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Postgraduate Study in Australia

Surviving and Succeeding

Edited By Christopher McMaster, Caterina Murphy, Benjamin Whitburn and Inger Mewburn

Each contributor to this book was given the remit: "If you could go back in time to talk with yourself when you began your studies, what advice would you give?" Hindsight is such a bonus, especially, when vying for your doctorate or postgraduate degree. Postgraduate Study in Australia: Surviving and Succeeding addresses this with advice from postgraduate students and recent graduates that will assure that you are not alone in your endeavors.

This project follows similar editions that focus on Aotearoa/New Zealand, South Africa,
the United States, and the United Kingdom, and is currently being replicated in Scandinavia. This down-to-earth anthology shares personal stories from postgraduate students and recent graduates, employing a practical approach and focusing on the context of postgraduate studies in Australia. This first-person approach to research about postgraduate study helps curate the current understanding, with critical reflections adding to our collective knowledge. Both prospective and current postgraduate students will find this collection insightful.

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Chapter Nineteen: Treading the Tricky Terrain of Disclosure (Georgia Geller)

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CHAPTER NINETEEN

Treading THE Tricky Terrain OF Disclosure

GEORGIA GELLER



INTRODUCTION

Completing a PhD can be arduous and challenging at the best of times, however, students with disabilities can be subjected to discrimination, bullying, victimisation and harassment. This may be exacerbated if the student in question also utilises a carer, assistance animal or other aid that suggests the presence of disability. Disclosure of such personal information about yourself to students and staff can be very taxing and can further exacerbate an already stressful situation—particularly when disclosure becomes self-evident with the use of visible supports. Should there be a negative reaction to such disclosure it can most certainly lead to further emotional distress, cost to self and a toll on your studies.

In this chapter I provide key thinking points and practical suggestions for postgraduate students immersed in academia who live with a disability, mental illness, or other type of condition. This discussion is particularly around the issue of disclosure. I draw on my experiences of utilising an assistance dog on campus. I consider firstly whether a postgraduate student should disclose their personal circumstances and then look at a case that came before the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (Chandrakanthi Sluggett vs. Flinders University, 1996). This case identifies some ramifications for students when they don’t disclose their disability and highlights how universities can operate in these situations. I then consider the potential of stigma...

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