Students’ Voices Drive Online Counselling Framework

Ms Julie McKenzie1, Mr Russell Campbell1, Ms Megan Buxton1

1University Of Southern Queensland, Ipswich, Australia


With 75% of USQ’s student cohort studying online, we were keen to expand our offering of online counselling services to cater for students with competing commitments, such as caring responsibilities and employment. By offering appointments in the comfort of their own homes, in locations of their choice, and at flexible times, we would further encourage more students to access our services, therefore, increasing accessibility and convenience.  A full time project coordinator engaged with students as partners to help build an online counselling framework, provide training, and resources that expanded our current offering of counselling services.  Students were excited to have wider access to services which included; appointments offered at different times of day, location and different modes for online counselling. Out of 57 student responses, 37% were from online students. The more transparent, enthusiastic and honest feedback came from students who emailed the project coordinator asynchronously and listed concerns, suggestions and options for creating this new service.  Of the students providing feedback via an invitation posted to their study desk, a mix of online, on campus and multi-modal students responded, yet all of these students chose to email their feedback, rather than phone.  Pelling (2009) reported that privacy and confidentiality were of the most common concerns in accessing online counselling, which was also a consistent finding from student responses that we received. This presentation discusses our learnings from engaging students as partners; and emerging themes that students consistently reported were previous barriers to accessing face to face counselling.


Julie McKenzie BA; MHumServ; GradDipPsych USQ

Julie McKenzie is the Associate Director Health and Wellness at USQ and has been working in higher education for 11 years. Julie commenced her career in the human services industry working with youth and people with disabilities. Julie has followed her passion for supporting students with health and wellness, by initiating an expansion of online support services that are flexible and convenient in mode of delivery, for students to access.

Russell Campbell BSc USQ, PGDipPsych CQU, PGCertLearning&Dev USQ

Russell Campbell, a registered psychologist and career development practitioner, is currently the Manager (Wellness) at USQ. After beginning his career as a youth worker, working with secondary students at risk of leaving education, Russell has gained 22 years’ experience working across the secondary education, Vocational Education & Training (VET), employment services and university sectors supporting people move toward work and life goals. Russell has been privileged to work closely with a diverse range of client groups, including Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, refugees, and those from rural & remote areas, and continues with his passion to support other’s success.


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

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