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At ANUSA’s third Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) on September 23, a motion to establish new regulations governing department payments was passed, facilitating increased payment to officers in the form of stipends, and authorising honoraria for select department individuals.

In previous years departments were given only $5000 each in honoraria to split between the officers and deputies. Last year the Queer* Department reportedly only received $8000 to share between the officers and deputies as payment – lamentable to many given the heavy workload of the roles.

According to the new regulations, the seven departments (Indigenous, Women’s, Queer*, International, Environment, Disabilities, and Ethnocultural) will each take a $15,000 slice from the “default amount” of $105,000 provided for department pay from SSAF fees. The total amount is also pegged to the Consumer Price Index, and any changes in excess of CPI movement must be approved by the Student Representative Council (SRC).

Of the $15,000 given to each department, a substantial amount will be paid to the respective officer in the form of a stipend. The regulations stipulate that the amount paid to one individual in a year must fall between 33% and 75% of the agreed amount given to the Department – between $4950 and $11,250 if the default amount remains unchanged.

The regulations do not cover how the stipend will be determined in each case.

Regardless, they do allow the ANUSA Executive to withhold or suspend payment to an officer if the Executive determines they are not fulfilling their duties.

However, the Executive can only do so on recommendation of the concerned department, and if department members successfully move to withhold/suspend the officer’s stipend in their own meeting. The Executive must also ensure the department members have gone to adequate lengths to counsel the officer and attempt to remedy the officer’s shortcomings.

On the other hand, honoraria payments are “discretionary” and determined by department members in internal meetings. The regulations state they are to be paid for “voluntary service to the student body… over and above any basic duties of an office.”

Speaking for the motion, ANUSA President Ben Gill labelled the process as long, but consultative. He believed the payment reforms were necessary to provide a supportive community at the ANU, and to introduce “access and equity into these positions.”

Disabilities Officer Tom Kesina praised the new system as one “[promoting] fair pay for the extraordinary work the departments have done.” Kesina also argued that it was “one of the best systems in Australia as it preserves autonomy.”

Similarly, Queer* Officer Fred Hanlin described the motion as “one of the better outcomes [for departments] in the past five years.” He felt that officers and their deputies “would like to be recognised” for their hard work.

Kat Reed, current co-chair of the Ethnocultural Committee, also praised the reforms as they would allow more students to stand up for the rights of marginalised peoples. Aditi Razdan, co-chair of the same committee, also supported the reforms and said ANUSA had the responsibility to support minorities through the payment overhaul.

Women’s Officer Linnea Burdon-Smith agreed and emphasised that much consultation had taken place with the departments, and called for attendees at the meeting to support the passage of the regulations.

The motion was passed unanimously, and prior to the vote Gill concluded that “ANU would not be the university that it is without departments.” Full implementation of the new payment scheme will occur in 2017.