Over the mid-year holiday whilst many of our students were enjoying a break from the thought of university and college life, three of our current residents attended the National Association of Australian University Colleges (NAAUC) National Conference held in Melbourne.

The annual week-long residential conference held at Mannix College, Monash University, saw 170 delegates from residences across Australia come together to discuss a broad range of topics of importance to university residences including diversity and inclusion, mental health, sexual assault and education, time and event management and fostering successful relationships within a college community.

Below, Union’s NAAUC delegates, Lucy Noble-Dickinson, Lachlan Thomson and Mitchell Giles-Duffy share their experiences of their time in Melbourne.

“Stand up, step forward.” This was the mantra quoted to us throughout our week in Melbourne for the Annual NAAUC Conference. In the beginning, it was just a mindless phrase with little meaning, however, as the week continued, it became a call to action.

Our time in Melbourne was fun to say the least, it was like a second O week, introducing yourself to new people, playing icebreaker games, falling back on the classic “So what do you study?” or “Where are you from?” when there was a NAAUCkward silence. We spent our nights exploring Melbourne through parliamentary debating and an Amazing Race across Melbourne CBD and our other nightly NAAUCturnal activities.

Talking to delegates from across Australia about their experiences and traditions in their residence was perhaps the best part. We were all from different places, different backgrounds but we were all drawn together by our love for our college community and its defining quirks. We were sure to show off our Union farmer spirit during the Country Bush dance, flannies and all.

That’s not to say it was all fun and games, a large portion of our day was spent in seminars and workshops with a strong academic focus on the pastoral care side of residential colleges. Topics such as “Alcohol and Drugs: Addiction to Culture”, “Sex, Sexuality and Gender”, “Traditions and Cultural Change” and “Wellness and Mental Health” were discussed at length. These academic seminars were both informative and confronting. To hear delegates come forward and discuss the thought provoking situations of sexual assault and mental health oversight at their residence was jarring and prompted anger and a want to make a difference.

From the captivating and relevant seminars to the enthusiastic, action packed social events NAAUC was an all-round exceptional experience and we are so thrilled to have been given the opportunity to attend this prestigious conference. We look forward to bringing back some of the ideas presented at NAAUC and implementing them at Union College.