Team to ensure students OK

Here to help . . . Otago University Students' Association Student Support manager Sage Burke (third from left) with (from front to back) Are You OK? safety service co-ordinator Amber Midgelow-Marsden and volunteers Abigail Clark, Josh Smith, Ella George and Kirio Birks during a break in their training day last week. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

This Orientation Week, the guys and girls in orange are here to help.

About 100 Are You OK? volunteers were at O Week events to make sure students were safe and having a good time.

Are You OK? is the Otago University Students’ Association Student Support safety team.

OUSA Student Support manager Sage Burke said the idea of the programme was to help keep students safe while they were at events and help if they got into trouble.

“The ultimate aim is to ensure everyone is having a good time rather than a bad time,” he said.

“The focus is on all-round safety and support.”

Most volunteers were students and all had to be in their second year of university or higher.

Mr Burke said most people got involved in the programme after they had seen other volunteers at events, or through the website.

“They will have seen us at events and thought ‘hey, that’s a really good thing’.

“We are just here to help out and work really hard to make sure everyone knows that.”

All volunteers had to attend a training session last week to ensure they were prepared for the role.

The training sessions included mock scenarios, basic first aid and watching out for hazards as well as talks by Rape Crisis, Youthline Otago and Public Health South representatives.

The volunteers will be at most events this O Week. It is the first year they will attend day events where there is no alcohol.

Mr Burke said just because there was no alcohol involved would not mean students would not need help with other issues, such as home sickness or relationship troubles.

The volunteers had no legal authority, so everything said to them was confidential, unless it impacted on someone’s safety, he said.

They would continue their role throughout the year, attending other university events and functions.

“Anywhere where people need a bit of a hand.”