VC's update – vintage, delegations and ANU alumni week

1 April 2022

Hello everyone  

The cold cool wind of the last few days reminds us that we are well and truly into Autumn now. I am getting ready for my 2022 vintage this weekend, where we hope to pick a few tonnes of Pinot Noir. I have a very fancy new destemmer which I am hoping can help give me beautiful looking berries separated from some of the nasties that this very wet and cool year has left on the vines. Arthur, our 12-week-old Labrador puppy, I am sure will happily gnaw on the shoes of all those who help us pick the grapes.   

It's been great having the Chancellor back on campus this week. Julie, Simon Haberle and I had the honour of welcoming the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Mongolia Mr Ankhbayar Nyamdorj and Ambassador of Mongolia to Australia Mr Davaasuren Damdinsuren, and their delegation to our campus for lunch. This was part of the celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Mongolia. ANU has strong ties to the region, through our researchers and ANU Mongolia Institute, so it's always great to see longevity in our partnerships and welcome our guests. I even got to practice my Cyrillic which is one of my under-utilised skills! 

We also had a visit from the Ukrainian Ambassador Mr Vasyl Myroshnychenko and his delegation on campus on Monday. The Chancellor met with the Ambassador to discuss the University's engagement with Ukraine in response to the ANU statement on Russia's invasion. I am also grateful to the Ambassador for making the time to meet with our staff and students who have been impacted by the recent events. The whole situation is awful.  To anyone impacted in our community, whether from Ukraine, Russia, or from any other place, it's important that you know that we will do our best to support you in these hard times.  

Last night I had the pleasure of launching the 75 cities series at the National Arboretum - Canberra was the first of 75 cities, part of 2022 ANU Alumni Week. It was great to welcome our Canberra-based alumni and reconnect in-person after two years of mostly virtual events. This week has been an opportunity for our alumni community to come together and share stories from the last seven and a half decades. We were also joined by two special alumni guests Arianne Tan and Dr George Zhang - who got married during the day yesterday and joined us for the evening. What a way to mark your entrance into married life! Congratulations again to the happy couple.  

I would also like to congratulate Dr James Gilbert from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics who was named Researcher of the Year at the 2022 Australian Space Awards in Sydney. James has been recognised for his work using astronomical technology in new and novel ways, including the ANU OzFuel bushfire mitigation satellite program. His innovation helps us get better data from Earth observation satellites and ultimately improve life on Earth. Congratulations James as well as his colleagues at InSpace who were collectively named the Space Research Organisation of the year.   

Last week Universities Australia released the 2021 National Student Safety Survey, of which the results were painful and deeply disappointing for our community.  These results must strengthen the resolve of our whole community to end sexual assault and harassment on our campus. My team are focused on developing the best-practice here in Australia by working with our students and staff and independent experts. We will continue to work with our students to deliver the recently released Student Safety and Wellbeing Plan, which was a product of nine months of student consultation and input from independent expert Lyn Walker.  We're committed not only to delivering against this plan, but continuing to work closely with our students, and keeping our community informed and involved in our progress. We are currently formalising a new group to provide university-wide oversite of our progress via the ANU Council so that my team and I are held accountable at the highest level. We are starting immediate recruitment into areas of need, and consultation on implementing the plan is already underway. We will share a detailed set of current and future actions based on this consultation, and for which Council will hold us accountable. But responsibility for preventing sexual assault and harassment is a shared responsibility across our entire community. Everyone has the right to be safe on our campus.  

Many of you will have seen that Professor Andrew Macintosh from ANU College of Law has been making headlines for speaking out about deficiencies in Australia's carbon credit scheme.  Climate change is a huge threat to human prosperity and being able to effectively offset CO2 emissions through sequestration will be really important to help stem global warming.  It is therefore disappointing that the most popular method for giving carbon credits for sequestration has some serious integrity issues. Andrew has spent years working on and ensuring the integrity of the scheme and I applaud him for being willing to speak out on these issues. This is an example where our academic freedom and autonomy from government is essential in enabling issues to identified free of political interference, so they can be rectified for the good of all.  

Stay warm and don't forget the end of Daylight Savings Time on Sunday.