Southern Cross Matters

"Southern Cross Matters is designed to help us stay in touch with key developments and our achievements as a University community."

Tyrone Carlin
Vice-Chancellor, Southern Cross University

Southern Cross Matters
Professor Tyrone Carlin
Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice-Chancellor and President

From the Vice-Chancellor

This year has had the paradoxical character of feeling very long, but passing very quickly. I am finding it scarcely believable that the summer months have arrived and that we will very soon wind down our work for 2021 to enjoy our very well-earned extended Christmas closedown period.

I think it has been a genuine accomplishment that in such a challenging period of time, we have managed both to focus on getting done the things necessary to sustain the immediate needs of our students and our research programs and to step back from this and reflect on how we will do things better together in future.

As a consequence, there is very strong and gathering momentum around a series of ambitious agendas that are already bearing much fruit and that will be transformative for Southern Cross University in coming years.

A core part of our mission is to serve others. This is deep in our institutional psyche. We look to support the growth and development of our students to maximise their potential and their capacity to positively impact society, just as we constantly seek to discover and unlock the potential of new knowledge. We intend this work to be of direct and enduring benefit to our regions, and understand that part of that impact flows from our role as an institution with deep global connections.

This is what makes our work on the Southern Cross Model and the formation of our Research Impact Clusters so significant. Both are transformational – because they were both conceived of not by looking inwards but rather by asking what our students, communities and partner enterprises most needed, and how we could do more to support the realisation of those needs.

I struggle to think of a single part of the University that is not in some meaningful way involved in preparing us for the step change in the scale of our roll out of the Southern Cross Model in 2022. We are all enjoined in this work – and we should remember why we are doing it.

We are doing it not because of a league table or for bragging rights or just for the sake of being different. We are doing it because we deeply believe it will be better for our students. Better for their confidence. Better for their engagement. Better for the depth of their learning. Better for their intellectual development and achievement and better for their success. Better for them, better for our regions and thereby better for us.

We can reflect in similar terms on our research impact clusters. These will enable us to break down traditional discipline based siloes to rally together in partnership with enterprises and communities to invest our research resources and expertise in the development of solutions that matter – to our environment, the fabric and health of our communities, the education of our children and the vigour of our enterprises.

By focusing on the needs of those we serve, we step closer to being the University we aspire to be. All of us are part of that and I think this is one of the reasons why a sense of pride runs so deep through the University community as a whole.

I believe we have made great strides together during 2021. This is a testament to the dedication, perseverance and passion that are so much a part of our character as a University community and should give us all great encouragement in relation to what we can achieve next year and beyond.

I express my sincere thanks to each of you and hope that the Christmas break is refreshing, restorative and joyful.

Professor Tyrone M Carlin
Vice Chancellor and President

Virtual Clinic initiative
Face-to-face consultations for Naturopathic Medicine students

How real team work creates virtual learning

In the world of teaching and learning at Southern Cross, a virtual clinic is one of new initiatives that has arisen out of response to the impacts of the pandemic.

A Creative Teaching and Learning (CTL) team has collaborated to develop a platform as an alternative to face-to-face consultations for Naturopathic Medicine students.

The virtual production simulates practitioner and patient interactions for diverse scenarios. 

“We wanted to enrich the student experience, and enhance their learning rather than forcing material on to them, to ensure the experience was engaging and meaningful. The focus was on students who are already qualified clinicians looking to advance their practice,” according to Associate Professor Matthew Leach, Deputy Director, Education, National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM).

The team originally intended to rent premises in Lismore and set it up as a production studio but COVID put pay to that. So, with some creative thinking, the team came up with the idea of Telehealth interactive teaching.

“The general feedback from students and the workforce more broadly, was that they weren’t prepared or skilled to conduct Telehealth consultations. The idea was to embed this experience into our teaching so that it had real-world application.”

Here’s how it all came together.

Matthew Leach conceived the Virtual Clinic initiative, and played the role of project manager, content expert, script writer and clinician actor.

Julian Smith, Digital Technologist with CTL, joined the project as a technical consultant and developer and ended up performing as one of the patient characters. (aka Patrick)

Robert Loudon contributed to the educational design of the interactives and their integration into the respective Unit learning content. He created the first story board.

Amadeus Bell-Todd, Digital Technologist with CTL, facilitated recording the zoom performances and edited the recordings into sections to be embedded into the interactive video template.

The idea was to bring theory and practice closer together in an authentic way, so that students can develop their clinical reasoning, situational awareness, communication and clinical assessment skills in a safe space, in their own time and without fear of judgement.

According to Robert creating the scenarios and scripting allowed Amadeus to edit it together and provide a video on H5P (HTML5 Package) that is plugged into and accessed on Blackboard.

The Virtual Clinic concept began a year ago with the Telehealth aspect being developed from July. The team believes it has the potential to be integrated into other programs across the university.

Matthew maintains, “Southern Cross is invested in the region. The Virtual Clinic initiative enables us to prepare clinicians to more effectively meet the needs of the regional community.”

Professor Gillian Gould
Professor Gillian Gould

A lifeline to help pregnant indigenous women to quit smoking

Professor Gillian Gould is on a mission to prevent a system failure that leads to the damaging and sometimes life-threatening effects of nicotine and tobacco on unborn babies.

Alarmingly, 43 percent of pregnant Indigenous women smoke, compared with just 12 percent of the national population.

Gillian joined Southern Cross University in August, lives in Coffs Harbour and brings with her a wealth of experience. Put together the skills of a practising GP, a highly qualified researcher, throw in an Arts Degree, and 15 years’ experience collaborating with Aboriginal services and you’ve got the wherewithal to help pregnant women give up cigarettes.

“Smoking affects an entire life span, from the womb right through to adulthood,” Gillian says.

“Aboriginal women want to do the best by their children, but they are just not getting enough support to quit smoking. They experience multiple levels of complexity and disadvantage. What we are trying to do is build system and individual levels of support, so women are empowered to quit and give their babies the best start in life.”

She currently leads a team of 11 staff and students and has just finished a national randomised control trial to determine more effective strategies to help pregnant women quit.

Most of her funding comes from the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease and National Health and Medical Research Council. The approach was originally developed under a pilot study in 2016, then developed with a Randomised Controlled Trial (GACD Lung Diseases grant), and the $3.9m grant from the Department of Health to implement the training.

A new $1.8m grant comes into effect in in February 2022 which will allow her to broaden a multi-component smoking cessation intervention called iSISTAQUIT.

Gillian explains, “iSISTAQUIT” is based on an ABCD approach.”

“A is for ask and assess, B for brief advice, C for cessation support and D for discuss psycho-social contacts.”

So why Southern Cross?

“It’s best to be aligned with a university that’s got the understanding of the regions and we can do the research as well as those in the big cities. After all, this research work focuses on regional and remote communities.”

As well as her work with Southern Cross, Gillian provides vital GP support for Coffs Harbour’s on-campus Refugee Health Clinic, formed in 2006 to improve the quality of life for each refugee starting a new life on the North Coast.

Supporting the Northern Rivers local food industry
Supporting the Northern Rivers local food industry

An appetite for resilience

It’s a collaboration that harnesses the strengths of both Southern Cross University and Northern Rivers Food in terms of understanding the unique challenges faced by the local food and beverage sector, industry experience and expert academic insights.

 It’s called Business Bites, funded by Investment NSW, is a suite of educational resources designed to help producers, sellers and operators overcome some of the specific issues that have impacted them as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to build a resilient and prosperous sector on the North Coast into the future.

“In partnership with the Northern Rivers Food and the NSW Government, Southern Cross University welcomes the opportunity to support local businesses owners to continue to grow and innovate as they navigate what has been a tumultuous operating environment,” According to Vice President (Engagement) Ben Roche.

 The resources are being produced with guidance from local industry and academics from the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts and are aimed at food and beverage businesses at different stages of growth in key identified areas.

To find out more contact: [email protected]

Surface of the Moon with planet Earth in distance
Surface of the Moon

Over the Moon about a Conversation milestone

Dr John Grant has every reason to celebrate.  His recent article about the Moon’s surface was the most read item at The Conversation publication between 8-14 November.

The Moon’s top layer alone has enough oxygen to sustain 8 billion people for 100,000 years has had 860,235 reads to date with two-thirds of readers from the US.

The article has been republished by media outlets around the world including Science Alert, IFL Science, and Space Daily. The article has also been a hit on social media. It was shared to Facebook from our website 5,800 times, and our Facebook post featuring the article has 71,974 impressions.

Brendon Nelson
Vice-President (Students) and Registrar, Brendan Nelson

New Vice President shares our purpose

The new Vice-President (Students) and Registrar, Brendan Nelson, barely has his feet under his Lismore desk and yet has a shared vision for Southern Cross.

Literally only days into taking over a modified portfolio from Professor Nan Bahr, who has retired, he’s excited by what lies ahead.

 “Large Universities tend to have a siloed view of the student experience and when they are working across a number of faculties it can be very disjointed and disruptive,” says the new VP who arrives at Southern Cross from a strong career with University of Sydney and before that, University of Technology Sydney.

“What I’m experiencing already, is a really shared sense of purpose and vision with the student at the centre and a sense of pulling in the same direction.”

Brendon believes he’s joined a University that’s more connected to its sense of geography and its teaching and researching in areas that have relevance to its communities and its location.

So, what will the student experience be coming out of COVID and online teaching?

“For undergraduate students there’s a lot about campus life and all that ancillary activity, like sporting clubs, hanging around the library and networking. A fully rounded university experience is not just about the educational outcomes. It’s also about the relationships that you build and we can do those remotely but the question is, can we do them as well.”

Brendon is a huge fan of the New Southern Cross Model and he’s looking forward to being a part of its further implementation.  

“There’s a whole rewiring of all the processes and time lines that sit underneath that, and we’re on quite a tight time frame so there are many immediate and tactical things we need to resolve in that space.”

Within that, he’s keen to make sure staff are using their expertise in the most valuable way.

“In five years I hope we’d be able to look at what we’re doing and be able to demonstrate that we’re hitting key targets that are very student centric.”

Jack Williamson
Vice President (Strategy and Implementation), Jack Williamson

Global roads lead back to Northern Rivers

The new Vice President (Strategy and Implementation) Jack Williamson brings a truly global view born from regional roots.

Jack takes on the new role designed to boost the University’s capabilities around strategy formulation and execution and transformational change; matters he is very familiar with.

He arrives at our Lismore campus from global consultancy firm, Bain and Company, whom he worked with in London and Sydney, dealing with significant national and international clients. Bain operates in 38 countries, specialising in change management.

Prior to that he completed his MBA with London Business School, while also working with the Bank of England.

Before that he worked with BHP Billiton as a production supervisor, utilising his engineering qualifications gained at both University of Wollongong and University of Newcastle.

“I have worked (at Bain and Co) with key international telcos, consumer and finance companies. Bain deals at a very high level with executive teams,” Jack said.

“I could have easily stayed with Bain and been set for life, but I’m pretty excited to be here.”

So, what will the student experience be coming out of COVID and online teaching?

Jack went to school in the Northern Rivers and wanted to return with his wife and one-year old daughter and couldn’t pass up the opportunity of taking on this new role. 

His mission is to drive and implement what the University wants to be and look like in the coming years.  His experience allows him to appreciate how really hard it is for regional graduates to be able to find a pathway to specialised professions. 

 “I feel a little bit blessed that I’ve come in when I have because I know it’s been a pretty tough year for the university with a lot of the changes being made. But hopefully the coming year will be a bit more growth-focused. If you make an improvement here you really are helping the local community.”

Welcome to the team

Bill Key,
Marketing Manager, Office of Engagement

Mark Try, 
Project Manager, Office of the PVC

Aaron Averay,
Advancement Manger, Office of Engagement

Eric Brymer,
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health

Belinda Barton,
Lecturer, Faculty of Health