VC's update – National Reconciliation Week 2022

3 June 2022

Hello everyone,  

I may be one of the few, but I am enjoying the wintery blast. The snow on the Brindabellas, the frost across the grass and icy chill on the face are part of the changing seasons I grew up with and provide a rhythm to life here in Canberra that I find deeply comforting.  

Today marks the last day of National Reconciliation Week. This year we are fortunate to hear from Andrea Kelly -- a proud Waramungu and Larrakia woman, ANU alumna, and from the National Indigenous Australians Agency. I am really looking forward to Andrea's talk and I hope to see many of you there - you will be able to watch it on ANUTV next week if you can't make it. 

Earlier this week Ngambri-Ngunnawal Elder Paul Girrawah House delivered a beautiful tree scarring ceremony on campus and shared stories of local First Nations' history with our staff and students. The carving of the tree represents the renewal and reclaiming of Ngambri identity on campus and Paul's craftmanship is stunning. This is the first time tree scarring has been carried out on our campus since colonisation and it's a significant and meaningful occasion. You will be able to see the carving on one of the eucalyptus trees around campus - keep an eye out.  

The theme of this year's National Reconciliation Week, Be Brave Make Change, is especially pertinent here at ANU as the University enters into a three-year national 'Collaborate' partnership with Jawun. As part of this important collaboration the University will work with Jawun organisations across the Far West Coast, East Kimberly and Lower River Murray regions to help local communities develop greater self-sufficiency and the solutions to challenges they face. ANU senior staff will be invited to participate in secondment opportunities and leadership initiatives as we foster two-way learning and connection between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. Paul Duldig, our Chief Operating Officer, launched the partnership last month. Listen to Paul discuss the partnership here. 

I made my first overseas trip in nearly two-and-a-half years last week, meeting with partners from the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) and their Vice-Chancellors/Presidents in Cambridge UK. It is quite remarkable to see that the issues we face here in Australia are shared with colleagues all across the globe. Australia seems to be the frontline of government intervention and regulation in higher education, but it is still relevant to other countries -- they are watching our experience closely. I also got the opportunity to meet with our alumni in Cambridge and London as part of the ANU 75 Cities series - many of whom are recent arrivals. It was wonderful to connect with some of our incredible grads and hear about what they were doing since completing their studies.  

The Chancellor and I took the chance of being oversees to host the University's annual Australia in Davos reception in Switzerland last week. We were joined by ANU Honorary Doctorate and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Indigenous Alumna of the Year and Indigital EduTech Founder/CEO Mikaela Jade, and Mathias Cormann who is now Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among many others. As the national university, it is great to highlight the work we do here on a global stage and help translate it for global benefit. 

I got to watch the election results play out while I was in transit, and as the national university, we are always looking to help the government of the day use expertise and evidence to make the right decisions for the country. It is great to see the process of democracy here in Australia remaining responsive to the collective will of the people. We congratulate those who have won a seat in Parliament, and commiserate with those that have missed out. 

I was very pleased to hear that Professor Glyn Davis will be the next Secretary for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Glyn was the leader of the University of Melbourne and, I believe  the most effective vice-chancellor the sector has ever seen. Glyn is also one of the best public policy minds we have in Australia and we are lucky to count him as one of our graduates and former members of academic staff. I have no doubt he will make a significant contribution to the public sector and help it not only deliver on its incredible promise but to continue to develop solutions to some of the most pressing challenges we face as a nation. I wish him all the best in his new role.  

This week, the Global Institute for Women's Leadership (GIWL) hosted a major event on how to improve workplace gender equality. GIWL Chair and Founder and former PM, the Hon Julia Gillard AC, chaired a panel of experts at Llewellyn Hall. The panel discussed the importance of transparency, data and legislation in helping organisations meet gender equality targets, in particular the need to recognise other types of diversity to better understand intersectional gender inequality. The risk of women going backwards in a COVID world was also raised, noting that as men return to the workplace, women are more often the ones juggling working from home with care. The panel called on us all to think about the role of bias and address it, and to start a conversation in our own places of work on changing our workplaces for the better. It's an important conversation to have and I hope we have many more to drive action for a more equitable workplace. 

At the event Julia also announced a new partnership between KPMG and GIWL, which will extend the impact of the Institute's research and help translate evidence into practical tools for organisations.  

Lastly, if you're into theatre, later this month Professor Desmond Manderson's play Twenty Minutes with the Devil will be at the Street Theatre between 18-25 June. The play is an innovative example of our researchers' impact and engagement, exploring how we think and talk about law and justice in the modern world. There will be a pre-show panel discussion on 23 June with both playwrights and Antony Lowenstein, best-selling author on the global drug wars. More details here. 

Have a great weekend everyone - and stay warm!