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Curtin University
Note to staff

21 September 2015


Changes in Federal Cabinet

Yesterday Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Senator Simon Birmingham will be the new Minister for Education and Training. Senator Birmingham was previously Assistant Minister for Education and Training and so comes into his new role with a good understanding of the broad tertiary sector.

Former Education Minister Christopher Pyne will now take on the important portfolio of Industry, Innovation and Science. A full listing of the new Cabinet is available online.

We welcome the Prime Minister’s understanding of the importance of Australia being an agile, innovative and creative country, an approach very much shared by Curtin and articulated in our strategic plan.

The Senior Executive Team and I look forward to working constructively with Ministers Birmingham and Pyne, and all members of the Federal Government, on the challenges and opportunities facing higher education and Australia.

Curtin Commercial Innovation Awards

A 3D printable hand exoskeleton was the overall winner of the $15,000 prize at the Curtin Commercial Innovation Awards announced on Friday.

The Assisted Finger Orthosis project was developed by mechanical engineering researcher Dr Lei Cui, mechatronics engineering student Anthony Phan, Professor Garry Allison, clinical/professional fellow David Parsons, and Professor Stelarc from the Alternate Anatomies Laboratory at Curtin. The winners receive $15,000 and valuable commercialisation assistance.

Runner-up prizes of $5000 each were awarded to the following innovators:

  • Innovation in Business: Rate My Space – Dr Vanessa Rauland and Dr Samantha Hall
  • Innovation in Health Sciences: Protein Recovery from Whey – Dr Tuna Dincer, Dr Corinne Vallet and Professor Vijay Jayasena
  • Innovation in Education: Knowledge Unlatched – Associate Professor Lucy Montgomery and Frances Pinter
  • Innovation in Science and Engineering (also received $2000 consulting services from Proxima Consulting for Business): Top Dump: Mine Waste Management Optimisation – Professor Erkan Topal, Yu Li and Zhao Fu.

The Awards were established in 2007 to celebrate the commercialisation successes of Curtin staff and students and the competition is now a focal point of the innovation calendar in Western Australia. This year’s competition attracted a record 46 applications from across the University.

I would like to congratulate all those recognised in the awards.

With the Assisted Finger Orthosis project team: David Parsons, Professor Garry Allison, Anthony Phan and Professor Lei Cui

With the winning Assisted Finger Orthosis project team: David Parsons, Professor Garry Allison, Anthony Phan and Professor Lei Cui

Curtin moves ahead in the prestigious World University Rankings

I am delighted to advise that the University has improved in the QS World University Rankings (QSWUR), rising from 331 last year to equal 284 in the world.

This progress is largely attributed to the University’s enhanced research, engagement and educational performance and its improved international reputation.

Faculty areas also performed strongly with Natural Sciences rising to 158 in the world, jumping 159 places; Social Sciences and Management are now positioned at 161, an increase of 54 places; Engineering and Technology are ranked 173; and Life Sciences and Medicine placed at 347. Arts and Humanities declined 4 places to rank 283 in the world.

You can read more about Curtin’s position in the QS rankings, as well as a range of other ranking schemes, on the Strategy and Planning website.

Carrolup exhibition opening in Katanning

On Friday I travelled to Katanning with many of my senior executive colleagues for the opening of an exhibition of selected works from The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artwork, coordinated by the John Curtin Gallery. The pieces were created by children of the Stolen Generations at the Carrolup Native Settlement in the 1940s and 1950s. The Settlement was founded in 1915. It was, therefore, very meaningful for the artworks to be returned to the area in which they were created as we reflect on the centenary of the establishment of the mission.

The following morning we travelled to the settlement itself, accompanied by Curtin’s Elder-in-Residence Associate Professor Simon Forrest and Associate Director of the John Curtin Gallery, Chris Malcolm. A number of people who had lived at the Settlement as children were also present, and it was particularly moving to hear of their experiences while touring the site with them.

I know a great deal of work went into organising these events and would like to thank all those involved.

Senior Executive Team members then travelled to Gnalang Boodjar in Collie and the Roelands Mission for a Nyoongar Cultural Immersion session led by Associate Professor Simon Forrest.


With Jim Morrison, National Stolen Generations Alliance; Terry Waldron MLA; Gary Ryder, Curtin Elders Reference Group; Chris Malcolm, A/Director John Curtin Gallery; A/Professor Simon Forrest, Elder in Residence; Bill Bennell, Curtin Elders Reference Group.

With Jim Morrison, National Stolen Generations Alliance; Terry Waldron MLA; Gary Ryder, Curtin Elders Reference Group; Chris Malcolm, A/Director John Curtin Gallery; A/Professor Simon Forrest, Elder-in-Residence; Bill Bennell, Curtin Elders Reference Group.

Staff achievement

Congratulations to Professor Anna Haebich of the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts on being selected for inclusion in the Australian Academy of Humanities’ first booklet to promote Humanities research in this country. Twenty researchers nationally, and only two from WA, are included.

The booklet, entitled ‘The Power of the Humanities: 20 case studies from leading Australian researchers’ was launched by the then Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne, at Parliament House on Thursday 17 September.

Religious festivals

Yom Kippur begins on 22 September at sundown and is the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is observed with fasting and repentance, and many Jews will refrain from work and attend synagogue services. It is followed by Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles, 27-29 September, an agricultural festival that was originally a thanksgiving for the fruit harvest.

The Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha (the Feast of Sacrifice) also begins at sundown on 22 September, after the completion of the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, and concludes the following day. It commemorates the Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham) complete submission to the will of God when asked to sacrifice his only son, with his unwavering faith ultimately rewarded by being given a sheep to sacrifice instead.

I would like to wish all members of the Curtin community participating in these festivals a happy celebration.

  1. Julianne Reid September 21, 2015 6:40pm

    As a relative newcomer to Curtin University, I am so impressed by our rise in the rankings over the past few years (both ARWU and QSWUR). The improvement is amazing, and while rankings aren’t everything, they certainly make a difference to our reputation and standing. I’m sure this is the result of many years of hard work and effort by many staff, so congratulations to all.

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