VC's Update - Student Forum, Stargazing event and more

18 May 2018

Hi everyone,

Last night I hosted a Forum to update students on our progress on the Respectful Relationships project. Thank you to all the students who attended last night and shared their views and ideas about this important topic. Since 1 August 2017, we have implemented a number of changes in line with the recommendations from the AHRC Report, and we will continue to build on these. Although we still have more work to do, I am proud of the steps our community is making together to create a safer campus for everyone. Call it out if you see it - we'll back you.

As part of the AHRC recommendations, we are working on implementing a number of projects in consultation with staff and students. One of the key priorities is to consolidate our resources into one unit which will focus on the prevention of sexual violence, and provide support for those affected. Recommendation 9 of the AHRC Report was for our Residential Halls and Colleges to be reviewed to identify factors which contribute to sexual assault and sexual harassment. We have been working on securing an independent consultant and we will be announcing more information about both of these projects shortly.

Two weeks ago, I announced that we are conducting an audit of counselling services at ANU. This audit is being conducted to ensure ANU has enough counselling staff and the right mix of counsellors to adequately support students who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment. If you have accessed these services and would like to provide your feedback, please contact

In other news, the ANU Grand Challenges Scheme is now open for 2018 entries. Last year, I was excited to see many of our researchers enthusiastically respond to our challenge to tackle problems with a cross-disciplinary focus. If we are to lead the nation in research, education and public policy, we must forge strong relationships between the humanities and the sciences, and collaborate across the Colleges to connect our experts with each other. Our 2017 finalists were all exceptional, and I look forward to seeing the 2018 entries. Please visit the Portal by Thursday 7 June to enter.

Earlier this year, I announced ANU will do more to support our staff with family and carer responsibilities as part of making our campus more accessible. On International Women's Day, I made a commitment to support staff with increased entitlements to parental leave, as well as increasing the Carers' Career Development Assistance Fund. I am delighted that more than 20 staff have received funding support to develop their career aspirations whilst balancing their carer responsibilities. It is important to me that we foster a culture that encourages and supports people to care for their families as well as supporting their development in their chosen career.

Finally, I am excited about our attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for most people stargazing across multiple venues on Wednesday 23 May. ANU set this record in 2015, and we are hoping to beat it again. I look forward seeing thousands of amateur astronomers on campus, braving the cool May temperatures! I'll be at Parliament House "leading" our politicians, after being pitted against my alter ego, "Paul Francis" in an ABC "Norman" Quiz at ANU.

Have a good weekend,



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Comment by Aileen Walsh
8.45am 21 May 2018

In terms of addressing sexual assault, perhaps preventative measures would be useful.

In terms of cultures around sex, the largest problem is from the effects of pornography. A useful website is

This organisation wants to use education to prevent the problems associated with porn use. I highly recommend having a look around it.

More universities should be taking up a positive attitude to sex in terms of education to prevent objectification of women and sex, in turn as a preventative to sexual assaults. People are not told about the negative effects of porn use.