|With the stimulus of amazing autumn weather across the long weekend it was great to open the windows, shake out the gremlins and attack a host of chores – basically anything that did not require Zoom! Whilst we might all bemoan the requirement to shelter in a place of safety, the emerging data confirms that the containment and prevention strategies are working and we must stay the course. Any doubts are easily dispelled when reading the narratives of those who have been stricken with the virus, never mind the rising toll of fatalities. The positive ‘can do’ attitude of UNE staff and students is, as ever, the foundation of our resilience and ongoing good humour at a time of challenge.
We now have one reported case of an individual who has been tested positive for COVID-19. All necessary safety and public health measures have been addressed and I can report that the matter is low risk for our community; the contact tracing reports indicate the infection was most likely acquired as a result of recent international travel. We are in regular contact with the patient and their family to ensure we provide the relevant support to all.
Most of the week has seen me locked up in my new home in the library with my Zoom buddies. Whilst the week has been quiet in some senses, in others it remained full-on. Minister Tehan announced the University funding package for 2020 on Sunday (helpful!) and then provided the detail later (not helpful!). The aim of his announcement was to confirm the 2020 Commonwealth funding (same as 2019). He also indicated resources are to be available for provision of some new short courses to help offset the unemployment envelope, which will likely persist and grow post COVID-19 as the national economy and global systems reset and recalibrate. The news was not what any University hoped it would be given the current circumstances. We are now all heads down working through the detail and how to navigate the challenges of 2020 and what follows; for UNE this conversation sits on top of work already being done to resolve the budget challenges of our current operational structures. It is important that we recognise the different scenarios and manage them accordingly. I also signed off on this year’s rescoped capital budget which is now much diminished and will prioritise WHS and backlog maintenance work as well as the required systems upgrade to our core business, academic and cybersecurity needs.
Other tasks this week included work on the UNE 2021+ strategic conversation and how we might do this within the context of our current working model – OSM are developing some online resources which will be used to start both the internal and external conversations across May and June. I am quite excited by the opportunity to work in a different mode to kick this off and hope we can make it interesting for all of our community.
The work being done to support regional economic growth through our SMART Region Incubator and the opportunity to develop student and graduate enterprise options also featured in my week, as well as the wider conversation about new partnerships with industry which might lead to collaborations around curriculum development options, internships and research collaborations.