Becoming a University Contact Officer
The Planning, Quality and Equity Services centre are seeking bright and enthusiastic volunteers to become University contact officers UCOs.
The work of a UCO is important. It can be a very rewarding experience and is a chance to demonstrate your high commitment to the principles of equity and diversity across the University.
What are the benefits of being an UCO?
By volunteering you are helping to create a working and learning environment free from harassment and discrimination. UCOs receive comprehensive professional development on Equal Opportunity issues, including learning about relevant legislative requirements.Participants take on a pro-active role in progressing equity and diversity matters across the University. This can be very personally satisfying and can also help UCOs become role models and to build networks within ECU. The role can also provide tangible evidence to demonstrate community service when seeking promotion or advancement.
Who can be a UCO?Any member of staff can volunteer to become a UCO.A expression of interest form can be downloaded or obtained by calling Planning, Quality and Equity support. The forms can be submitted throughout the course of the year - although recruitment generally takes place at set periods following a specific call for nominations. The University seeks to ensure that the UCO network includes representation from all major work and study areas, and that it represents the diversity of the ECU community, and contains gender and campus balance. UCOs are appointed for an initial period of two years with the option to be reappointed. Importantly, UCOs are expected to exemplify high commitment to the principles of equity and diversity throughout their tenure as a UCO.
What attributes does a UCO need to have?UCOs need to demonstrate they possess the following attributes:
- good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to a diverse range of staff and students,
- commitment to the principles of equity and diversity,
- an understanding of Equal Opportunity legislation; and
- understanding of the principles of Procedural Fairness and Natural Justice and demonstrated ability to maintain confidentiality.
What training is provided?
Training is very important in order to equip UCOs with the necessary skills and competencies required to provide information to students and staff.
A two-day training course is compulsory for all newly appointed UCOs. This training is conducted by the Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission in conjunction with the Planning, Quality and Equity Services centre. Refresher courses are offered annually and UCOs are encouraged to keep their knowledge of harassment and discrimination issues up-to-date by attending refresher training at least once every two years.
As part of this process, UCOs receive training on the correct process to follow when a student or staff member seeks assistance, including what records a UCO needs to keep and who to contact if additional assistance is required.
Is there any training available online?
Yes. The on-line Equal Opportunity training program entitled: ‘EO Online’, provides a comprehensive on-line training resource. All UCOs are required to complete this program as part of their package of training requirements.
What ongoing time commitment is required for UCOs?A typical UCO ‘contact’ generally involves:
- being contacted by a student or a member of staff to discuss an issue;
- arranging a time to meet in a mutually acceptable venue;
- meeting to discuss concerns; and
- documenting the outcomes of the meeting.
While the number of ‘contacts’ that an individual UCO receives can vary, it is not envisaged that the role will significantly affect normal work requirements. With this in mind, UCOs are encouraged to refer contacts to other UCOs if a significant work commitment arises or if they are receiving a disproportionately high number of contacts.
Do I get paid for being a UCO?
The role of the UCO is voluntary. Therefore, it is unpaid and is in addition to normal duties and responsibilities.
Support for UCO from managersIt is very important that UCOs receive strong support from managers in their work area. This support may include:
- making private space available for UCOs to meet students and staff, and to make private phone calls;
- allowing UCOs to use a lockable cabinet; and
- demonstrating an understanding attitude when UCOs are dealing with ‘contacts’.
Where can I get more information?
If you have any questions regarding the role of a UCO please call Planning, Quality and Equity support.