I've just got back from Geneva where I attended the 2023 Growth Summit at the World Economic Forum (WEF). I realise there is a certain vitriol around WEF, but I find it a forum that is trying to work with those who have power to actually do good things. It is true, those in power often do bad things, but I believe it important to be in the room with them and at least try to get things (and them) to change for the better. At the meeting, there was a lot of focus on financing the energy transition, how to get good out of AI while minimising the bad, and understanding how to ensure how the world can continue to trade and grow prosperity in the global south in this time of geopolitical instability. We will be partnering with WEF on a number of initiatives where our expertise overlaps with their programs, and will be helping provide an Oceania voice into this global forum.
Our vats of pinot noir have completed their fermentations after our latest vintage ever. On 22 April, about 75 friends, colleagues, and family came over and helped us pick just over 2 tonnes of grapes. We will allow the wine to 'sit on the grape skins' here for another week or two, before pressing the grapes, and putting the wine into oak barrels. In about 18 months, the wine will be bottled (about 1800 bottles expected), and then released for sale a year later. I am very pleased with the quality of the vintage thus far - but winemakers always say that!
One of the messages we have been trying to emphasise over the past few years is encouraging everyone to take their leave. I know it can be difficult to carve out the time to be away, but there are a few reasons why it's important - first and foremost, your wellbeing. Taking a break is not just good practise, it's essential for your mental and physical health. It is also important for the University's finances. Any 'excess leave' (which the Enterprise Agreement defines as more than six weeks' annual leave or 15 weeks' long service leave) causes us problems because we have to keep more and more money aside to cope with these growing leave balances, rather than spending it on what we do. So we will be taking a much closer look at where there is excess leave around the University and making a concerted effort to bring those balances down over the coming months. I continue to take my leave on a regular basis, and I'll be taking some significant leave in October to see my family in North America - I encourage all of you to make plans to use yours.
I also want to let you know that the nominations for the 2023 ANU Alumni Awards are now open. The Alumni Awards are a great way to identify, share and celebrate the stories of exceptional individuals within our university community. I invite you to nominate someone - be it a current student or any alumni that you think deserves to be recognised. And if you have your own story to tell that other might now know about, you can nominate yourself! Nominations will close on Tuesday 4 July at midnight.
We are making the transition from autumn to winter in Canberra, where we start to say goodbye to the autumn colours and welcome frosts and fog on a regular basis. It also reminds us, that this is flu season. So I have said it before, and I'll say it again. Please get yourself a flu vaccination. While it is not a 100% protection, it is one of the best ways you can lower your chances of getting the flu. They are quick and easy to get - and yes, I have already got mine. ANU staff can receive a free flu vaccination on campus at the ANU Medical Centre or Pharmacy, or off campus by accessing a voucher code (via HORUS) to be used at any Terry White Chemist. I hear some of you have been getting 'double-jabbed' and updating your COVID protection at the same time, which sounds very efficient. All students can receive a free flu vaccination at the ANU Medical Centre.
Brace yourself for more frost, and enjoy the weekend!