July 2023

6 July 2023

Welcome to my July blog.

June and July are always our coldest months, and this year has been no exception. Some colleagues have been lucky enough to spend a week or two in the warmer climes of Far North Queensland or Europe. For those (like me) who have stayed closer to home, I hope you have been able to have some time off to manage the challenges of juggling work and school holidays.

Back at the University, it was wonderful to see the hard work of our staff reflected in La Trobe’s extraordinary rise of 74 places in the QS rankings to 242 in the world (from 316). It was fitting that this news coincided with the announcement that Theo Farrell from the University of Wollongong has been appointed as La Trobe’s seventh Vice-Chancellor. I know that Theo is excited about joining the La Trobe community and I look forward to introducing him to you all later in the year. Meanwhile, Theo and I will work to ensure a smooth transition for his arrival in February 2024. I’m delighted that someone of Theo’s calibre has been charged with taking La Trobe to even greater heights.

(Incidentally, Theo's appointment maintains Wollongong’s extraordinary record of providing Vice-Chancellors for other universities – a record that rivals that of Curtin University, and anyone who has worked with Glyn Davis!).

There’s still plenty of work to do over the remainder of 2023. The sector is waiting with interest to hear what Federal Education Minister Jason Clare has to say when he addresses the National Press Club on 19 July. The Minister is expected to outline the broad direction of the Accord process and may announce policy changes for immediate implementation. We’ll share news of any changes once it’s available.

For now, I’d like to share some recent achievements from across the University.

Another goal for La Trobe

It was very exciting for me to take part in the formal opening of the ‘Home of the Matildas’ that now forms a centrepiece of the La Trobe Sports Park. The facility will be a home for the Matildas when they are in Australia and will provide a training base for Victorian representative teams run by Football Victoria. It will also be a fantastic and much-needed community facility for the growing number of soccer clubs in the north of Melbourne. It will add to the already significant number of visitors coming to our campus.

The launch coincided with the announcement of the Matildas squad for the upcoming Women’s World Cup which kicks off on 20 July in Sydney. I was able to get a selfie with Matildas vice-captain Steph Catley, formerly of Melbourne City and now with Arsenal in the Women’s Super League in England. I tried, but failed, to restrain my fanboy instincts. Go Matildas!

The site next to the new 'Home of the Matildas' will soon become Rugby Victoria’s centre of excellence, which will focus particularly on the development of female rugby players.

Once again, La Trobe is leading the way in women’s sport.

Working with business

There’s a great story in the Australian Financial Review about microcredential programs co-designed by staff in our School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to support the cloud-based platform provider ServiceNow upskill its staff.

Our team worked with ServiceNow to develop an eight-week intensive course that has been a tremendous success, with more than 85 per cent of ServiceNow staff from around the world using the platform.

Well done to Luke Prendergast who has been leading our partnership with ServiceNow – it’s a terrific example of how we can work together with industry partners to use our skills and resources for mutual benefit.

Moot point

Congratulations to the La Trobe Law School’s Nuremberg Moot Court team, who are one of 32 teams selected from 111 teams around the world to compete in the oral rounds of the Nuremberg Moot Court Competition in Germany.

To qualify, students Jade Sheppard, Christina Mikhael and Elly-May Dreier worked with their coach, PhD candidate in the Law School, Nicole Shackleton, to prepare legal memoranda for the prosecution and defence in a fictitious court case. Best of luck to the team in the oral competition being held at the historic Courtroom 600 of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice.

As a former (or lapsed) Law academic, I know how prestigious it is to reach this stage of the competition; and how much work is involved to get there.

Going digital

I was in Bendigo last month for the launch of a digitisation project that will make the Sandhurst collection available online so that everyone has the chance to connect with Bendigo’s late 19th century literary culture. The collection is the bedrock of libraries in the central Victorian region, containing thousands of novels and works of popular fiction as well as contemporary periodicals, biographies, histories, and memoirs.

It began life in the Sandhurst Mechanics Institute and Free Library in 1854 and has been part of La Trobe’s antecedent institutions going back to the Bendigo School of Mines. The collection is now housed at our Library on the Bendigo campus. It was a fitting moment in the year in which we celebrate the 150th anniversary of tertiary education in Bendigo.

Open for business

Our University Events and Domestic Sales teams do a terrific job in showcasing everything La Trobe has to offer at our annual Open Days – one of the most important ways for us to connect with prospective students and their families, who are often visiting a La Trobe campus for the first time.

The team are always very grateful to staff who can lend a hand at our Open Days in roles including welcoming visitors, helping with directions, and general assistance with questions about La Trobe.

If you are interested in helping at Open Day at the Melbourne campus on 6 August, please register to volunteer by next Monday 10 July.

You can register here to volunteer for the Bendigo campus Open Day on 27 August; and for those interested in helping at our other regional campus Open Day events (Mildura 9 August, Albury-Wodonga 13 August and Shepparton 26 August), please email the team at events@latrobe.edu.au.

Keeping it dry

It’s wonderful to see there are 30 members in this year’s La Trobe University Dry Ducks team participating in the Dry July fundraiser that encourages people to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds for those affected by cancer. I’m proud that every member of our Senior Executive Group is taking part this year – and, on a personal note, it certainly helps to know there are 29 other team members going through the challenge.

Please consider supporting the team. At the time of writing, we’ve raised more than $6,000 toward our $10,000 fundraising goal, which places the La Trobe team second nationally (not that we’re competitive).

Public scholarship broadcasts

Some of the terrific talks curated by Clare Wright for this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival are being broadcast on Radio National’s ‘Big Ideas’ program. You can now listen to the session on Black Lives, White Law that considered the institutions and applications of ‘justice’ in Australia for First Nations people.

You can also listen back to the recent discussion about Australia’s housing crisis that Robert Manne curated for the La Trobe Ideas and Society program.

Upcoming events

I encourage you to get along to one of the many University events taking place over the next few weeks.

On 12 July, the University is presenting the annual Fairley La Trobe lecture at the Shepparton campus. Former Chief Scientist of Australia, Alan Finkel, will talk about the impact of climate change on rural Australia. You can register here.

On 14 July, La Trobe Asia is presenting an event reflecting on Australia’s role and national identity in Asia. Bec Strating will lead a discussion with Tim Watts, the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs; author Alice Pung; and Sabrina Gupta from our School of Psychology and Public Health. You can register to attend online or in person.

On 20 July, there is a launch being held at Readings in Carlton to celebrate the publication of Helena Rubinstein: The Australian Years, a fascinating portrait of the founder of the first global cosmetics empire, which is being published by the La Trobe University Press. The launch will pay tribute to the author, Angus Trumble, who sadly died in 2022 just weeks after the manuscript was completed. You can reserve your spot here.

On 20 July, the La Trobe Rural Health School is presenting the Violet Vines Marshman Oration in Bendigo, an annual event designed to engage people in discussion about rural health and wellbeing. The 2023 Oration is being given by Susanne Tegen, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance. You can book here.

Finally, on 25 July, the Ideas and Society program is presenting Noel Pearson in discussion with Shireen Morris, co-editor of the La Trobe University Press Book Statements from the Soul, to talk about the forthcoming referendum on the establishment of a First Nations Voice to the Australian Parliament. You can register here.

In closing

That’s it for another month at La Trobe. I look forward to seeing you at one of our events during July as well as our next all-staff webinar on 26 July. We’ll be broadcasting from the Albury-Wodonga campus with our host for the day, PVC Regional Mel Bish.

In the meantime, stay warm (and in my case, sober).