Southern Cross Matters
From the Vice-Chancellor
An important component of this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters is a reflection on the graduation ceremonies that occurred this past week at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre. I will do my best not to repeat that material in my own comments, but given the significance of these events in the life of our University, particularly after all of the disruptions associated with COVID, it would seem strange if I did not venture my own perspective.
As I do so, I want to particularly acknowledge and thank the many dozens of staff from across the University who supported and attended the ceremonies. I was especially delighted that at each of the graduations, we were able to form impressive academic processions. This added real gravity and showed respect to our newest graduates and their families. We should work hard to ensure that all of our future ceremonies follow the pattern set this year at the Gold Coast.
At graduations, we often focus on the vital work of our academic colleagues in bringing students to the point of successful graduation. That is absolutely as it should be. But it is also true that every single colleague at the university contributes to this outcome in some way. That is why I adopt the approach of encouraging academic and professional staff alike to join together in graduation ceremonies. The success of our students is something we can all take pride in and celebrate. It was great to see a good number of professional staff colleagues joining the processions at last week’s ceremonies and I hope that this is something that will become a very well-established tradition at Southern Cross University.
For me, some of the most enlivening elements of graduation ceremonies come after their conclusion, as the families and graduates mingle and celebrate. I like to take the opportunity to meet many of these, and this year I was struck by how many mums and dads told me just how delighted they had been with the experience that their son or daughter had enjoyed whilst at Southern Cross. Several also explained that they had children at a number of different universities and that in their mind, Southern Cross stood out as the one they would recommend to others.
This is feedback that I wanted each of you to hear, not because any of us have an interest in self-congratulation but because it affirms the hard work we have all been doing and the boldness of the decisions we have been taking to build a better, more genuinely distinctive university that truly serves our regions with excellence and integrity.
I hope you really enjoy this month’s edition of Southern Cross Matters, and I hope to see many of you at the graduation ceremonies that are yet to occur across the remainder of 2022!
Largest ever number of graduates for Gold Coast ceremonies
We’ve got about a thousand reasons to celebrate after holding the largest ever series of Gold Coast graduation ceremonies. A sea of mortarboards swept through the Gold Coast last week, with a record number of around 950 students attending graduation ceremonies.
In fact, there were so many graduates that the four events had to be moved off campus to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
This round of graduates saw some inspiring stories come to light. Of note was international student from China, Dr Qi Guo, whose doctoral thesis examining membrane remodelling at the subcellular model in plants with the aim of engineering salt-tolerant crops, was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal.
The ceremonies saw 18 PhD recipients cross the stage. Additionally, Jennene Buckley was conferred the award of Honorary Doctor of the University. Jennene is the Founder of Feros Care and CEO for 20 years before starting her own company, Enkindle Consulting.
Other stories of note included mother and daughter, Rose and Maddie Smith, graduating the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education together.
More than 70 staff members took part in the Academic Procession across the four ceremonies. Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Health Professor Marianne Wallis AM said she felt privileged to give the occasional address at one of the ceremonies.
“It was fantastic to be able to be there, to share that moment with them and to be able to talk to them about their future career and their development and where they go from here,” she said.
“I spent a bit of time thanking the family members and getting the graduates to thank the families and friends and support people. And I had noticed at the beginning of the ceremony somebody’s younger sibling or child had actually run a bottle of water right across the auditorium to one of the graduates. And I thought that just says it all, they’re always there.”
Chair of SCU College Faculty Board Dr Johanna Nieuwoudt said it was exciting to attend.
“It was great to be there to celebrate with the students. They’ve put in so much hard work,” Johanna said.
“We're in this journey together. And I wanted to be there at the end too. I hope they felt special because it is such a special time. We are so proud of our students and everything they achieve.”
Congratulations to our Gold Coast graduates!
iSISTAQUIT makes a mark on World No Tobacco Day
To see a project like iSISTAQUIT reach a major milestone last month was immensely satisfying for project manager and proud Kamilaroi woman, Rebecca Hyland.
“Our women are strong, resilient and motivated to quit smoking. This project starts the conversations between friends, family and health professionals, as it’s often the support systems in place that can help a smoker quit for good,” she said.
On World No Tobacco Day (May 31) the Faculty of Health project, led by Professor Gillian Gould, launched a compilation of campaign video clips to raise awareness about the importance of culturally appropriate care in assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant women to quit smoking.
“We’ve had more than 25 Health Services from across Australia participate in the iSISTAQUIT training and these videos go that extra step in terms of resources,” said Rebecca. “It’s supporting a new Closing the Gap target to increase the number of babies born at a healthy weight by 2031, as we know tobacco smoking is the major contributor to low birthweight.”
Following her extensive experience in Indigenous health, engagement and reconciliation action plan implementation, Rebecca has recently been appointed co-chair of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) Indigenous Populations Working Group. GACD brings together major international research funding agencies specifically to address the needs of vulnerable populations in high-income countries.
Rebecca said working with an Indigenous creative agency gave the finished iSISTAQUIT product an important edge. “From the start of this project, community consultations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled health organisations and health professionals have advised and guided our work. It’s really important to our women that we create a culturally safe and inclusive approach imbedded with the knowledge and expertise from our frontline workers.”
The initial six videos launched on the YouTube Channel iSISTAQUIT TV will showcase the importance of culturally appropriate care and communication in supporting women to quit smoking. Research has found education and advice on their own are insufficient, and women are needing practical help and support with quitting.
Invitation for research and community collaboration to aid flood recovery
A new project is being launched by Southern Cross University to revive and recover the Northern Rivers after the floods.
Expressions of interest for the VC Flood Recovery Project Scheme are now open, with funding available for projects designed to support specific segments of the Northern Rivers community in the process of recovery. Southern Cross University researchers and academics are strongly encouraged to apply.
“The Recovery Project Scheme will fund up to six projects that combine research and engagement to align with the academic and research strengths of the University,” Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) Professor Mary Spongberg said.
Successful projects will involve intentional engagement with those communities most impacted by the recent disasters. Funding can be used to seed new projects or to extend projects that are already supporting the communities in the Northern Rivers region.
Project teams must be led by Southern Cross University staff, but should also involve community or industry groups based on the Northern Rivers.
“The project lead and co-lead must be Southern Cross University staff members employed on a continuing basis, or on a fixed term basis for three years or more, with clear ties to the Northern Rivers community,” Professor Spongberg said.
“Preference will be given to projects led by staff with direct experience of the disaster; our staff are not just able to add value to the recovery process by way of their expertise but are also members of the community in recovery.
“We know that many Southern Cross staff were on the frontline during the floods, both as rescuers and researchers. This scheme is the perfect opportunity for them to expand their work with the local community and contribute in a meaningful way to our recovery from these devastating floods. We implore those with the capacity, ideas and expertise to consider submitting an application.”
Project applications are simple for a quick turn-around. It is intended that projects be completed within 12 months of funding approval.
Virtual meets reality at first ever hybrid Open Day
Future students will be able to scroll the web and stroll through campuses at Southern Cross University’s first ever hybrid Open Day.
It is exciting to be welcoming students back to campus for Open Day, as the past two years have been solely online.
This year, flexibility is the name of the game with the hybrid Open Day catering to both students on campus and online.
The virtual events will launch from July 8, with course information, virtual campus tours and the popular on-demand videos. Students will then be welcomed on campus for Open Day events at Coffs Harbour, Lismore and the Gold Coast from August 5 to 7.
Of note this year is the course-specific panel sessions, with speakers including academics, students and graduates working in the industry.
Southern Cross University Vice President (Engagement) Ben Roche said this year’s Open Day events are more refined and focused on specific areas of interest, marking a point of difference from previous years.
“As the main vehicle for considering future study, it is vital that we continue to innovate our approach to Open Day. Future students and their parents have told us they want more targeted and personalised engagement and our new approach to Open Day On-Demand will deliver that,” Mr Roche said.
“At Southern Cross University, we work back from the needs of students and their families when considering how to improve. Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to reflect and refine the way in which we engage prospective students in the unique education experience we offer. The approach has been well received, with the highest levels of registrations and engagement to date achieved in 2021,” he said.
“Building on this, Open Day 2022 will, for the first time, be delivered as a hybrid offering, enabling continued engagement with a broader audience online and the rollout of a streamlined on-campus approach.
“The on-campus experience will centre on a series of panel sessions providing a student perspective to study at Southern Cross and, importantly, a real-world view from graduates and industry partners.”
Southern Cross Uni academics create art-science fusion at the Sydney Biennale
A multidisciplinary team of Southern Cross University academics have taken art-lovers on a journey of olfactory discovery at the Sydney Biennale with their ‘Smelling Rivers’ Workshop.
Environmental scientist, Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, media artist, Associate Professor Grayson Cooke, and author and Adjunct Lecturer, Moya Costello teamed up to bring a taste (or a smell) of both Sydney city and the Northern Rivers through two workshops.
Participants were invited to collectively invent new vocabulary for interpreting river aromas and watery sediments.
Under the guidance of wine writer Moya Costello, participants took part in a warm up act before the workshop. “We invited them to smell and taste a prosecco and a shiraz, as Amanda said that the familiarity of this activity would enable participants to respond to smelling samples of river water.
“The main act was smelling a large variety of river water and vegetation samples that Amanda had gathered across Lismore and surrounds, including at Barangaroo/The Cutaway, the event precinct,” Moya said.
Amanda also gathered test tubes, jars, flasks, filter paper, pens, petri dishes, and especially a ‘fountain’ of glassware from Shoppe One in Lismore, including glasses covered in river mud/silt from the 2022 flood.
“We asked participants then to write down what wine and river smells reminded them of, and if they would share their responses. Most did. Biennale curator José Roca wrote and contributed his response, saying that the prosecco reminded him of afternoons of forbidden lemonade (aka champagne),” Moya said.
Grayson said they had been working on new ways to understand rivers and river systems across art, science, history, law and Indigenous knowledge.
“The concept of sense, and smell especially, came up as a really rich, and fun, way of making people think about rivers differently. We had a blast at the Biennale, people loved pouring this sticky mud into beautiful glasses and having a good sniff, it feels so wrong but it works!”
Southern Cross academic shares innovative bilingual teaching methods in global forum
We’re lucky to have several amazing language teachers at the University. One of them is Dr Sally Ashton-Hay, Lecturer (Teaching Scholar) in the Learning Experience Team and an expert on ‘translanguaging’, a technique she’s sharing on the global stage.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Sally began working with the US Department of State after teaching high school students. When the organisation offered Sally work overseas, she expected to be sent to a Francophone country as she had studied French for years. She was a bit surprised when she found herself in Turkey, despite not speaking Turkish!
Her adventures in language continued, driven by a passion to see English students from all backgrounds succeed.
Calling Australia home since the 1980s, Sally recently teamed up with the US Department of State again as part of the Virtual English Language Specialist Program, presenting her work on translanguaging at a global English teaching conference as well as virtual teacher training sessions to pre-service education students and their lecturers.
Translanguaging is a novel teaching method used to support bilingual Southern Cross students studying Southern Cross business curricula in China.
Some strategies of translanguaging include developing a collaborative glossary, allowing students to choose which language they would like to communicate in online, and problem-solving activities.
The project was a prestigious appointment as the US Department of State only funds around 200 projects each year, and is now taking steps to publish Sally’s presentation.
“It was professionally exhilarating. It’s a highlight of my career, I’d have to say,” she said.
Sally said she received positive feedback for both her virtual presentation and teacher training sessions, with the US Department of State now taking steps to publish her presentation.
The project was a prestigious appointment as the US Department of State only funds around 200 projects each year.
Sally said she has always been passionate about teaching English to students of varying backgrounds.
“As I progressed in my teaching career, it just seemed that there was more and more diversity in classes. And many people didn’t know how to teach those students,” she said. “I had a heart for it and wanted to see them succeed.”
PhD Q&A: Irani de Alwis on software engineering and industry best practices in information system development
With industry and academic experience in software engineering in information technology, Irani has moved from Sri Lanka to the sunny Gold Coast to pursue her PhD with the Faculty of Business. Her research interests lie at the intersection of software engineering and information system development industry best practices.
What are you researching?
My research title is ‘The Balancing of Minimum Viability and Innovation in Information System Development Context’.
The minimum viable product (MVP) is a key concept in lean start up methodology and represents a basic but launchable version of a product with minimal, yet must have features, that provides maximum amount of validated learning about target customers.
In the information system development (ISD) industry, MVP helps software development product teams to receive customer feedback as quickly as possible to improve the product in their next iterations.
In my research, I explore how to balance MVP and innovation inside ISD organisations to achieve competitive advantage while managing the risks and costs of innovations.
What was your motivation to pursue research in this area?
While working as a software engineer, I have experienced project failures and customer contract terminations. I have seen how the organisations failed to balance minimum viability and innovation, and encounter failures as a result of it. I noticed the research gaps in identifying and handling tensions between MVP and innovation in ISD context. Therefore, I have a motivation to improve the software product development and delivery process in ISD organisations while utilising intrapreneur capabilities for the betterment of the organisation.
What do you love about your research?
I love everything about my research. Southern Cross University has provided me with a better learning environment. I am truly grateful about the everyday learning opportunities I get by conducting this research, my work station and the facilities provided to carry on my research, the guidance and supervision I received from my supervisor Professor Darshana Sedera and the valuable constructive feedback received from my information systems research group.
Why did you choose to pursue your research at Southern Cross University and what have been some of your highlights so far?
I received my bachelor degree from the University of Westminster in the UK and I wanted to pursue my postgraduate studies in a globally recognised, highly ranked university. Therefore, I carefully selected Southern Cross University to get guidance to improve my style of learning. I found that the research degrees at Southern Cross are aligned with my research interests. I saw endless opportunities at SCU and during the first six months of my study, I wrote several research-in-progress papers targeting information systems conferences around the world. Also, I presented my research progress at the PRAXIS Conference on 24 June 2022 at the Gold Coast Campus which was a great experience.
Welcome to the team
Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Education
Professor, Faculty of Health
Director, Student Support Office of Vice President (Students) and Registrar
Director, Organisational Development HR Services
Program Manager, ReCirculator Faculty of Science and Engineering
Tina Marcoionni Senior Lecturer,
Faculty of Education
Senior Lecturer, Gnibi College Indigenous Australian Peoples
Infrastructure Administrator, Technology Services
Digital Performance Specialist, Office of Engagement
Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Health
Lecturer, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Applications Delivery and Support, Technology Services
Associate Professor, Faculty of Health