April Update

I am writing this newsletter whilst travelling back from a Group of 8 and Universities Australia delegation to India, as part of the visit by Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Simon Birmingham. The visit enabled our UNSW team to consolidate existing academic links and to build many new friendships and collaborations – you can read more below. The scale, energy and pace of change in India is impressive and exciting, with a rapidly expanding higher education sector and growing strength in advanced technologies such as computing, medical and space sciences, combined with an economy growing at 7% per annum. I was left in no doubt about the potential for UNSW to contribute to both education and research in partnership with colleagues and institutions in India.
There is much to share with you about the past month at UNSW. You can scroll the items below or if easier click on the highlighted links in this section to go directly to a section of the newsletter.

After many years of outstanding leadership at UNSW, Professor Les Field announced that he will step down from his Senior DVC role at the end of 2017 to return to research – we will celebrate his achievements later in the year. We announced three important appointments: Adrian Piccoli, previously NSW Minister of Education, as an Honorary Professor of Practice;  Professor Megan Davis as our first PVC Indigenous; and Professor Terry Campbell as Emeritus Professor after a career of wonderful service to our Faculty of Medicine.
There have been a series of memorable events recently, including: the launch of our major new Academic Health Science Partnership, ‘SPHERE’ (Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise); a celebration of the 50th anniversary of our first medical graduations; an inspiring talk by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus; a lunch to mark the first anniversary of our TORCH partnership with China coinciding with the visit to Sydney of the Premier of China; and a major event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of AGSM. There are many achievements covered in this newsletter including three very different examples - Professor Michelle Simmons received the prestigious international L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award, last weekend our water polo team won the Grand Final of the National League, and today a UNSW led team took first place in the ‘World’s Most Interesting Genome’ competition. Congratulations all round!
Meanwhile, we continue to put in place developments to enhance the UNSW educational experience, including the development of Education Focused roles, our new scheme for peer review of teaching,and further steps in planning of the UNSW 3+ calendar. These initiatives are key aspects of our commitment in Strategy 2025 to nurture teaching excellence, and provide greater recognition, reward, career development and promotion opportunities for excellence in teaching. They are important developments for many reasons and will help us to improve upon our rating in the national QILT (Quality Indicators in Learning and Teaching) measures released this week.
If you scroll through the items in this newsletter you will get a sense of the amazingly diverse range of activities, achievements and initiatives across UNSW. I was particularly delighted to include items on our primary carer leave scheme, our career development scholarships, the development of the UNSW Hero program, and our Grand Challenge on Refugees and Migration.

There is much more… : the new Planning and Performance Unit; rollout of Office 365; international research rankings; AGSM Career Break Sponsorships; Turnbull Foundation Scholarship; Women’s Health event; the new Vaccine and Infection Research Lab; Artificial Intelligence research; Access to Justice Law Course; Indigenous Legal Resources; HIV prevention; disability and social policy; NSW Premier multicultural awardsponsorship for engineering; fuel technology for supersonic flight; expert committee representation; mine rehabilitation; signal processing prize; Willgross Choral Composition prize; Dogs of Democracy Documentary; UNSW sporting success; and Venues and Events award success.  

I hope that you enjoy this selection of just some of the initiatives, successes and activities at UNSW over the last month. We can be proud of the pace, quality and range of activity. 2017 is already shaping up to be a year of outstanding achievement for our staff and students. My thanks to everyone involved for your outstanding work.

Senior DVC Les Field to Return to Full Time Research

By now most of you, I’m sure, have heard the news that Professor Les Field, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, has announced he will step down from his leadership position at the end of 2017 after nearly 13 years in the UNSW leadership team to return to his primary passion: research. Les has been a wonderful colleague on the Executive Team and I thank him for his dedication, expertise and guidance on so many issues of importance for UNSW. They include improvements in the University’s research profile & achievements as DVC Research for over a decade, and more recently as Senior DVC in developing and guiding our UNSW 2025 Strategy. The good news is that Les will remain full-time as part of the UNSW community: he will return to his lab in the School of Chemistry, where he has a number of projects in progress. He will also continue to play a high-profile role within the Australian Academy of Science, and will continue to be a champion for science policy and higher education. We will be celebrating Les’s achievements at an event later in the year. 

Megan Davis is UNSW's First Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous

Known to many of us through her work internationally, nationally and here at UNSW, Professor Megan Davis has been appointed as UNSW’s first Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous. It’s an outstanding appointment and we are fortunate to have secured such a distinguished, experienced and respected scholar for this vital role. Megan, a Cobble Cobble Aboriginal woman of the Barrungam nation in south-west Queensland, is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and one of Australia’s most highly regarded lawyers specialising in public law. Her research is targeted at reform in the areas of constitutional law and violence against Aboriginal women. She has spent the past decade leading the Indigenous Law Centre and its research agenda, including several ARC grants, and publishing the Indigenous Law Bulletin and Australian Indigenous Law Review. Megan served as an expert member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples for six years, including time as Chair and focal point for UN Women. She is also an Acting Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court, and a member of the NSW Sentencing Council. She has served as a member of the Prime Minister's Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution, and since 2016 has been a member of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council. In 2016 Megan was appointed by the NSW government to chair a Review into the high numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in Out of Home Care in NSW. She will continue to lead this review over the next 18 months, and will take up her new role at UNSW on 1st June this year. I have no doubt Megan will achieve much as she works with Nura Gili and its Director, Associate Professor Reuben Bolt and our whole community to deliver the Indigenous Strategy.

Adrian Piccoli joins UNSW as Honorary Professor

Rounding off a number of important recent appointments, it is my pleasure to welcome former NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, who has joined us as Honorary Professor of Practice in the Arts & Social Sciences Faculty. Adrian will work closely with the School of Education whilst also contributing to academic activities across UNSW, and providing advice about higher education policy. Adrian will explore opportunities to teach in public policy and education, assist with UNSW initiatives such as ASPIRE, our UNSW Matraville Education Partnership, and our work in Walgett, where he has had a long association with the community. Widely regarded as one of Australia’s best education ministers in recent times, Adrian is a strong advocate for quality teaching, needs¬based funding for schools, and improving literacy and numeracy in rural and remote communities. His expertise fits perfectly with our UNSW 2025 Strategy focus on educational excellence and social engagement. He will continue to serve in the NSW Parliament as the Member for Murray alongside his honorary UNSW role. 

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus Lecture

Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, best known for developing microcredit systems among the poor, came to UNSW earlier this month for the only public lecture of his Australia visit, and delivered a truly inspiring address to a packed audience in Leighton Hall. His message was both profound and simple: “If you have a spare ten minutes to give to your imagination, you can invent a business that could transform lives and help solve the world’s biggest problems.” In his empowering lecture, Professor Yunus related how he began his mission by lending money from his own pocket to villagers who lived near his university campus in Bangladesh, and built relationships of trust with them. By late 2015, his Grameen Bank had 8.81 million borrowers, 97% of whom were women. Where he found problems, he said, he searched for business ideas that could solve them, and he challenged the young in the audience to do the same – to continue the move to ‘social business’ models that alleviate poverty in the same way that charity might, but give a return on investment. The Yunus Social Business Health Hub at the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine is one of 18 collaborating partners across the world that work with the Yunus Centre, and aims to improve health outcomes for communities in Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Professor Yunus said the key to sustainable global development was harnessing the energy and the imagination of youth to achieve what he calls ‘the Three Zeros’ - zero poverty, zero unemployment and zero net carbon emissions. His full lecture is here on Soundcloud. It is worth 40 minutes of your time to stimulate that ten minutes of your imagination.  

A Successful Visit to India

I was delighted to lead a UNSW delegation to New Delhi to coincide with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s visit to India this week. I was joined by Associate Deans International, senior academics and our international team to advance our ambitious India Strategy. We started with an exciting meeting with the India team of our new partner The George Institute for Global Health; I was impressed with their work in India which has been developed over many years. We made plans to explore research opportunities and hold joint events.
I went on to a UNSW student recruitment event where I was pleased to meet over 150 prospective students and their families. It was encouraging to see so much interest from Indian students in a UNSW education. We expect to increase our number of visiting students from India, whilst at the same time the number and quality of places at Indian universities gradually expands to meet the demands of India’s economic growth and a young, expanding population. With that in mind we held fascinating meetings to explore collaborative opportunities with two of India’s most prestigious private providers of higher education, Thapar University and OP Jindal Global University.
It was good to find education and knowledge partnerships featuring prominently on our Prime Minister’s agenda as a key aspect of the Australia India bilateral relationship. UNSW played a unique role in the Prime Minister’s visit with Malcolm Turnbull presenting a UNSW made replica of Mahatma Gandhi’s iconic spectacles to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The spectacles were designed by Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla and her team using their micro-factory technology to recycle toxic e-waste plastics. The potential power of this technology synergised with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s championing of an ambitious Swachh Bharat - Clean India - campaign about using technology to deliver public hygiene and better waste management. The logo for Clean India is a pair of Gandhi’s spectacles: a tribute to the Mahatma’s own vision for a clean India.
We also exchanged MOU's with the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research and the Ministry of Roads, Highways and Transport at a ceremony witnessed by Education Minister Simon Birmingham. The CSIR collaboration will provide a new partner for our new ARC Centre for Automated Manufacturing of Advanced Composites, and the Roads collaboration will see us set up a $4 million centre of excellence in freight modelling working with an industry partner and the Indian Association of Highway Engineers. 

Expressions of Interest for Education-Focused Roles

Education-focused roles are an important aspect of Strategy 2025, and of the development of higher education globally. You can see in this video how passionate our UNSW champions are about the Education Focused (EF) Career Pathways we are introducing. The higher education world is changing: demand is growing exponentially and advances in technology are providing new highly interactive approaches to teaching, and providing an opportunity for teachers to be more innovative, build digital communities of education excellence, and deliver a heightened student experience. This provides great opportunities for academics who want to focus on teaching to develop their careers by making a sustained impact on the lives of their students and colleagues through delivery of educational excellence of UNSW. They can access new levels of recognition and progression, incorporated in our new promotion guidelines, and focus more of their time on delivering high quality and innovative ways of teaching, which bring out the best in their students.

Our EF Champions are a highly respected group of academics who are passionate about teaching. They are guiding interested academics and Heads of School through the EF Expressions of Interest (EOI) process. They include Professor Anne Simmons (EF lead and former Head of the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering); Associate Professor Cath Ellis (Associate Dean Education, Arts and Social Sciences); Associate Professor Patsie Polly; (Faculty of Medicine; UNSW Teaching Fellow); Associate Professor Louise Lutze-Mann (Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, Deputy Head of School / Director of Teaching; UNSW Scientia Education Fellow); and Dr Simon McIntyre (Associate Dean Education, Arts & Design; UNSW Scientia Education Fellow). The first round of Expressions of Interest (EOI) for Education Focussed (EF) careers will close at the end of April. An information pack and other related documents, such as FAQs regarding EF careers, can be found here. You can contact the EF team and champions at EFRoles@unsw.edu.au with your questions and comments, and join the Education Focussed Careers Yammer group (join UNSW Yammer then search for the group) to engage in conversations about education and EF careers, to receive EF related information and for invitations to EF events, including our planned small group information sessions, informal networking, and CV & EOI writing workshops. 

UNSW's New Peer Review of Teaching

As part of the 2025 Strategy, we are introducing what I believe will be a transformative initiative to enhance learning and teaching in UNSW through the use of peer review of teaching. This process will enable a group of trained UNSW academic staff, chosen for their teaching excellence, to peer review the teaching of those applying for academic promotion, or a UNSW individual teaching award. They will be able to assist award selection panels and promotion panels by providing additional evidence of teaching excellence based on the peer review dimensions of teaching. Over 100 staff were nominated to be peer reviewers and 45 successfully completed their training and induction in March. More training and induction sessions will be undertaken throughout this year. The process is being phased in over the next two years: with voluntary use of peer review in 2017; individual teaching award applications requiring a peer review from 2018; and academic promotion applications requiring a peer review from 2019. Introducing this formal process for peer review of teaching will set standards across UNSW for evidence of good teaching, and create opportunities for professional development for both reviewers and reviewees. I encourage all staff to make themselves familiar with the process. You can learn more about it here.  

Progress on the UNSW3+ Calendar

We continue to develop and refine our proposed new teaching calendar UNSW3+, which will deliver a three-term academic year plus an optional five-week summer term in 2019. The benefits of this development for UNSW are extensive and were summarized by our DVC (Education) Merlin Crossley in a clear, compelling article in The Australian which is worth reading. There are of course, as with any development of this type, some drawbacks but most of them can be addressed as we go through the detailed planning process before the new calendar commences at the start of 2019. Many of these concerns have been raised by SRC student leaders and representatives of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). I am listening carefully to these concerns and our leadership team will take specific steps to address genuinely negative aspects of UNSW3+ at the same time as we benefit from the extensive advantages. More on this in due course.  

QILT (Quality Indicators in Learning and Teaching) Results

The national QILT results are not happy reading for UNSW or for other Sydney based universities. They highlight the need for us to push ahead with the three initiatives above and with other aspects of our strategy for teaching and learning. Our overall satisfaction rating was 76%, which places us 5-8% behind universities with the best QILT results. In addition to education focused roles, peer review of teaching and UNSW3+, we have now established our UNSW Education Academy, we have put in place new promotion guidelines, and are investing heavily in developing a vibrant digital campus using smart technologies. Some will question the QILT methodology as a measure of educational quality, but my preference is to accept that they measure one aspect of educational excellence in which we can and need to do better. I am confident that the developments in our educational strategy which Professor Merlin Crossley, DVC education, and Professor Geoff Crisp, PVC Education, are leading, will close the gap with the universities ranked highest for QILT, over the next few years. 

UNSW Research Rankings on the Rise

Whilst maintaining a healthy skepticism about university research rankings, it is always reassuring when UNSW is heading in a positive direction. Now in their seventh year, the QS World University Rankings by Subject have delivered UNSW its best result to date, with 23 subjects in the top 50, up from 21 in 2016. UNSW’s Mineral and Mining Engineering has risen 11 places to 5th in the world in the rankings. Other high ratings for Environmental Sciences, which moved up nine places to 15th, and the Business School’s Accounting & Finance, up two places to 11th and the highest-ranked for an Australian university. Our other three subjects ranked in the top 20 are Law (14), Civil & Structural Engineering (16) and Psychology (18). UNSW ranks number one in Australia in Civil & Structural Engineering, Psychology, Materials Science and Accounting & Finance. Once again, every subject area within Engineering and Technology is ranked in the world’s top 50. The 2017 rankings feature four new subjects, and UNSW ranked in two of them: Anatomy & Physiology (22) and Sports-related Subjects (23). This year UNSW features in 37 of the 46 subjects ranked, up from 36 in 2016.

Equally impressive, the online MBA offered by AGSM @ UNSW Business School has been rated the 4th best in the world in The Financial Times (UK) Online MBA Rankings 2017. It is the only online MBA delivered by an Australian university to feature in the annual list, and reflects the strength of AGSM’s digital strategy and investment in educational technologies to create a rigorous online learning environment. The MBAX is an innovative program that entered the prestigious Financial Times rankings for the first time in 2016, so this is a very impressive outcome. AGSM’s Online MBA is also ranked 2nd in the world for research, a jump up three places from last year, and 6th for International Mobility. AGSM performed strongly in other rankings too, including the FT (UK) Global MBA Rankings 2017, where it was ranked 54th among the top 100 MBA programs worldwide (up 12 places from 2016, and 21 since 2015). QS also recently listed AGSM among its ‘global elite’, placing it among the top 45 business schools.

One more piece of interesting rankings news. In the so-called ‘Golden Age’ rankings of the Times Higher Education (THE), a global ranking of universities established between 1945 and 1966, UNSW came in at 7th worldwide. The new “Golden Age” ranking takes its name from the period after the Second World War, that saw rapid expansion of higher education around the world and a major increase in investment in university research. The Golden Age ranking uses the same methodology as THE’s World University Rankings, which assess universities across teaching, research, international outlook, and their work with industry. UNSW, founded in 1949, is one of six Australian universities in the list of 100, and one of three in the top 10. This ranking is a great tribute to all those who have contributed to the development of our university in the last 68 years. I was delighted to see some of them recently over a lunch at one of the meetings of UNSW Emeritus Professors. 

Launch of UNSW Planning & Performance Unit

UNSW Planning & Performance, a new unit incorporating Business Reporting and Intelligence and Data Governance, and OneUNSW, is now up and running, led by Director, Barbara Chmielewski. Planning & Performance reports to the Office of the Chief of Staff and Vice President, Peter Noble, and is integral to UNSW’s strategic planning, providing management reports, business intelligence, analysis and strategic advice to multiple stakeholders across the University. The amalgamation streamlines and strengthens delivery of existing services under one business unit, with a focus this year on Enhanced Student Load Planning, UNSW Scorecards, and the Planning & Performance Cycle across the university. To find out more about Planning & Performance, click here

Rollout of Office 365

UNSW IT has announced its upgrade to the Microsoft Office 365 collaboration platform which includes the latest version of the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook etc.) plus a new range of communication and sharing services such as OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype for Business. The platform means that you will be able to access your work from multiple devices at anytime, anywhere, providing a lot more flexibility and convenience. Deployment of the new service has commenced to all Faculties and will shortly follow with Divisions. Learn more about the new service here or watch the Office 365 video

First Anniversary of TORCH Partnership with China

In February I had the great privilege of meeting with a range of partners in Beijing and Shanghai. The UNSW delegation had an excellent meeting with China’s Vice-Minister for Science & Technology to discuss progress on developing the Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW (the first ever outside China), which has the potential to bring more than $100 million in new research funding to UNSW via partnerships with Chinese companies and industries. The Vice-Minister was highly complementary of the progress we have achieved and, through the Torch Centre in Beijing, the Ministry committed to provide continued support for both Phase One of our initiative and our ambitious Phase Two, which will see the construction of a globally connected science, technology and innovation precinct located in close proximity to our Kensington Campus. During my visit I also attended a roundtable with prospective industry investors in our forward pipeline and was delighted to see the sense of enthusiasm for working with UNSW with so many companies that are playing an important role in China’s emerging innovation system. That enthusiasm translated into several large research contracts to apply our research expertise. I finished the visit with exciting meetings with the Shanghai Municipal Government to learn about their massive commitment to innovation as well as a session with Shanghai Jiao Tong University President Zhang Jie, where we discussed how we can build on our longstanding partnership to capture emerging opportunities linked to Torch, and through our dual commitment to research and teaching intensity.

All this served as a prelude to a series of Torch events in Sydney over the past month, to coincide with the official visit to Australia of China’s Premier Li Keqiang. To mark the first anniversary of our signing the Torch agreement in Beijing, we hosted a celebratory lunch on campus for delegates from Chinese companies accompanying Premier Li. In my welcoming address, I highlighted the significance of the Chinese-Australian Torch collaboration as an important showcase for Chinese and Australian industry, SMEs, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers. Phase One of our Torch partnership already has more than $50 million in its active pipeline, with the prospect of doubling that in the next 18 months. I was delighted to announce a further $15.5 million in investments, including a $9.5 million partnership with the Yixing Environmental Protection High Technology Industry Development Zone, focusing on environmental protection and sustainability; and a $6 million partnership signed with Hebei Ming Jing Investments – a Sino-Singaporean joint venture focused on high-end biomedical technology. Our Torch collaboration has produced some great results for UNSW in its first year: we established a Torch incubator laboratory; conducted a successful Torch Innovation Week at UNSW; and positioned ourselves for exciting opportunities in Phase Two. By accelerating our research efforts here in Sydney, and rapidly scaling them up with development and production opportunities in China, and then out to global markets, we really are establishing a formidable partnership, and I have no doubt a model for many more innovative Australian-Chinese collaborations to come. 

New SPHERE for Health in Sydney

The official launch of SPHERE, the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise, was a milestone event for the NSW health system, for Sydneysiders, and for UNSW. The research partnership, which I initiated and have the privilege of chairing, brings together 14 key institutions - universities, research institutes and government agencies – in a way that can radically improve the translation of research breakthroughs and educational excellence into medical practice and economic development. Modelled on existing and highly successful health science alliances in the US and UK, SPHERE brings together 50,000 staff across the member organisations in health, education and research to share ideas, knowledge, equipment and drive new initiatives. Twelve Clinical Academic Streams covering areas such as cancer, infection, mental health, neuroscience, women’s health, children’s health, indigenous health, diabetes, and ageing have initially been accredited and will be supported by a seed fund of $20m. The launch event at Parliament House in Sydney was attended by the Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, and a wide range of health experts in their fields. Uniquely, SPHERE was gifted an Indigenous name 'Maridulu Budyari Gumal', which means “working together to promote better health and wellbeing” in the language of the Dharug people (the original inhabitants of lands comprising much of Sydney) in recognition of SPHERE’s importance to Aboriginal health in NSW. The partner organisations, which have committed the initial $20 million funding, include UNSW, UTS, WSU, South East and South West Sydney LHDs, St Vincent’s Hospital, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Black Dog Institute, the Centre for Eye Health, the Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research, Neuroscience Research Australia, and the Children’s Cancer Institute. Several members of our team, myself included, have founded, led or worked in leading health science partnerships around the world and have seen the real difference these organisations can make in delivering to patients the best possible care in the right place. You can read more about SPHERE here and see a video outlining its mission. 

Primary Carer Leave Introduced for UNSW staff

I am pleased to announce that UNSW is enhancing its employer-funded paid parental leave entitlements by introducing paid Primary Carer Leave. This is for eligible employees who do not have an entitlement to paid Maternity Leave, and can be accessed by a child’s primary carer inclusive of same sex couples and regardless of gender. The leave will allow an eligible UNSW employee to access up to a maximum 26 or 36 weeks (depending on length of service) of paid primary carer leave minus any period of paid parental leave taken by their partner or themselves as Partner Leave. UNSW employees may continue to access paid adoption leave. To be eligible for paid primary carer leave, employees must be the primary carer of the child. The new leave, which recognises the important role that partners play as parents and in sharing caring responsibilities, was endorsed by UNSW’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Board, which sees this as an important step in supporting gender equity. More details and eligibility requirements are available here on the Human Resources website. 

UNSW 2017 Career Development Scholarships

Despite the rain, there was plenty of shining talent and enthusiasm when 2017 scholars were inducted into UNSW’s career development scholarship, the Co-op Program, on 30th March. The 65 scholars confirmed on the night span 13 different program streams in the Business School, Engineering, and Science, including two in the Program’s newest stream, Data Science and Decisions, responding to the nation-wide demand for industry-linked STEM initiatives. Co-op Program scholars are selected for much more than their academic record; they also need to demonstrate personal qualities, leadership, motivation, social conscience, passion, and a high degree of involvement. Scholarships are sponsored by industry, and scholars complete up to 18 months of industry experience and professional development modules, interwoven through their degree studies at UNSW, to ‘hit the ground running’ after graduation. Now in its 29th year, the program has a litany of star alumni, including CEOs, CTOs and Chief Researchers with multi-national corporations globally; Rhodes and Sir John Monash scholars; and entrepreneurial and start-up leaders, including Rob Hango-Zada and William On, Co-CEOs of Shippit, who shared their story and their views on the program’s values at the induction event. Congratulations to all staff and students involved! 

AGSM's Career Break Professional Development Sponsorship

I was pleased also to hear that AGSM @ UNSW Business School has launched its Career Comeback Sponsorships, giving carers and parents on a career break access to professional development to build a post-break career. The sponsorship is open to men and women, and successful candidates will receive full funding, along with travel and childcare reimbursements, to complete an AGSM Certificate in Executive Management and Development. They will also join an exclusive professional network to leverage AGSM expertise and business connections. One of the aims of the scheme is to close the gender gap in Australian leadership. According to the Department of Human Rights and Equal Opportunity's 2014 report Face the Facts, one in five working mothers say they faced significant change in the form of redundancy, restructure, dismissal or their contract not being renewed on their return to work. In a 2017 Women’s Agenda Survey, 56% of women who have taken a career break indicated that despite the additional challenges they face, they feel more ambitious than ever. The AGSM Career Comeback Sponsorships support candidates to harness their ambitions and achieve their goals by building not only the capability but the confidence and connections to succeed in a post-break leadership career. Applications can be submitted via the site agsm.edu.au/comeback until 15th June 2017. 

Turnbull Foundation Women in Built Environment Scholarship

The Turnbull Foundation, at the initiative of Lucy Turnbull AO, Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, has established a new UNSW scholarship - The Turnbull Foundation Women in Built Environment Scholarship, worth $95,000 - aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership roles in the built environment industry. It will allow professionals to undertake postgraduate study at UNSW Built Environment and, importantly, includes participation in the AGSM’s Women in Leadership Program. Ms Turnbull, who was appointed Adjunct Professor at UNSW’s Faculty of Built Environment last year, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business by the AGSM, said she established the scholarship to help talented women accelerate their career development and leadership capabilities. As the Dean of UNSW Built Environment Professor Helen Lochhead emphasises, not enough women reach senior positions in the built environment sector because their careers tend to stall at the mid-way mark in traditional settings. We have very good admission and graduation rates for women in this field at UNSW but problems arise mid-career when workplace expectations don’t align with the needs of a diverse workforce. Recent research revealed only 24% of registered architects in Australia were women, despite 40% of women graduating from Australian architecture schools for more than 20 years. 

Women's Health in Focus

I was very pleased to join a distinguished group of professional colleagues from my academic and medical discipline of women’s health at the International Gynaecologic Society’s first-ever Australian meeting, held at UNSW in late March. The society is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States, and the presence of its truly prestigious membership on campus underlined UNSW’s great research strength in women's health. Gardasil vaccine pioneer and National Living Treasure Professor Ian Frazer was among those who addressed us, and as Professor Bill Ledger, a fertility specialist at UNSW who chaired the meeting, said, Ian’s story of developing the widely-used HPV vaccine is a perfect example of translational research which began in a basic science lab and ended up saving thousands of lives across Australia and globally - which is, as Bill noted, ‘the holy grail for all of us who work in medical research.’ Tragically, the Gardasil vaccine, which is now widely available in developed world settings like Australia where cervical cancer rates were already low because of effective screening, is not available to women in most of the developing world where screening and treatment facilities are limited, and there are still over 500,000 cases per annum. The meeting covered a range of other topics related to women’s health, including gynaecological cancers, obstetrics and the management of twin pregnancies, the latest midwifery and birthing approaches, infertility problems, and high-risk maternal-foetal medicines. I spoke about the progress being made in my own specialist field of ovarian cancer and efforts to reduce mortality by screening. UNSW Associate Professor Claire Wakefield discussed the psychological benefits of an internet resource that allows parents grieving the loss of children from cancer to connect online and share their stories, and Professor Ledger told how his team at the UNSW School of Women's and Children's Health has found a way to use fertility drugs to prevent ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome – a complication that can occur in women undergoing IVF. 

New UNSW Vaccine and Infection Research Lab

Another impressive addition to our medical research facilities: we recently launched the UNSW Vaccine and Infection Research Lab (UNSW VIRL), a national research centre that will tackle a vital public health issue and work to improve adult immunisation rates. One of those playing a key role in the UNSW VIRL, Senior Lecturer Dr. Robert Menzies, has just published a paper in The Medical Journal of Australia titled ‘Vaccine Myopia’, in which he notes up to 3.8 million Australian adults are putting themselves at risk of contracting potentially fatal but preventable infections by not getting free, government-sponsored vaccinations. The report notes that only 1 in 2 Australian adults (51%) are receiving their free vaccines each year through the government’s Immunise Australia Program (IAP). This compared to 93% of children and 73% of adolescents. The IAP currently funds adult vaccines for influenza (flu) and pneumococcal pneumonia, and this year introduced another free vaccine for shingles, available to people 70 and older. Dr. Menzies says media and political attention has tended to focus on parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children, but the issue of unvaccinated adults needs far more attention. Head of UNSW VIRL Professor Raina MacIntyre agrees, and says the poor uptake relates to a misconception that older Australians are less susceptible to diseases than children. All of which is a timely reminder that the UNSW staff influenza clinic for 2017 is being offered throughout April until 5th May. To make an appointment, visit the UNSW Health Service website and click the Influenza Clinic Appointment tab to make an online booking. 

50th Anniversary Medicine Graduation Ceremony

February 1967, fifty years ago, saw the first graduations in Medicine at UNSW - and half a century later, in February this year, 14 of the original graduates and partners came together again to celebrate the occasion with a reunion dinner at the Queens Club in Sydney. Of the original approximately 75 students who enrolled in 1961, 23 made it to the first graduation in February 1967, with two more graduating later the same year. Only four of the original graduates were women in marked contrast to current student demographics. Back in 1967, the Occasional Address was delivered by renown virologist Sir MacFarlane Burnet. Sir Gustav Nossal delivered the address at this event, while Associate Professor Gavin Andrews, one of the senior lecturers in Psychiatry in that era, was Guest of Honour. He spoke of the tragedy of suicide in young medical graduates and the need to recognise the stress facing young practitioners, and for hospitals and senior staff to be aware and to empathise with them, intervening where appropriate. John Charlesworth replied on behalf of the 1967 graduates, whose ranks included three Professors, sixteen Specialists, two Career Medical Officers and four General Practitioners. 

Terry Campbell Appointed Emeritus Professor in Medicine

Professor Terry Campbell of the UNSW Faculty of Medicine has been appointed Emeritus Professor, capping a career that includes 30 years of continuous NHMRC support and well over 100 peer reviewed journal articles published and an outstanding contribution to healthcare. Terry has supervised many PhD students over the years, including several who now hold senior consultant posts in cardiology around Australia. His extensive work on the mechanisms underlying the differences between various antiarrhythmic drugs is his most cited research, and has found its way into the standard cardiology textbooks. He has been a wonderful servant of UNSW and of our medical faculty as Professor and in the role he held for many years as Deputy Dean for the Faculty. Terry has had an outstanding career and has made contributions which are admired by students, staff, alumni and across the broader community. I am delighted that he will stay closely associated with UNSW in his Emeritus role. 

The Grand Challenge on Refugees and Migration

Some important events have been held under the banner of the UNSW Grand Challenges.  Peter Holmes à Court and his partner Alissa Everett delivered an inspiring talk at the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre, illustrated with Alissa’s photography, about their work among refugees in East Africa and other parts of the world. They have set up their own organisation, SeekingRefuge.org, and have commenced a project to document refugee and migration flows across the world, to better illustrate the drivers for the human movements that are reshaping our planet. In 2007, Alissa founded a non-profit organization www.exposinghope.org to raise awareness and funds for victims of human rights abuses worldwide through documentary photography. On that Grand Challenge note, good news too from Scientia Professor Richard Bryant at the School of Psychology, whose team has received funding of approximately $700,000 from the UK group ELHRA, which is funded by Wellcome Foundation, for a project with King’s College London: a controlled trial of a mental health program with Syrian refugee youth in Jordan. This is also a noteable success for our PLuS Alliance effort.

Further news regarding refugees and migration: UNSW's Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law and the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford are formalising a partnership to strengthen vital new thinking on global refugee policy, and to promote innovative research, teaching, and policy initiatives. Through a newly-signed Memorandum of Understanding, the two centres will facilitate academic exchange and co-operation, encouraging cross-institutional visits and cooperative research. The Director of the Kaldor Centre, Scientia Professor Jane McAdam, sees the collaboration as responding to the critical need for global approaches to finding sustainable solutions for the world’s displaced people. The Refugee Studies Centre, a multidisciplinary teaching and research centre based in Oxford’s Department of International Development, has an international reputation as the leading centre for research and teaching on forced migration. The Kaldor Centre at UNSW is the world’s first and only research centre dedicated to the study of international refugee law. The Centre was founded in October 2013 to undertake rigorous research and contribute to public policy involving the most pressing displacement issues in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region, and the world. 

AGSM Celebrates 40 years in Business

I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the AGSM @ UNSW Business School celebration of its 40th anniversary, with more than 250 members of the nation’s business community at an immersive experience at the Overseas Passenger Terminal on Sydney’s Circular Quay. Guests included business partners, donors, senior university staff and AGSM Fellows who were invited to walk through an interactive exhibition showcasing the history of AGSM from conception through to the school’s digital future. AGSM graduate and Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, Ms Lucy Turnbull AO, was guest of honour and delivered the alumni address. ‘Everything I have done since my graduation, in the private sector, the startup sector, the not-for-profit sector, and in social innovation, has been greatly influenced by the AGSM,’ she said, ‘and I can’t thank them enough.’ AGSM was established 40 years ago following a Committee of Inquiry into postgraduate management education in Australia, which recommended setting up the school as a solution to the then underdeveloped, scattered programs for management that existed around Australia. ‘Our group was most impressed with the University of New South Wales,’ said one of the report’s authors William Frederick. ‘They seemed to grasp the nation’s need more than any other Australian university.’ AGSM has since grown to become one of the nation’s top business schools and has produced business leaders across the world. AGSM Director and Deputy Dean of the UNSW Business School, Professor Julie Cogin, noted AGSM now has 16,000 graduates, and is heavily focused on the digital future. UNSW Chancellor David Gonski said AGSM alumni had made a significant impact around the world: ‘When you look at what you have done as a body of people, it is amazing.’ 

Michelle Simmons Honoured with International Science Award

UNSW Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons has added to her already impressive list of awards and achievements. Michelle received a €100,000 international L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award at a ceremony in France, recognising her pioneering research in quantum physics. Members of the international scientific community gathered at the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris to honour five eminent female researchers in the physical sciences from around the world. Michelle, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, CQC2T, was 2017 winner of the Asia-Pacific region, ‘for her pioneering contributions to quantum and atomic electronics, constructing atomic transistors en route to quantum computers.’ Her team has already chalked up incredible achievements: the only group in the world that can make atomically precise devices in silicon, they have produced the world’s first single-atom transistor as well as the narrowest conducting wires ever made in silicon, just four atoms of phosphorus wide and one atom high. The 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO international laureates were selected from international nominees by an international jury of 12 prominent scientists. The program is designed to boost women’s involvement in science, from fostering their interest at school and helping them through early career hurdles to recognising the best of the world’s established female scientists. 

Sandy Wins World's Most Interesting Genome Competition

I was thrilled to learn today that UNSW’s strong reputation in genomics research has been fully justified with the news that a wild-born, pure Australian desert dingo called Sandy Maliki has taken out first place in the World’s Most Interesting Genome competition. The UNSW Sydney-led proposal to decode Sandy’s DNA was one of five finalists for the Pacific Biosciences SMRT Grant, which provides cutting edge technology to sequence the complete genome of a fascinating plant or animal. The public determined the winner, with two-year old Sandy securing 41 per cent of the international community votes, closely followed by a Temple Pitviper snake, then a solar-powered sea slug, an explosive bombardier beetle, and a pink pigeon. Congratulations to Professor Bill Ballard at the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences and his project team, which also includes Professor Claire Wade of the University of Sydney, Dr Richard Melvin of UNSW, Dr Robert Zammit of the Vineyard Veterinary Hospital and Dr Andre Minoche of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Sandy offers a quite unique case study, since pure dingoes are between wild wolves and domestic dogs, with a range of non-domesticated traits, hence sequencing Sandy’s genome will help to pinpoint some of the genes for temperament and behaviour that underlie the transition from wild animals to perfect pets! Learning more about dingo genetics will also help efforts to conserve these wonderful Australian animals. You can find out more about Sandy Maliki and her siblings, Eggie Warrigal and Didi Mirigung, at the Pure Dingo Facebook page

What Artificial Intelligence Can (and Can't) Do

Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be coming towards us rapidly from all directions. Fortunately at UNSW we have one of the world’s leading AI experts to guide us through this rapidly developing area. Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the School of Computer Science and Engineering, was named by The Australian newspaper as a ‘rock star’ of the digital revolution, and included in the inaugural Knowledge Nation 100, the list of the 100 most important digital innovators in Australia. Late last month at CeBIT in Hannover, the world’s largest computer expo, he gave a keynote address entitled ‘What AI can (and can’t) do.’ The 26-minute address was webcast, simultaneously translated into German, and led to interviews in WIRED Germany, Spain’s La Vangardia and a radio interview with DR Danish national radio. You can watch it here. Professor Walsh's research focuses on how computers can interact with humans to optimise decision-making for the common good. He is also a passionate advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve, not hurt, our lives. His blog, thefutureofai.blogspot.com attracts tens of thousands of readers every month. 

Justice Meets Innovation in New UNSW Law Course

UNSW has teamed with law firm Gilbert + Tobin and software company Neota Logic for a new course that will provide UNSW Law students with practical experience in using state-of-the-art legal technology. The “Designing Technology Solutions for Access to Justice” course will be introduced in Semester 2 as an elective for undergraduate and Juris Doctor students. Gilbert + Tobin’s Head of Legal Capability & Transformation, Petra Stirling, said the firm was proud to support a course that would position UNSW students at the forefront of legal innovation. Course convenor Associate Professor Lyria Bennett Moses said the course would provide students with an opportunity to take part in an important field of legal innovation. She said the ability to understand and build legal technologies will become an increasingly valuable skill in the marketplace, while the ability to provide appropriate critique, and understanding their limitations would remain equally important for the legal profession. 

Updated Online Indigenous Law Resources Database

I have important news for legal researchers: The Indigenous Law Resources database has received a major update. The database, which provides free access to legal materials relating to Indigenous issues, is the result of a joint project of the Indigenous Law Centre (ILC) at UNSW Law and the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), a joint facility of UNSW and UTS Faculties of Law. The database was redeveloped across 2015 and 2016 by UNSW academics Megan Davis, Kathy Bowrey, Philip Chung, Sean Brennan and Simone Degeling, and the upgrade was supported by two UNSW Major Research Equipment Infrastructure Initiative (MREII) Grants in 2015 and 2016. This is important work and a highly valuable resource.  

The Future of HIV Prevention

At a public lecture held as part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival, UNSW researcher Associate Professor Martin Holt, from the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), urged the gay community to support each other in the choices they make to safely avoid HIV. Martin, one of Australia’s leading researchers of HIV prevention with gay and bisexual men, described the evolution of HIV risk reduction strategies from condoms, to negotiated safety agreements and serosorting, to the introduction of antiretroviral treatment (ART) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). He noted that while PrEP and ART were game changing prevention strategies, they unsettled some of the assumptions that have been built up over decades, namely that safe sex equals condoms and sex without condoms equals unsafe sex. To counter mistrust, he drew attention to the current ‘You Choose’ campaign as a welcome example of how to get people to talk to each other about supportive ways to negotiate sex in the new era. Martin and his CSRH colleagues will be reassessing community attitudes to PrEP and ART in the next round of the PrEPARE Project, a national survey to be launched this month. You can watch his recent lecture online

Social Policy Debate: Disability & Creativity

At an event hosted by the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) and moderated by Alastair McEwin, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, academics, activists and advocates debated the tension between ‘claiming commonality’ and ‘celebrating difference’ in the experiences of people with disability. Professor Susan Dodds, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences and Professor of Philosophy, argued that focusing on disability as difference was creative because it did not set ‘able bodies’ as the norm, and could spark creative curiosity for those who lacked lived experience. That was echoed by Jax Jacki Brown, a disability and LGBTI rights activist, writer and disability sexuality educator, who said proclaiming universal commonalities whitewashed or ‘able-washed’ the realities of disabled existence. On the opposing side of the argument, Rosemary Kayess, who co-directs the disability and human rights project at the Australian Human Rights Centre and is also a Senior Research Fellow at SPRC, described the ways in which recognition of commonality in disability led to creative responses to ensure everyone belonged and could participate. A very thoughtful and timely discussion around disability in our society. 

UNSW Hero Program

Earlier this month we approved the business case for our UNSW Hero Program, allowing the benefits of this outstanding program to reach a much larger cohort of UNSW students. The program provides opportunities for personal development and experiences that go beyond typical classroom learning, and helps prepare UNSW graduates to face the challenges of the workplace by equipping them with critical thinking, problem solving skills, an innovative, entrepreneurial mindset - and, most importantly, confidence. Heroes (already there are 400 alumni) volunteer time to identify opportunities for creativity and innovation within the University, while gaining practical work experience with industry partners such as Cisco, Amazon Web Services and QBE. To date our Heroes have been involved in initiatives such as the UNSW Service Improvement Conference, Cloud Email migration project, myIT Mobile - Crowd sourced IT support for the UNSW community, myAccess - Software virtualisation
project, Handbook redevelopment project, UNSW/IBM Watson Collaboration project, and UNSW Online Safety/Security Awareness campaign. Applications are now open for the Hero Program in Semester 2, and I urge all staff to promote this wonderful program among our students. Note that it is eligible for AHEGS recognition and counts towards the UNSW Leadership Program ‘community engagement’ component. 

UNSW Student Wins NSW Premier's Multicultural Award

UNSW student Khushaal Vyas - in his fourth year of a dual Law/Arts degree and Co-president of the UNSW Law Society - has won the 2017 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Community Youth Medal, which recognises the ‘valuable role of a young person in promoting intercultural dialogue and co-operation.’ Khushaal received the medal at the recent NSW Premier’s Harmony Dinner. His achievements are considerable and hugely impressive. As a member of the Fairfield City Council Youth Advisory Committee, he worked on planning and delivering a number of festivals in the local government area, and also advocated for the $7 million Fairfield Youth and Community Centre. Among the events he ran were the Cancer Council Relay for Life, Bring It On! Festival, Cabramatta Moon Festival and a youth conference. He was also a keynote youth speaker during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to NSW, and was one of 10 UNSW Law students who travelled to central-west NSW to learn about the Wiradjuri Aboriginal community and subsequently made a documentary about their trip. Since then, he has made regular visits to Dubbo with other law students during semester breaks, speaking to high school students about careers in law and engaging with law enforcement agencies, solicitors, Aboriginal elders, community groups and service providers on a range of vital social issues. 

Sponsorship for UNSW Civil & Environmental Engineering

I was interested to hear that UNSW Civil & Environmental Engineering and leading geotechnical practice, Pells Sullivan Meynink, have joined forces for a further five years, with PSM continuing its support of Dr Kurt Douglas as the PSM Senior Lecturer of Rock Mechanics. The sponsorship began 10 years ago when Professor Nasser Khalili, the senior geotechnical academic in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, approached PSM with a proposal to establish the academic position which Dr. Douglas has held since 2007. The relationship allows UNSW to have direct contact with leading geotechnical practitioners and their challenges which benefits our academics, researchers, students as well as the staff of PSM. The Chairman of Pells Sullivan Meynink, Tim Sullivan, said at the signing ceremony that UNSW was a leader in geotechnical engineering education and had made major contributions to the profession over many years. ‘By supporting this academic role we are giving something back.’ As industry partners PSM accesses the School’s best students, and, not surprisingly, the majority of the company’s engineers are UNSW Engineering alumni! 

UNSW Role in Technologies for Supersonic Flight

Researchers from UNSW Canberra and UNSW Sydney will participate in a project led by DefendTex Pty Ltd to develop new fuel ignition technologies for supersonic combustion of hydrocarbon fuel. Other consortium partners include RMIT University, the Universität der Bundeswehr in Germany, and the Defence Science and Technology Group. Supported by $2.48 million funding from the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Center Programme (CRC-P), the project aims to develop the technologies necessary for a liquid-hydrocarbon-fueled scramjet engine that can operate at the high speeds and temperatures experienced in supersonic flight. DefendTex says the hydrocarbon ignition enhancing technology is not only relevant for fast commercial flight, but has applications in space launch services and in defence industries. UNSW researchers hope to help develop an ignition system that will work for scramjet engines using practical aviation fuels. 

UNSW Academic Appointed to Expert Scientific Committee

Given the high international ranking of UNSW in Mineral and Mining Engineering which I mentioned in the section on university rankings, it is not surprising that our staff hold key advisory roles. Congratulations to Dr Wendy Timms from the School of Mining Engineering, who was recently appointed to the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development. Wendy was invited to join a panel of eight experts that provides scientific advice to decision makers on the impact that development projects could have on Australia’s water resources. Her focus is on potential hydrogeology impacts of proposed projects, in the broad context of natural resource management. The IESC aims to improve the collective scientific understanding of the water-related impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments through an independent and transparent process that builds confidence in the science used in decision making. The role also provides advice to the Australian government on research priorities. 

New Practices to Advance Mine Rehabilitation in Hunter Valley

Continuing on the mining theme - given the challenges of sustainability in mining, many of you will be interested to hear that researchers from UNSW’s Australian Centre for Sustainable Mining Practices (ACSMP) ran a workshop focusing on new practices to advance mine rehab in the Hunter Valley at the 7th Annual Best Practice Ecological Rehabilitation of Mined Lands Conference. This annual conference is a significant event on the Hunter Region calendar, bringing together Australia’s leading professionals involved in the environmental field to promote best-practice approaches in the management of rehabilitation of mined lands. 

Engineering Undergraduates Win Major International Prize

A dedicated team of four UNSW Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications students - Jeremy Bell, Angus Keatinge, Max Fisher, and James Wagner - led by EE&T staff member Dr Vidhyasaharan Sethu, has taken out first prize in this year's IEEE Signal Processing Society Cup. The competition was organised as part of the premier international signal processing conference IEEE ICASSP, and included 280 students from 20 countries, in 40 teams. The challenge was real-time beat tracking, and it required teams to accurately detect the beat from a song and output it innovatively. The UNSW team not only made it to the top three for their accuracy but decided that its output should be a robotic drum kit! They received funding to travel to the conference in New Orleans, where they edged out University of Maryland, and Johannes Kepler University/Télécom ParisTech/Joanneum Research, to take out the top award. The team has since been invited to feature at the 2017 IEEE Sections Congress in Sydney this August. To be recognised internationally in such a high-profile way is a terrific achievement. Congratulations to all involved. 

Willgoss Choral Competition Prize

The Willgoss Choral Composition Prize generously provided by Dr Richard Willgoss, and his wife Sue, is aimed at encouraging and promoting the creation of an original work for unaccompanied choir, in support of the choral program at UNSW’s Music Performance Unit. The inaugural Willgoss Choral Composition Prize has been awarded to Australian composer Matthew Orlovich for his winning work, Sonnet, to the comet of 1825, which will be rehearsed and performed by the Burgundian Consort later in the year. Applicants had to submit a choral score for an 8-10 minute original work for unaccompanied mixed choir to include four to eight voice parts including soprano, alto, tenor and bass. As composer of the winning piece, Matthew will receive $3000, and we are hoping he will be able to work with UNSW’s young chamber choir as the singers prepare his piece for performance. Long-term member of the choral program, Congratulations to Matthew, and we look forward to the premiere performance in September! 

'Dogs of Democracy' wins U.S. Spirit of Activism Award

The documentary film Dogs of Democracy directed by Senior Lecturer in the UNSW School of Social Sciences, Dr. Mary Zournazi, has won the Spirit of Activism Award at the Nevada Women’s Festival in the United States, and is now making its way onto the international festival circuit. The film is about the stray dogs of Athens, and the people who take care of them, but equally about the issue of austerity and the need for hope, care and concern for others. Mary has also co-authored a book Inventing Peace with the Oscar nominated film maker Wim Wenders on similar themes. The Australia-based Nobel Prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee has described Mary Zournazi's film as inspiring, and says it shows how ‘the big-hearted dogs of Athens, and the generous Greeks behind them, are able to shine a light for us in the midst of the present neoliberal darkness.’ Dogs of Democracy was produced by the legendary Australian documentary maker, Tom Zubrycki. Watch the trailer here

UNSW Celebrates a Stellar Year in Sport

“Possibly the best year ever results-wise for UNSW sport” was how MC Andrew Jones, CEO of Cricket NSW and a UNSW alumnus, described 2016 at the UNSW Blues and Sports Awards held in Leighton Hall early this month, where I was pleased to launch the UNSW 2025 sports strategy. Rugby 7’s star Henry Hutchison and Australian cricketer Georgia Redmayne were named UNSW’s athletes of the year. 2016 really was an incredible year for UNSW sport: we had 12 competitors in the Olympic and Paralympic games, great club successes, we were winners of the Eastern University Games and Snow Sports, both for the first time, and we had representatives at the World University Games. That illustrates the vital role of sport in our community and our strategy, which – as Neil Morris, UNSW Vice-President, Campus Life and Community Engagement, presenting an overview of the new 2025 sports strategy, said – aims to deliver “the best and most inclusive university sports experience in Australia through exceptional high performance participation sports programs and facilities.” Twenty percent of UNSW’s 55,000 students are engaged in some way in sport at UNSW, and we are aiming to make that better than forty percent by 2025 – a big target but I think we can hit it. The evening also included the awarding of eleven Blues – the University’s highest sporting honour. Blues awards were first presented at UNSW in 1955.
If that wasn’t enough, we have more good sporting news. Hot off the press, I can tell you that on Sunday UNSW’s Water Polo team defeated Sydney University 6-5 in a thrilling match to win the Grand Final of the national League. They are now officially the best water polo team in Australia. Congratulations  to all in the team and club. A wonderful achievement.
Still on sport – the fifth year of our Festival of Sport is under way, aiming to get UNSW students active and involved with sport. This year’s events, organized by Arc, include Social Sport competitions, rock climbing, Bubble Soccer (impossible to describe so don’t ask), and beginner courses in everything from baseball and softball to aikido and judo. Here’s an impressive fact: Arc has over 300 campus clubs and societies on its books, something indeed for everyone… 

UNSW Venues & Events Success at Industry Awards

Congratulations to our colleagues at UNSW Venues & Events who received well deserved recognition at the annual Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) Industry Awards. MEA is the industry’s peak body, dedicated to fostering professionalism and excellence in all aspects of meetings and event management. The UNSW team won three state awards: Winner of NSW Meeting Venue Over 500 (Scientia Building), Winner of NSW Specialty Meeting Venue (CBD Campus), and Winner of NSW In-house Meeting Management Department. This puts them in line to be national winners in these categories, to be announced at the MEA National Conference in May. The awards are based on a number of key indicators: business planning, resource management, financial performance, events organised and response to challenges, staff achievements and client satisfaction. Good luck to our V&E General Manager Hannah Sparke and her team, and thanks for your efforts which are always much appreciated.