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The mornings are misty, the days bright and sunny. Red and gold abound as the colours of Autumn decorate nature’s palette here in New England.  I realised this morning I had been too busy to notice and too distracted by a myriad of tasks to just pause and take in the wonders of the world.

These are unusual times and we are all experiencing the new and the challenging. I have become one of those people focused on curve flattening, transmission, spreading rates and the benefits of hand washing. I miss the comfort of human contact – on the other hand, I am overwhelmed by the special and many ways that friends, family and colleagues from around the world have reached out to share their digital support in these difficult times. The uplifting and energising power of humour and laughter cannot be underestimated. And of course when all else fails – Maltesers!

Chromatic grams, mise en abyme by Martin Boscott
UNE Council had it’s first virtual meeting and I worked out this morning that I have spent some 52 hours on Zoom across the week. My ears actually hurt a little from wearing head phones for hours on end; note to self – change the pads and adjust head set. My Senior Executive Team (SET) colleagues are still on campus, working through the mechanics of change but we talk via Zoom; those who are now part of the Special Incident Group for COVID-19 have had a Zoom intensive week too with daily meetings to discuss issues and talk through key processes. Their advice and support has been invaluable, as has their good humour – the DVCR has won the week’s prize for the brightest shirt, Director LaTT won the best hat prize (toilet rolls!) and Director Quality Assurance vying with PVCAI for the best back drop after Director Sydney kicked off with a scenic vista last Sunday. We may be busy but the lifting of spirits is important too.
Chromatic grams, mise en abyme by Martin Boscott
In the midst of all of this, UNE Academic staff had time to go the ballot and complete the next stage of the Enterprise Bargaining process. The results signalled the commitment of UNE staff to moving forward with 69.25% of those voting confirming their support for the new agreement. I am grateful to all those staff who helped steer the process, develop the proposals and guide UNE through the ballot.

Other discussions this week covered opportunities around the emerging conversations of UNE Digital+ (our future online and virtual education developments), strategic planning for the wider UNE 2021+  agenda, as well as such topics as academic workload planning, promotions processes for 2020 and the quality assurance of our COVID-19 academic decision making. I have also had the benefit of a range of conversations with Ministerial portfolio representatives at State and Federal Government level who have been seeking updates on our progress with an emergency response to COVID-19 and what they might do to assist.

I will close this week with a BIG THANK YOU to UNE staff and students. This has been a week when the world changed. The complexity of human society is more visible than ever and the enabling influence of humans supporting each other is so empowering.  After visiting the UNE Life outlet for a coffee and sandwich, I am now a member of the ‘x marks the spot’ club; x now defines the space I may occupy if I am to be safe and secure the safety of others. 

Stay well and live life (at a safe social distance). Oh and PLEASE check the provenance of all emails before you open notes, documents etc; the hackers are out in force…..


Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO