This week marked the anniversary of the National Apology to the stolen generations in Parliament and the release of the 1997 report 'Bringing Them Home'. Here in the ACT, we had a public holiday to mark Reconciliation Day - an opportunity to reflect on what 'reconciliation' really means for Australia and how, we as free citizens, can create a better and more equitable future. This year, I hope everyone takes the time to read and understand about the upcoming Voice Referendum. For those who missed it, our First Nations Portfolio has addressed common concerns in an easily digestible document that really helps you understand the issues. There is also the 'Ending Racism' campaign that examines - through First Nations people - the impact of racism and discrimination. It is heartbreaking and incredibly powerful - I encourage you to watch and share it.
Additionally, Professor Tom Calma will deliver our annual ANU Reconciliation Lecture on Thursday 22 June at Llewellyn Hall. We're partnering with the University of Canberra and it'll be a fascinating discussion about what enshrining a voice in Parliament actually means. You can register for tickets via our website.
Last week I met with Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India while he was visiting Sydney. The Prime Minister was very well briefed, and extremely keen on ANU and leading Indian institutions working together on the frontiers of research. Given the very strong advances I have seen in India over the past five years, I think there are some great opportunities for more serious collaboration in the near future. I got almost a half hour one on one with PM Modi - and it was definitely a meeting that I will remember. On the way in, I saw Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart (amongst others), and I am still not quite sure how I fit into that crowd.
Back on campus, I hosted the second VC Drinks for the year at the VCs residence - an opportunity for me to thank and recognise a small number of staff for their work. We haven't been able to hold these events since before COVID-19, and I have really enjoyed seeing these back every couple of months. It's a special event for me personally as I get to meet all sort of people from our community who have had success in one way or another - sometimes with little recognition. I looking forward to the next event in July.
I enjoyed the latest ANU Reporter article that touched on the difficulties of discerning the head from the tail of a shingleback lizard (among greater conversations around the challenges of local conservation). It features the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary, which I hope people are taking the chance to get out and visit. It's a place where the ACT Government and the ANU Fenner School are slowly restoring a piece of local habitat to its pre-colonial times. In existence for two decades, it's helping re-introduce native Australian animals including the eastern bettong an eastern quolls to our part of the world. Visit at night on a special tour with visitors, or it's a great place for a day-time walk. We have held several University events at the Wildbark Visitor's Centre which has a room suitable for small meetings. The visitor's centre is a good place to get a coffee and lunch as well.
Our staff will have received an email this week to let you know that the bargaining team put our pay offer to the union. We are highly conscious that we are trying to find a balance between the cost of living pressures everyone is feeling, and our budget constraints, with a goal to give the highest salary offer we can without creating unmanageable financial challenges.
We are doing our best to get extra money into everyone's hands as soon as possible. We made the decision to pay most of this year's increase in February so you didn't have to wait for negotiations to wrap up for the first 3.5 per cent increase of the new agreement to be paid. This week's offer increases this first year pay rise, and includes a sign-on bonus. We are also bringing forward each year's increase to January from July, and making it 5 per cent in January 2024.
Comparing offers is quite complicated so I ask that we don't get bound up in the theatre of 'negotiating positions' and are upfront as much as possible. In addition to salary, we are making good progress on a range of other measures to help ensure that overall we have the best conditions in the sector. I have been impressed about how constructive our conversations have been thus far, and am determined to keep this positive can-do attitude to get the agreement finalised.
It's actually quite warm this weekend, so we should enjoy it while we can.