Arnold Lee interview, 19 September 2013 and 26 September 2013

Dublin Core


Arnold Lee interview, 19 September 2013 and 26 September 2013


Guild of Undergraduates


Arnold Lee moved to Forrestfield, WA from Liverpool in 1976 and following his TEE was accepted into the University of Western Australia to study for a Bachelor of Science in 1991. After Lee left the University as a student he began to work for the Student Guild as a Projects Officer, a position he would occupy for over 10 years. This position involved supporting and creating projects and he was particularly involved with student Orientation and PROSH, the charity newspaper create by University of Western Australia students.


Lee, Arnold


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Julia Wallis


Arnold Lee


Mt Lawley, W.A.


Interview 1: 53 minutes, 29 seconds
Interview 2: 1 hour, 5 seconds
Total: 1 hour, 53 minutes, 34 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Interview 1

Track 1
00:00 Introduction by Julia Wallis

Track 2
00:00 Arnold Lee was born in the UK in 1973. Family migrated from Liverpool to Forrestfield, WA in 1976. Government school education. Did TEE in 1991 and was accepted into UWA to study for a Bachelor of Science in 1991. The Bachelor of Science was split between human movement and psychology
01:22 Zoology was still near Kings Park. There were cows in the back paddock near human movement. The old pharmacology building was still in use as was chemistry. The Guild extension hadn’t been built so the amphitheatre was still there. The Riley Oval next to Arts was a full sized rugby oval. The newest buildings on campus would have been the Sanders Building, the GP3 (General Purpose Building 3). Architecture had just got its dedicated building on the south west corner having been in demountable buildings for many years. Halfway through Arnold’s first year architecture was moved to the Nedlands campus and Computer Sciences moved into that building.
02:49 Arnold moved all over the campus. First year lectures would be held in the Octagon Theatre or one of the Arts lecture theatres or the Physics Building. All the Human Movement labs were at the tail end of the campus near Pelican Point.
03:30 Arnold was catching the bus from Forrestfield. To make an 8am maths lecture he had to catch the bus at 6.30am. He also rode his bike 35kms there and back.
04:20 He spent many hours in the Reid coffee shop. People from all faculties gathered here. The clubs and societies and faculty societies were very active. He spent time in the Arts common room. He spent time on the Oak lawn or the Guild precinct. There were free Tuesday lunchtime movies. There were bands. Fridays were spent down at the tavern.
06:03 Three other people from his school made it into UWA. He only saw one of them from time to time and had to make new friends. It was very prestigious to have come from Forrestfield high school and go to UWA. First year Psychology had over 700 enrolment and human movement attracted sporty types, so he didn’t feel “out of it”.
08:15 Arnold did not need any help from the Guild. He just went there to the Refectory and to play pin ball. It was all pervasive but was very much in the background. The Manics was the largest club on campus. Camp Kids was still around. Clubs like Solid Gold and Leisure didn’t exist.
09:35 Student politics was very interesting. Bruce Baskerville (1991) was the first openly gay Guild President. Deirdre Willmont was President before him (1984). The Voluntary Students Union push was on. There were competing factions for the student hearts and minds. Different factions published their own newsletters independent of the Pelican. People were very vocal.
12:05 There were student protests. There was a march to Parliament House over the VSU when the Bill was passed. Arnold was also present at Parliament House when it was repealed.
13:00 The students were involved in the Third Wave protests over the change in industrial relations brought about by Richard Court and Graham Kierath. He recalled the Workers’ Embassy being put up at Parliament House by the CMFEU.
13:26 The Guild was located in the Guild Hall which was located opposite Matilda Bay. The new extensions were being built in 1993. They moved in during 1995 and out in 1997 when VSU caused them money issues and the university bought the building off them.
14:19 He took part in PROSH and directed it during the 1990s. The charities vary from year to year. They prefer to donate to smaller local charities. In the 1990s they raised $20-$30,000. Arnold recalled $15,000 was donated to Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital. Other donations went to Legacy and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. PROSH is now raising around $150,000 and giving grants of around $20,000 to a range of charities. It is bigger and better organised now. PROSH started in 1931.
16:52 When Arnold finished his degree he worked a variety of jobs. He did not want to become a psychologist. He worked as a roadie, a theatre technician, did sale and worked at a warehouse. He had worked for university theatres when he was a student. In those days the Festival and the Festival Club was on campus.

Track 3
00:00 Arnold left UWA in 1995 and came to work for the Guild in 1999 as a Projects Officer. He wanted some regular work. He was hired by the director of student services, Delphine McFarlane. The Guild President was Emmanuel Hondros. They wanted a researcher and report writer. It was an open ended job. He had to look at the impacts of VSU and work on its repeal. It grew as the Guild expanded.
02:00 The Guild was doing it tough financially and had to lift their profile and be relevant to the student body. Membership was now voluntary. It dropped to 23% at its lowest point. They had to become more professional.
03:50 The Guild in WA is different because the guilds are part of the University Act. In other states the student bodies are not. It has always been integrated into the life at the university – representation, activities, welfare and services. In the 1990s the welfare was at the forefront due to the economic downturn. In early 2000 the focus was more about activities on campus.
06:33 Sir Winthrop Hackett saw the University as having 3 pillars – the university (administration and academics); the student body and the alumni. All have a say and a stake in the direction of the university. The Guild and the university administration have a fairly positive relationship.
08:40 When VUS came in, the Guild was able to go to the university and ask for help and get it. The Guild had a big input into the new course structure.

Track 4
00:00 The Guild evolves to meet different needs. The Projects Officer worked closely with the Guild President. The president had to evolve and adapt as well. The Guild adopted the RAWS model (Representation; Activities; Welfare and Services). The Guild President sits on the Senate, he and some Guild Councillors sit on the Academic Board; different Council members sat on various university committees.
01:46 Professional Guild staff did advocacy work on behalf of the student body e.g. academic appeal, ensuring that activities met local council regulations and/or insurance regulations. The Guild staff became a very professional outfit.
02:43 The Project Officer role included a bit of everything. For example activities including helping to organise events such as O-Day but also to assist clubs and societies and to advise them and help with liquor licensing etc.
03:28 Guild finance also took on club banking. Marketing became both a source of income and a way to seek sponsorship and to promote the Guild and the university. It was the Guild who ran the marketing behind the recycling programme at UWA. The Guild is the conduit between other bodies and the student body.
04:52 People have always complained about Guild catering. Bob Hawke commented that it had also been the case when he was President in 1952. It’s never cheap enough or good enough.
05:56 Welfare includes emergency loans or advocacy or personal crisis counselling. The Guild shaped itself to include all these areas. There was some training but it was adapt or die. You never stopped. There were always projects. Often people were too busy for training.
07:42 It was meant to be a 9 to 5 job but sometimes it involved a 60 hour week. You had to love the job to do it.
08:30 The Guild was always full of students. In some universities they are not encourage to come in and talk to the Guild staff. They were not shut away behind partitions or locked doors. Staff constantly involved with the students. The students felt it was their organisation. Staff there to advise not to dictate.
10:39 The Guild had paid staff. The President received some payment but they had to sit on about 24 Committees as well as internal Guild committees. The President essentially was the CEO of a $40 million business with 200 staff (including catering).
12:12 The term for the Guild President was one year only. The whole Guild Council changed each year. The ideology of the Guild Council might therefore change from year to year. One year outside catering was brought in. Guild Council elected to get a new building contractor mid-way through the project which cost them money.

Track 5
00:00 Emmanuel Hondros was Guild President in 1999 when Arnold started working there. All the Guild Presidents are hard-working and got very run down. A new President is elected on 1 December.
01:30 Kristy Duckham (2001) was the first female president since Deirdre Willmont in 1984. (There was JA Quinlivan in 1987) but then a run of males until Sarah Haynes and Natalie Curling in 1994 and 1995. Then Rosie Dawkins in 1998. Then there was a run of female presidents - Myra Robinson in 2003 and Susie Byers in 2004 and Natalie Hepburn in 2005.
01:57 Ryan Batchelor (2002) came across from Victoria. He worked for Alan Carpenter and then Jenny Macklin. He helped Julia Gillard with the Disability Support Scheme.
03:11 Roland Nattrass was never President but did every other office bearing role in the Guild.
03:40 Tim Huggins (2000) now works for DFAT. He was from Geelong Grammar.
04:10 Emma Greeney (2010) was Arnold’s last president and was very hard working as was David de Hoog in 2007. He was from a different political alignment. Matthew Chuk (2006) had a distinctive monobrow.
05:11 There was education, societies, public affairs subsidiary councils which meant that a diverse range of people were involved with the Guild. Darryl S Tan was Guild Vice President and has a sundeck named after him (which is the back roof).
06:16 Liz Brogan, Giovanni Torre (now media advisor for Senator Scott Ludlum). Mick Palassis was Guild Treasurer. There are too many people to mention. They took on a great responsibility at a very young age.
07:16 No Council can make a decision that is binding on the one following it. At the moment there is the 100th Guild Council. Even if some people are re-elected, it is viewed as a different Council. The various Guild Presidents even refer to each other by their numbers!

Track 6
00:09 Conclusion

Interview 2

Track 1
00:00 Introduction by Julia Wallis

Track 2
00:00 The role of the Projects Officer – starting up new projects or assisting with existing ones. Supported student projects with different visions from year to year. Different legislation and outside factors meant that events were different each year.
01:31 Professional staff had the corporate knowledge to ensure continuity. Turnover of Guild Council on an annual basis. Turnover of undergraduates every 3-5 years.
02:24 Regular events occurred throughout the academic year of 2 x 13 week semesters. Even during the summer break the Guild are gearing up for the following academic year.
03:35 Structured calendar. Enrolment takes place at the beginning of the year followed by orientation and then exams.
04:11 Every year there is a new intake of students. Arnold was part of the Orientation Working Group bringing together groups from all over the university to make sure that the new intake went off well. The Guild was enmeshed in this process which is unique. The aim of the Orientation Group was to settle in new students be they school leavers, international students, mature aged students or post graduate students.
06:04 It is that very collegial and community mind that makes UWA very different.
06:10 The Guild had the enrolment process down to 8 or 9 steps. The Guild had the responsibility of guiding students through these steps – letter of offer; student advice; unit selections through to student card, university systems, and tutorials. Guild membership was part of this process. This didn’t happen anywhere else.
07:34 UW and the Guild worked together irrespective of whether Guild membership was voluntary or not. Despite differences of philosophy from time to time, both the Guild and the university wanted to make the student experience a positive one.
08:20 Orientation followed enrolment. UWA orientation programme aimed to give students a good overview of the university. It was not a PR talk. It was recognised that people needed to feel at home and to feel ownership of the campus. This was worked out with UWA student services. Directors of Student Services included Jane den Hollander and Jon Stubbs who recognised the role of the Guild in student orientation.
09:54 Arnold developed Faculty specific talks. Students would get a mentor or student guide to walk them around campus and point know all the important landmarks. Even simple things like where the toilets are. This enabled first years to hit the ground running when they started their classes.
10:45 One international student only used one set of toilets as those were the only ones they knew and were too embarrassed to ask where others might be.
11:25 Orientation was followed by O-day which was an introduction to the university community and social life. O-day became bigger and bigger. This was due to the work that Guild staff did behind the scenes. They worked with the university to make it special. They integrated with the Commencement Ceremony where the Vice Chancellor and the Guild President would officially welcome people.
12:22 The O-Day field day was on James Oval. There was representation from social and student clubs, community groups and business who wanted to pitch to the student market. It grew from 90 stalls to about 186 stalls.
13:10 It was indicative of what life at UWA was like. There was a club for everyone. There were student clubs and Faculty Clubs. If there wasn’t a club, the Guild would help start it up.
14:14 O-day was in the planning for 3 months before the event. They had to get Council approvals, licensing issues, booking bands, plotting out where the stalls would go; organising the contractors; the power requirements.
15:06 O-day was on a Friday and there would be a cricket match on the Saturday so they had to ensure the ground was pristine.
15:36 Waste disposal was another aspect. 3-4 huge skip bins would be filled. Also hydration of the crowd and sun screen.
16:15 A lot of people were coming back to campus so the Guild student centre and membership was running flat out. The membership packs had to be pre-packed. It was there ready and waiting.
17:17 Catering took a bit hit from the amount of people involved – 10,000-15,000 in the same place for a 5-6 hour period.
17:52 Guild finance was in full swing to ensure all the clubs banking was ship shape and that there were floats and proper accounting procedures.
18:34 The professionalism of the Guild staff enabled the event to run well. Alex Marshall, Rohan Murray and now Jonathon Zahra were Activities Officers. The bigger it was, the bigger the expectation for next year.
19:30 The finance people, Henry Dudek and Darryl Sanders would come in at 5am just to make sure that everything was ready to go.
19:53 The membership department (Ben Hammond, Sarah Ghiradi, Adriana Begovich, Jake Spinner, Anna Murzyn, Alex Pond) ensured that the membership pack was ready and that the Guild message was being circulated through publications, the website, publicity etc.
20:40 The Student Centre Staff under Gina Barron were also flat out.
20:53 Arnold’s role was to liaise with all the different departments, keep them communicating and help out where possible. IT, stands, food, etc. etc.
22:24 James Oval was the only space big enough and it leaked out from here into the Guild courtyard and the Oak Lawn. 186 stalls was full capacity. There is no other large space to hold O-Day. Arnold’s O-Day in 1999 was held on the Oak Lawn.
23:24 The O-Day concert also is a big thing. Groove Terminator attracted 4,500 people. It was massive.
23:51 Heat is the biggest issue rather than rain.

Track 3
00:00 Then it was business as usual. The Guild staff used the RAWS model and Representation, Activities, Welfare and Services would all become part of their ongoing duties throughout the academic year.
01:01 Students had high level input into various university committees such as the Academic Council, the Academic Board, the Faculty Boards and the Senate. The student input is valued and indicative of the good working relationship between the university and the Guild. This is a huge responsibility for those students.
02:29 The Activities is the visual side of things such as theme weeks. Fringe Festival (Public Affairs Council). Enviro Week. Multicultural Week is huge and usually runs in 2nd Semester. It culminates in the Spring Feast. Post-grads would have their own week with seminars and things of interest to them. Public Affairs Council also put on Social Justice Week – refugee rights, indigenous rights etc. There would be a theme week every 2-3 weeks throughout the semester supported by the Guild.
06:46 The Clubs and Societies also ran social events during the academic year. The Manic Depressive Society was a huge club but petered out. One of the last Toga parties was held on campus during Arnold’s time.
08:06 PROSH was a large event and was one of Arnold’s babies. It changed massively and the organisation had to become more professional. In 2002, the City of Perth and the police wanted to stop the parade. It is the biggest single tin collecting day in WA. Things go wrong but the Guild is there to help PROSH and also to assist it to adapt and change. The parade is very heavily governed. At one time it was the graduation parade and wound through Kings Park. It is now quite tame in comparison. The route is negotiated from year to year.
11:17 PROSH has grown now raises upwards of $100,000 a year. The event has to be managed well but allow the students to express themselves.
12:23 A student left a squid in an aquarium that died and liquefied over a weekend. It was a very unpleasant job for Arnold to do. It was unreasonable in a professional capacity but part and parcel of the job for a Guild professional who has to work with students.
13:32 The Guild is not involved with student accommodation. Welfare was more about providing advice to students on benefits and to point them towards the university services. The Big Breakfast was a welfare event that was put on 4-8 times during the year. The Guild has to stay relevant and the welfare changes according to student needs. Most students now still live at home.
16:24 The Cruikshank-Routley Memorial Prize and the Guild Ball is a significant event. The prize is given to the student who has made the biggest contribution to student life and is not based solely on academic achievement. Students are nominated by their peers. The prize is presented at the Guild Ball.
18:57 There are also prizes for other clubs and Faculty societies. The Matildas are sometimes presented at the Guild Ball. This is a prize presented by Convocation to a student who had made a cultural contribution to campus.
20:35 The Guild Ball was at the end of the year. End of year celebrations were labelled Disorientation.
21:00 At examination times, Guild services included extensions and academic appeals, exam appeals.
21:19 Services also included the book stall ran by Betty Jansen; the Tavern, catering and other odds and sods.
21:51 For many years the Guild Ball was held in Winthrop Hall. In later years in moved to the Undercroft. Recently it has been held in the Guild Refectory. It is a special night. There would be a keynote speaker such as Janet Holmes à Court (who met her future husband, Robert, on Guild Council) or Harold Clough or Justice Nicholson. Bob Hawkes celebrated 50 years since he was Guild President in 2002. It is a recognition of the history of the Guild at the Guild Ball.
23:31 At one time, the Guild ran the Excellence in Teaching Awards where students nominated academic staff who excelled. These are now run by the university. When the Guild no longer had the resources to do it, the University picked it up.

Track 4
00:00 There were a lot of changes in the Guild during the years that Arnold worked there from 1999-2010. The Guild realised that they had to be responsive to student needs. During the VSU it was very challenging but it gave them a way of meeting challenging times. Change was often painful for the Guild and the students but it has made the Guild a very successful organisation and is recognised as such by the students, the academics and the university.
02:50 It has become better at selling its message. It recognises the importance of its brand and its presence. When Arnold was a student they were in the background and taken for granted.
03:28 It is also better at getting feedback on their services so that they can respond to student needs.
03:45 The future will be challenging. The change of Government recently on7 September may bring VSU back on the political agenda.
04:12 The Guild has the ability to survive if it makes the right decisions.
04:29 The Guild Council is the representative body and changes every year and can the change the course of the Guild.
05:12 UWA Student Guild, unlike other campuses, has always had fiercely contested elections. The elections are run properly by the WA Electoral Commission. Despite political ideology, the Guild will survive.
07:12 The student body campaign just like a State or Federal election. It is run to a very high standard.
07:42 Decisions of one Council are not binding on the one that succeeds it.
08:10 The terms are a year because it fits in with the academic year. Guild President is an enrolled unit that does not attract HECS field. The other positions are voluntary. Other Guilds pay people to take positions.
09:44 The future of the paid staff has always been tenuous. It depends on the decisions of the Guild Council. You don’t work for the Guild unless you love it. You don’t work there for the money!

Track 5
00:22 Conclusion



Lee, Arnold, “Arnold Lee interview, 19 September 2013 and 26 September 2013,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024,