Wow this is massive. Outside of uni things have changed dramatically … but I realise it is me who has changed.

How can we help?

Offer Support

Knowing that family and friends were supporting them was the single most important thing to the students in our study. Giving and showing support can take many shapes and forms, but even small things can make a big difference.

  • Offer practical support

    My husband has become much more involved with domestic chores and our children, which has been fantastic for all of us. (Survey#73, Female student, 40-50 years old, mother of 2)

    We have dinner with my mum and dad every week and mum and I talk on the phone a couple of times a week as well and at the moment we’re living with my in-laws and my mother-in-law … so we spend a lot of time together and we talk about stuff which is really nice (Ebony, 34 year old student)

    … my second child … she’s amazing, she’ll get the youngest one up out of bed and give her breakfast and all of that kind of stuff. I mean that type of thing in some ways gives children responsibility and ownership (Vicki, 41 year old student, mother of 3)

    … we’re very proud of her … and give her all the support she needs … I help her out when I can … with the kids as well, babysitting … I know it’s hard with three children but she’s done very well … juggling the babysitting and getting the children organised. That’s the biggest obstacle I think … (Mother of Elle, 33 year old student, single mum of 3)

    My partner now cooks and does laundry more than before. My floors are cleaned less often. (Survey#138, female student, 40-50 years old, mother of one)

    … she’s had to do stuff through the week and the yard hasn’t been done or anything. I’ll go down there and do a bit of gardening … I say “do you want me to mow the front?” (Mother of Elle, 33 year old student, single mum of 3)

    My brother … he’s great support … helps me out if I need help with anything, either financial or just help … with maintenance, he’s a plasterer (Elle, 33 year old single mum of 3)

    My family were very proud of me, and they still are. They have been incredibly supportive, helping to organise my move from the country and to assist me financially in the early years of my degree. (Survey#79, Female student, 21-25 years old)

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  • Give emotional support

    I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for her. University is a higher level of education so naturally it’s going to be hard but I’ve had confidence that she would do it. It’d be hard for her especially with the three children … but it’s all right (Mother of Elle, 33 year old student, single mum of 3)

    Nonna always encouraged me to go to uni and to make a better life for myself, set myself up. I was invited to the … discovery day but I never actually went because I was too scared … it’s a big campus – it can be scary. (Naomi, 19 year old 2nd year student)

    When Naomi was accepted into uni that was wonderful news for us because she’s the first in our family to go to university and I’ve always said, you know, “Education’s the key to everything”. So she listened and she’s done well (Grandmother of Naomi)

    What students said:

    … it was my husband that convinced me I needed to do what was right for me and ignore the opinions of others if they don't support me. Now my mum is extremely proud of what I am doing she tells everyone she can and my dad I think is impressed with my determination. My best friend however was like, ‘finally you need something to satisfy that smart brain of yours!!!’ LOL! (Survey#8, Female student, 25-30 years old)

    My father said "It's about time!" My mother was worried that I was taking on too much … but has since come around to knowing how beneficial this learning journey is, for not just me, but my family. They are immensely proud of the fact that I have taken such a bold step. My husband is always supportive. He knows this is what I need to do in life … (Survey#35, Female student, 21-25 y/o, mother of 1)

    The support and the "about time" reaction from most people has come down to them believing in me and seeing the potential I could achieve I guess. (Survey#40, Male student, 30-40 years old)

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  • Cheer from the sidelines!

    What family members said:

    I welcomed the idea of my partner going to uni, although I did pass some thought into the financial side of it. After a short time procrastinating I began to see the long term benefits … It was a place I thought I may have to finance my children through...not my wife! LOL! But now I see my wife as a role model for our children (FM Survey#235, partner of 40 year-old female student)

    I’ve heard some milestones from mum … when I come in the door, she’s like “I went really well in that test”. I’m like “Oh that’s good” – just her tests and her finishing things and achieving things she really wanted to achieve … I think she’s more dedicated sort of … she’s more keen to do things. … more focused. (Vicki’s 17 year old son)

    I was and am very proud of my daughter studying at university. I have always known that she can achieve anything so to see her completing this makes me the happiest mother. (FM Survey#226, mother of 43 year old female student)

    My parents regularly talk about the positive changes going to uni has had on my brother. I have also noted a very distinct shift in the way other, less close, family members and friends speak about my brother, as if they now have more respect for him … My parents are beyond delighted that my brother is finally doing something with his life that he is passionate about and proud of. (FM Survey#224, 38 year old sister of male student)

    She’s been doing very well and yes, she’s just been doing great. I’ve noticed that … she keeps telling me “I’ve got so many passes or so many points” and there are times she said she’s gets a distinction, “Oh congratulations” and everything. Well, first time she said “distinction” I went “What’s that?” I didn’t know. Then I said, “well at least you got one and I know that’s important” (Mother of Elle, 33 year old student, single mum of 3)

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    What students said:

    My journey of education has also been one of self discovery. As for my parents, they can't help the way they are, they are extremely supportive and great cheerleaders and understand as much as they can. (Survey#24, Female student, 30-40 years old)

    When I got my first HD. I rang my mum and she goes “Are you doing the HD dance?” (Emily, 18 year old student)

    Mum occasionally will ask how it’s going and is very encouraging and she’s a funny thing really. As soon as I got my first ever assignment mark and I was telling her about how pleased I was with it; her reaction was “Well, you’re doing so well. You never know, you might get a PhD one day”, you know, so we go completely from one extreme to the other. (Susanna, 43 year old student, mother of 3)

    My husband is just so, so, so supportive. He’s stoked. He’s like that pretty much with anything that I choose to do and just 100% supportive. (Vicki, 41 year old mother of 3)

    My daughter has been amazed that I’ve passed … I had two distinctions with Aboriginal Culture … because that really sits well with my own beliefs, and she just said “Mum, I’m just beyond proud”. (Sharnie, 57 year old student)

    My four daughter's reactions were all much the same telling me to go on and give it a go, my partner is very supportive of my decision, other family members have reacted in different ways … My ex husband … used to say all I could ever do was clean toilets and mop floors as my education level would never get me anywhere or that I’d ever become a somebody … (Survey #45, 50+ year old female student)

    Everyone was so happy for me. My parents especially!! There are plenty of opinions of what I could or should do, as our family love to put their two bob in! But they all know I am a grown up and respect my decision … (Survey#49, Female student, 30-40 years old, mother of 2)

    I share my triumphs with the people who have helped me pursue them. You know, I share them with my parents and my sisters, I share them with my grandparents. … my mum does my bragging for me! (laughing). (Anthea, 21 year old student)

    I’ll ring mum and say, you know, “I got on the dean’s merit list” and she’s like “Oh, that’s good. What’s that?” (Brady, 22 year old student)

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  • Be a ‘sounding board’

    As her mother I am taking this journey with her and spend lots of time hearing about what she is working on and her ideas about where to take the next assignment … (FM #204 46 yo mother of female student)

    She’ll talk to me but I don't really understand what she’s trying to do, so I just listen. (Grandmother of Naomi, 21 year old 2nd year student)

    I’ll sit there and listen to her, what she has to tell me on the phone all the time, “Oh mum I had to study this today …”. Then she’ll ask me … some advice about some subject or something like that - maybe I might know something about it, you never know … (mother of Elle, 33 year old student, single mum of 3)

    My husband is so happy for me and loves to see me studying and learning new things. I even ask for his help sometimes and then end up explaining the answer to him... I think I need someone to bounce off to process ideas and questions. (Survey#49, female student, 25-30 years old, mother of 2)

    I like to use my mum and my sister in law as a sounding board when I am writing assignments, as I find it helpful to discuss my findings and opinions with them. It shows me how much (or little) I have researched and their questions help me remember the research I have found. (Survey#40, male student, 40-50 years old)

    My aunt … she’s my sounding board and when I get my results and, fingers crossed that it stays this way – I haven’t had a bad result – she’s the second call after my husband … (Noeleen 47 year old student, mother of two)

    I tend to tell them the results of most assignments, you know, “This is what I got”. Depending on how their day’s gone, we can sit down and have a talk about it and … they’ll say “How come you only got 60%”, and I say “Because… for these reasons”, and them completely understanding. (Kaleb, 22 year old student)

    … I said “Oh, Nonna, this is my debate topic, I have no idea what to write about. I don't know what the hell this means”. And she’s just looking at me like “What?” And I said “Just let me talk to you about it so I can generate some ideas”. So she just listens to me. It’s good because even though I know she doesn’t know anything about it, I know that she’s listening so it can just help me get a little bit of ideas running in my head … (Naomi, a 19 year old 2nd year student)

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