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August 17, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Students can catch the CAB at Victoria

In a first for Victoria University students, staff from Wellington branches of the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) have set up a drop-in service at the university.

The drop-in service established late last month, is located in the Atrium at Kelburn Campus and is available to students 12.30 – 2.30pm every Tuesday. Students have this two-hour opportunity to discuss issues relating to legal, financial and employment issues. CAB also provide a Justice of the Peace service.

The service is staffed by Manager Nicki McLeod and veteran volunteer Cheryl McDonald.Although the service is off to a slow start, Area Manager Mary O’Regan says that the time spent with students is of great value and provides ease of access for those needing advice.

“The wonderful thing about our service is that no one is in a rush, so they [CAB Volunteers] will give people all the time they need.”

The drop-in is the first to be provided at a tertiary institution in Wellington, and CAB hopes that they can extend the service to other universities soon.

Waikato University currently has a permanent office on campus which is accessible to students and the public during term time. It is the only permanent on-site office at a tertiary institution in New Zealand.

Between 2008 and 2009, 208 students utilised the service.

A number of students spoken to by Salient were unaware that the drop-in service existed. A survey of a 300-level Politics lecture indicated that only four students knew about the service, but 17 said that they may use the service in the future.

The service has had four student enquiries each week since it started. Students Alex Benton, Shani Gray and their flatmate Kylie Benton used the service last week and said they found it useful for answering their query about tenancy issues.

Gray says that the ease of using the drop-in at Victoria was great and she may not have used CAB otherwise.

“I found it a lot easier to come here. I am not sure that I would have gone to another office to get the same information. I think I would have just left it.”

Advertising for the drop-in was limited to a MyVictoria announcement and a number of flyers posted around the university. McLeod hopes that advertising is increased soon and that the service can be extended to other campuses.

Maria Gonclaves-Rorke, Manager of Financial Support and Advice at Victoria University recognises the importance for ease of accessibility for students and believes that the service will complement services for students available on and off campus.

“The team at Citizens Advice not only have a large amount of information they can share, but they are also able to refer students to other places that can help, such as the Community Law Centre or to services within the university.”

Gonclaves-Rorke says the service is a pilot programme for Vic and it will be monitored to see if is worthwhile.


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