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CARS & VANS
Serious business: Student journalists say they will benefit from learning how to deal with death. Photo: POPPY WORTMAN
Trauma training pushes
students' comfort zone
By POPPY WORTMAN
Student journalists are crossing
the fault lines'' to get prepared for
traumatic situations they might
face once they are working.
The AUT University journalism
department is involving their
students in harrowing scenarios,
where actors play emotional inter-
Senior lecturer Lyn Barnes says
research shows trauma can have a
drip-by-drip effect on reporters'
states of mind if not dealt with.
To deal with death, you have to
push yourself out of your comfort
zone. It's called crossing the fault
lines'. It's finding out where your
To be a journalist you have to
be able to deal with all sorts of
things, so you have to confront
some of those issues.''
This year the 44 students faced
two situations -- one interviewing
a grandfather'' of a drowned
child, and the other a witness of a
fatal car accident.
The interviews were filmed for
the students to reflect on after-
Student Jarred Williamson says
he did not know what to expect.
It felt real. I think for the first
minute you're sitting there think-
ing What the hell's going on?', but
then your head tells you to calm
down and understand the situ-
ation and be empathetic and be
careful with your questions.
It's been a really eye-opening
experience for me,'' Mr William-
Student Stephanie Arthur-
Worsop says beforehand she felt
sick to her stomach''.
I honestly didn't know how I
would react to the situation and
that I would just freeze up and not
be able to do my job properly.
I was a bit relieved to find that
I was able to separate my per-
sonal and my professional self,
and that I remained relatively
Miss Arthur-Worsop says the
exercise will definitely help her in
Now I know what it's like to be
face-to-face with a visibly dis-
tressed person and how to get
information from them.''
Ms Barnes first started looking
into trauma reporting after the
Christchurch earthquake in 2011.
It was also talking to some of
the other novice journos too, who
said, What about us journalists
who deal with day-to-day
trauma?'. . . so I thought, OK, I
need to look at that.''
After presenting her findings at
a conference in Adelaide, Ms
Barnes was approached by a
woman from the Columbian Uni-
versity Dart Center for Journal-
ism and Trauma, who encouraged
her to apply for a fellowship.
Ms Barnes was one of 14 selec-
ted from around the world.
During the intensive'' week-
long course in New York the group
were upskilled in how to teach
trauma literacy, which AUT is
After the first role-play situ-
ation last year, Ms Barnes says
they received a positive response
One of the kids emailed me at
thestartoftheyear. . .oneofher
first jobs was to go out and do a
She was so grateful she'd had
that experience to learn to deal
with raw emotion, so she thought
more carefully about her ques-
tions and about how she
approached the family.''
Ms Barnes says her goal is to
see steps introduced earlier on in
the course, not just in students'
We don't have mass shootings
like in the States, but we have our
own disasters, our own
We just think we live in this
little bubble in New Zealand and
these things don't happen. But
they do.'' Poppy Wortman is an
AUT journalism student
Bill aims to regulate money lenders
Loan sharks targeting the vulner-
able and desperate will soon be
held accountable if MP Peseta
Sam Lotu-Iiga has his way.
He's been pushing for the legis-
lation for almost five years now
and is pleased to say it's one step
closer to being reality.
The Consumer Credit and
Financial Services Law Reform
Bill was introduced by Minister of
Consumer Affairs Craig Foss on
The bill incorporates many
aspects of Mr Lotu-Iiga's private
member's bill from 2011. The aim
is to establish a code of respon-
Mr Lotu-Iiga says there are too
many predatory'' lenders operat-
ing in some of Auckland's poorest
communities and leaving families
in a spiral of debt.
Some companies take personal
possessions such as passports and
children's toys as collateral for the
I have seen it in my own com-
munity. A lot of people have been
really hurt by this and we need a
law to protect them.''
We're trying to protect vulner-
Lenders will have to take into
account the circumstances of the
Mr Lotu-Iiga is on the select
committee which worked with
budget services professionals and
social workers to determine the
most important aspects of the bill.
The bill will make changes to
the allowed advertising of loans
and licensing of repossession
Lenders will only be able to give
loans when the interest payments
won't cause substantial hardship
for the borrower.
The controls will provide com-
munities with more financial
security, Mr Lotu-Iiga says.
He is calling for feedback on the
bill and says it will affect any New
Zealander who is considering a
It's a really important bill. It's
about limiting these collectors and
looking at what they can actually
do. People are coerced into these
loans and then they suffer.''
Mr Lotu-Iiga hopes to see the
bill passed within the year.
AUCKLAND CITY HARBOUR NEWS, MAY 3, 2013
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