Not like a regular Welfare Officer, a cool Welfare Officer: Welfare Officer, Melissa Plunkett, reflects on summer preparation

The Welfare Officer is “responsible for issues that relate to student welfare.” This includes counselling services, mental health, disability services, sexual health, LGBTQ+ issues, and many more. “Over the summer I organised training for the sabbatical team. We completed ShoutOut training and Sexual Assault Disclosure Training with the DRCC. Over the coming weeks we will be undertaking ASIST Training individually to complete our mandated training requirements.” The Welfare Officer handles a lot of student cases but is not a counselling service and must refer students to the relevant services.Melissa Plunkett, was elected Welfare Officer last semester, following her position as Mature Students’ coordinator. She was actively engaged with the SU through her previous role while working to reinstate the student parents’ grant. “I was also part of the interview panel for a new Student Adviser position. This was a fantastic opportunity to have a student voice involved in the hiring of such an integral student facing role.” During the election, Plunkett expressed the desire to use her new role to reform how Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) week is ran in UCD by strengthening the educational foundation behind safe sex and including LGBTQ+ events. “I spoke about the Union at different welcomes and more importantly I showed the Tea Consent video at welcome speeches for first years and to our peer mentors during their training.” She also expressed the desire to improve the training RAs are provided with by ensuring that not only senior RAs are ASIST trained. She also proposed the introduction of “video docs” and online counselling to decrease the waiting time to see a counsellor.“I’m continuing to work on having condoms available in on campus residences for all students.”