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Curtin University
Note to staff

8 March 2016


Opening of Curtin University, St Georges Terrace

The highlight for me last week was the opening of our new premises on St Georges Terrace.  The distinctive gothic style building formerly housed the Old Perth Boys’ School and Perth Technical College – a predecessor to the Western Australian Institute of Technology.

Curtin University, St Georges Terrace will be a showcase for the University, giving us a very visible presence in the city.  I look forward to seeing staff using this beautiful building for a variety of purposes including lectures, meetings, exhibitions and functions.  The new premises will allow us to strengthen our links with our industry and business partners, and will also provide a CBD location for prospective students and alumni to connect or reconnect with the University.

The Honourable Peter Collier MLC, the Minister for Education, officially opened Curtin University, St Georges Terrace.  Max Kay (President National Trust, WA) also spoke at the event and his and my speeches can be found here:

I would like to acknowledge and thank Curtin’s Properties, Facilities and Development and Corporate Relations teams for their contributions to this project.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, Minister Peter Collier, myself and National Trust President Max Kay at the Curtin University St Georges Tce opening.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, Minister Peter Collier, myself and National Trust President Max Kay at the Curtin University St Georges Tce opening.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a day that acknowledges and celebrates women’s achievements throughout history and across nations.  It is also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.  This year’s campaign theme is #PledgeForParity.

To mark this significant day, Curtin will be hosting a special breakfast event this Friday.  There are a limited number of places still available, and I encourage you to attend if you can.  For more information about the event, please visit the Staff News page or email to reserve your seat.

Eduniversal rankings

Further to my recent note on Curtin Business School’s Eduniversal rankings, I would like to acknowledge the high rankings of two other Curtin degrees:

  • the Master of Science (Mineral and Energy Economics) was ranked 6th in Oceania.
  • the full time Master of Business Administration was ranked 7th in Oceania.

Congratulations to the staff involved in achieving these excellent results.

Public holidays at Curtin

As you know, Curtin works on three public holidays because they may fall during the teaching periods.

Given that it was WA’s Labour Day public holiday yesterday, it is timely to consider whether our current practice of working on public holidays remains an appropriate approach for Curtin.  When we do work a public holiday, we typically receive negative feedback around the following themes:

  • working on public holidays is not a family friendly approach and restricts the capacity of both staff and students to participate in family activities and public holiday festivities and events
  • public transport reverts to a Sunday timetable which makes commuting to Curtin difficult for both staff and students
  • the availability of childcare on public holidays is limited
  • many staff and students choose not to attend campus on public holidays
  • universities in other states operate without the need to work on public holidays.

In response to this ongoing feedback and the fact that the next two 2016 WA public holidays (6 June and 26 September) do not fall during teaching periods,  we intend to observe these two public holidays with the normal public holiday skeleton staffing arrangements applying.  As a consequence, only one day will be accruable as leave in lieu at the end of the year.

If you have concerns with the proposed arrangements for the 6 June and 26 September public holidays, please don’t hesitate to let Ian Jackson (Director, People and Culture) know as soon as possible.

More broadly, we are currently looking at how we can manage our academic requirements for public holidays that do occur during teaching periods, so that in the future all Western Australian public holidays can be observed by Curtin staff.

UniForum Data collection – One week to go

There is only one week remaining for the data collection UniForum.  For the Staff survey, it is pleasing to see that 67 per cent of survey respondents have now logged into UFAST.  For the Contractor collection, only 26 per cent of respondents have logged into UFAST to begin coding.

If you haven’t already done so, please ensure that you enter the Contractor Collection and Code Data, similar to the Staff Collection.  The Contractor login will appear below the Staff login when you enter UFAST.  Once you have completed both collections for Staff and Contractor data, please click ‘Submit Collection’.

The UFAST link is: Login To UFAST

I encourage all respondents to enter their survey allocations into UFAST for both the Staff and Contractor data. All submissions need to be completed by 11 March. If you have any questions, please email

Vale Peter Curran

It is with sadness I advise of Dr Peter Curran’s passing after a courageous battle with cancer. He was a young, gifted researcher who will be much missed by all at Curtin’s Institute of Radio Astronomy (CIRA) and colleagues in the astronomy community.

Peter joined CIRA in mid 2012 having completed his PhD at the University of Amsterdam.

In 2015 he was awarded a prestigious Senior Curtin University Fellowship and had been developing a truly outstanding profile in the field of accretion physics working with Dr James Miller-Jones and his team. Peter had received University recognition for publications in both Nature and Science (the most recent during 2014).

Peter was committed to mentoring students and was also the inaugural chair of CIRA’s development committee; he served with such passion and commitment that its earliest initiatives led to CIRA receiving a Bronze Pleiades award.

Given Peter’s commitment to the development of radio astronomy research, the University will be providing a Peter Curran Memorial Fellowship for Radio Astronomy Research in memory of his work.

Our thoughts are with Peter’s family, in particular our ICRAR colleague and Peter’s partner, Dr Anna Kapinska at this time.

Points of interest

At last week’s Senior Executive Team meeting, Marco Schultheis (Chief Strategy Officer) and his colleagues, Madiha Bux and Leah Dowsett, outlined a revised approach to Curtin’s Strategic Planning Framework.  This new framework will guide the development of our 2017-2020 Strategic Plan.  I look forward to engaging broadly as we develop the new Plan.

Paul Nicholls (Director, Strategic Projects) also provided an update on the Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre.  The Centre officially opened on 14 December 2015 and over 40 meetings have since been held with industry and a wide range of partnerships and projects are under discussion.  If you have any questions about the Centre, I am sure that Paul would be happy to hear from you.

  1. Mattie Turnbull March 8, 2016 3:18pm

    Perhaps in years to come, an International Women’s Day will be redundant because women will enjoy equality, dignity and respect as a matter of course.

    • Sahra Abdi March 8, 2016 3:48pm

      why make it redundant though? We can still celebrate the achievements, amazing work of women and how far we have come.

      • Nick Fisher March 9, 2016 9:20am

        Hey Sahra!

        I agree – and I’d add that achieving ‘equality’ is not a matter of ticking a certain set of boxes and then saying ‘job done’. It’s complex and dynamic and requires the maintenance of a critical approach to gender relations. It’d be good to keep International Women’s Day even once we achieve ‘equality’ just to remind us to keep working and not let us slide back into disparity.

  2. Susan Panyachai March 8, 2016 4:30pm

    Just wondering what the statistics are regarding the negative feedback in relation to working on public holidays?
    For example, was there a formal survey conducted? If so, how many people were involved? When was the survey/consultation completed? What percentage of the staff are experiencing these issues, and what percentage are not? Are the issues experienced more prominent in certain areas and less in others?

    What is the impact of working on public holidays versus not working on public holidays on the different areas, and how big is the impact on the workload and operations?

    Has there been any feedback on the positives of working on a public holiday? What areas are more likely to work on public holidays as it is more convenient to the area’s workload and operations?

    On the other end, how does this affect staff leave over the Christmas period? Are we reverting to a 7 working day shut-down period with 1 extra day of leave accrued in lieu, so a total of 8 days available to staff?

  3. Greg Gamble March 9, 2016 3:04am

    I have no problem with working on public holidays. The 12-week semester arrangement we have is very short. When we lose days, typically due to Good Friday and Anzac Day (up until now, it
    has been just these days), it’s hugely disruptive to lecture
    schedules. I have suggested to various people over the years that one of the weeks should be split to avoid the problem at Easter
    … Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of one week, and Thursday, Friday of the next week. This was a practice at one of the universities
    I used to work at. It’s annoying and difficult to try and organise one-off replacement lectures/tutorials/workshops through timetabling, and they are not well-attended.
    I think the students pay quite enough for each unit, and should be able to expect the full complement of hours they pay for.

  4. Andy Sharp March 9, 2016 8:07am

    Fantastic news. Now I can have public holidays with my family throughout the year without feeling like a social pariah. So many amazing changes happening at Curtin bringing our workplace into the current century. Clearly we need to be agile and changing the way we work is surely part of that mix. Well done to the VC for wanting to make us competitive and long lasting in a very uncertain world.

  5. Milo Barham March 9, 2016 8:51am

    Although I am sometimes a little tired of missing out on social activities on the three-day weekends many WA folk enjoy, and can see how this would cause disruption to family life for many, I would be very hesitant to change the system completely until a more comprehensive analysis of the data were undertaken.
    The fact that these days are given at Christmas enables many to spend more time with friends and family than they may otherwise be able to do easily (especially inter-state or overseas).
    Significantly though, I’d like to echo the comments made previously in terms of the disruption already faced each year due to teaching schedule losses from university holidays in the teaching weeks. This would be especially problematic for units with large student numbers and repeat classes on different days, and which are taught across international campuses (with different public holidays and timetables). The potential for teaching to get completely out of sync and the loss of important student interactions are worrying.

  6. Nick Fisher March 9, 2016 9:35am

    I personally don’t mind working the public holidays – it allows me to choose to take a long weekend when it’s convenient for me, and when the usual activities won’t be expensive and crowded.

    However, I don’t have a family and my partner is a sessional academic so it’s a fairly limited set of circumstances that makes this work for me.

  7. Tony Snow March 9, 2016 9:47am

    Public Holiday Reversal
    Are we returning back to the good old days of management by decree without any consultation with staff. There has been no consultation with Curtin NTEU and no consultation with any staff that I am aware of on the matter. In addition there is no explanation of how the official shutdown will be handled for this particular year. I am assuming the University will advise us of the dates of the 7 day official shutdown eventually. While working the three public holidays has always been a tough ask for all staff it was done for the best interests of students. We seemed to have forgotten this in this decision.
    Tony Snow – Curtin NTEU President

  8. Solina Sapsford March 9, 2016 9:58am

    I too would be interested in the statistics regarding negative feedback.

    The 3 public holidays worked is a small sacrifice for the 2 weeks we get over Christmas. Plus, traffic is lighter, there are more carparks and the coffee line is much shorter working public holidays.

  9. Tony Brown March 9, 2016 10:23am

    I note that the VC’s Note to Staff says re the public holidays: “If you have concerns with the proposed arrangements for the 6 June and 26 September public holidays, please don’t hesitate to let Ian Jackson (Director, People and Culture) know as soon as possible.”

  10. Anna Heitz March 9, 2016 11:25am

    Curtin University at the old Perth Tech site in St Georges Terrace will have special meaning for my husband, Bob Alexander, who started what turned out to be a distinguished career in chemistry at that site. He is now a Curtin Emeritus Professor but has fond memories of his times at Perth Tech/WAIT/Curtin University of Technology and now Curtin University. How quickly times move on. It’s a great priviledge to have been part of this evolution of Curtin University.

  11. Ian Jackson March 11, 2016 1:39pm

    I have received a variety of messages commenting on the intention for Curtin to observe the June and September 2016 public holidays and the VC announcement that “we are looking at how we can manage our academic requirements for public holidays that do occur during teaching periods”.

    The proposed changes to observe these two public holidays reflect more closely the standards of the communities we serve and the industries we impact. There are however some staff where working the public holidays suits their personal circumstances.

    Working on public holidays that fall within teaching periods is not a common occurrence across Australia but it was established at Curtin to minimise disruption to the academic timetables. The June and September public holidays do not fall in teaching periods so the original objective of not observing the public holidays isn’t applicable for these holidays in 2016 (that is not necessarily the case in future years and observed holidays could potentially change from year to year). For 2016 observing these public holidays should not disrupt or have any significant effect on academic timetables for staff or students.

    Conversely, observing public holidays during teaching periods would result in a significant impact to academic timetables and will require considerable discussion across Curtin. As the VC notes, the process to consider this has commenced and staff can expect to be engaged in the conversation over the next few months. No changes will be made before that process is complete. This is consistent with the VC’s approach to engage staff in decisions that have a significant impact on Curtin operations.

    The dates and duration of the end of year closedown for 2016-17 were provided to you in November last year and remain unchanged, the only impact is the number of days in lieu for public holidays that can be taken during 2016.

    If you would like to attach additional time off to the end of year closedown period, beyond your day in lieu for 7 March, and you will have exhausted all your annual and any long service leave then I would strongly encourage your immediate line manager to reach an agreement with you at a local level as to how that time off can still be achieved. The proposed changes are certainly not intended to, nor should they prevent anyone spending an extended period of time with family or friends around the end of year close down period should you choose to do so.

    Given our values, our ambitions as a University and the rapidly changing external setting, we remain committed to engaging in appropriate consultation processes to determine how best to manage changes of a more substantive or permanent nature, and as such the views that I have already received will be fed into any future consultation processes for change of such a nature.

  12. Jean-Marc Jaquier March 14, 2016 8:29am

    Re: 3 State Public Holidays, I must say this “social pariah” enjoys working on these days and has only positive things to say about it. No traffic congestion, a more relaxed atmosphere on campus and knowing I’ll get extra days off at Christmas to be with family and friends, either here or overseas. Yes, working the 3 Public Holidays does suit me.
    It should also be noted that Clause 51.4 in Enterprise Agreement 2012-2016 states “a Staff Member will be required, unless otherwise agreed by their Line Manager, to work…”, and I’m yet to see a variation to the Agreement saying otherwise. Therefore, for the next State Public Holiday and all to follow, until such time as a variation to Clause 51.4 or a new Enterprise Agreement is approved, “a Staff Member will be required, unless otherwise agreed by their Line Manager, to work…”.
    We’re constantly reminded of Curtin Values and I can’t think of a more excellent way to have a positive impact by having the courage and integrity to respect Curtin Staff’s employment conditions.

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