Support roles

Our dedicated staff in Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington halls of residence is committed to providing high quality care for our resident student community. University accommodation support staff work collaboratively with key University student support services to help residents manage the challenges of a new academic environment, their health and wellbeing, and to assist in the transition to independent living and self-reliance.

Nau mai haere mai to Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington's halls of residence

Your first year at university will be a year of change, new opportunities and learning. It will be one of the most exciting and challenging years for you. We have provided the information below to help you think about how you can prepare yourself for this next stage in your life as an independent, capable and responsible resident in your hall community.

The process of adjustment

Adjustment to big change, such as coming to university, will take time and sometimes feels a bit like a rollercoaster ride. For some people, these experiences and changes will be felt very early on, while others may find themselves still struggling to cope with these changes long after they have moved-in. All of these changes and feelings are normal and natural. Adjusting to living in a hall of residence is not a race—everyone does it in their own way and in their own time.

Coping with change

The good news is that your feelings can be managed by acknowledging the changes in your life, contacting home, planning trips home to give you something to look forward to, and giving yourself time to get involved in what the hall, people and university have to offer.

Building new relationships is not easy for everyone and you may not know anybody moving into your hall of residence. However, don't despair as most of the other people you meet are in the same boat, so why not make the most of your shared experiences and make some new ones together?

We recommend joining in with floor and hall activities, and inter-hall events, this is a great way to make new friends and get to know your community. Try talking to the people on your floor, striking up a conversation with the person next to you in the dining room or in your lectures or tutorials, to find people who have similar interests to you, such as tv series, music, sports, board games, video games, books, and more.

Hall based support

Hall staff know the realities of living in a hall of residence and they are here to support you while you navigate your way through hall living and the university environment.

Residential Advisors (RAs) live on site and are usually your first point of contact. A duty RA is available daily after business hours to deal with matters that need an after-hours response and to support the night manager or duty manager if there is an emergency.

Head of Halls (HoH)

Heads of Halls (HoH) in first year halls, or Residential Life Managers in independent living precincts, oversee the welfare of residents. They manage all staff and operations at their hall or precinct. The Head of Hall works with the Deputy Head of Hall, Residential Advisers, Night Managers, and Student Support Coordinators to ensure students are living in a safe environment that supports their wellbeing and academic performance. Heads of Hall and Residential Life Managers work closely with their counterparts to provide a consistent, very high standard of care, and to build communities that live the University’s core ethical values of respect, responsibility, fairness, integrity and empathy.

Deputy Head of Halls (DHoHs)

Deputy Head of Halls (DHoHs) live on site and work with the Head of Hall to provide leadership and management within the Hall environment. Their role includes assisting the coordination of the Residential Advisor team and managing responses to resident behaviour. Their role is essential in building each hall's sense of community and individual culture. The Deputy Head of Hall will also contribute to disciplinary processes, or function as a conduit to university support services.

Residential Advisors (RAs)

Residential Advisors (RAs) are high-achieving senior students employed by the University to support residents' transition into tertiary study, to develop and maintain the hall community and to provide leadership through the provision of social and academic learning opportunities. RAs live on site and are assigned a group of residents. They are often the first point of contact for residents needing assistance or support as they negotiate the challenges of living in a communal environment away from home.

Night Managers

Night Managers work on site outside of regular office hours, supporting the management team in the running of the hall. Their focus is on the health, welfare and safety of residents, as well as ensuring the security of hall buildings. The Night Manager will work in conjunction with the Residential Advisors to assist with duty rounds and address any incidents that may occur.

Student Support Coordinators (SSCs)

The Student Support Coordinators (SSCs) are registered health professionals who provide a confidential service for hall residents experiencing any health or wellbeing issues that may impact on their ability to manage the demands of their living and academic environments. The SSCs liaise with faculties, student support services, and community services to ensure that residents can access the support required to reach their potential and achieve academic success.

If you want to meet with an SSC, you need to complete the SSC intake form and return it by email to mauriora@vuw.ac.nz—one of the SSCs will be in touch.

The team

Ashley

Kia ora, I'm Ashley. I am originally from the United States of America but I have been living abroad since 2013. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and my Master's degree in Social Work. My professional path as a Social Worker has allowed me to work alongside individuals, families, and communities from different backgrounds in a variety of contexts within the US, Singapore, and New Zealand. I feel fortunate to be back in the university environment supporting students to successfully navigate their academic journey and achieve their full potential. One aspect that I love about working with students is engaging in a collaborative process to address their wellbeing, strengths, and goals. In my spare time, I enjoy travelling, yoga, spending time outside, and eating spicy food. I can be contacted via email.

Ben

Kia ora, I’m Ben. After four years working with ‘at risk’ children and young adults, I completed my Master of Social Work in 2007, and trained in solution-focused therapy in 2012.  I worked with ‘at risk’ youth and children in care as a social worker in the United Kingdom until 2013, and here in Aotearoa since then, as well as two years working for ACC on complex cases. Here at this University, I work with students from a solution-focused and strengths perspective, mindful of the qualities that have brought them this far. It’s great to work with such a wonderful, driven and diverse group of young adults as they figure out how to make their big plans a reality. I’m a music fan, play a bit of piano, dabble in some creative writing,  and love cycling, running and the beach life with my family. I can be contacted via email.

Hester

Kia ora, I’m Hester. I am a registered counsellor with experience working in high schools and universities. I love working with young people from diverse backgrounds and supporting them to make the most out of life by embracing the opportunities available to them and overcoming obstacles along the way. I am available for queries big and small, related to wellbeing, health, academia and anything else that might crop up in this exciting and challenging time of life. Outside of this University, I am passionate about cooking, music, travel and my family and friends. I can be contacted via email.

Jessica

Kia ora, I’m Jess. I am a registered social worker who has worked with children, young people and families all over New Zealand. I moved to Wellington for this role and love the uphill walks and outdoor adventures that are available in the greater Wellington region. I enjoy working at the Halls as I like meeting new people, making connections and supporting and empowering young people during difficult times in their lives. I value and accept people for who they are and appreciate finding out about their unique strengths. I can be contacted via email. I can be contacted via email.

University wide support

Mauri Ora (Student Health) is Victoria University of Wellington's centre for health and counselling. They are based at the Kelburn Campus, but also have smaller outreach clinics at the Pipitea, Karori and Te Aro campuses. Student Health provides a full range of health services for students, either as their primary GP, or casually if students decide to keep their family GP. For further information visit Student Health.

Victoria University of Wellington's Disability Service provides advice, expertise and support to students. They are committed to leading the University to be an inclusive education provider and are committed to eliminating barriers for people with disabilities wherever they exist. This includes any mental health concerns. For further information visit Disability Services or Student Counselling.

To contact the Student Support Coordinator, ring, email or pop in.

The parents'/caregivers' guide to living in a hall of residence

Undoubtedly, the first year at university is a period of transition and adjustment. It will be one of the most exciting and demanding years for your young person. As a parent or caregiver, the first year will also present its own unique set of new experiences and challenges.

First year challenges and the process of adjustment

Adjustment to big change, such as starting university, takes time and sometimes feels a bit like a rollercoaster ride. For some people, these experiences and changes will be felt very early on, while others may find themselves still struggling to cope with these changes long after they have moved in. All of these changes and feelings are normal and natural. Adjusting to living in a hall of residence is not a race—everyone does it in their own way and in their own time.

Major challenges often experienced within this first year are:

  • Relationship complexities, including forming new relationships, fitting-in and sexuality.
  • Developing and maintaining self-identity.
  • Responsible use of social media.
  • Experimentation with alcohol and substance use.
  • Reality of academic expectations including time management and dealing with failure.
  • Seeking support with health and wellbeing concerns.

Student responsibility versus parenting from a distance

We encourage students to take responsibility with their academic and personal choices, including:

  • Choosing and making new friends.
  • Respecting differences among others within the hall.
  • Dealing with and managing the pressure of conflict.
  • Setting and prioritising their own goals.
  • Setting boundaries between social and academic life.
  • Managing sleep, hygiene and nutritional needs.
  • Acknowledging ownership over the areas that they are struggling with and seeking appropriate support.

Students need to accomplish these skills themselves, and our experienced, caring, and knowledgeable staff will be there to guide and support them.

Tips for parents and families of university students

The main advice we can give you is to continue to have open and frank conversations with your young adult regarding all areas of their lives.

Coping with change

  • Encourage your child to keep busy and get involved in the hall and university communities.
  • Break the year into smaller bits, and set achievable goals.
  • Suggest a short break at home during first trimester break to reconnect (it will matter later in the trimester if they haven't felt like they've had a break, even if only a for few days).
  • Suggest that they talk through their experiences with hall or university staff.
  • Know what services are available to students. If your young person confides in you that they are having problems, it's helpful to know what services are available. On the front page of the Student Support Coordinators page, there are links to student services. The university website also has a great deal of information, just place a keyword in the search box.
  • Support their choices. First year is a time to explore new programmes, courses and experiences. Some students are reluctant to follow their interests out of concern for disappointing their families. Having your support will mean a lot to your child.

Keeping in touch

  • Send a surprise care package or mail.
  • Find the balance that works for your young person to enable them the space they need to be independent whilst remaining connected and supported.
  • Be aware of the holiday times and get in early to book travel home, especially in the first trimester.

Finally, please let us know any information regarding your young person that will help us support them more fully for their first year of tertiary study. For further information and tips, check-out the Victoria University of Wellington Guide for Whānau pdf3MB.

Restorative justice in halls 

The halls of residence are an essential part of the University's commitment to becoming a Restorative University. This means we strive to implement restorative practices both reactively following an incident of harm and proactively to build strong, trusting relationships.

Our residential advisors are all trained each year in circle processes and restorative conversation models, which are designed to promote connection and build a sense of belonging to the hall community. We hear each year that Residential Advisers (RAs) enjoy using circles to quickly and effectively get to know residents, while also supporting the relationships between residents to grow and deepen.

When an incident has occurred (such as a conflict or harmful behaviour), we endeavour to use a restorative approach (rather than a punitive approach) to respond. Restorative approaches explore what happened, identify who was affected and how, and decide how best to repair any harm and prevent further harm from occurring. This collaborative process enables residents to take responsibility for their own actions, and to be supported as important members of the community, while also repairing the harm done.

Our Privacy Statement

We are mindful that the information we hold at the Victoria University of Wellington Accommodation Service about your health is of a private and confidential nature. In regard to the collection, storage and access to that information, we are bound by the rules of the Health Information Privacy Code and the Health Act 1956. All of our Student Support Coordinators belong to a professional association and are required to practice in accordance with their association's code of ethics.

As a general rule, health information will not be disclosed to other people unless you have authorised the disclosure. Your Student Support Coordinator will discuss with you what information you are happy to share and with whom. This shared information would generally be your needs and requirements in order for other professionals within the University (e.g., Counselling or Student Health) to make appropriate and useful accommodations to enhance your learning. There are some exceptions to this general rule, such as when there are concerns for your own or others' safety, or when there is a legal duty to provide health information.

If you have any concerns about privacy and confidentiality, or would simply like more information about these topics, please talk to your Student Support Coordinator.