VC's Update - Respectful Relationships and more

27 April 2018

Hi everyone,

In today's blog, I want to update you on Kambri construction and our longer-term campus master planning, to highlight an important mental health symposium taking place next week, and to say thank you to our DVCRI, who I announced earlier today will be stepping down in six months.

First, though, I wanted to let you know that we are about to begin an audit of the counselling services provided to students at ANU who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment. Under Recommendation 7 of the Australian Human Rights Commission's report: Change the Course, "universities should conduct an audit of university counselling services to assess:

  • the capacity of university counselling services to respond to students' requests for counselling in an appropriately timely manner, and
  • how many university counselling staff have received training in working with sexual assault survivors.

As part of this audit, universities should collect data on:

  • the average length of time students are required to wait to see a university counsellor, and
  • the number of urgent/crisis requests for counselling  received."

The Terms of Reference of the audit are available on our webpage. The consultancy team, Kandie Allen-Kelly and Andrea Strachan, will be conducting interviews with key stakeholders during the weeks starting Monday 7 May and Monday 14 May.

Students who have accessed, or who have attempted to access counselling services at ANU, can provide feedback about your experiences by contacting the team directly and confidentially at I strongly encourage you to provide your input - it will enable us to determine if we have enough counselling staff and the right mix of counsellors to adequately support students who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment. We are committed to ensuring our counselling services meet the needs of our community, and we will integrate this key audit into consideration of our broader counselling provision.

For more information on the audit, please visit the Respectful Relationships update webpage.  More detail about support services available can be found here

This week has been very busy across campus with the closure of University Avenue. I know this will cause inconvenience, and I apologise to everyone affected. To access the north side of campus from the Pop-Up Village to the Copland and the Haydon-Allen Buildings, pedestrians and bikes will need to use Kingsley Place. This will be a heavy foot-traffic zone and I remind cyclists to dismount your bikes to make the journey between buildings safe for all users.

As works on the Kambri development continue, it is a good opportunity for all of us to start thinking about ANU now and into the future. The ANU Master Plan team are trying to anticipate how to make our campus an inviting, accessible and useable home for the community that will be here in the years (and decades) to come. Your ideas on what works and doesn't work on our campus right now, and how we can best plan our campus for the future, are important in us getting this right. I am putting out the challenge to create a Master Plan that integrates the environment, transport, digital technologies and urbanisation. You can look at the interactive map, or visit the Master Plan Hub drop-in sessions to share your views on this project.

Next week the ANU Mental Health Symposium is being held on Friday 4 May. This year we are asking the question: How much impact can academics have on student mental health?  As well as hearing from Dr Chi Baik, a leading researcher from the University of Melbourne, there will be opportunity to ask questions of a panel of representatives from across the university including our new Provost Professor Mike Calford.

I will be in Asia next week on behalf of the University, and will update you on my travels in my next blog. Before I go, though, you will have seen my email earlier announcing our Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) Margaret Harding has decided to step down from her role later this year. It's a bittersweet announcement because Margaret is an extremely valuable member of the Senior Executive - but I also know how much she is looking forward to returning home to Sydney. I wanted to note here my sincere thanks to Margaret for everything she has contributed to the ANU, and for agreeing to remain with us, at full throttle I'm sure, for another six months.

Have a good weekend everyone,