25% for Indigenous students. In light of pandemic-related job losses and rising housing stress disproportionately affecting young Australians, it is likely these figures have only worsened.

Psyc Cares pantry filled with foodWith this in mind, Professor Kristen Pammer, Head of School, Psychology, launched the Psyc Cares initiative, which aims to provide Psychology students with food, toiletries and other basic necessities.

“Psyc Cares was started to provide practical support for Psychology students who may be struggling financially due to COVID-19, job loss or other circumstances,” said Tara Magnay, who is coordinating the initiative.

“The idea was to make it easy for students to access support immediately without having to go through a drawn out process, while also being anonymous.”

Psyc Cares comprises of a pantry at Callaghan that allows Psychology students to access the basic necessities confidentially and anonymously. Facilitated by the School’s administrative staff, the products have been donated by School staff and community members, while students also have the ability to request items if there is something in particular they need.

For our Ourimbah students, a number of Care Bags have been delivered to the campus containing with food, toiletries and other basic necessities.

Ms Magnay said while the pantry opened for three days per week, student visits are steadily increasing

“We have been able to provide support to students in dire need and are working with a number of referral systems if UON staff become aware of any students who require assistance,” she said.

“Items such as pasta, pasta sauce, feminine hygiene and general hygiene products, rice, weetbix, meal bases and of course, chocolate are all proving very popular.”

Ms Magnay said those looking to contribute to Psych Cares are encouraged to drop products at the School of Psychology office, or make further enquiries by emailing psyc-cares@newcastle.edu.au.

“During these difficult times, initiatives like Psyc Cares are really important,” said Ms Magnay

“We thank everyone for their generosity in ensuring our students have access to basic necessities without the awkwardness of asking assistance.”

The Psyc Cares initiative was created in memory of Dr Ken Sutton, a dedicated teacher and supervisor in the School of Psychology, who was a great advocate for students and highly valued the student experience.

The Psyc Cares Coordination Team

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