November 2019

It’s now halfway through November, which means that our students are well into their exams.

It’s been an extraordinary month for investment in La Trobe – from Government, through philanthropy and by our own staff. This is a great endorsement for the University and will provide lasting benefit to our students, our research and to our communities.


Staff Giving success

Thank you to all staff who contributed to last month’s Staff Giving campaign. Together, you have made this year’s campaign our most successful yet. I’m pleased to announce that we have raised $34,759, which is almost triple our result last October. This means that we are on track to fund an additional 10 scholarships that will help support more students, like Joel, succeed in their studies in 2020.


I look forward to recognising the success of the program with the presentation next month of two Staff Giving Awards to the division and the campus with the highest staff giving participation rate. Thank you once again to everyone who has donated to our Staff Giving program, and a special thanks to all the payroll giving donors who have made an ongoing commitment of support. Remember – although Staff Giving month has now concluded for 2019, you can still donate to our Staff Giving program all year round.


Government support for our regional campuses

It’s been pleasing to see Federal Ministers and MPs visit some of our campuses over recent weeks. Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack visited our Shepparton campus to announce a $5m grant towards the extension of our Shepparton campus.

Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Michael Coulton, visited the Bendigo campus to meet with students in our rural medical training pathway offered in partnership with the University of Melbourne. And Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen and Lisa Chesters, the Member for Bendigo, visited the Bendigo campus to tour the clinical facilities in the La Trobe Rural Health School.

We also welcomed the announcement by Minister Tehan that 94 Destination Australia scholarships, valued at more than $1.5m for next year, have been awarded to La Trobe to support students studying at our regional campuses in Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga and Mildura. Of these, 67 will be for Bendigo – the largest amount awarded to any single Australian campus. Collectively, these scholarships are the highest number awarded to a single University. This is a great vote of confidence from the Government in our regional campuses.


Medicinal Agriculture Hub launched

Another important ministerial visit was from Education Minister Dan Tehan, who officially launched our major new Medicinal Agriculture Research Hub.

The $24 million Australian Research Council (ARC) Industry Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub) combines the very best in La Trobe-led agri-medicine research with industry expertise to drive better cultivation, breeding and manufacturing practises to support Australia’s medicinal agriculture industry and, most importantly, improve health outcomes for patients.

The Hub is a perfect example of what our City of the Future plan aims to achieve. Sitting at the heart of our Research and Innovation Precinct, the Hub draws upon our research excellence and strong industry connections to drive innovation and create jobs in what is one of Australia’s fastest growing sectors.


Celebrating achievement at All Staff Briefing sessions

Last month I travelled with members of our Senior Executive Group to present the All Staff Briefing sessions, held each semester across our campuses. It’s a great opportunity to meet with you, to share what we’re working on and to respond to your questions. At each regional campus, we began the presentation with an update from the Head of Campus, who shared with us the recent achievements and highlights at their campus.

The presentations from each event are available on the intranet, and I highly recommend taking a few minutes to look through these, as they are a great summary of programs, events and initiatives from all across the University.

Leading people

Recently a number of La Trobe people have been recognised for their expertise and leadership. Professor Chris Bigby, head of the University’s Living with Disability Research Centre, has been appointed to the Victorian Government’s Disability Worker Registration Board. The Board will work with Victoria’s first Disability Worker Commissioner to provide independent oversight and set quality standards for the registration of disability workers and their practice.

Five La Trobe scholars were also included in The Australian’s 2019 Research Field Leaders ranking that identifies the national leader in 258 fields of scholarship. Congratulations to Professor Cheryl Dissanayake (Child and Adolescent Psychology), Dr Lindsay Carey (Religion and Health), Associate Professor Raelene Wilding (Human Migration), Dr Jennie Pryce (Animal Husbandry) and Professor Kate Webster (Orthopedic Medicine and Surgery) on being named the Australian leaders in their disciplines.


Literary awards recognition for La Trobe academics

Congratulations also to Professor Clare Wright, ARC Future Fellow, who was shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards in the Australian History category, for her book: You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won the Vote and Inspired the World.

Three La Trobe authors have been included in the shortlists for the 2019 Queensland Literary Awards. In the history category, Clare makes another appearance with You Daughters of Freedom, alongside Emeritus Professor Judith Brett for her book From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia got Compulsory Voting; and Professor Stuart Kells in the non-fiction category for his book Shakespeare’s Library: Unlocking the Greatest Mystery in Literature.

This is fantastic recognition for these three authors and is further testament to the calibre of our La Trobe academics.


Art donation

I was honoured to introduce this year’s China Studies Oration, given in late October by La Trobe alumnus and former Australian Ambassador to China, Geoff Raby AO. Not only did Geoff give an outstanding Oration dealing with the issues presented by Australia’s strained relationship with China, he also made the largest single cultural gift that has ever been made to the University. We are absolutely thrilled to accept Geoff’s generous gift of the Geoff Raby Collection of Chinese Art.

It comprises 174 objects collected over the last 30 years, including paintings, photography, work on paper, ceramics, sculpture and textiles. Valued at more than $2 million, we will cherish this culturally and artistically important collection that will also be a valuable resource for research and teaching in disciplines such as cultural studies, social history and Asian studies.

Perpetual scholarship to honour Aiia Maasarwe

I was privileged to host Aiia Maasarwe’s father, Saeed, and her sister, Noor, on their recent visit to Australia. We have been working with Aiia’s family and with State Government to find the most appropriate ways to remember her.

The life-changing power of education was very important to Aiia and to her family, and so Premier Daniel Andrews and I were honoured to announce the creation of a perpetual scholarship in her name, worth up to $68,000 a year or up to $272,000 over four years.

The scholarship will be offered for students studying in 2020 and is now open for both undergraduate and postgraduate applicants.

All the best
John