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Curtin University
Note to staff

13 December 2016


We were deeply saddened to learn that two of our international students studying at the Miri Campus have lost their lives in a tragic boating mishap at the Loagan Bunut National Park on Sunday evening. Our thoughts are with their families, their fellow students and the Miri staff during this difficult time. Another four students and the boat charter staff are reported to be safe.

University staff were dispatched to the location early yesterday to assist the victims and authorities. Support is being offered to Miri students and staff. For anyone affected by this tragedy, please contact the counselling service at Bentley on 9266 7850.

Opening of agriculture research facility (Building 304)

On 7 December I attended the opening of building 304, Curtin’s new $46 million agriculture research facility. Opened by Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food, The Honourable Mark Lewis, the facility will be pivotal in helping the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) reach its goal of reducing the $1.5 billion annual impact of crop disease on the agricultural Australian sector.

The Centre is co-supported by the Grains Research Development Corporation. With three storeys of specially designed laboratory space, CCDM researchers will now be able to make an even greater difference to the agriculture industry through their work in areas including crop genetics, fungicide resistance and farming systems.

I encourage all staff to pay a visit to this impressive new building.

With John Noonan of the School of Science, the Hon Mark Lewis MLC (Minister for Agriculture and Food), Chancellor Colin Beckett, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Chris Moran.

With John Noonan of the School of Science, the Hon Mark Lewis MLC (Minister for Agriculture and Food), Chancellor Colin Beckett, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Chris Moran.

West Tech Fest

The week long Curtin backed West Tech Fest was the number two trending topic on twitter Australia-wide last Thursday. The annual festival is a catalyst for around 40 events for Western Australia’s start-up and technology community and attracts technology leaders and investors from the United States, Europe, Asia and from around Australia.

The OzAPP Awards, a Curtin initiative, are part of the Festival and are the nation’s biggest technology development competition. The awards seek out the best early stage start-ups with mobile, web and cloud app concepts in the Asia Pacific region.  You can read more about the awards here.

Another highlight of this year’s West Tech Fest was the Australia 2.0 Hackathon. The Hackathon involved Australian survivors of terrorism, former members of extremist/hate groups, youth activists and technology experts coming  together to design communication campaigns that undermine the pervasive rise in online hate speech. Supported by Curtin and the US Department of State, the event was run by Lighthouse Group and headed by 2017 WA Young Australian of the Year, Abdullahi Alim.  Information about the winning campaign can be found here.

Staff expertise recognised

Congratulations to three outstanding Curtin researchers who were recognised at the Health Sciences 2016 Faculty Research Awards on 30 November. The Awards, which recognise impressive achievements in their field leading to research excellence, were won by:

  • Lifetime Achievement – Professor Garry Allison
  • Researcher of the Year – Professor Peter O’Sullivan
  • Early Career Researcher of the Year – Associate Professor Richard Norman

Congratulations also to Dr Evelyne Deplazes (NH&MRC Early Career Fellow) who received the Young Biophysicist of the Year Award from the Australian Society for Biophysics during this week’s annual meeting of the Society.

This is very significant achievement for Evelyne and indeed for Curtin, giving renewed prominence to our research efforts in computational biophysics and biomolecular modelling.

Professor Christopher Reid, Professor Torbjorn Falkmer, Professor Jaya Dantas, Professor Peter O’Sullivan, Associate Professor Richard Norman, Professor Lorna Rosenwax

Professor Christopher Reid, Professor Torbjorn Falkmer, Professor Jaya Dantas, Professor Peter O’Sullivan, Associate Professor Richard Norman, Professor Lorna Rosenwax.

Employer of Choice for Gender Equality

Curtin has been named as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) for the third year in a row. Curtin is one of more than 100 organisations in Australia to be awarded the title. The University has held WGEA’s predecessor citation, the Employer of Choice for Women citation, since 2002. The Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation is deigned to help address the structural and cultural barriers that prevent women and men from equally participating at all levels of an organisation. It recognises Curtin’s continued focus and commitment to achieving gender equality in the workplace. You can read more about the citation here.

Video of VC Forum

Thank you to all staff who attended or tuned in online to the Vice-Chancellor’s Forum on 6 December. It was well attended with a full house at Elizabeth Jolley Lecture Theatre. The Forum was recorded and the video can be viewed online.

Staff enjoying a light lunch at the VC Forum.

Staff enjoying a light lunch at the VC Forum.

Changes in the Corporate Relations portfolio

In order to provide more resources to the area of Advancement, which is of key strategic importance to the University, the Corporate Relations portfolio has undergone some changes. Specifically, the current Stakeholder Relations Advisors in External Relations will be taking on faculty-based roles within the Advancement team to give much needed support to this area. Jane Coole will move into the position of Director, Regional Engagement, a key strategic initiative for the University and important to our profile in the resources and agriculture sectors. Evan Nicholas will continue as Director Strategic Engagement, retaining a strong focus on our engagement in the CBD.

I would like to acknowledge the External Relations team’s work on engagement and corporate partnerships over the last ten years. I would also like to congratulate Angela Bowman, who has been confirmed as Director Advancement, and Celia Hurley, who will take on the role of Director of Alumni and Advancement Services.

In an unrelated change, the Integrity and Standards Unit will move from Corporate Relations to Corporate Services from January 2017.

50 years of innovation – share your WAIT or Curtin story

You may have noticed that the 50 years of innovation social media campaign started last week, with posts across our main channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We have already had a very positive response and some lovely stories have been received from current and former staff, alumni and students, which have been uploaded to the anniversary website. This anniversary offers a great opportunity to showcase our achievements and contributions to the community over the past five decades, as well as to broaden our engagement with our alumni and our industry partners.

The stories we have gathered so far show how warmly the University is regarded by members of our global community.  I encourage you to visit the website, to share your own story and encourage family and friends with a WAIT/Curtin connection to also share their stories.

Staff invitation to attend February graduation ceremonies

Staff are invited and encouraged to attend the forthcoming Curtin graduation ceremonies to be held at The Forum at our Bentley campus. Your participation at these special events is greatly appreciated and significantly enhances the experience for our graduates and their family and friends. Ceremony dates and times can be viewed online. The form to register to attend a ceremony will open on 15 December 2016 and close 6 January 2017.

Congratulations to staff members who are graduating. You must also complete student registration via OASIS. Registering using the staff web form will entitle you to one extra ticket.

Christmas and the holiday season

For those of the Christian faith, Christmas is a significant time and I hope that you have a happy and meaningful festive season.  Curtin Stadium will be lit with green and red lights until Christmas Day to mark this time.

The University will close down from 23 December, reopening on 3 January and many staff are also taking extended leave.  I would like to wish you all a relaxing and safe holiday, and thank you for your work and commitment to the University.  Curtin has had an excellent year, thanks to the wonderful contribution of all members of staff.


Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates the recapture and rededication of the Jerusalem Temple.  It lasts for eight days and nights and each night an additional candle is lit. To mark the Hanukkah, Curtin Stadium will be lit in blue and white from 24 December to 1 January, with an additional white stripe being added to one wall each night to symbolise an additional candle on the Menorah. I wish all those in the Curtin community who are celebrating this festival a Happy Hanukkah.

  1. Justine Platel December 14, 2016 3:36pm

    I’m excited to see the lights on the 24th & 25th December at Curtin Stadium. Both Red & Green lights for Christmas PLUS White & Blue lights for Hanukkah. How pretty!!

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