Council meeting in Darwin
The 454th meeting of the ANU Council was held in the Board Room of the Charles Darwin University (CDU), in Darwin on 3 October 2019. This was the first Council meeting ever held in the Northern Territory, and one of the very few held outside Canberra.
Following the Council meeting, members also attended the HC 'Nugget' Coombs Memorial Lecture delivered by the Hon Linda Burney MP and visited the ANU North Australia Research Unit (NARU), based at CDU.
Welcome by Charles Darwin University
Council members were welcomed by the CDU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simon Maddocks, who presented a fascinating overview of this dual sector (VET/University) institution, one geographically closer to Asia than any other Australian university and becoming deeply engaged in the region.
CDU is also a university very deeply engaged with Australia's Indigenous people, and a natural partner with ANU given our unique national responsibilities and strong commitment especially to Indigenous Australia, as reflected in the ANU Strategic Plan.
Council considered a detailed report prepared by the Vice-Chancellor focusing on senior staff appointments, research performance, the SAGE Bronze Award, the Data Breach and student wellbeing and safety.
Dr Anthony Hopkins from the College of Law delivered a presentation on Indigenous Justice Partnerships with ANU - a program that seeks to overcome entrenched social, economic and political challenges and disadvantage by creating true partnerships with Indigenous peoples based on culturally competent and responsive legal education.
Council received, and endorsed, the International Strategy. This was developed during 2019 to drive a shared and focused approach to the University's international engagement across the full breadth of its activities. The Strategy seeks to develop a range of partnerships to create more opportunities and pathways for staff and students, and to create a greater physical presence overseas. Operational plans will now be developed to support the Strategy, with progress to be reported to council in February 2020.
Model Code - Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom
At the 24 May meeting, Council noted the Report of the Independent Review of Freedom of Speech in Australian Higher Education Providers by the Hon Mr Robert French. As part of the discussion, Council also considered the accompanying draft Model Code for the protection of freedom of speech and academic freedom, a proposal arising from the Report.
The Chancellor has been a member, with Robert French and Peter Varghese, of a University Chancellors Council (UCC) Working Group established to review the Code's text. Its slightly revised text recommended changes (now formally endorsed by the UCC on 9 October) that were noted by Council at the 26 July meeting and its broad objects endorsed by Academic Board on 27 August. At the Darwin meeting, Council approved in-principle the Model Code, noting that the University will be developing a specific ANU Statement on Freedom of Speech in consultation with the wider university community, and further addressing the Code's implementation, and consistency with existing policy and practice, over the course of the next year.
Academic Governance Review Report
Council accepted with some modifications the University's consolidated response to the February 2019 Winchester report, designed to clarify and where appropriate strengthen the role of the Academic Board, as developed by the Senior Management Group and Academic Board. The Provost will be leading the implementation of the accepted recommendations, with a progress report to be provided to Council at the April 2020 meeting.
Council also considered a range of other matters, including: University Rankings, Workplace Gender Equality, Indigenous scholarships, and summaries of Council Committee and Academic Board activity since the 26 July meeting.
Council next meets on Friday 6 December 2019, in Canberra.
Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC