Christmas is nigh upon us and I hope that you will all have the opportunity to have some time away or at least a change of pace from the busy academic year and all that it encompasses.
The key focus for UCA this year has been on the important work commissioned by Universities Australia through the Respect. Now. Always. Campaign and the report and key recommendations of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner through her Report Change the Course, and its companion report On Safe Ground, drawing on international best practice, by the UNSW Human Rights Commission.
Key concerns highlighted for Colleges included hazing practices and other college traditions; excessive consumption of alcohol; inadequate responses to incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment; proximity of living arrangements and inadequate staff training.
Whilst many Colleges have undertaken meaningful work in the recent years and months, there remains much more work to be done, in particular regarding gender, equity and diversity. And in also acknowledging that students arrive in our Colleges with certain values already shaped, there are systemic issues that require careful and clear thinking and decisive action and implementation.
The UCA forum held in Brisbane in September saw nearly sixty members keenly and actively engaged in the discussions, drawing from their frontline experience and providing ideas about how UCA can continue to support its members in this space, within its broader aims and objectives. For those members who have not read my AGM report it can be accessed here.
Since the forum, members of the executive have considered how to best add value to members and to not duplicate the wide range of reviews and body of work that has emerged since the release of the key reports and recommendations - and importantly to ensure the momentum continues.
Our Working Party, entitled “Change the Course Leadership Advisory Group” will be announced and launched in the New Year. In addition to establishing terms of reference, its key focus will be to:
- Collaborate with relevant organisations/people with specialist understanding, to assist identify and inform interventions that are appropriate to the Australian context and evidence based
- Extend our resource base for members to include having appropriate policies and procedures, reporting and referral mechanisms and promote the sharing of good practice
- Develop a framework and provide advice on the implementation of a range of education and support initiatives which are evidence based/based on sound research
- Develop a set of guidelines to include minimum standards/good practice on the prevention of and response to sexual assault and sexual harassment
The Advisory Group will facilitate the engagement and participation of students in the development of standards through NAAUC in addition to other key stakeholders. It will also work closely with UCA’s Alcohol Harm Minimisation Strategy Committee chaired by Assoc. Prof Tim Corney given the connection between alcohol and sexual harassment and sexual assault, yet acknowledging that alcohol is not a causative factor.
I look forward to driving meaningful change across our sector and to result in a more consistent and effective approach to addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault and preventing it from occurring.
Partnerships and Connections
Following on from the forum, we have continued discussions with Policy Lead Dr Renee Hamilton from Universities Australia and look forward to hearing more about their partnership with the Australian Psychological Society with regard to further education initiatives and the policy framework of UA.
We are also appreciative of the regular contact and advice from the Sex Discrimination Commissioner Ms Kate Jenkins, in particular around setting up the working party and providing introductions to key people with expertise and knowledge in this space.
The Epigeum Group held a day conference “Sexual Violence, Positive Prevention and Response – Engaging your University and Community” in November which had broad representation from seventeen universities and six colleges across the country. Keynote presentations from Dr Nicola Henry (Assoc. Prof & V-C’s Principal Research Fellow at RMIT, Prof. Dr Liz Burd, PVC Learning and Teaching University of Newcastle, Tania Willis, Deputy Director, Access, Inclusion and Wellbeing, Hon. Head, Griffin Hall, ANU and from Durham University.
For interested members, UoN and ANU have been working closely with Epigeum for some time. UoN’s model encompasses prevention and response and is very good, in particular their support, action and advice matrix and the work they have commenced that is mobile (device) responsive. ANU’s approach which is underpinned by ‘blended learning’ and their MATE program is worth exploring.
White Ribbon and the Hunting Ground Project Australia have also shown an interest in supporting our work in eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment in our communities.
The last winter conference for NAAUC will be held at Cromwell College UQ in July 2018 and we look forward to engaging with NAAUC representatives with respect to our working party.
Through the ACUHO-I network, Colin Marshall and Mary De Niro have offered the sharing of learnings from the US in particular through webinars.
On the local front, AACUHO has initiated a change of name to APSAA – the Asia Pacific Student Accommodation Association. Whilst they have changed their name, they will continue their core business of networking and practical and professional development for their members.
Due to the enormous success and positive feedback after our Brisbane Forum, UCA will adopt a similar format for 2018 to enable the high level of engagement and relevance to continue without the distraction of sponsors. The Forum will be held Hobart (University of Tasmania) as it is some years since UCA has travelled to and visited our Tasmanian members. More information will be provided early in the New Year, however, it is anticipated the forum will be held the week of 24th September which is Universities Australia’s Common Week 3.
Future Leaders’ Grant
UCA is delighted to award Ms Katrina Clifford, Dean at Robert Menzies College, a Future Leaders’ Grant to improve both the experience and the outcomes of RMC’s training of their Residential Advisors using an inverted classroom’ principle. Katrina has created 13 different 5-10 minute podcasts (with written transcripts) for her RAs to listen to over the summer break which will be complemented by online quizzes and an online blog. We look forward to hearing more about Katrina’s training and its success at our Forum in September 2018.
There is a growing number of members who are providing postgraduate accommodation in addition to our small number of postgraduate Colleges. Dr Ian Walker on the executive ensures that the postgraduate voice is representative, however, we are conscious that this is an area that could provide greater engagement in terms of what we offer our members due to the diverse needs and interests of this group of students. The Council of the Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) Recommendations can be read here.
Collegiate Way International
The Collegiate Way International Conference will be held in February 2019 at Rice University in
Texas and more information can be found here.
Australian Secondary Principals Association
UCA plans to establish on a formal basis, its relationship with ASPA with regard to potential feeder schools.
The South Australian Student Accommodation Association has embarked upon establishing a national student accommodation association (SAA) with the purpose to establish minimum standards in accommodation to address the issues with standards in the private rental and other markets.
News from around the UCA chapters
In addition to my AGM report which provided an opportunity for the association to acknowledge the contribution of retiring members, in particular stalwarts Dr Edwina Ridgeway (40 years), the Rev’d Dr Ivan Head (23 years) and Ms Barbara Green (17 years), below is an update of new and retiring members.
After nine years of the Master of Ormond College and presiding over an expanded academic involvement at Melbourne University through the establishment of the Wade Institute, Dr Rufus Black is the Vice-Chancellor elect of the University of Tasmania. UCA extends its warmest wishes to Rufus in his new role.
Dr Brenda Holt will formally commence as the Principal of St Hilda’s in January after Ms Barbara Green’s retirement.
University of Sydney
With the imminent departure of Dr Marie Leech in January, Sancta Sophia College has appointed Ms Fiona Hastings as Principal.
Dr Don Markwell will commence at St Paul’s College in February 2018, succeeding the Rev’d Dr Ivan Head, who retires at the end of this year after serving as Warden since 1994.
Universities of Adelaide
Dr Paul Tosch has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Lincoln College in Adelaide.
After four years as Head of Aquinas College, Br. Paul Gilchrist will take on an appointment at the Catholic Teachers’ College in East Timor and the Archbishop has appointed Br. Michael Green as the new Head of College. Br. Michael will commence in mid-January.
The Australian National University
UCA welcomes Dr Nerilee Flint, Deputy Head at Burton and Garran Hall as an Associate Member of UCA.
New South Wales
St Martin’s College in Wagga welcomes the Rev’d Grant Bell who has succeeded the Rev. Jenny Willsher.
Mr Malcolm MacCallum, Dean of Residential Students will head the recently opened Morling Residential College at Macquarie University. UCA also welcomes Dr Katrina Clifford, Dean of Robert Menzies College as an Associate Member and at news just to hand, we also welcome the announcement of appointment of the Rev. Dr Peter Davis as the sixth Master of RMC following the retirement of Mr Bruce Pollard. See the announcement here.
Mrs Nicole Stott-Whiting has been appointed as the Principal of Saints Catholic College in Townsville after Mr Tom Tarttelin’s sterling eighteen years as the head of College.
I am very excited at the prospect of working with the executive committee next year and congratulate and look forward to working with our newly elected members of the executive Mr Wayne Erickson (St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney and Mr Tom Mitchell (St Thomas More College, University of Western Australia). I also welcome our new Public Officer, Assoc. Prof. Bill Peirson (New College, University of New South Wales).
UCA Executive Committee
Dr Carla Tromans (International House, UQ) Vice President
Mr Michael Bongers (John Flynn College, James Cook University) Secretary
Mr David Segal (Ursula Hall, ANU) Treasurer
Dr Ian Walker (Toad Hall, ANU) Immediate Past President
Mr Wayne Erickson (St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney) Exec member
Mr Tom Mitchell (St Thomas More College, UWA) Exec member
I would also again like to extend my thanks to Ms Deborah Pugh, our Executive Officer whose unfailing support is valued by us all. Also to those retiring executive members Dr Marie Leech and Ms Barbara Green. Over the last year, UCA has continued to build on its national identity, collegiality and headship, and been recognised as the national policy and advocacy lead for university colleges and halls in Australia.
And as leaders and educators in residential academic communities, I encourage all heads to continue to work together where possible, to support one another and to undertake the both unfamiliar and uncomfortable challenges that lie ahead, with as much passion as the well-known and predictable ones.
As always, I invite members to contact any member of the executive or me at any time.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,