VC's update - childcare centre, budget and ANUpoll

12 May 2017

Good afternoon

I would like to start this week's blog by thanking the parents and staff of the Heritage Early Childcare Centre for their patience and understanding following the discovery of elevated lead levels contained in the HECC play area. As a parent, I know how much we constantly worry about our kid's health, safety and wellbeing and it can be tough when we're confronted with a situation like we had on campus this week. I'd also like to thank the staff and management of HECC for the support they provided to parents and children this week. My two children attended one of the ANU childcare centres and I know just how much care staff give to their young charges. They all do such a wonderful job and I'd like thank them for the way they take care of our children every day.

As a University our priority must always be the health and safety of our community, but especially the safety of our children who spend time in our facilities. I want to reassure parents that we assessed all of the childcare centres on campus and have not found any further issues. Further detailed information on lead exposure from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Children's Hospital at Westmead can be found on the ANU website.

I suspect many of us have been transfixed on the 2017 Federal budget this week. I shared my comments on how it affects ANU and the wider sector in my blog on Wednesday. Earlier in the week we also announced some changes to the Executive structure. These changes are summarised in an updated org chart available here.

Last night I opened a very special exhibition at the Drill Hall gallery that showcases 10 years of collecting works of art at ANU. The ANU art collection is made up of about 2,500 artworks located all around the campus and includes donations from former students, teachers and artists who have had a close association with ANU and the Drill Hall Gallery. I was so impressed by the exhibition that I will be hanging one of the works of art in my office.

The exhibition includes the Jon Altman Gift - 12 outstanding works of Indigenous art from Emeritus Professor Jon Altman - as well as the Erskine gift, donated by James Erskine which was given to ANU just last year and includes works from two of Australia's best Indigenous contemporary artists. I encourage you all to visit this exhibition that runs to the end of the month.

Finally, as always I like to end my blog by celebrating the successes of our staff and students.

ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods researchers Jill Sheppard and Ben Phillips conducted a very timely ANUpoll into Housing Affordability which is well-worth reading.

Professor Ken Freeman from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics has been elected a Foreign Associate to the National Academy of Sciences, USA for his distinguished and continuing achievements in astronomy.

Dr John Giacon has won the Patji-Dawes award, Australia's premier award for language teaching.

Plant scientist Professor Susanne von Caemmerer from the ANU Research School of Biology has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in the UK, the longest standing scientific academy in the world.

Congratulations to all the winners of the ANU Blues Awards which were presented earlier this month and well done to the staff and students at the ANU College of Law for a highly successful Wellbeing in the Law Week 2017 - a terrific initiative.  

Have a good weekend.