Over the past few months, the 2021-2022 VicSRC Executive Committee, VicSRC Ambassadors and staff have all been labouring non-stop in preparation for VicSRC’s iconic, flagship student-led event: Congress. And after being at Congress for the first time ever, I must say the result was phenomenal!
My name’s Aleena and I’m part of the 2022-2023 Executive VicSRC and I would be delighted to provide you all with a detailed insight of the smallest to biggest things that that happened throughout the day – they are absolutely worth sharing!
I began my 60-minute travel from the Wyndham area, direct to the extensive site of Wurun Senior Secondary Campus, where Congress 2022 was to be held. The journey was tiresome but even in the car, the excitement was over-the-top! After going through the previous Congress events on VicSRC’s website, I knew of the excitement, vibes, timetable and structure I needed to expect. I already knew the students I was going with, closely since we attended the same classes and consequently got solid support from them during my time at Congress. The students who attended the event came from all over Victoria as well as the VicSRC Executive Committee and Ambassadors. My school appointed Congress delegates through a simple voting system, directed to whoever was engrossed and already present in the Student Representative Council (just FYI, different schools have different ways to complete this process, so it’s best to discuss with your school first if you are interested).
The day kicked off with a warm Welcome to Country from Uncle Tony. After that, students from all over Victoria pitched ideas during the pitching session (no surprises there). These pitches included issues that each student had witnessed or experienced at school or in the community – something they wanted to have changed and therefore voiced their opinion about it.
Some students had pre planned their pitches but there were also rows and rows of students who were absolutely fervent to display the fabulous ideas that they had come up with, on the day. Such skyrocketing determination of the students attending Congress just colours how inclusive, embracing and understanding the event actually was!
Then came the voting session. All of us were then able to put in our preferences on the documented issues to select a few major ones for deeper analysis, which was to be conducted in groups. I was settled in a group that was tasked to work on the voted issue of: “Public transport should be free for all students”.
We firstly shared our individual perspectives to provide an insight to each other about some of our personal experiences as students with public transport. A rural student at the table had complained about PTV travelling in distant areas, eating into the travel time he had to make for school. He shone the light on how the system is sometimes not updated and his bus was travelling in places where no one lived. Which makes it obvious to see how enraging and tiring the experience must’ve been.
My personal experience, as a regional student, was comparing travel time on PTV vs by car. To move between suburbs on trains, switched with buses takes me approximately 1 and a half hours, whereas coming by car barely takes 15 minutes. This was because the bus outside my community had a set time of arriving every 2 hours. So, once I missed my bus, I was arriving school 2 hours late, alongside all the other students living in the community.
The day ended with a final get-together & sharing of what each groups discussed, our proposed solutions, everything was shared in quick 3-minute speeches by the facilitators. All of them went through what each of their groups had ended with and following a last Congress Vibes check... we were all dismissed!
Student voice is not something an authority provides, it’s not what extroverts do and introverts don’t; it is an action to initiate change. So I would deeply encourage every student out there, regional, rural, metropolitan - doesn’t matter where you are from – to find what you are most passionate about and join the unmistakable roar of student voice!