At the moment there are almost twice as many women as men enrolled as students at UNE. “That means there are more mothers than ever before at UNE“ mothers who are balancing their studies with family commitments,” said UNE’s Student Experience Liaison Officer, Mr Ed Campbell.
“Part of being a university student is learning to juggle competing demands such as study, work, and social life,” Mr Campbell said. “But imagine the challenges involved in doing all of this with the responsibility for a small child. That’s why we’ve established Mums@UNE. We expect that most members of the group will be mothers, but Dads are welcome too.”
Mr Campbell, the coordinator of the Mums@UNE project, said social support was extremely important in student life – particularly for parents with young children whose commitments often made it difficult to participate in extra-curricular academic and social activities available to most students.
“It’s easy to feel left out of activities and social events because they are not always designed with toddlers and young children in mind,” said Irene Lemon (pictured here with her daughter Shenoah), a first-year student and mother-of-one who is a founding member of Mums@UNE. “To have a network of parents to share concerns and achievements with will be very valuable to my studies and to the quality of my education.”
Mums@UNE has found widespread support across the campus, with Services UNE providing access to the Chancellory within the Boolominbah Collection as a meeting venue, and the University's child-care centre, Yarm Gwanga, helping to alert parents to the group’s existence.
The first informal meeting of Mums@UNE is being held at “Booloominbah” on Monday October 20 from 9.30 am. Anyone who would like to attend can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. “Children will be most welcome,” Ms Lemon said.
While students can contact the group through e-mail or by approaching the student services organisation Student Assist on campus, it will be managed through the social networking Web site Facebook.
“Students don’t have to join the Facebook group to be members,” Mr Campbell said, “but we’ve found that social networking sites provide an enjoyable way of quickly and easily staying in touch with others in the group, sharing information, and finding out about the wide range of services available through the University.”
For more information, e-mail email@example.com or contact Ed Campbell through Student Assist on 02 6773 2897.