The Student Voice: Moving from a Whisper to a Resonant Voice –

Ms Dawn Jones1, Dr Isabella Ofner1

1Deakin University – Burwood, Vic, Burwood, Australia


During 2016-2017, the REACT strategy (Realising Engagement through Active Culture Transformation) investigated student engagement across fifteen universities in the UK, focusing on Students as Partners and the Student Voice. Based on the premise of fostering student engagement through the development of partnerships between student mentors and staff, the Deakin Student Mentor Community of Practice was established during 2017. The community provided a space for the mentors to learn, to listen, to advise, to tell their own stories and to make their own informed decisions. This workshop will explore the evolution of the Deakin Student Mentor Community of Practice during 2018. It will discuss how its development has cultivated an authentic student voice that has extended its range and has led to productive partnerships in the co-curricular context.

Co-developed and co-facilitated by students and staff, the session will discuss the Student Mentor Community of Practice’s relationship with the Community of Practice for peer support coordinators. It will acknowledge some of the work done by the coordinators over the past year to nurture their own capacity to listen, to bring respect to the partnership and to take concrete steps towards sharing responsibilities. Informed by the work of Étienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner (2015), the workshop will further illustrate how the community of practice approach supports the growth of effective and empowering partnerships.  Participants at this workshop will come together from many universities to share their own strategies for promoting and encouraging a voice for students and to reflect on the possibilities that lively, harmonious partnerships can create.


Austen, L, Heaton, C, Jones-Devitt, S & Pickering, N 2017, ‘Creation and confidence: BME students as academic partners at Sheffield Hallam University’, paper presented to REACT Conference, University of Winchester, Winchester, 2 May.

Wenger, E 1998, ‘Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity’, Cambridge University Press.

Wenger-Trayner, E & Wenger-Trayner B 2015, Introduction to communities of practice: Wenger-Trayner, retrieved 3 May 2017,<


Dawn Jones leads Innovation and Ideas, Peer Support, in Deakin’s Student Academic and Peer Support Services area. With more than 30 years of hands-on teaching, management and student mentoring experience, her current leadership includes advising on all student peer mentoring programs and developments at Deakin, including the PASS and CloudPASS programs, Maths Mentors, Success Coaches, Students Helping Students Mentors, Study Hall and the Deakin Student Mentor Community of Practice. In 2014 Dawn and her team created the Deakin Students Helping Students Strategy to bring together more than 30 social, academic and practical peer support programs across the University to establish common ground and a One-Deakin approach to best practice, reward and recognition, recruitment and training and other areas.
Isabella Ofner is the Peer Support Programs Coordinator for the Students Helping Students Hub at Deakin. She comes from a multi-disciplinary background that spans cultural studies, languages, literature education and teaching both abroad and in Australia. Isabella has been involved in the design and coordination of peer learning and engagement programs since 2015.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education. We are focused on: The quality of the student experience Supporting and empowering students to achieve their educational and life goals Enhancing student wellbeing and development Improving student success and persistence Providing outreach to students at-risk Raising institutional student retention rates For more information, please visit the ANZSSA website at

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria