VC's Update – Gandaywarra and draft RAP

28 October 2022

Hello everyone, 

It seems La Niña continues to do its work at keeping things wet, but I was lucky to have a semi-dry day for a day of annual leave I took on Monday. I got caught up on a bunch of things - I trained my boysenberries and tip pruned the apricots. Everyone needs a regular refresh, and a good reminder to everyone to please use your annual leave. Start planning now about how you can use your leave over the summer period to get a big chunk of time to reset and enjoy life outside of work.  

The Tjabal End of Year dinner has been one of my favourite fixtures since becoming VC, and this year's dinner last Friday did not disappoint. Motown tunes ruled the night, with one staff member (over the age of 40!) doing a James Brown Split move without severely injuring themselves. It was a joyous night and served as a reminder of the amazing cohort of students we have here at ANU who will end up being leaders around Australia, and around the world. A big thank you to Aunty Anne and the Tjabal Centre team for inviting me and for all their hard work in making ANU a great place for First Nations students to study.  

On Tuesday we launched the First Nations Portfolio's (FNP) Gandaywarra Innovation Hub. Gandaywarra - which means 'long grow' in the Wiradjuri language - aims to enable creativity, collaboration and innovation between First Nations communities, ANU and industry, government and philanthropic partners. It is all about supporting First Nations knowledge and innovation to further the economic and cultural empowerment of First Nations people. Congratulations to Gandaywarra's chief architect Michelle Jasper and the whole First Nations Portfolio.   

As Chair of the ANU Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, I have been working closely with a number of staff and students to develop our next Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for 2023-2024. We have published a copy of the draft RAP and have opened a consultation period from today until Friday 18 November. Reconciliation must be a whole-of-university effort and I encourage each part of the university to read the draft plan and reflect on how ANU can take reconciliation to a higher level. You can submit your feedback using the form online. 

I'd like to congratulate Distinguished Professor Susan Scott on a truly well-deserved achievement. Susan is the first Australian to win the Blaise Pascal Medal in recognition for her contributions to the advances of physics. It's great to see her work and research acknowledged at such a high international level. Congratulations Susan!  

A number of events this week have reminded me why we have adopted a zero-tolerance stand on harassment in any form. I want ANU to be the best place to work and study in the world, but this can only happen if we are a place where everyone is treated with respect. Normalising respect will also help lower the incidence of violent acts within our community. Some confuse the idea of respect with academic freedom. Yes, we are a place where you are free to express ideas that others may object to, and even find offensive, but this does not give anyone a license to bully, intimidate or harass others as part of that freedom. What our zero-tolerance stand means is a promise from the University that every instance of harassment will be dealt with in a proportionate manner (including removal of a person from our community), but it comes with a responsibility to each member of our community. When you see harassment occurring to another person, you need to call it out, and if at an appropriate level, report it. Do not assume we know and accept serial harassers - we don't.  The University does and will act on these matters when they are reported to us, and no one - including me - is untouchable.  

We have farewelled our inaugural Vice-President (Advancement) Barbara Miles who has retired after a long career back to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It has been a great pleasure working so closely with Barbara since she joined ANU in 2018. Barbara, I look forward to visiting you and seeing the Orcas on Puget Sound in your boat.  

During her time here, Barbara transformed the landscape of Advancement and established the solid foundation for the University's long-term future. Barbara's work has strengthened our alumni network and has helped to better connect us to those who passionately believe in the University's Mission. Many of these people were with me at lunch on Saturday at our annual Springbank Long Lunch, honouring those who have made a bequest to the University. So many interesting stories that underpin each person's giving. It was a privilege for me to be a part of those conversations.  

It looks like Saturday might even be dry here in Canberra. I will get some work done on the farm before doing some University activities, including flying off to Adelaide to work with Brian Cox, Robin Ince and Tim Minchin on the science of wine. Perhaps work is not the appropriate term in this instance.  

Enjoy your weekend.