Issue May 2023
UNSA and Opus would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians upon which this magazine was written, the Pambalong Clan of the Awabakal Nation. We would also like to extend this acknowledgement to the Birpai, Darkinjung and Gadigal peoples, as the traditional custodians of the lands upon which the University of Newcastle resides and UNSA operates.
UNSA would like to pay respects to all Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge them as the true knowledge holders.
We acknowledge the historical inequalities faced by Aboriginal people and the continuing struggle for justice and equality. Black Lives Matter.
Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.
Hello and welcome to the coolest magazine on UoN campus, Opus student media!
Since 1954, Opus has been supporting and amplifying each student’s unique perspective and work. Our Passion magazine is the perfect opportunity for students to come together and submit anything their heart desires from opinion pieces, artwork, photography, short stories, reviews, passion projects, and more.
As university students, our identity is often placed in what degree we study but we are SO MUCH MORE than that. We have our hobbies, our aspirations, our side hustles… the rest of our life! Opus is a break from all the academic writing and brain-exhausting concentration - it’s a creative outlet here FOR YOU to express yourself.
For me, I really like corn. No but seriously, I’m passionate about introducing new students to Opus and getting their work published, as well as travelling and singing along to every single word of the 2009 mash-up masterpiece, DJ Earworm United State of Pop.
This mag is our biggest one yet with over 30 contributors, both returning and new, as well as a collaboration with Lovehoney which you can view on pages 23-27 which includes a DISCOUNT CODE. If you’re interested in getting involved in the next magazine, Opus has
now opened proposal submissions for our Community issue for next semester.
Passion is at the heart of it all and the reason we continue Opus’ legacy celebrating student voice. And so in closing, I say to you reading this, speak up this year - you’ve got this.
Until next time,
Melanie Jenkins Editor
Tiana Williams Graphic Designer
I hope Semester/Trimester 1 has been treating you well and that you’re finding time to rest and do things you enjoy between the seemingly endless stream of assessments and exam study.
For many of us, being a university student is a passionate time for many different reasons. You might have enrolled in a program you’re super passionate about and can’t wait to get out in the field. Or maybe you’ve come to uni to help find your passions – it’s totally okay (and valuable in fact) to try lots of things, even if that means changing degrees a few times!
Perhaps you’ve joined some amazing clubs and met heaps of equally passionate people. Or maybe you’re getting involved in causes that you’re passionate about, whether through volunteering, protesting, or writing. Maybe you’ve even started your own business, or are passionate about making art or music. Whatever it is, this is a great time to cultivate and appreciate the things that make you feel alive.
You may have noticed that the UNSA team is pretty passionate about supporting and advocating for students – it’s what we’re here for! From our dedicated SRC members who are here to represent your views and concerns; to
our mighty UNSA Crew running the free BBQs each week (it goes without saying that students are passionate about a free sausage sizzle); to our Clubs and Events teams putting on a plethora of awesome events, which you can check out on the UNSA Events calendar on our website.
And of course the passionate Opus team who carry on the legacy and ever-evolving force that is student media. Got something you’re passionate about? Opus wants to hear it!
Personally, I love seeing passionate people come together for a common cause, be it attending a rally, organising a great community event, or performing together – it’s how great things are achieved. Seeing someone in their element, sharing what they’re passionate about, is also incredibly inspiring. Here’s to embracing and pursuing our passions, the things that both make us unique and bring us together.
Georgie Cooper UNSA President
5 Contents Editor's letter 3 President's letter 4 Contents 5 Contributors 6 Artist Q&A with Yana Kancva 8 Passion is all around us 10 My Story 12 Teola Makumbe Dedicated to you, Opus 14 Tegan Stettaford Pro Wrestlers 16 Blair Wise Turning Pain into Passion 20 Giorgia Wilson My Passionate Eras 22 Summer Harrison Lovehoney Toy Sexpectations 24 Witness For The State 28 Georgia Jones The Halcyon Morning 30 Hannah Quilty Batyr: Breaking the Stigma 33 Marlena Wagner Postgraduate Passion 36 Tegan Stettaford Cover art runner ups 38 Into the Embrace of Night 40 Bryce Linehan My Demon Friends 42 Ruby Walker An International Journey of Resilience and Inspiration from Sporting Icons 44 Sarthak Birani Hold up… Am I too passionate? 46 Ivy-Rose Laidler Horoscopes 48 Stephanie Jenkins 44 8 46 33 12
What topic are you so passionate about that you could give an impromptu presentation?
I am passionate about animation and illustration :)
I could give a presentation on "Why 'Community' is the best television show to exist".
Creativity, from filming to poetry to art of all kinds.
My passion, broadly, is issues within Criminal Justice Processes, specifically victim treatment.
Feminism, gender-based violence and institutional oppression.
The 1975. I'll never shut up about them, and I don't think I should.
What am I not passionate about? Here's a few; health, dogs, disability awareness and mental health.
Passionate about maintaining the resilience in life in every situation.
Social justice, I am so passionate about making the world a better place for those who are vulnerable or marginalised in society.
The 2008 cinematic masterpiece that is Twilight.
My research and research in general!
Ghosts: Arguments for their existence and examples through out history and across the world!
Medical field and why I want to be a doctor :)
Analysing Taylor Swift songs.
Say hello to Yana Kaneva, and her artwork Passion Fruit.
My name is Yana and I am a fourth year student studying Visual Communication Design. I major in Animation and Interaction, and Graphic Design and Illustration. I love going to the beach and hanging out with my baby nephew.
What does Passion mean to you?
To me being passionate means to create. When inspiration strikes and all you want to think about and do is your project that is one of the best feelings. Being in “the zone” and feeling as if it’s just you and your art for hours or even days that feel like moments. Finding yourself flowing between what’s in your mind and what is at the tips of your fingers. Getting stuck in details that make your piece just as
you imagined it. The feeling of passion is a feeling of excitement and enthusiasm towards your own expertise, knowledge, and skills.
Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?
I am most interested in animation and illustration. When animating I generally start with an idea of what I would like to produce. Then I sketch out still frames and flesh out a storyboard. This storyboard then becomes my key frames, which are the main frames of my animation. In-betweens, which are all the frames between the key frames, come next. Once all of my frames, 12 frames per second minimum, are sketched in I line them and then colour them. At the end, I add my audio and do any final editing. My illustration process is very similar beginning with a sketch and then rendering. My favourite medium is watercolour; however, I also enjoy other types of paint, and I have been experimenting with digital painting and drawing.
I would describe my creative process as unplanned, spontaneous and messy. There is usually a lot of experimentation, trial and error, and failed attempts. Thankfully that is my favourite part.
What went into the creation of the cover of this issue?
Not too long ago I rediscovered a lino print kit in my art supplies drawer. I bought it a few months ago when I remembered how fun printing was in high school and then completely forgot about it. When thinking about what to make for my submission for the cover of the Opus Passion issue I wanted to combine what passion means to me, my love for delicious fruits, and the most popular definition of passion, sex. I blended these aspects together into a pattern design of vagina-shaped passionfruit.
To achieve this look I carved my design of a passionfruit into a lino tile and then used purple ink to create the main shape. Then I carved into the lino a little more and used white, then yellow, and then blue to finish the passionfruit. This technique gives the print a very satisfying imperfect and unaligned finish and texture. I then scanned my artwork and edited layers in Photoshop to create a sense of depth.
Do you have any advice for students starting their creative journey?
My advice for students starting their creative journey is to stay curious and ambitious. It is not worth
comparing yourself to your peers because everybody comes from a different place and moves at their own pace. Instead, I suggest learning together, from each other, and finding new and better ways to create whatever makes you happy. No one is rushing you!
Where can people find you?
You can find me around NuSpace or if you want to see more of my art you can find it on my website: yanakaneva.com
"The feeling of passion is a feeling of excitement and enthusiasm towards your own expertise, knowledge, and skills."
Passion is all around us
We asked the students at the University of Newcastle to tell us what they're passionate about in a sentence or two. The best response would win a $40 woolworths gift card and so, with that motivation in mind, this is what they had to say.
I’m passionate about the 2003 masterpiece, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
I’m passionate about the safety and quality of life of LGBT+ people. Even today we are discriminated against for who we are, which we cannot change! All I want is for people like myself, my best friends, my brothers and sisters and siblings, to be able to live freely and without fear. I’m passionate about the right to be ourselves!
Drinking too much coffee and complaining about it.
Student Living creating a more mentally safe work and living environment for RMs including no managers watching you after hours in your home, onlys AHDOs.
I’m really passionate about community, both maintaining it and working to create it wherever I am. The digital age has given us more connection than ever before, but also convinced us that because of that, we don’t need to put any effort into friendships or whatnot. So, we think we have ‘community’, but feel isolated. I spent a lot of my teen years feeling like that, and now want to make sure I do as much as possible to engage with everyone I can :) We’re social creatures at heart after all.
Beating Ben at pool. He blames his teammates but we know why. Oh, and training him to get better.
I’m passionate about beating Matt in pool. I have not yet done so but I aspire to do it. P.S Joel let me down.
UON Cheerleading Club.
Oral Health Therapy - I’m passionate about my degree! I love the dental environment & how important oral health is! I’m also passionate about pupperinos but for this episode I’m passionate about teef. Thank u.
My photography - life is a movie and I work to capture its beauty in its form.
Pushing towards/defending the rights of minorities.
Good quality drugs hehe. To whoever wrote this, make good choices <3
I'm passionate about dance. I've been dancing since I was 4 and haven’t looked back since. Dance allows me to express emotions and stories with my body
and music. It is definitely my outlet and safe space, everyone at my studio is so supportive of each other and it is my favourite place to be :)
I'm passionate about my Latin culture, especially dancing. My country Perú has a diversity of traditional dancing with beautiful and colourful costumes and I cannot think of anything that makes me more happy than sharing this passion with others.
Graphic design, content creation, medical journal, Porsche, Formula 1, Red bull, Aston Martin and lots of money.
Exploring new things and making the world a better place!
The health and well-being of Australians, especially indigenous Australians, and how we can improve the health system.
As a primary teacher, I am really passionate about ensuring students are taught life skills e.g. resilience, gratitude, empathy, hard work etc! I think these factors create success in all aspects of life.
I absolutely love travelling! It's an enriching experience that exposes me to new cultures and helps me create unforgettable memories. From backpacking through remote areas to exploring bustling cities, travelling challenges me to step outside my comfort zone and try new things.
Changing the world with renewable energy!
Washing your drink bottle - I listened to this conversation on the radio talking about all the microbes in our drink bottles - crazy stuff! We should be washing our drink bottles at least ONCE per WEEK! How crazy.
ENVIRONMENT! To strengthen our relationship with the environment and acknowledge that I am part of the environment. If you burn it, cut it, destroy it - you destroy me
Meeting new people and developing meaningful connections.
Baking and gardening which is a stress reliever during my research.
Sustainability and creativity! They are so essential to our wellbeing but easily overlooked. My passion is to find space for both in people's everyday lives.
Making health care accessible, particularly for queer, gender diverse, and transgender people. Everyone deserves rights and respect and safe access to health care that is affirming.
I am passionate about baking/cooking and eating new types of foods and cuisines because I reckon we should live to eat. Through food, we can dive into different cultures and their history and discover fusion recipes. It’s a great way to keep the mind and stomach happy.
I am passionate about bringing smiles on people’s faces and taking away all their pain. I am doing a nursing degree, so as a nurse I am passionate about caring for communities and spreading smiles as much as I can.
Getting to know yourself! Spending time learning about myself and giving myself time and compassion to figure out my life has changed my entire outlook and now I scream it from the rooftops every chance I get.
Studying Medicine to Create Change Within Zimbabwe Communities.
Words: Teola Makumbe
I want to understand more of the world around me and be an active member of my community. The medical field and the influence it has, on both individuals and the community, is tremendous. It’s fields like these that help shape our society, and fuel my passion for being an active member of society that goes beyond myself as an individual. I have always been, and still am, passionate about helping people, especially those who don’t have access to proper healthcare and those who do not have the same privileges that I possess.
Being born and raised in Zimbabwe has sparked my interest in being an active member of my community, especially in wanting to do something that can change other people’s lives and inspire younger generations to want to do the same. My personal mission is to work in a local community dedicated to ensuring that everyone receives safe and uncompromising healthcare. I want to learn how to use technological resources and combine them with the existing knowledge of affected communities to create innovative solutions for medical advancements particularly in hospitals across Zimbabwe.
The practical nature of being a doctor strongly appeals to me and remains one of the things I am passionate about as it combines academic thinking with practical solutions. I take great pride in the networking and community that I am building for myself and for those around me - be it in my school or at a local level like my community. Therefore, it’s a great privilege to be able to do something that I love and share it with fellow medical students who also aspire to shape their own narratives and futures.
By following the path to study medicine, I’m not only developing the tools necessary to help my community, but it’s giving me the opportunity to make a choice about my life and future. Having previously worked to get into the Bachelor of Law and Business (Honours) degree, it was a decision I felt was being made on my behalf. A decision made for me, not by me. Making the choice to study a medical degree and later becoming a doctor may be either the best or worst decision I am making for myself. However, I am choosing to make this decision because when I look at my future ten years from now, I see a determined young lady in a white coat, advocating for change, and changing lives one person at a time.
My passion for medicine doesn’t blind me from the realities of medical school and residency. The work of a doctor is emotionally difficult. I have seen doctors wrap arms around weeping mothers, who had to say goodbye to life. I have seen my own family’s cases with promising outlooks take a devastating turn. I have seen the face of real anguish and loss. I have learned that nothing is guaranteed, everything can change – for better or worse. The strength I have seen in my own family, as well as in the doctors and nurses who went above and beyond to save a life, inspires me to do whatever I can to help bring about positive change. It’s this passion that makes me want to contribute substantially and meaningfully to such a mission, as it will give me the ability to turn my passions into solutions, become an agent of medical advancement, and create change for current and future generations to come.
Dedicated to you, Opus
Words: Tegan Stettaford
An artistic work, especially one on a large scale.
I am so happy to be back for the year writing for Opus again.
I still remember very clearly the day I decided to take the plunge and contact Opus about contributing pieces to their magazines and zines. It was 2021, and I was at Ourimbah campus to teach. Upon walking past Shop101, I noticed the Opus magazines out on their stand and the ‘Music edition’ really piqued my interest. So, I picked it up and had a flick-through.
Towards the end of the spread, I paused abruptly at a brief article that really tickled my fancy: titled ‘Taylor Swift: A Visionary Taking Back Creative Control & Changing Industry Norms’ by Keighley Bradford. As a huge Swiftie, I was a little shocked but immensely enthused to see this piece. This was a pivotal moment for me in realising that Opus provides a really open and welcoming space to share your thoughts, interests, passions, art and whatever else you may desire.
To most, this may not seem like a world-bending, lifechanging realisation but for me, it really was in the most beautiful and subtle way.
As a PhD student, a lot of my time is already taken up by writing; however, this writing is very rigid, strict, and scientific. There is a lot of second-guessing, editing, rewriting, reviewing and the like. As much as I love my research and do find enjoyment in the scientific writing process, it is restrictive. At times, it feels as
if your unique voice, your autonomy to write is stifled.
Opus has provided me with a space to write freely again, to just let words spill out on the page without worry for ‘correctness’ and with no expectations. It has also allowed me to dive back into myself and explore who I am and what I care about and enjoy. It truly has become a reprieve from the grind of everyday life, and reminds me that writing is still something I enjoy and cherish.
Looking back at my time thus far with Opus, I have had the opportunity to write numerous pieces on various topics. I have authored some online pieces but hope to focus on these a little more going forward. Primarily, I have contributed to print magazines and zines; with this magazine included I have contributed 25 articles across 15 magazines/ zines. Just realising that really feels like such an achievement. My favourite piece of which was in the 2022 Halloween edition, about Cold Case Playing Cards.
Further, I was incredibly fortunate to win the Opus award in 2022 for Print Contributor of the Year; the writing itself is a reward of its own.
Understandably, there is a lot that goes into keeping Opus afloat and flourishing. The reason I wanted to write this piece was to acknowledge and thank the incredible team that is Opus, not just presently (Mel and Tiana – you are both doing an absolutely
incredible job) but those that came before and those yet to come too. I love seeing Opus continuously evolve, with the new website for example an absolute testament to the hard work that goes into this space.
So, without further ado, thank you to the Opus team for all your efforts and continuing to inspire passion and joy in writing and creativity.
the Misunderstood Entertainers
Words: Blair Wise
I was driving to the House of Free Fighting, a training school and home of Newcastle’s very own Professional Wrestling company. With a show at City Hall coming up in a few days, I wanted to meet the pro wrestlers to try and understand why they do it.
Explaining what I was doing to friends and family, I was met with a recurring dialogue.
“The fake wrestling?” they would ask. Unsure of how to describe it without undermining it, I would reply, “like the WWE wrestling.”
It was an uncomfortably hot day, and I was dripping sweat inside the tin warehouse that housed the wrestling school. Loud rock music played over the sound system. A wrestling ring occupied the majority of space, but there was also a free weights area. Walking in, I found myself ducking between a group of about ten younger trainees, of all shapes and
sizes, doing their circuit and cardio training. So far, none of it seemed fake at all. Was I in the right place or had I wandered into a boxing gym?
I sat down with Shayne Sheffield Sinclair, one of the pros who trained there and had been wrestling for six years and was also the event manager. Shayne towers over most wrestlers with his height and filled-out build. He told me the trainees were in their ninth week of a 10-week training program designed to get them comfortable with the basics of wrestling moves and to improve their physical conditioning. After graduating from this training level, they would then move on to training in the ring “It’s a privilege to get into the ring, not a right”, he said. The training programs had proven to be a testament to newcomers’ commitment and physical ability, with only one in four trainees progressing through each training block.
Although he is still wrestling regularly, Shayne made it very apparent that his ambitions were focused on the back end of the industry.
“My goal here is to increase professional wrestling notoriety in Australia,” he said.
“What makes you passionate about doing it?” I asked.
“Seeing how Adam (the owner) and Newcastle Pro Wrestling drove Australian wrestling forward… I’m motivated by keeping that alive.”
We started talking about the upcoming show and what it meant to be able to perform at City Hall. He explained how it had been a culmination of hard work over the years to “make our business seem as legitimate as it is”.
This made me empathetic for professional wrestling organisations as it sounded like they were not taken seriously as professional performers because of the gimmicks and stereotypes of their work.
He said, “even for the wrestlers in the ring, it doesn’t matter if it’s performance or not… there’s years of work”.
Later, I caught up with Carter Deams, a young, high-energy wrestler. Shayne explained that when Carter was in rookie training, many years back, it was obvious that he would be a great wrestler. Carter was tall, not as tall as Shayne, but had a muscular, athletic build and wore a short skin-faded mullet. Living up to the praise, he exuded confidence. He told me he had attended a sports school and originally had dreams of playing soccer at an elite level until he experienced a dream-ending injury. He said, “If I couldn’t be the best version of me, I didn’t want to be a version at all,”.
Despite working two jobs, studying, and looking after his family, he still makes the time to dedicate himself to training and performing shows. A packed worklife-wrestling routine was consistent among all the wrestlers I spoke to.
I asked what got him into wrestling. Carter said, “It’s always been there…I’m very obsessive like I’ll get wrapped up in something for a couple of weeks, like video games or phone games. I’ll spend hundreds of
dollars on phone games and then lose interest in a week. But the one thing in my life that I never phased out of was wrestling,”
He explained that in his six years of pro wrestling, he’d performed in shows wherever they had wrestling and even had some international stints in New Zealand and Japan “I’ve done the whole nine yards”. “Are you content with your wrestling career?”
“Yes, 100 percent,” he said, but he also explained that having great matches doesn’t always feel as great as you’d think and that he enjoyed other parts of wrestling, “I thought winning the [championship] belt would be the best thing I ever did, but then I got to train and see my rookies get on shows and make their own accomplishments so I could sort of live vicariously through them”.
Carter is currently one of the most highly-regarded wrestlers in the country. However, not too long ago, he was just a rookie in this gym too.
I headed to the office to talk to Adam Hoffman, the head trainer and owner of Newcastle Pro Wrestling. Adam, a middle-aged man with piercing blue eyes, a blonde goatee, and a short mohawk, oversaw the whole company from match planning to the training curriculum and has been wrestling for 20 years.
Adam said that he continues to wrestle in the current shows, and as I had him reflect back on his career, he said, “I had dreams in the early days of making it to WWE,” but after seeing that you needed to go international to make it and that the Australian wrestling scene was lagging behind the U.S.A wrestling, “the dream became very early on to make wrestling big enough here so that we could live off it here”.
Adam explained that he enjoyed wrestling because it had the athleticism of other sports without the risk of injury from smashing into someone playing rugby, but that you get to perform and “connect with emotions”.
“That’s the most important thing if you look out in the crowd and see them reacting emotionally how you want them to… it’s addictive, I think it’s what keeps people going for so long,” he said.
I reluctantly asked Adam what he thought about people calling it fake. For someone who has dedicated a large portion of his life to it, I think this rightfully upset him as he said, “it’s just a stupid
mentality to have”, he trailed off and explained that in the 80s, it was important that pro wrestling appeared fake to have the audience buy into it, but now wrestlers don’t try and portray it as fake.
Adam said, “Pro wrestling has that stigma of just fake fighting and men in spandex. It’s actually heroes and villains and stories…It’s storytelling.”
“Would you call yourselves storytellers?” I asked.
“Absolutely, a match has a story, a show has a story, a series of shows has a story,” he said.
“Is there anything like wrestling?” I asked.
Adam took a long pause to genuinely consider this question. He explained that having played elite-level sports and done drama, pro wrestling is so unique in its audience interactions and story-telling “you can’t compare it”, he said.
He explained that regardless of the match outcome in wrestling, as long as the audience becomes immersed in the story that you’re telling, “that’s a win”. ***
It was the night of the show, Brawl at City Hall 3, I arrived a few hours prior to show time with the hopes of seeing some behind-the-scenes. I was nearly escorted out by security, but after persuading them with my camera and notepad – I was in.
It was a grandiose venue, with tall ceilings, wall detailing, a mezzanine, and red velvet seats traditionally used for theatre plays. This setting was juxtaposed with the wrestling ring. Old entertainment meets new, I thought.
After a pep talk from Adam, the wrestlers jumped into the ring and began planning their matches with one another. Carter reminded me of a director, running through his broad plan for his tag-team match with Shayne and the two other wrestlers adding to his outline. I tried my best to understand what was being said, I heard things like, “Then I’ll do a hurricanrana…come in with the German suplex… back body drop… arm drag…hip toss…frog splash…code red”.
The barrage of fast-paced technical information all sounded interesting, but I had no idea what any of it meant.
I asked, “Is this the first time you have been together to discuss the match?”
“Yes, but Carter texted through a bit of a script earlier in the week”, Shayne said.
As an outsider looking in, this seemed like very last minute, and I wondered if that was the typical way of preparing for a match. I learned later that the match times can change or the angle -meaning the storyline in the match- may be altered on the show day, so it paid to stay flexible.
At the pre-match meet-and-greet function, I spoke to Carter about what it was like to have engagement with the fans and asked if he ever feels a bit like a celebrity, he said “one of the first things my stepson ever asked me was ‘do you know John Cena?’ Carter said that the young fans don’t know he is not as big as the wrestlers on TV, and “they don’t know that I work at Coles and go to uni. So for tonight, it sounds weird, but I’m like a star”.
“You come out here, you talk to the kids, you make ‘em laugh, joke around with the other wrestlers, it creates a good environment going into that show… if I didn’t have this banter and interactions with the fans, I don’t think I’d be doing it anymore,” he said. As the fans cleared out and the meet and greet came to an end, I asked Carter if he was in character as soon as he steps on location.
Carter said, “I think I’m just myself…maybe I play it up a little bit”. He said that he elevates his arrogance for the show, but for the most part, he is still being himself.
It was match time, Carter and his partner came out first, jeering and bouncing around as the crowd booed at them. They were clearly the villains and they fit the part. Jake and Shayne followed them shortly behind— young Jake dressed in his sheriff attire, and was chaperoned out by his physically imposing giant partner Shayne. It was a classic story; the Sheriff Department riding into town to stop the punk outlaws, and most importantly, the audience felt this and cheered for the law as the match began.
I asked before, “who wins?”
“If I tell you, it won’t be as interesting,” Shayne said.
Read the rest of Blair's article on opus.org.au
Turning Pain into Passion
Words: Giorgia Wilson
*Trigger warning of Sexual Assault* If this article brings anything up for you and you need support immediately, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Passion is an innate human experience. It is what drives us and centres us. When we think of passion, we often associate it with a strong and intense feeling of enthusiasm towards a particular activity, idea or person. But for me, I associate passion with a sense of dedication, persistence, and motivation towards sexual violence prevention.
In the month of April 2023, it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, whereby the theme is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” As I prioritise sexual assault awareness all year round, this year I will be drawing my connection between pain and passion, and how my experience became a forceful power in my advocacy.
Transforming my pain into passion was not a simple journey. I had to be patient, selfcompassionate, and I had to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. I did not try to forget or ignore my experience. In fact, I embraced the suffering as a catalyst for personal growth, development, and control of my life. But not everyone can be as gentle with themselves and that is okay. Sexual violence is a traumatic and deeply personal experience that can cause immense pain and suffering for the survivor. Turning this pain into passion is a difficult process that requires acknowledging and accepting the trauma,
working through the emotions and experiences, and finding ways to channel the pain into power. But they need to be ready. This transformation might not be for them, whether that be now – or ever. Nevertheless, they will be able to reconcile with themselves and recognise that they did not cause their experience, and they are not responsible for what happened. Once they reconcile with this, they may want to take a similar path to that of mine.
Here is my path:
• Support: Although it may feel like it, you are not alone in your recovery. Seek support from trusted friends, family members or health professionals. Talking about your experience with someone who understands and cares about you can help alleviate the pain and give you a sense of comfort and validation.
• Self-care: Taking care of yourself is crucial in the healing process. Engage in activities that make you feel like YOU, and bring you happiness.
• Education: Learning about your experience, its effects and the resources available to you can help you feel empowered and more in control of your future.
• Community: Being part of a community of survivors who share similar experiences can be a source of strength and support. You can join a support group, attend events or meetings, or volunteer for organisations that support survivors of sexual assault. My experience brought me my community.
• Action: I found healing by turning my pain into passion, through action. I founded a project that advocates for policy changes, fundraises for support survivors and educates local institutions how to better accommodate survivors.
You are not defined by what was done. Hold your head high and know your worth. You are a warrior, a fighter, and a force. When the darkness comes, remember this truth; You are a survivor, and your light will never be subdued. Your pain will become your passion.
My Passionate Eras
Words: Summer Harrison
Passion is the driving force behind many decisions I have made in my life, good and bad. I have been passionate about many things in my life and I call these my eras. Let me take you through some.
My current ‘cawfee’ era
I feel like this could be my most relatable era. You best believe I had two large, oat milk cappuccinos before writing thismy favourite start to the day. My motto is, ‘whenever something’s due, coffee will get you through’. It is hard to believe that I had never had a sip of coffee before commencing my law degree. However, in order to look normal in a law lecture, you must walk in with coffee in hand, or a Frank Green.
The UNSA coffee machine has rectified a lot of my problems:
• Falling asleep in a meeting… coffee time!
• Up until 3am partying… coffee time!
• Someone brought in a packet of Tim Tams to work… coffee time!
My hot gal walks era
This all started during lockdown when my prime passions were fitness and wearing activewear. With a coffee in hand, my morning would start at Merewether Beach, and depending on how BOSS my playlist was, it could end anywhere between Bar Beach and Carrington.
The purchase of an Apple Watch really propelled my passion and led to a competition between each of my friends who could do the most steps in a day. Subsequently, I ended up progressing from a good-paced walk, to running. Coffee in hand seemed like not such a good idea anymore. Something I did notice during this era is every time I wore a really nice activewear set, I would not see anyone on my walks. However, if I wore a really plain, boring outfit with greasy hair, I would see half of my uni friends who wanted to stop and chat. My passion for running has subdued, however, reignites when I am late to class.
My girl boss era
Instigated by a heart-breaking, short-lived holiday fling, I decided from now on I will no longer be drawn to red flags and will never listen to ‘Good 4 You’ by Olivia Rodrigo again. Although exploring Hinterland waterfalls with a gorgeous German backpacker was fun, ‘crying on the floor of my bathroom’ when he departed was not exactly the fairy-tale ending that I imagined. I decided that I would swap instances of shortlived passion, to focusing on my real passions in life such as achieving major goals I have set.
Aaaaand that’s just a snapshot of my most recent passions. Next time I’ll give you more of a slide show. Who knows which era will come next?
For the Opus Passion Magazine, we’ve partnered with Lovehoney for the second year in a row to encourage safe, consenting, and healthy sexual activities for students at UoN. Lovehoney are ‘the sexual happiness people’, distributing sex toys across the globe from their online store and providing us with a limited edition discount code, giving UoN students 20% off their next Lovehoney purchase!
Use the code OPUS20 until July 1st and scan the QR code to start your sex toy shopping spree.
On the following pages are student reviews of the 10 products that Lovehoney sent to us. Interested in trying something new? Perhaps reading the thoughts of your fellow peers will assist…
Alternatively, if you do not wish to see this content please skip to page 28.
The use of sex toys is a personal choice and should be done at your own risk. It is important to read the instructions carefully and use the product as intended to avoid any potential harm or injury.
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Lovehoney Toy Sexpectations
Lovehoney Rose Clitoral Suction Stimulator
Let’s state the obvious: this is the PRETTIEST sex toy ever. Its 10 different modes of air pulsing functionality has got me obsessed as it feels SO much better than a vibrator. It creates a sucking feeling on the clitoris (which already feels amazing) but then is amplified when used with lube. The Lovehoney Rose also provides a great range of modes to suit how sensitive you are down there. Okay but my only qualm is that it’s not the easiest to clean because of its intricate design and that the charging life isn’t very long. When it died on me, literally mid climax, I was so disappointed. It’s also a little bit louder than expected but hey, for something this good, I don’t mind. Overall, I will 100% be using this again… and again and again.
Lovehoney Juno Rechargeable MusicActivated Panty Vibrator
From first impressions, the lovehoney Juno seems a bit gimmicky. The vibrator is made up of three parts: a bullet vibrator, a silicone sleeve for the bullet, and a remote. The bullet in the sleeve is designed to fit snug into you and the remote also acts as a sound detector. The vibe is quite strong for how small it is and I quite like the shape of the bullet. I actually preferred using this bullet out of the sleeve on its own, although I thought it was quite loud. However, I guess that can be offset if you’re using music as recommended. I really loved the remote to control a bullet, it eliminated the need for fumbling around for the button. Overall, I definitely recommend this if you’re looking for something new!
Doxy Number 3 Disco Extra Powerful Travel Wand Massager
Lovehoney Magic Bullet 10 Function Bullet Vibratorable Double-Ended Vibrating Massager
With 7 different vibrating patterns in addition to the vibrating patterns that different music can bring, it serves as both a standard vibrator and a creative and exciting take on the wellknown cock ring. One of the best parts for us was the ability to take the vibrating bullet out of the silicone case and use it as a vibrator, while still utilising the silicone casing for other pleasure points. The verdict: Despite its simplicity, LoveHoney have done a great job in the design and practicality of this toy. It’s fun, a bit different and allows the user(s) to get creative. This would be a great toy for newbies wanting to explore a new element in the bedroom, but perhaps isn’t the most exciting for those of us who have something similar in their collection already.
- A Couple’s Perspective
Lovehoney Magic Bullet 10 Function Bullet Vibrator
In three words – simple, sleek, powerful.
This little bullet is very discrete and is probably the most simple vibrator to start off with because of how easy it is to use! Did I say it was waterproof too? Well, it has that too! With 7 settings, it’s definitely an amazing beginner toy!
Loved it, I would recommend to everybody.
If you’re interested in a toy that can double as a weapon, this is the one for you. The Doxy no.3 Disco Extra Powerful Travel Wand is a sturdy tool that wildly invigorates both parties. Bringing the doxy wand into our bed really amplified my sexual experience, achieving trembling orgasms each time.
This wand is very reliable, and while it may take a while to get used to the weight and size, it really is the perfect tool for clitoral stimulation. A buzzin good time.
Lovense Lush 3 App Controlled
In short, the thing I enjoyed most about the Lovense Lush 3 Vibrator is that it is fun and a little bit unusual being quite “techy” for a sex toy. I had the most fun fiddling around with the remote control app and exploring these digital features. Unfortunately, I am not sure this sex toy is really for me though. I found the internal vibrations were weak and not particularly sexually inciting. I was also disappointed that the smaller end did not provide clitoral stimulation however, I do acknowledge that this is from one use, and that it does note use for ‘public-play and long-distance couples.’ There might be potential yet in handing the controls over.
Desire Luxury Rechargeable Strapless Strap-On Dildo Vibrator
My partner and I are huge fans of this toy. Changing up the one-sided nature of strapons is something we would recommend for all, and even recommend it for solo users because of the versatility of the toy. Our only issues with it are that the buttons are difficult to reach when it's in use, and finding positions to use it effectively can be challenging. Spending time to experiment and treating it as a process helped us to alleviate some of these issues, but the buttons are certainly still a challenge. Overall, it is worth the ticket price and then some, as toys often are. Its versatility and quality make it an excellent do-it-all toy to add to your collection, despite the few issues we had with it.
Lovehoney Joy Roller Rechargeable Double-Ended Vibrating Massager
The Lovehoney Joy Roller is very interesting in how it’s created for recharging. Before using it, you first need to unlock the travel lock. Feels sleek, nice to hold, and it’s fun however, it would also help to relax you. Bonus if you have someone to do this on you to make it more relaxing and fun. It was a good experience to try out. Overall, it's an exciting new toy to be used that personally, I had never seen before. One small thing that's a little annoying is the light from the buttons however, I can’t complain and otherwise am grateful to have this tester.
Fifty Shades of Grey Pleasure Overload 10 Days of Play Gift Set
This set includes a mini bullet vibrator, nipple clamps, butt plug, kegels, vibrating penis ring, and various sensual products, structured to be opened like a “sexy” advent calendar. The products are not of the best quality, however, are great for beginners or people who are looking to experiment. This set can be a great way for couples of all genders to spice up their sex life, or even for individuals to experiment by themselves. The products are not the best for experienced people or those who are looking for high quality products, however, it is a great bridging set to experiment with and see what you and your partner like.
Womanizer X Lovehoney InsideOut Rechargeable G-Spot and Clitoral Stimulator
The Womanizer InsideOut is a unique sex toy that offers a combination of clitoral and G-spot stimulation. The clitoral part creates gentle sucking sensations, providing quick and intense orgasms. The G-spot part vibrates and complements the experience.
Here’s the list of advantages that I have discovered:
1) The clitoral part works very fast (in less than a minute, an orgasm is guaranteed).
2) The G-spot part adds an additional pleasurable sensation.
3) You can adjust the intensity of each part of the toy depending on your sensitivity.
4) It is 100% waterproof which makes it a perfect toy for shower play.
5) The material feels nice and smooth on the skin.
Here’s the list of disadvantages I have noticed:
1) The toy is quite loud (especially the clitoral part).
2) The price point is pretty high.
3) Control buttons aren’t user-friendly from the get go.
4) There is no mobile app for controlling the toy remotely.
Overall, I would recommend the Womanizer InsideOut if you’re looking for a solo toy. It can be too much if you have a highly sensitive clitoris.
Witness For The State
Words: Georgia Jones
When I began my journey as a Law student over two years ago, optimistic and somewhat naive, I was passionate about what the legal system was. It was analytical, an adversarial battle of minds. It was the intersection of social morality and legal rights and wrongs. However, this perception has shifted greatly throughout my studies and research and now, I am passionate about the things our legal system isn’t. Our adversarial Criminal C Justice System (CJS) is not always fair and indeed it is not always just.
When we personify the Criminal Justice System we often envision Lady Justice, blindfolded holding a set of balanced scales. However, in the struggle to balance the competing needs of victims, offenders, and society, a closer look at our system will demonstrate an asymmetry in the dedication to each party's needs. In fact, those who suffer the greatest imbalance within the justice system are victims and this notion was ever so clear to me when I entered the Newcastle District Court in late 2022. As I sat quietly in the gallery, I soon realised I had walked into a case regarding a sexual offence. The victim was not present, however, the defence was introducing questions they would like to put to the victim during cross examination. I was troubled and quite saddened at the degrading and explicit nature of questions regarding the past sexual relationships of the victim which were called into question. This is often a strategy to reduce credibility regarding issues
of consent. Such a line of questioning would almost certainly contribute to the feelings of secondary victimisation, humiliation, and distress which many survivors experience.
In recent years the law has somewhat developed further protections for victims of sexual offences. Amendments to the Criminal Procedures Act 1985 (NSW) include the option to testify online, and more importantly, limitations on cross examination regarding the sexual history of a victim. However, whilst such amendments are good on paper, the legislative changes are yet to manifest in a helpful way for victims in a courtroom setting. As I have witnessed during visits to the courthouse and discovered further in court transcripts, questions regarding a victim's sexual history have often been allowed as a result of one core exception: Questions of this nature may be authorised for the purpose of clarifying the victims relationship with the accused; a broad and vague exemption.
Imagine a victim of sexual assault who had been attacked by an intimate partner. Whilst they may have consented on prior occasions, this cannot be taken as consent on future occasions. The doubt cast by such questioning is a prevalent issue especially given the recent research suggesting young people are confused regarding consent, and maintain problematic views in respect to control and sex in relationships.
Victims of sexual assault and their treatment in our justice system is one common perception: victims are simply witnesses for the prosecution.
I have found, however, that the core issue regarding victims of sexual assault and their treatment in our justice system is one common perception: victims are simply witnesses for the prosecution. It can be argued that the concept of victims as witnesses is derived from the very way in which we define crime. The core of this definition is that crime is a transgression against, and punishable by the state. You may notice that there is no mention of a victim whatsoever within this simplified definition. It appears to me that this has carried over to the processes of the CJS, as the victim remains unrepresented in an offender-state centric process with victims having little say over the prosecution of the offender. Perhaps the best solution to empower and protect sexual assault victims is to remove this status and provide them with some sort of power, autonomy, and control, which was removed from them when they were victimised. Now is the time to get victims actively involved in the criminal justice process. Providing victims with party standing, legal representation, and an active role in the trial process will not only empower victims, it can provide
further protection from harsh adversarial processes including cross examination.
To conclude, it is evident that the current criminal trial process fails to adequately protect, empower, and support victims of sexual assault. Whilst it is clear that some legislative amendments were targeted to reduce secondary victimisation, exceptions and the implementation of such have, in practical circumstances, proven ineffective. Further, defining crime as a transgression of the state has translated into a criminal justice process in which the victim is largely excluded. Providing victims with a more active role in the trial process would better support victims through challenges of testifying without compromising the accused’s right to a fair trial.
Victims are more than witnesses for the state. They are survivors.
The Halcyon Morning
Words: Hannah Quilty
15 Sept. 1974
Her espresso is piping hot when it arrives. With lilting eyes, she catches the handsome man’s gaze from across the café over the frames of her lilac teashades, smirking softly into her cup. His paper is freshly pressed, one crease through the centre, as always.
Every morning for the past month and a half, she’s watched him with a curious fascination. His order never changes; a hot tea, but she can never tell what kind. Sometimes the steam will swell towards her if the café is busy and he has to sit closer to her, his usual table occupied by another stocky businessman or a husband and wife enjoying their first outing without their children for the week, but it’s usually an unrecognisable scent. Sometimes, her mind wanders, and she’s under the impression that he orders something different every time, as if he’s sensed her intentions of uncovering every dirty detail about him, and to throw her off track. Although, they don’t catch each other’s eyes often enough for that fantasy to be plausible. They share this space every morning, but have never had any introductions. She enjoys it, though. The intrigue of it all.
There’s something about him that is familiar, almost like an old friend from home. He has the same haircut as the boy who worked in her local fish and chip shop a few years ago: longer, curled around the nape of his neck and ears, slicked back off his forehead. It’s blonde, but not golden. A bit darker in the shade of the café, but she always makes sure to watch him as he leaves, watch the way the sunlight outside will hit him as he enters the street. From this distance, she can never tell what colour his eyes are. They seem dark, though. Like a brown,
or a hazel. Perhaps even a midnight blue. But, in the fleeting moments where she does catch his eye, she’s noticing other things. The way he shifts in his seat, the drumming of his fingers on the tabletop, always in perfect rhythm with whatever slinky jazz music is making its way through the café. Maybe he’s a drummer, she thinks. Or some kind of a musician. He has a rockstar air to him, despite the doublebreasted suit and leather briefcase perched beside his feet.
The steady tap tap tap of the tip of her fountain pen on the oak table beneath her pulls her out of her internal musings. Her eyes flit down to her notebook, the pages flooded with inky blue and black tendrils from the many times her pens have fallen apart in her hand. Hard as a rock but light as a feather, the cream pages stuck together from various coffee and red wine spills, the leather spine worn down to its bare threads. On the front page is a drunken scribble from her mother that says Happy Birthday, I love you forever baby. Her fingertips graze the parchment, softly smiling.
Tucked in the back of the journal is a postcard decorated with a faded cartoon of an uncannily large mime hanging off the Eiffel Tower; stereotypical trash she knows her mother will adore. The message is sweet and brief: Loving Paris, missing you more. Will write again soon x. The postcard she received all the way from Australia a week ago is also hidden between the pages of her notebook, her mother’s loopy handwriting filling up the entire space, detailing gossip from neighbours back home, the weather, and the current mental state of her Aunty Mavis.
Although her mother’s rambling can get tiresome, she’s missing it now more than ever. Paris is a crowded hole; so many people crammed into one
space, but faces turned, always back to back. Perhaps this is what draws her to the stranger sitting opposite her - a stranger that feels more familiar than her own conscience.
She catches his eye fleetingly before his gaze returns to the newspaper in front of him. For a moment, she thinks she spots a whiff of a smile being thrown at her.
The front page is covered in large text, the same sentence that has been decorating every news stand for the past two days: French Embassy Under Siege. The business section is untouched, his eagerness to skip straight to Sports contradictory to the nine to five he works every day at the Berdugo Metoudi firm downtown. Or she assumes, at least. The brown leather briefcase and company pen he uses to circle expensive car advertisements in the back of his daily Ouest-France give her the impression that she’s right, of course. Her impressions haven’t been wrong, so far.
Her coffee is potent, and the soft swell of classic jazz slinking its way through the café brings her more peace than she’s felt in days. In between studying for her mandatory French language class, and avoiding her new roommate Julienne like the plague (she bathes at most once a week and refuses to change her cats litter box, so their flat consistently smells like mouldy armpit and decay), her brain has felt like a live wire, seconds from sparking. She’s pretty sure the nerves of her teeth are exposed due to how much she’s been grinding them, and the bags under her eyes make her look like she’s been left alone in the ring with George Foreman. But what she’s written on the postcard to her mother - which she reminds herself to deliver as soon as she finishes her coffee - is truthful. She is loving Paris. The music, the food, the culture. It feels like home in a way that isn’t tangible; like it’s in the air, loosening her lungs and wrapping itself through her hair, fluttering the leaves on the linden trees as if shaking them awake from a century-long sleep. It’s in the sound of her boots on the cobblestoned streets, in the hum of the traffic in the morning, in the pulse under her skin.
“You have a mark on your face.” She looks up, large eyes peering over her sunglasses, the rim of her espresso cup pressed lightly to her lip. She locks her gaze with the handsome man’s from across the small café, unsure whether this is fantasy or reality. “Pardon?”
Her French still isn’t very good, yet she attempts to navigate her way around his thick accent.
“You- you have pen. Ink, on your cheek.” He gestures to his own face, a soft smile toying at his lips. He’s speaking in English, as if he can tell simply by the way she looks that she doesn’t truly belong here. She looks down, finding blue smudged all along her palm. Her heart hammers for a moment while heat rushes to her cheeks. With slightly shaken hands she reaches for the folded white cloth resting underneath her cup and rubs at her cheek until it feels like sandpaper against her raw skin. Her eyes meet his again. “Thank you.”
“I- I’ve seen you here before, yes?” The stranger doesn’t fold his paper, but all of his attention is on her. She can tell by the way he leans closer, as if the two empty tables separating them don’t exist - as if the humming and buzzing of the other patrons is just background noise, and they are the centrepiece.
“I come here every morning.”
She’s fully abandoned the French, opting for her harsh Australian dialect in the hopes that he may find it charming enough to scoot his own chair over and join her.
“You order the same thing everyday.” He smiles, shaking his head.
“You noticed?” On the outside, she’s cool. On the outside, she’s used to getting attention from handsome strangers. On the inside, she’s screaming. “One glass of sparkling water, followed by two espressos, which you down like a parched man in the desert.” His laugh
mingles with the other sounds around them like a single violin in a symphony.
“You never order the same thing.” She rests her head in her hands, elbows digging uncomfortably into the table.
“Why would I do that? I like to experience everything.”
She shakes her head in disbelief. “You don’t have a favourite?”
“They’re all so lovely, why choose?”
“Familiarity,” she states, raising her brows. “Comfort?”
“I’ve never been one too keen on comfort, if I must say.”
“Yet you’re here every morning.” Her teeth grind on her bottom lip, fighting a grin. “Is that not a comfort?”
“That’s a habit,” he says, leaning as close to her as he can manage without moving his chair.
“That’s not a terrible habit.”
“I can only live outside of my means by so much.” He shrugs, sipping his mystery tea. “If I could choose, I’d be drinking tea in Marseille, or Naples, even.”
“I think the drink of choice in Naples is Taurasi.” She squints her eyes playfully. “You want to travel?”
“Doesn’t everyone?” He asks. “That’s why you’re here.”
“I’m here for work,” she says, “not pleasure.”
“Work can be pleasurable.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with such an… existential, philosophical mindset.” Her espresso has long gone cold now, the crema layered on top practically dissolving before her eyes. “I’m going to assume you read a lot?”
“Not as often as I should,” he says, leaning back in his chair. It almost feels like a divide, an instant barrier between them. They were sharing secrets, their deepest dreams and wildest thoughts. Now, there’s distance. The sounds of the bustling café return, the honking of cars in the street filter through the air.
“I’d ask you what’s your favourite, but I could probably guess the answer,” she sighs, picking up her pen. It’s still bleeding, a puddle of blue ink resting on the page. “For someone so hard to read, you ooze predictability.”
“I’m not sure whether I should take that as a compliment or an insult,” he chuckles. “Whichever is most uncomfortable for you.” Her pen draws swirls mindlessly on the page in front of her,
between the half-written poems and the random doodles.
For a moment, she thinks he’s going to ignore her. Instead, he adjusts himself in his chair and leans in again, instantly grasping her attention. She almost drops her pen.
“What’s your name?” His eyes narrow, curious. She bites her lip, setting her bleeding pen down before answering. “Constance.”
“Constance,” he whispers. Her name sounds much prettier in his accent.
“Will you tell me yours?” She questions boldly. He grins, dimples appearing in his cheeks that she hasn’t noticed until now. “I’m Davide.”
“It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Davide,” she says. “And you, Constance.” He stands, folding his newspaper and placing it inside his briefcase. “Shall we say, tomorrow morning? Same place?”
“Am I that predictable?” She asks.
“Insanely so,” Davide smirks. Reaching into his pocket, he drops a few coins onto the small table. He doesn’t look at her until his hand reaches for the door. Just a quick glance, unassuming to passers-by. Strangers making innocent eye contact in a crowded Parisian café. His eyes, she’s figured out, are blue. As deep and dark as a storm at sea.
As Davide’s hand presses against the door, the sun hits his combed hair, morning light syphoning colours of red and gold and blinding white. Her eyebrows raise in acknowledgement as the bell above the door jingles softly with his exit, and she turns her attention back to her notebook.
“Un autre, Madame?” The waitress hovers over her, a cup of fresh espresso in her hands. She nods, thanking the woman. On the page in front of her is a story; short, albeit, a few lines at best. About a handsome man, sitting alone, sipping a mysterious tea and reading the sports section of the newspaper. Her espresso is still steaming when the grenade is thrown through the door and the café collapses in a wave around her. Shards of porcelain rip through the morning air, slicing the spot of blue still visible on her cheek, knocking her lilac teashades from their perch on the bridge of her nose. Her body falls, the hardwood floor cool on her skin. Her notebook, a collection of memories, rests in ashes beside her.
Breaking the Stigma
How Young Passionate People are Creating a Culture of Mental Health Advocacy
Words: Marlena Wagner with contributions from the batyr@uon student executive team
This article includes language around mental health and suicide. If you are experiencing any difficulties or distress and are needing immediate support, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
batyr is a unique ‘for-purpose’ preventative mental health organisation, created by young people for young people. We at batyr are passionate about mental health advocacy and creating positive change. We are determined to smash the stigma surrounding mental illness, empower young people to reach out for help, while fostering supportive communities that prioritise young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Our goal is to prevent mental ill-health before it develops and to get young people the right support if it does.
The name of the organisation comes from an elephant named ‘Batyr’ from Kazakhstan. Batyr was able to ‘speak’ 20 human-sounding words. He was a symbol of courage and had an ability to inspire others. His name was chosen as it embodies the spirit of the organisation - to inspire young passionate people, to become mental health advocates, and create a culture where mental health is openly discussed and understood. Furthermore, with Batyr as our symbol, we hope to give a voice to the elephant in the room and raise awareness
of mental health challenges that too often go unaddressed.
Why do we often keep our most difficult moments to ourselves? To put it simply, stigma is the answer. As a result, batyr values the importance of lived experiences. Those who have faced mental health challenges firsthand are uniquely positioned to speak about their experiences and to create positive change. batyr has created a program called ‘Being Herd’. This program features young people who have struggled with mental health issues sharing their stories with others. batyr’s storytellers are passionate, engaging, and relatable, and they have a remarkable ability to connect with their audiences. They share their stories in a way that is honest and vulnerable, but also empowering and hopeful. They talk about the challenges they have faced but also, about the strategies they have used to manage their mental health and to find happiness and fulfilment in their lives. Sharing real stories of overcoming difficult times, demonstrates that mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed about and that those who struggle with them are not alone. The brilliant work of our storytellers is helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage others to seek help when needed.
batyr runs their programs at schools, workplaces, and universities to connect with young people. More specifically, batyr has been working on establishing their batyr@uni partnerships. These partnerships are hoping to create a university-wide culture of openness that supports mental health. By providing peer-to-peer programs, training for staff and students, and lots of campus events, batyr is hoping to connect with students from first year to postgraduate studies. As of March 2022, our university, The University of Newcastle, has established its partnership with batyr. We are a group of passionate students that took on the role of student executives as part of the batyr@uon program. You may have spotted us at some events in the past year, such as stress-less week, SHAG week, O-week, and many others. Come say hi & have a chat! We always have an open ear for anything and love doing fun activities with our fellow students.
batyr's programs are not only innovative and effective but also incredibly important. Mental health issues are a major problem in Australia, particularly among young people. According to recent statistics, 2 in 5 young Australians will experience poor mental health and suicide remains the leading cause of death for young people. Therefore, mental health is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed. batyr is part of the effort by being passionate about promoting positive mental health practices, preventing poor mental health, and creating a brighter future for those who are struggling with mental health challenges.
We are always looking for new storytellers for our Being Herd Workshops, who are passionate about sharing their story and making a change. Expressions of Interest at https://www.batyr.com.au/share-yourstory
"I have always felt passionate about mental health. I know life can throw you a curveball and mess with your wellbeing. As a psychology student I strive to make a change in people’s lives. During the pandemic I, like many others, was separated from my family in Europe. I felt quite low at that time, and it was negatively affecting my mental health and life. Despite feeling as if my issue was not serious enough to warrant reaching out for support, I eventually - with lots of encouragement from the amazing people around me - decided to get help. Having someone to speak to about my struggles helped me overcome this time of distance, has made me more resilient, and has given me coping skills for the future. Last year batyr ran one of their ‘Being Herd’ programs during a psych lecture. I immediately resonated with the experiences of the speakers and felt incredibly motivated and inspired by batyr’s efforts and drive. I knew I wanted to be part of helping others feel less alone and help them know that support is available. When the opportunity came around to join batyr@uon’s student executive team, I was excited to get the chance to live out this passion."
"I was going through a few bumps at the start of my PhD candidature. Feeling lonely and discouraged while navigating a whole new journey during the Covid pandemic, I was inspired and “healed” after attending one of batyr’s sessions in conjunction with UoN HDR Mental Health Week. I was able to relate to the experiences of the speakers. Growing up in an environment that was full of stigma around mental health, it was the first time I felt that I was not alone on this journey. Since then, I became more interested in batyr and started to admire the work that batyr has been doing to advocate for mental health. I love how batyr delivers their content in a fun yet informative way. When batyr was recruiting for uni execs, I immediately put my hand up as I would love to contribute and be a part of the advocate to help build a supportive and inclusive environment on campus, or even relating it to the broader community once students finish their studies!"
My first few semesters at uni were a very stressful, overwhelming, and isolating time, as I found it quite hard to keep up with uni, work, and extra-curriculars, on top of maintaining my social life. I had never really thought about my own mental health and didn’t think about the need to reach out to someone when I was being impacted. During this time, I discovered batyr through university resources and started trying to interact with them during events. I thought it was so cool and inspiring how batyr interacted with people from all backgrounds and actively tried to reduce the stigma around mental health. Hearing more and more about batyr, their values and their initiatives, made me passionate about not only taking care of my own mental health, but also about trying to advocate for mental health more generally. I wanted to ensure that other people in my position would feel comfortable having open discussions about mental health and know the importance of seeking help when needed. I was so excited when I saw that batyr was looking for people to join their UON Student Exec and was very quick to sign up. I love the work that batyr does, and I am so happy and proud that I’m able to contribute and be a part of that work.
35 " "
Words: Tegan Stettaford
Relating to or denoting a course of study undertaken after completing a first degree.
I am incredibly thankful, honoured, and excited (alongside oodles of other emotions) to be back in the role as Postgraduate Representative on the UNSA SRC for the second year running. As nerdy or fictitious as it might sound, education/ study/learning, AKA the embodiment of tertiary education, is something I am incredibly passionate about. Thus, I really value my role as the Postgraduate Representative on the SRC; it posits me in a really unique and privileged position to get to know my postgraduate peers, create connections with and between them, and work towards much needed change.
But where did my passion stem from?
I have always loved learning, from kindergarten to the present. I appreciate how privileged I am to even have the opportunity to receive education, let alone choosing to continue my education and actually enjoying it. When I was in my honours year, it dawned on me really quickly that I was not ready to leave university and whilst I had always planned to continue my education with a masters, a PhD was never a part of my plan. In fact, I recall in my 2nd year of study during a tutorial, I explicitly said that ‘I would never do a PhD… what a waste of time’. During honours, I came to really love research; the process, the learnings, the impact. A fantastic PhD opportunity came up during my honours, which I applied for and was granted. The PhD pathway made me realise that maybe I never want to leave university; the connection was made that I could in fact work towards a career at a university. The rest is history.
During my years studying as a postgraduate student at UoN, I have come to really admire and appreciate the passion, determination, and drive of my postgraduate peers; it really is contagious. When you get chatting to someone about their research area, their placement, their classes, career goals, you can really feel how much they want to be here and how thankful they are, too. Events like the HDR Festival or external conferences are just some of the times when these passions flourish and are shared. In my role with UNSA, I have the privilege of meeting with UoN postgraduates each month to chat about their experiences, concerns, suggestions and anything and everything in between. For me personally, this has been one of the most beneficial avenues in which to connect and experience the passion of my peers. If you are a postgraduate student at UoN and want to be involved in this senate in any way (whether that be attending meetings, or providing agenda items to chat to), please get in contact with me. I would love to hear from you!
Continuing on from my efforts last year, there are a few priority areas I am hoping to address as the Postgraduate Representative in 2023:
Continue to build connections between postgraduate students: Postgraduate study can be isolating.Many of us do not have classes and don’t even know other students in our degree. I created a Discord server and spent time working on the social side of the HDR festival last year, but there is still more to do!
Event inclusiveness: Last year, I was involved in various postgraduate events including the HDR festival, Doctoral wellbeing week, HDR careers week, and O-week events including speed friending. However, many of these events have a focus on PhD students. I feel there is a lot of space to expand these events to other postgraduates and even honours students.
The role of supervisors: Supervision is often an important component of postgraduate study. However, I feel there needs to be clearer expectations and training for supervisors, and a distinct understanding for students to know what they should expect in a supervisory relationship.
For those of you reading this that are yet to have much experience in the postgraduate space, I wanted to leave you with a little Q&A run down on postgraduate life!
Q: What degrees are classed as ‘postgraduate’?
A: Essentially, any tertiary qualification that is completed following and with the requirement of having completed an undergraduate degree. This includes PhDs, Masters, graduate diplomas and graduate certificates.
Q: What does a Masters typically entail?
A: This is very degree/field dependent, but it often involves some sort of specialisation in your area. This will likely involve classes, assessments, and possibly placements or even a thesis too. They generally take 1-2 years full-time to complete.
Q: What does a PhD typically entail?
A: A PhD may feel a little more like a job than a degree. You do not typically attend classes or have assessments; in fact you might be on the
other side of things, teaching classes and marking assignments. The goal of a PhD is to complete a dissertation, which depending on your field could be anything from a research thesis to a creative writing piece. They generally take 3.5-4.5 years to complete full-time.
Q: Why should I do a postgraduate degree?
A: There are so many reasons! Here are some:
· To learn more
· It might be something you enjoy/want to do
· It might be required for your ideal job
· It can be really fun!
· Increase job opportunities
· Potential increase in pay
· New experience
· Make new friends
· Challenge yourself
Cover art runner ups
What topic are you so passionate about that you could give an impromptu presentation?
Honestly? My cat Fifi. I think I could literally talk about her all day.
Sports, Music, Love, and drive to overcome challenges.
How patriarchy ultimately harms most men despite privileging them above others.
The rhythm Heaven game franchise.
Indigenous rights and inclusivity with no limits in their studies or journey.
Into the Embrace of Night
Words: Bryce Linehan
Smooth red and orange dust Dances on the summer breeze, In a warm embrace that feels like lust, Coating us in sweet memories.
The sun begins to lay down for the night, As windowed lights wait to take his place, Streetlights hum with renewed life, And the moon starts to show her face.
The ocean roars and wails along, Its mighty waves crashing at our feet, As we chase the near approaching dusk, Into the embrace of the night, where lovers meet.
Soon, we'll see planes racing through, A cloudy sky that hides their way, We can wonder where they will go, Are you sure you can't stay?
Your sandy hair dances and twirls, In the rhythm of the wind's wild tune, And your gentle voice, like a drop of honey, Wraps around my heart, making me swoon.
Burning clouds give final goodbyes, As they drag their fingers through the sky, Opening heaven, and stars pour through, You look so beautiful, I wish you knew.
I miss the person I almost loved, The one who nearly made me whole, But now you’re just a memory, A love that took its toll.
Photo by Bryce Linehan
My Demon Friends
My little collection of demons are inspired by my late childhood and early teens obsession with the dark, bizarre, scary, and weird. When I think back to when I was most inspired and creative in my life, it was for sure when I was a kid who religiously listened to My Chemical Romance and Alice Cooper while consuming anything and everything to do with the occult, ghosts, mysteries, and murder. At this time I was an avid drawer who loved to put the macabre and scary visions I would conjure up in my head onto paper. Many of the creatures I would draw took much inspiration from Clive Barker's Thief of Always which depicted his own scary sketches of the monsters in the story. I’d highly recommend this read if you like spooky stories.
I often think back and remember the overwhelming emotions and intense energy I had during this period of my life. At times it felt like I’d burst if I didn’t put pencil to paper. While I may not be that same obsessed kid, I do appreciate the same spooky things and will occasionally experience that bursting energy so I am glad to share the product of that for y’all!
Words: Ruby Walker
An International Journey of Resilience and Inspiration from Sporting Icons
Passion is one of the most powerful driving forces in an individual's life. It is the fuel that ignites the fire within us to pursue our dreams and achieve our goals. As an engineering student studying at the University of Newcastle, passion has been the cornerstone of my academic, work, and personal life. In this article, I will share my experiences of how passion has helped me overcome challenges and achieve success, and how I draw inspiration from the resilience and hard work of sporting personalities like Kobe Bryant and Virat Kohli.
My passion for engineering has been a source of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. As an international student, adapting to a new culture, navigating the complexities of the education system, and coping with academic expectations, can be daunting and challenging. However, my passion for engineering has given me the strength and determination to persevere and continue striving toward my goals.
One of the key ways in which I use my passion and knowledge for engineering in my daily life is through my involvement in extracurricular activities and the various roles I perform at university. I am a student representative at the University of Newcastle
and my duties involve analysing issues faced by students in their academics and using problemsolving skills to try and assist with those issues for the betterment of the education experience of the student.
Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, is someone whom I admire for his passion for the game of basketball and drive to be the best basketball player. He was known for his fierce competitiveness and unwavering determination to succeed. He was also a strong advocate for the importance of achieving one's goals. In a 2016 interview, he stated, "If you're not passionate about what you're doing, then why do it? Because it's a waste of time." Kobe's passion for basketball drove him to work tirelessly to improve his skills and achieve greatness, even in the face of injuries, setbacks, and challenges. This is what motivates me to keep hustling and striving for the goals I set out to achieve.
Similarly, Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian cricket team, is known for his steadfast dedication and hard work. He is a testament to the power of
Words: Sarthak Birani
passion in driving success, having risen from humble beginnings to become one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Kohli's passion for cricket has been a driving force in his life, motivating him to work tirelessly to improve and achieve his goals.
I look to these sporting personalities as examples of the power of passion drives success. Their stories remind me that with hard work, dedication, and a strong sense of purpose, I can overcome any challenge and achieve my goals. I strive to embody their qualities of resilience, determination, and hard work in my own academic pursuits, and to use my passion for engineering as a driving force in my life. Although sometimes life happens and we lose motivation for the goals we set, something I have learnt from my colleagues at UNSA is the
importance of maintaining a work-life balance. Living passionately in all aspects of life is important, but give yourself time to reflect over the achievements that have led you here as well as the mistakes in which to learn from.
Hold up… Am I too passionate?
Words: Ivy-Rose Laidler
Hey! How are you? Oh my god I am so excited I just have to tell you about this…” Okay, just stop there, you honestly just need to step it down a notch…”
Have you ever had that? You’re so excited to tell someone about something in your day, a new development in some gossip that you just find funny, something on your favourite topic comes up and you’re just dying to tell someone and they… Don’t care? They don’t want to hear it? Yeah… Samesies!
Welcome to the world of people who will dampen your light and passion.
It kind of sucks, hey? So today it hit home (again) that sometimes I am too passionate.
It occurred to me when I was in a human bioscience class of all things, and was classified as an “older student” because I’m repeating and I’m 21. Yeah, I thought the same. But that’s another story for another day of being the “older student” amongst 17 and 18 year olds at uni even though you’re only 21.
Getting back to the topic at hand. I was in this first year human bioscience course, and I joined this group of girls for lab work. I told them that I knew some things from the first time I did the course but definitely not all things, because I actually missed like half the classes, so I was very aware that I didn’t know EVERYTHING. In saying that, I did know some things. What’s this? Oh, it’s the clavicle, and that there is the acromioclavicular joint, because this is
this and that is that. Like, I knew that, and I tried to explain why I did and not overtake the whole lab group.
We were then drawing on the white board and I actually really like drawing, especially bones and looking at the ‘boarders’ and where the points of knowledge are. Sadly even now, as I’m writing I realise I’m trying to downplay what I do because I got too “passionate”. Anyway, I drew up this drawing of bones and whatever, and the girls seemed impressed? I thought to myself that now everyone can label, and we can take turns figuring things out but no… I was wrong. Every time I tried to pass off the pen, I was just met with disgust. I was trying to prompt everyone because NO ONE was saying ANYTHING. I really thought that I was just trying to facilitate the group learning and be a part of the group.
Next week, I walk up to the girls and ask them, “Hey, can I join you guys again, because I really don’t know anyone else” and oh boy, the looks I was met with. I could see the “top” girl look at her minions and her face said it all. I honestly felt gobsmacked and quickly said “if that’s okay? If you don’t want me to talk or just stand back I will” and they just muttered “Oh... um.. we just think that because you’ve already done this before and umm know some things and have a different learning style, we just didn’t learn anything last week and yeah…”
OH MY GOD. THE TENSION!
I ended up still walking in with them, so freaking awkwardly, just thinking to myself ‘What did I do wrong?’. And then it hit me. Was I too passionate? So, now, I had some time to reflect, and I thought I’d share just exactly what I think.
I’m a student, I’m studying Occupational Therapy (OT), have a history of Nursing as well, and I want to help people. Shouldn’t I be passionate? My passion is OT, learning how both Nursing and Occupational Therapy play major roles in a person’s care and how we can make a person’s outcome so much better. Why shouldn’t I be passionate about a class that I finally get to be in and learn?! It was my chance to finally understand what I couldn’t last time.
I also wanted to note something about being passionate and having people dampen your light: There will be people who are going to want you to shine, stand out, and hear about your passions! I’m lucky enough to say that I have found that. There are just a few people, who will actually ask “So how is your degree going? What are you learning in this?” and ask me more questions! Like “So how do physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists work together? What is so different?” Can you believe it?! People want to listen and hear about what I’m doing AND get excited for me!
I still reflect back on that moment in the lab, where I was pushed out of my group for being excited to learn and have a passion. I think about the girls in there, and how I really thought I had connected with
them. It does make me sad that not everyone likes me, people think I’m too much, and I have to downplay who I am to seem more acceptable. It does hurt, and it will probably happen again, I can almost guarantee it.
BUT, there are MY people, the ones that like me for being “too much” and like me for me, too passionate or not.
I hope from this that you find peace in knowing that you too can be passionate and that ultimately, it is okay, there will be people who like you for you.
Words: Stephanie Jenkins
Mar 21 – Apr 19
You had quite a turbulent start to the year, didn’t you Aries? Goes well to match your personality, I’d imagine. If you’ve been asking yourself why you feel so fidgety, don’t worry: the time to set some goals is now. Remember, a queen is never late.
Apr 20 – May 20
I admire your drive, Taurus, but your bullheadedness can sometimes get in your own way— and you know it. Don’t let go of what fuels you, but you might need to let it fuel you in a different direction. It’s time to grab the wheel.
May 21 – Jun 20
Blah blah blah, you really know how to talk, Gemini. Don’t get me wrong, I love that about you. Just make sure you keep track of everything you say: the time may come when an apology is due. Whether it is one cashed or one owed, though, is another question.
Jun 21 – Jul 22
Buckle up, Cancer. This year is a big one for you. Maybe all those years of keeping the peace have made you antsy. Grab the rose by the thorns, I say. You have a garden to grow, and those pesky caterpillars can’t stand in your way.
Jul 23 – Aug 22
I know you’re feeling frustrated, Leo, but it’s all part of the process. Normally so steadfast and confident, you might have found some thorns in your side these past few months. Those thorns are trying to tell you something. Keep your eyes ahead.
Aug 23 – Sep 22
I admire that you’ve been trying new things this year, Virgo, I know that might be difficult for you. Don’t forget what makes you special, though. While the other signs might find themselves scrambling during retrograde season, you have your footing. Use it.
Sep 23 – Oct 22
People might call you indecisive, but you know the truth, Libra. The year so far has been a perfect example of how you like to think things through carefully. The other signs could take a leaf out of your book. Maybe you can show them how.
Oct 23 – Nov 21
It’s the year of growth for you, Scorpio, and not just upwards but outwards too. You might finally feel in a position to rely on the people around you, and that is a beautiful place to be. Now, it’s time to learn how to be that person for others.
Nov 22 – Dec 21
You’ve been reflecting on yourself a lot in the year so far, Sagittarius, especially when it comes to love. That you can learn from your past experiences, and grow from them, is a wonderful skill. You know what you want, and you have the power to reach for it.
Dec 22 – Jan 19
You might face some hurdles this year that you’re not used to seeing, Capricorn. You know that your drive can get you past anything, and that’s something to cherish. But sometimes a slow point marks an intersection. What would happen if you turned the other way?
Jan 20 – Feb 18
Don’t forget how far you’ve come, Aquarius. All is not lost. Change is hard for you, always, and this year might prove even more so. But you know yourself best, and you know what you need to do to make it through this journey.
Feb 19 – Mar 20
It’s time to take up space, Pisces. Your dreamlike qualities are great for whimsy, but they’re also the perfect catalyst for change. If you find yourself facing some challenges in the latter part of this year, remember to keep your own needs alive in your mind.
You can contribute to Opus anytime!
Magazines contribution: Opus has a variety of magazines that come out throughout the year that have specific themes. Submit your proposal for review, we will let you know if it's successful, and then you can begin working on the final draft.
2023 Magazine themes:
Casual contribution: you can submit online articles at any time, given you are a student. Submit articles on any topic without any regular commitment. Publication is at the discretion of the Opus team.
Proposals due: 20th March Proposals due: 19th June Proposals due: 11th August S T U D E N T M E D I A I n t e r e s t e d ?
STUDENT MEDIA University of Newcastle Students Association, Student Publication Passion Issue 2023 Opus.org.au