Overview: It is normal to need help as one progresses through life. As a student at Flinders, you have access to a wide range of support services. But at times you might need to rely on community-based services. This post provides some guidance on finding the right community services for you. Reading time ~ 15 minutes.
There are many support services and programs here at Flinders. They cover a range of areas: health/wellbeing, study/learning, financial, enrolment, technology, careers, international, Indigneous, HDR and security.
For many students, in many situations, Flinders-based services will be their first port of call. For example, international students who find themselves in difficult situations are first encouraged to contact ISS (International Student Services). Students who find themselves going through difficult personal situations that are impacting on their studies are encouraged to make contact with counselling services.
But getting what you need long-term in relation to housing, food, healthcare and otherwise may involve you accessing services in the community, not just those at Flinders.
We’re lucky in South Australia that we have many good quality community services that provide assistance to people in the areas of housing, food, family support, health, finances, counselling, legal, education, work and more.
The challenge is navigating your way to find the service(s) that are right for you.
Below is a guide to help you in the process.
Clarify the problem(s) you need help with
We typically reach out for help when things aren’t going right. We don’t have enough money, food, appropriate housing, necessary clothing. We’re struggling with some aspect of our health. We’ve experienced some kind of setback or adversity that we are having trouble coping with. We are confronted by problems that we don’t know how to solve. It may be multiple things happening at the same time.
Writing down what problems you are facing is a starting point for help seeking. Look at the problems you’ve written down and think about what kinds of assistance would be helpful in addressing those problems. It may be the case that a given problem can be tackled from a few different angles. For example, if you are struggling to pay your bills, you might decide to reduce your food costs using the Flinders Market from Oasis, but also book an appointment to talk to a financial counsellor at FUSA. Externally, you might decide to make an appointment at Centrelink.
If you are facing multiple problems, you might also need to prioritise which ones to focus on first. That list of problems you identified earlier? Order or number them in terms of importance and work on taking a step to address the first on the list. Often once we get momentum on solving a single problem, it carries over to addressing the others.
Writing down and prioritising the problems/challenges we are facing is important in helping us take the first step to reach out for help. It provides just enough clarity to work out what to do next. And sometimes just taking those first few steps of reaching out for help is the hardest part.
Start here at Flinders
The service/program/resource you need might already exist here at Flinders. Start with the student support page and see if any of the options described seem relevant. If they do, initiate contact. It is ok to initiate a few contacts at the same time.
If the service/program can’t help directly, they can probably make your life easier by suggesting what to do, where to go next. For example, our counsellors can help give advice on accessing specialist mental health supports in the university.
Sometimes the service can provide some short-term solutions and help give advice on how to transition into longer-term solutions. For example, FUSA can often provide some short-term financial relief through food vouchers and similar, then provide financial advice on how to better manage your money.
Sometimes the university service/program will be sufficient to solve your issue. For example, you might end up joining the fitness centre to start your journey of improved health.
It always pays to inquire locally first, before setting off into the broader community service system. Not only might you find the necessary support here at Flinders, but even if you don’t, the support people here at Flinders will probably have a good idea of where to start your community search.
Utilise tools to help you find the right services in the community
If it is required for you to head out into the community to find help, we recommend using some of the digital tools available to you to assist in the search.
My favourite “find a service” digital tool is Ask Izzy. Developed by a non-profit social enterprise, Ask Izzy is “a website that connects people in need with housing, a meal, money, hold, family violence support, counselling and much more”. Their catalogue of support services is huge. It is also really easy to navigate and displays well on mobile devices.
Finally, I also like the SA Directory of Community Services. Their catalogue includes not just support services but opportunities (e.g. recreational, religious) to get more involved in your local community.
The goal of these apps is to help you narrow down a big list of community services to those that are relevant to your problem and available in your local area.
Reach out – take that first step
Shame, embarrassment, fear and other difficult emotions can stop us from taking the next step and asking for help. We might feel we should be able to cope on our own or be independent. We’re worried what people will think of us. We are worried about being judged.
The desire for independence and self-sufficiency is common and admirable. But the journey to becoming more self-sufficient inevitably involves reaching out and asking for help. People you know who are ‘doing well’ had to, at some point, rely on the kindness, generosity and help of others.
The truth is all of us will require help at some point in time. For you, that time might be right now and there is no shame in that. The unfortunate outcome would be that you knew you needed help, but didn’t take that first step and things got worse.
It is normal to face challenges that we can’t overcome just on our own. Reaching out for help is the activation of a core drive in humans. That is, to heal and grow with the help of others.
Be prepared to bounce around a few before finding the right one
The nature of how the community service/support system is set up (i.e. it is very complex) means that you might go down a few dead-ends before finding the service or program that is right for you.
If that happens, try not to get discouraged. Sometimes a couple of failed attempts to reach out leads people to stop trying. Those attempts weren’t failures though, they were just practice for navigating a complex system. Even those of us who work in the support sector have trouble navigating it at times!
If you do make contact with a service that can’t help directly, ask them to suggest other services that might be able to help. Those referrals and suggestions will often lead to finding the service you need.
Some community services that have been recommended to us by students or that we use regularly here at HCD
There are a number of community-based services that we’ve directed students to, or they have told us were helpful. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a starting point and should hopefully get you feeling more comfortable that different community options do exist for different challenges. If you’ve utilised a service that was helpful, we’d love to hear about it so we can include on the list. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you find a dead link below, please let us know.
Need Legal Help? – Contact the Legal Services Commission – 1300 366 424
Sexual assault, family or domestic violence
In a violent relationship? – Domestic Violence Crisis Line – for women – 1800 800 098
Experienced a rape or sexual assault? – Contact Yarrow Place – 1800 817 421
Experienced sexual assault or family/domestic violence? – Counselling available from 1800 Respect (1800 737 732)
Victim of crime? – Victim Support Service can provide advice, referral and in some cases, counselling – 1800 842 846
DV resources for LGBTIQA+ community – Catalyst Foundation
Need counselling for sexual abuse & sexual assault? – Access from Uniting Communities
RSPCA Safe Kennels DV Project – Emergency boarding for the pets of people affected by domestic violence – 1300 477 722
South Australia’s Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) provides an avenue for a person who may be at risk of domestic violence to get information about their partner or former partner, to help make decisions about their safety and the future of the relationship
Domestic and Family Violence Centre for students in the Northern Territory
Escaping Violence Payment – paying the costs of moving to safety
Services for women
Are you a woman needing legal help? – Women’s Legal Service – 1800 816 349 or 8221 5533 –
Female migrant requiring assistance? – 8152 9260 – or visit the Women’s Safety Services SA Website
Support for women and their children who are living with or escaping domestic or family violence – Women’s Safety Services SA – 1800 800 098
Problems with sexual health or relationships? – Shine SA – 8300 5300
Drug and alcohol
Struggling with drug and/or alcohol addiction – Centacare Drug and Alcohol Services
Need help for alcohol or other drug problems? – Know Your Options – 1300 13 1340
Struggling with your own drug or alcohol problems or supporting someone who is? – Drug ARM Australia provides individual and family counselling – 08 7099 7290
For those with disabilities
Need advocacy in relation to your disability? – DACSSA
Counselling, coaching and mental health support
Struggling with anxiety and/or depression? – Centre for Anxiety and Related Disorders – referral from healthcare professional required – referral form on website
Struggling with mental health problems? – Links to Wellbeing provides free counselling and support – 8326 3591
Access health professionals to help with mental and physical health, alcohol and other drugs and work and study – Headspace – free for ages 12-25
Counselling service for LGBTIQA young people (up to age 25) – Uniting Communities – 8202 5190 – email@example.com
Have a mental illness? – Skylight provide a range of services for individuals and their family and friends dealing with mental illness – 8378 4100
The Road Trauma Support Team of South Australia provides free counselling and support for people who have been affected by road trauma, whether directly or indirectly. This may include but not be limited to, vehicle occupants, family members, friends, work colleagues, witnesses, bystanders and emergency service personnel – 1800 069 528
Centacare Recovery Support groups are for people experiencing panic anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder or an eating disorder. Support groups provide information and strategies to assist in your recovery journey – 8303 6660
Someone.health provides bulk-billed psychology appointments via telephone and video counselling.
Butterfly offer online support groups for young people struggling with eating disorder.
Wellness Connect provide practical support for people experiencing serious mental health challenges.
Psychology and counselling services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia
Gambling and gaming addiction
Free counselling, financial counselling, peer support and therapeutic groups for individuals (and their friends, family members, partners) who are affected by gambling or gaming addiction – Gambling Help Service – 1800 934 196 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Food and essential items at low cost – Baptist Care Food Hub
Refugees, asylum seekers and new arrivals – English classes, community dinners, volunteer opportunities, food donations, emergency relief, social support, and most importantly, friendship and welcome – The Welcome Centre
Circle of Friends Australia are local community groups which support refugees and asylum-seekers living in the community or visit those in detention. Members of each Circle are volunteers who come from a wide range of backgrounds but share a common commitment to welcoming and assisting new arrivals with the difficult process of establishing themselves in a new country, or with the challenges of detention –
Work and employment
International students – need advice on unfair working conditions? – Fair Work Ombudsman
Intersex Peer Support Australia is an intersex peer support, information and advocacy group for people born with variations in sex characteristics and their families
Tenancy rights and advocacy – Attorney-General’s Department
Young carers are people up to 25 years old who provide unpaid care and support to family members or friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, mental illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged – Young Carers Network
You might also find our Phone and Chat services article useful as well.