Dear colleagues,

I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for the trust you placed in me as your elected Academic Staff rep. on UNE Council for these last two years.

But perhaps more importantly, also to congratulate Dr Melanie Fillios, who will be taking over from me after a well-deserved victory in the recent vote. Everyone can be more than confident in Melanie’s abilities to represent the Academic voice on Council – she is an exemplary scholar, passionate educator, and excellent communicator, with a keen sense of natural justice.

Congratulations to a most trusted and valued colleague; an approachable and conscientious person. Sincerest regards also to Lewis Kahn, Bea Bleile, and Stuart Robertson who also volunteered to serve UNE’s best interests. Their willingness to make that commitment speaks to our collective desire to help steer this institution in the right direction.

Over the past two years, UNE has seen immense change, with the wash-up from the Academic Restructure of 2017 still being felt; the proposed program of Academic Transformation reaching a critical stage; and the new Enterprise Agreement being finalized. So too the arrival of our Vice-Chancellor (no longer ‘new’ after fully 12 months in office) bringing the winds of change, and the wave of challenges posed by drought, bushfire, and pandemic.

We face further uncertainty in many ways: the Tehan reforms (if that, indeed, is what they are), the Coaldrake Report, and the Napthine Review being only the big-picture impacts still to be felt. At grass-roots level, the need to provide security for our casual staff – so critical to what we do – remains the greatest challenge; so too ensuring gender equality and fairness in all things.

I think that despite the tempests that swirl around us, we can all be confident that UNE staff will be able continue to do what we do so well, as world-class educators, researchers, and servants of our communities.

Now more than ever can I urge you to become ever more involved in the running of our university – at Academic Board, via Council, through the NTEU, and as part of the strategic planning process for UNE 21+. The worst thing we can do is disengage and retreat at a time when our communities need us the most.

Thank you again, and all the best for the remainder of 2020.