VC’s update – rest day for staff and RSPH’s frontline work

3 September 2021

Hello everyone

Yes, most of us are still in an extended lockdown, but we have had some glorious spring weather to spend outside in, albeit in limited blocks of time. It's hard not to love spring, although I am checking the ANU pollen-app trying to see how much Telfast to dose up on to counteract all the pollen.  Check out some of Adam Spence's, from CASS, pictures of Spring across our beautiful city and campus - and share your own!

As Professor Ian Anderson said in this week's On and Off Campus, the extension to the ACT lockdown also means we need to continue to work and study remotely - unless you live on residence or are an essential staff member. We will keep you updated about our return to campus plans as the situation develops in the weeks to come; it will be a gradual process.

I am pleased to announce that we will have an 'ANU holiday' for all staff on Friday 17 September - the idea was presented to me by a staff member at one of our forums. This is to give as many of us an extra day off. I know we all need to have a rest without our inbox being full when we come back. We have picked this day so we can avoid disruption of the teaching periods; I do understand we have some essential staff members who will have to be on campus that day, and you will be able to take an alternative day off that works for you. If you are a casual staff member who would have been working this day, please have a chat with your supervisor and we'll make sure you're not out of pocket. I want to thank everyone for their hard work during this time.

This is also a good reminder of how important it is to take a break even if it is a staycation at home. Please use this day off to plan a future holiday soon - we all need time to rest and relax even if we can't go away.

A big shout out to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues from the Research School of Population Health and Professor Peter Yu, who alongside AUSMAT with the Commonwealth, are doing some great work out on the frontlines in Western NSW to assist with the ramped up vaccine rollout. The ANU contingent are helping, along with many stakeholders, to ensure information about when and where vaccine is being administered across the regions. The ANU team is also working in communities each day providing appropriate information about vaccines to ensure maximum uptake. This effort aims to ensure that Aboriginal communities in Western NSW reduce COVID-19 risks.  Well done and thank you to everyone involved - Associate Professor Ray Lovett (Ngiyampaa/Wongaibon), Professor Peter Yu (Yawuru), Dr Jill Guthrie (Wiradjuri), Associate Professor Lisa Whop (Wagadagam) and PhD candidates Tamara Riley (Wiradjuri), Roxanne Jones (Palawa) and Maeve Powell (Ngiyampaa).

On a bittersweet note, Professor Jane Golley has told me and Helen Sullivan that she has decided to step down from her role as director of the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW). While we will miss her in this role as director - the good news is Jane will remain at ANU and continue pursuing her important research on China - work that is absolutely vital to understanding how the West and China can evolve their relationship and successfully coexist with each other.

Understanding China is perhaps one of the most complex challenges one could imagine at this point in history. But Jane has thrown herself tirelessly at this challenge for many decades - and never wavered in her commitment to ensuring we understand China for the betterment of us all. I applaud her commitment. I also applaud that she has never shied away from vital public debate on these important issues; she has done this fearlessly and respectfully. Unfortunately, Jane has not always received that same level of respect and courtesy she has consistently shown others. Her experiences are a reminder that we can and will disagree with each other - but our values are about treating each other with respect. Academic freedom that enables us to understand our world will be silenced if we allow bullying, intimidation, misrepresentation, and all tricks of idealogs, propogandists, and autocrats to rule.  The University will back each of you in your pursuit of truth. 

Next week on Thursday is RUOK day. I encourage you all to take some time to check on each other to make sure your friends, loved ones, colleagues and peers are really ok. Please make sure you are also reaching out for help if you need it. It's ok not to be ok - we are only human and this has been an exceptionally difficult few years for all.

Enjoy you weekend, even if it looks like it will be a bit wet on Saturday.  I will start getting the vineyard ready for budburst which we will expect by the end of the month. And I have another great reason to stay off my computer: I've run out of data on the 4G WiFi that I use on the farm (200Gbytes!) and have been throttled by Telstra.



no photo available
Comment by Virginia Hooker
12.15pm 3 Sep 2021

I am so very proud of our ANU colleagues who have gone to Western NSW to support and assist in this dire time there.


no photo available
Comment by Janet DeBoos
1pm 3 Sep 2021

I just wanted to give you personal thanks Brian for your tireless blog updates and newsletters. When one is off campus- and in a non-teaching position, it ensures that we (both those in that position- as well as active teaching staff and their students) feel connected and part of the university.

It also helps that you balance perfectly the personal with the public in referring to your 'other' life. We all identify with that. It makes me feel my universe is expanding at an accelerated rate- rather than just my physical world contracting... thank you

no photo available
Comment by Supriya Shukla
6.30pm 3 Sep 2021

You rock VC Brian! Its so refreshing to see leaders that authentically back and advocate for their staff, be it challenging times or harassment. We're lucky to have you!

no photo available
Comment by Adele Sinclair
9.15am 6 Sep 2021

Congratulations on choosing to implement an 'ANU holiday', Brian. Not only have you supported a staff suggestion that has a financial consequence, you've provided a concrete demonstration of your commitment to the wellbeing of staff and students. Kudos to you on both counts. I appreciate your positive leadership.

no photo available
Comment by Shumin You
9.30am 16 Sep 2021

As a former casual worker and current full-time worker, I would like to thank you for not leaving out the casual staff who would have been working this day