Many students in tertiary institutions who are eligible for equity consideration and accommodations decide not to disclose their equity status. Discussions of equity disclosure consider fears of stigma, questions of purpose, students’ relationship with and the relationship between visibility of equity status and disclosure. This group will consider the factors that encourage domestic students who are in a recognised equity group to self-disclose this information to higher education providers.

The project will consider three key equity/disadvantaged groups:

  • Students with disabilities
  • Students from non-English speaking backgrounds (domestic)
  • Indigenous students

There is evidence that students are reluctant to disclose membership of equity groups, perhaps because of perceived prejudice from staff or students, stigma around certain disabilities or fears of racism. This tendency may prevent students from accessing targeted support to which they are entitled or hamper effective intervention when support is required. This is part of a project to estimate the true proportion of these students from surveys and interviews with equity students and others.

The STARS Self-Disclosure SIG will discuss strategies used by Australian universities to encourage disclosure by members of equity groups and examine the reasons for non-disclosure. The participants will have the opportunity to contribute to HEPPP guidelines to help universities plan equity support measures, allocate appropriate resources and train staff.


Rita Kusevskis-Hayes

Ms. Rita Kusevskis-Hayes is the Team Leader & Equity Senior Project Manager for Student Life and Learning (DVCE) at UNSW and has previously been employed in a number of organisations, such as the NSW Department of Education, Vision Australia, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and TAFE NSW. Her current position presents a broad range of challenges such as managing HEPPP funded projects  as well as a  national grant on Disclosure across Australian universities. Rita also manages various support services for students offered by Student Life and Learning at UNSW including the Disability Services Unit. Rita has been actively involved in Equity & education for more than 20 years in a range of contexts.

During the past 10 years at UNSW Rita has introduced innovations such as an online tool (NavigateMe) to help students boost their performance and access support across faculties and services, as well as an online self-assessment tool for academic literacy, mathematics and English language proficiency. In collaboration with the School of Mathematics and Statistics and Sydney TAFE, she facilitated the establishment of a course in Essential mathematics for university study at Randwick TAFE, for which she won a TAFE NSW award.

Rita has been accepted as well as presenting scholarly output involving qualitative and quantitative analyses at the Australia New Zealand Student Services Association (ANZSSA) conferences in 2015, and at the First Year in Higher Education (FYHE) conference in 2013 in New Zealand as well as being accepted for both in 2017.

Rita gained recognition and funding for her initiatives and findings nationally and internationally. NavigateMe received extensive funding through the  DVC(A) Strategic Goals program in 2015. She was accepted as a co-author on a paper on NavigateMe at the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE) and Australia New Zealand Student Services Association (ANZSSA) conferences in 2015.She presented the Engagement Support and Development model to the First Year in Higher Education Conference in 2013 and the ANZSSA Conference in 2015. A paper was accepted for the Global Access to Post-Secondary Education (GAPS) conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2015. The NavigateMe Tool has attracted inquiries from as far afield as London South Bank University to the University of Newcastle.

Rita has taken a systemic approach to interventions and data analysis in equity and student support—using quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the impact of interventions. She has provided information for the Federal Government Higher Education Partnerships and Participation Program (HEPPP), the Academic Board, the UNSW Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board as is a member of the Disability Inclusion working party committee.


Colin Clark

Dr. Colin Clark has been involved in tertiary education in academic and support roles for over 20 years, teaching business communication and English for academic purposes. He has published research on business and professional communication using multimethod qualitative and quantitative methods in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication and Journal of Asian Business, and has a paper currently in second stage of review in Academy of Management Discoveries. His doctoral thesis on the communication strategies of call centre agents in Singapore won the 2012 Association of Business Communication Outstanding Dissertation award.


Matthew Wilkinson

Mr Matt Wilkinson is a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales and a researcher in the UNSW School of Social Sciences and at UNSW Disabilities Services. Matt’s research interests span a wide variety of disciplines and methodologies, including disabilities and equity research in Sydney, research focused on peacebuilding in Bangladesh, contested politics in India, biosecurity in India, and state-making in Afghanistan.  Overall, Matt employs qualitative methodologies and an emancipatory position as the foundation of research, where research is focused on highlighting and resolving vulnerabilities and bringing to light personal experiences and perspectives