Brunswick Uniting has run a Student Housing Program (SHP) for almost 20 years. In that time dozens of students have come, been a part of the life of our church and community, and had the chance to learn and grow together. We have two apartments of five students each, living side by side. They are fun, sometimes messy, sometimes loud, and intentionally Christian households. If this sounds like your cup of tea, read on…
The Student Housing Program’s aims can be summarised in two parts:
Part 1 To provide the opportunity for tertiary students to actively participate in the life of a church community and practically explore their faith with those around them.
Part 2 To provide a place of community and support for students leaving their home to undertake tertiary study.
Who Can Apply?
Any young adult (18-25) who is or will be studying at a tertiary institution (or equivalent) for the duration of the year and wants to be an active member of a Christian community, intentionally formed and resourced by Brunswick Uniting Church. Applicants moving from the country will be given priority.
If I am not currently involved with the Uniting Church in Australia, can I still apply?
The SHP has accommodated for many people of varying beliefs and faiths. Many people who have associated with different denominations have participated in the program. There are also many differing views within the Uniting Church. However, it is vital that every Student House member actively participates in the program and that they are respectful and tolerant of their housemates’ beliefs and faith, and that of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Our community is made up of young adults, typically aged 18 to 25. There have been participants who are older than this, but if you are considering applying and over 22 years of age, please think about whether you will be able to relate with other younger members as you maybe in a different stage of life. The support worker can help with this.
Who is the Community Made Up Of?
The students are young adults (18-25) from a variety of backgrounds, studying different things and possibly at very different stages in their particular faith journey. They will all be excited about living in Christian community.
The Support Worker
The Student House Support Worker, Anika Jensen, facilitates the program. She’s your go-to lady for any questions/dilemmas about practical community things, house stuff, faith ponderings or whatever really. The support worker’s role is to support the community and those in it to make sure we’re growing and exploring life and faith together, so use her (respectfully)!
The Student House Committee
The Student House Committee (SHC) is a group of members of the Brunswick Uniting Church community. We support the students and the support worker through help in organisation of meet-ups as well assuming a pastoral role where appropriate. We will meet with you once a fortnight for dinner and be available when you have questions or just need to talk. We know what it’s like to move out of home with a bunch of strangers and are there to support you.
The Brunswick Uniting Church
We’re your church! We’re a social justice-minded, community of faith, exploring the bible and theology together nestled in the bustle of Sydney Rd. We want you to thrive and feel supported as part of the Student House and broader congregation in our exploration of God and faith in the world today. We’ll look out for you and love having you here.
Community Building and Mutual Reciprocity
The Student House community runs on the premise of mutual expectations and reciprocity. This goes for relationships with one-another in your household, the broader student house community, as well as the Brunswick Uniting Church. We get that life is busy and time commitments fluctuate with study and the infinite number of things going on. That’s why we value mutual respect, honesty and clear communication in the life of our special community. If these commitments don’t really sound like something you would be up for, then maybe this isn’t the community for you.
Be an active and caring housemate
You’ll be living with four other people, so this is pretty obvious. You need to communicate with them, show respect for their space and belongings, and work with them to make sure the house is running well. You’ll do your share of the cleaning duties and participate in decisions about utilities and bill payments.
Attend worship at BUC
We don’t expect that you’ll be able to make it every week, but we do want you to make it as much as you can. Worship on Sunday is a great way to connect with the congregation that supports you and a great way to be encouraged and lifted in your daily faith life. It’s very hard to feel a part of things if you miss the one time a week when we’re all together, but our services are lively, reverent, thought provoking and joyous all at once, so it’s a pretty rad time either way.
Be present at fortnightly meals
Every two weeks you’ll gather with your housemates and the Student House Committee for dinner, most often at one of your houses. This is the only time we gather together to catch up, hang out, and talk through issues of faith, justice and movies so it’s vital that you make it. We all contribute food and it’s usually a pretty delicious, pretty fun time. Theme-dressing optional.
Be a part of things
We ask you to contribute some of your time to an area of ministry in the church. These include (but are not limited to) music team, Sunday morning children’s program, Olive Way drop-in centre, visiting Stewart Lodge and YUCY, our Friday gathering for teens. Usually students take the first six weeks with us to shop around and try a few to see what you’d like to be a part of. After this time, we’d love it if you found one you were most passionate about and really commit to it. This helps you become an embedded part of our church, grow in your learning and helps us get to know you. We will need you to take this as a serious commitment, let relevant people know if you can’t make it, know your skills and your limits. The Support Worker (and the rest of the community) is more than happy to help you figure out what works for you.
Fees and Community Commitment
The fee is the contribution you make for accommodation and property maintenance of the household. Fees are paid monthly and do not include utilities. The community commitment is a deposit paid at the beginning of your time in the community and will be returned at the end of your stay, providing you respect household and leave your room in decent condition, kind of like a bond. The specific costs of these are explained throughout the application process.
Students are responsible for signing up for and maintaining utilities (electricity, gas, phone, internet). It is up to your house if you want to share the cost of food and other day-to-day items, or just items for communal use.
Maintenance and support
The houses are owned by Brunswick Uniting Church and the property committee takes care of all maintenance issues. Students living in the houses are asked to take reasonable care of the property, clean up any mess and report maintenance issues to the property committee as soon as possible.
We expect a student moving in to the houses to be able to commit to living there for a minimum of a year. Once in, there are no limits to how long you can stay as long as you fulfil the requirements of the program and there are no ongoing problems.
Students can move in half way through a year if there is a vacancy but should know that this is a harder time to get to know an already established house. If at the end of a year you decide to move on, we ask that you talk this out as soon as possible with the SHC and that you have your stuff out and your room clean by the end of December.
A bit more about the Uniting Church:
The following statement is taken from the Uniting Church website-
“The Uniting Church confidently believes that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God brings us into right relationship with God, whereby in faith we can: live in a close, loving, personal, dynamic relationship with the living God; participate in the worshipping, caring and serving community of Christians; receive God’s gifts so that life can be what God means it to be – loving, purposeful, joyful, eternal; and tell others of this good news and live it out in acts of compassion, service and justice in the community.”
Some Quotes from the Student House Community
“I like how at church people come and talk to you like they already know you.” – Student
“It strengthened my values as a Christian especially through the student house dinners that were held every two weeks that let everyone share their beliefs. It was also enjoyable to be in the company of likeminded people.” – Ex-Student
“It can be difficult due to the different beliefs and personalities, diversity of faith important to explore and challenge own beliefs…I thought I was quite open minded before I moved out, so it was really overwhelming. – Student
“I love having a SH program as this brings in young people from outside our immediate community…. This is good for our church and sometimes the students are exposed to another way of viewing their faith” – Ex-Committee Member
“The Student House is home, has provided a space to explore faith and advocacy” – Student
“The household worked well, safe space to explore faith…Develop and understand own faith separate to my families.” – Ex-Student
Want to Apply?
If you could see yourself in this community, feel free to get in touch with Anika for more information. If you’re feeling really sure you’d like to apply – download the application form in link below, fill it out and send it to Anika’s email and she’ll be in touch about the next steps.
Anika Jensen (Student House Program Support Worker)
Phone: 0401 181 664 (Please call in business hours 9am-5pm, if that doesn’t work for you, email me and we’ll figure out a time to chat)
*Please note that parents/care givers are more than welcome to enquire about the program and ask for more information, however the applicants must complete the application process themselves. Please respect this, as the community is a space for students to grow independently as young adults and we value their autonomy and confidentiality from the very start.
Student House Application Form: Either digitally fill-out or print, fill out, scan and email back to Anika.