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It is a grey drizzling day here in Armidale – rumour has it that rain is falling across the land… The flowering prunus speak of winter and hint at spring. The campus is eerily quiet again after a busy week with many taking opportunity of the Friday leave initiative and Monday’s closure to enjoy a long weekend and support the UNE leave management programme.
Congratulations to Associate Professor Dr Mark Moore, UNE archaeologist, who has been awarded the prestigious Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to continue his research on the development of human cognition and culture.
My week has been almost completely focused on the Time for Change programme with a whole range of meetings across different strata of the University. I have a few more briefings to complete next week and then I can rest my voice and engage in other ways. I am uplifted by the feedback from so many yet again; sensible questions, considered contributions and great comments to enable further dialogue. I am always re-energised when I receive staff and student feedback as it reminds me what it is about the job I love and why UNE is worth fighting for.

Whilst Time for Change has taken over much of this week, the UNE21+ Conversation is still running and this week’s events were a critical staging post as the process of developing the new strategy moves from an open dialogue to focused discussions. The number of discrete participants is another marker for a community that is ready, willing and clearly able to contribute meaningfully into this complex conversation with so many challenging issues circling around us all.

At a time when many people are in lock down again, I had the pleasure of visiting the UNE SMART Farm to join the NSW Police Commissioner and his colleagues; the NSW Police force are partnering with the Centre of Rural Criminology in HASSE to develop new protocols for the monitoring and management of agri-animal theft which contributes to over $60M per annum of lost revenue from the local economy.
This week marked the third anniversary of the publication of the Change the Course report from the Australian Human Rights Commission. This week, in recognition of the impact of that landmark report on the university sector and the issues it highlighted at UNE, we have given public voice to the work that has been done by so many to promote safety for all, address poor and unacceptable behaviours in the context sexual harassment and sexual assault, and developing practices and policies supported by a range of education and development tools to ensure that UNE supports a respectful, safe and caring community. Please visit the Respect.Now.Always webpage for further information and enjoy the below video snapshot.
I know that I am lucky to be planning a walk in the rain and some time in the New England wilderness this weekend when so many are yet again constrained. I think I can only call out my personal support, confirm my commitment to practices which support the health and safety of all and lean in to provide help to those in need. Each of us has a choice; these are mine.

Professor Brigid Heywood

Vice-Chancellor & CEO