VC's update – FaCtS study release and lockdown week three

27 August 2021

Hello everyone

As an extreme extrovert, I am counting the days until we are able to have our lock down restrictions eased as we gain control over the most recent COVID outbreak here in Canberra. It is clear that it will be quite some time before we are in the relatively normal mode we enjoyed for most of this year. While we wait for the situation to improve, our ANU community will continue to operate remotely unless you are listed as an essential staff member or are a student living on campus. If you're not in one of these groups please do not come on campus before we provide an update on how we will phase our return. We have seen how quickly the COVID-19 situation can escalate so it is unlikely that we will all return to campus in one go, it will be similar to last year's staged return. We will provide you with more details next week about when we can start returning - in the meantime, please keep up to date with our campus updates here.

While we have been in lockdown, our staff, residential student leaders and volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure our students living on campus have had access to food while they have been undergoing stay-at-home orders. Particularly, I would like to thank Facilities and Services Director Nicki Middleton and her incredible team who went to extraordinary lengths to set up the food distribution network at Manning Clark Hall over these past two weeks. Even when times are tough, our community spirit remains and I am grateful to be part of such a caring community so thank you.

Next week, ANU will launch its first Academic Integrity Awareness Week starting on Monday 30 August. There will be six virtual activities for staff and students, all part of the University's new approach to academic integrity. ANU has a shared set of values that underpins our learning, teaching and research, and academic integrity allows the freedom to create new ideas, knowledge and pursue creative thinking while respecting existing work. This week is not just for students, I encourage our academic staff to get involved as well, as teachers have a critical role in helping instil academic honesty and lead by example.

I will also be meeting with each College over the next two weeks to discuss our recently launched strategic plan ANU by 2025. Our community provided some great input and now that is launched, we need to ensure we are implementing it in a way that works for each area. These town halls are an opportunity for staff to come together and get excited about what they can contribute to achieving the University's vision - what ANU in 2025 looks like is up to everyone. Each Dean will be in touch with their areas with details of the town hall - our first one will be on Monday with College of Science. We are planning to host another townhall for our Portfolios areas later in September.

In 2017, ANU was commissioned by the Department of Social Services to undertake the Family and Community Safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (FaCtS) Study. This was a first of its kind and Indigenous-led study which aims to understand what is needed to reduce family violence and generate evidence into its origins. I am very pleased that this report has been finalised - we were due to launch the report at Parliament House earlier this month with Minister Ken Wyatt and Minister Anne Ruston but unfortunately had to postpone due to the COVID restrictions. I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the study - DV is a national issue and every single Australian has the right to feel safe. I hope this helps chart the way to change lives in Indigenous communities. You can read the report here.

Lastly, I have been very saddened by the devastation we are seeing on the news about the escalating situation in Afghanistan. We have many students, staff and alumni who are or have family impacted over there and I cannot imagine the pain you are all going through. My thoughts are with you during this time and I hope you are all safe. Please reach out and use our staff and student support services available - we will do what we can do make things easier for you. Students impacted can work with their course convenors to put special arrangements in place related to assessment or exams, and staff can speak with our Staff Advisers and apply for Emergency Staff Relief Funds if needed.

Stay safe everyone.

Brian