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

As this edition is published, we are on the cusp of commencing Term 4 teaching and publishing Term 3 grades, both major milestones. With each passing teaching period, we continue to see the benefits of the Southern Cross Model translate into enhanced student learning outcomes and success, and we continue to identify areas for further improvement. The focus that we place on scrutinizing the fruits of our work and looking for areas in which we can change further and do better is just as critical as the work that we have invested in the initial implementation of the model. A core tenet of the decision to move beyond a traditional curriculum model was, of course, to achieve better than incremental gains in student outcomes. But this was not the limit of our aspiration. 

Perhaps more profoundly, a foundational proposition of the project on which we have collectively embarked is to deeply embed a sustained and evidence driven culture of continuous improvement and innovation. We see this happening across the academy, with teams of colleagues experimenting with new design approaches to pedagogy and assessment and in so doing, resolving problems hitherto regarded as intractable. 

We see the same spirit informing experimentation that is now ongoing in a number of faculties with hybrid approaches to teaching which raise very interesting questions about a range of traditional suppositions about the configuration of on campus and online teaching as though these were wholly different domains. Our work in research is taking on a similarly reformist tinge, especially as the maturation of our thinking around the work and priorities of our research impact clusters evolves.

This edition speaks to an energised institution that to a greater and greater extent is looking outwards to its communities and the world beyond as it seeks to uplift lives and drive impact. This confidence and energy is being noticed and is shaping different and far more positive perceptions and narratives about who we are as a University, and the significance of what we do. It is vividly reflected in the pages of this edition of Southern Cross Matters, which I hope will be a useful additional trove of material to assist everyone at the University contribute to ongoing conversations with those in our community to explain to them just a little bit more about what we do, and how important and impactful it is – across so many domains.



Open Day 2023 collage
Some highlights of the Open Day 2023

The art of immersion: Open Day 2023

Open Day 2023 was one of the most immersive events the University has ever held. 

Across our three main campuses, prospective students, along with their families and friends, had the opportunity to explore the facilities in a completely new way through hands-on experiences, guided tours and mingling with experts and alumni at interactive panel sessions.

"Open Day is like speed-recruiting your future university. You have the best minds in one place, ready to answer all your burning questions and show off the study experiences we have at Southern Cross,” said Ben Roche, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Education Impact).

With almost 2,000 people registering through our 2023 Open Day platform, attendees certainly encountered some unexpected experiences. From dating ancient human teeth to 3D printing or a cyber security challenge.

A huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the days such a success.

Several images showing culturally diverse communities registering their organ donation decision
Culturally diverse communities registering their organ donation decision

Australia needs you: register your organ donation decision now

Associate Professor Gail Moloney wants people to be a lifesaver – literally. She has been working hard to flip low organ donation rates and her commitment has secured more than $300,000 in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects funding.

The three-year project focusses on raising awareness about organ donation and increasing historically low registration rates among culturally diverse communities.

“I would encourage everyone to register their decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register (AODR). It is not binding and can be changed at any time,” said Associate Professor Moloney. 

Registering organ donation decisions on the AODR is essential to boost organ donation and improve access to transplantation for all Australians. 

“Many people still don’t know that donation decisions are no longer recorded on the driver’s license (in all States and Territories except South Australia).”

“You can register to donate all your organs and tissue, specific organs and tissue, or you can register not to donate. This can be done through your Medicare App, myGov or the DonateLife website.”
The project also offers an opportunity for a PhD scholarship at Southern Cross. Please contact for further information.

People on stage
Panel of experts at the 30th Occupational Therapy Australia Conference

Southern Cross Occupational Therapy team nails it at the 30th OT Australia Conference

More than 1,200 occupational therapists from around the world attended the Occupational Therapy (OT) Australia 30th National Conference and Exhibition, held recently in Cairns. 

Several representatives from Southern Cross showcased their research at the event.

Lecturer Vicki Tillott and Associate Professor Stuart Barlo, Dean of Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, facilitated a ‘conversations that matter’ session about the Indigenous Health Major at Southern Cross, a rare example of curriculum co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Senior Lecturer Dr Kitty-Rose Foley presented on a scientific panel about neurodiversity affirming practice in autism and made a significant contribution to the conference through her role on the Scientific Committee. 

Associate Lecturer Lisa Couzens presented about the effect of wheelchair cushions on the skin microclimate. 

Associate Lecturer Danielle Bull and Lecturer Charmaine Bernie were invited speakers on their respective research: the role of occupational therapists in supporting pilots and pathways to developmental diagnosis. 

Associate Professor Michelle Bissett also co-authored four papers at the conference.  

“Our OT team is a shining example of research underpinning practice and practice driving research, interwoven through our educational programs,” said Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Health, Professor Marianne Wallis. 

“The depth and breadth of Southern Cross OT presentations at this national conference clearly indicate our strengths in learning and teaching and curriculum design as well as the great trajectory of OT research at the University.”

Congratulations go to Dr Kitty-Rose Foley, who also won the OTA Mid-Career Researcher Award, a competitive award acknowledging the contribution of a mid-career researcher to the field of occupational therapy.

Image of Damon Ferris, new Executive Director (Global)
Damon Ferris, new Executive Director (Global)

Flying start and a global vision for Damon

A warm welcome to Damon Ferris, our new Executive Director (Global) – he has really made a flying start. 

Just one day into the role and Damon was on a plane for Thailand, Sri Lanka and India for stakeholder meetings and education events in these important and rising international student markets.  

Damon joins Southern Cross University after seven successful years at the University of Newcastle where he was Director (International and Partnerships). He is excited by a rejuvenating international student sector and our potential within it – all buoyed by a 10 percent increase in enrolments for 2023, full immersion of the Southern Cross Model, and initiatives such as the recently announced Northern NSW Academic Health Alliance at the new Tweed Valley Hospital. 

Joining Southern Cross is also a homecoming for Damon, who grew up in Coffs Harbour, and describes the Northern Rivers as his heartland. He has settled with his family on the Gold Coast.  

“This whole region is on the move and education is at the forefront,” he says. “In the post-COVID world, employability is king and with the job market so buoyant here, Southern Cross University is positioned to put itself front-and-centre in the thinking of prospective international students and their families. 

“Traditionally, in the strongest markets like China, South-East Asia and India, Australia’s smaller regional universities battle against the Group of Eight or other institutions in our largest cities.  

“But the opportunities in our region mean Southern Cross University has a great story to tell as a sound investment for international students in terms of quality of education and student experience, degrees that are competitively priced, and employment-led return on investment. 

“I like that Southern Cross University is being so proactive in the field, which is one of the reasons I wanted to be here.”  

Damon has been a leader in the international student sector for more than a decade. He also has strong links to Asia, including time with the highly reputed Kaplan China education group, where he was instrumental in increased enrolments and founded a pathway program with university consortium NCUK and the University of Manchester. 

Away from work, Damon is enjoying settling into his new home. He also loves basketball, reading, is brushing up on his rusty Chinese, and twice a week the entire Ferris family does the 10,000-step challenge. 

“I always wanted to live here,” said Damon. “The bonus, professionally speaking, is to begin a new role when the international student sector is going through a time of transformation.”

Byron Writers Festival 2023
Byron Writers Festival 2023

Southern Cross Imaginarium at Byron Writers Festival

It was blue skies and big ideas at the Byron Writers Festival this year, held for the very first time at the leafy Bangalow Showgrounds. The University has been a major sponsor of the Festival since it began more than 25 years ago and some of our brightest and best were writing a new chapter this year.

The multi-day festival kicked off with two events dedicated to our youngest readers. The Secondary Schools Day featured a wonderful interview between our Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) Professor Mary Spongberg and historian author Nicholas Clements, whose most recent book, co-authored with Henry Reynolds, tells the story of Tongerlongeter, a First Nations leader and Tasmanian war hero.

This was followed by the award of the Greener Futures Prize for local Year 10 and 11 students by Associate Professor Louise Phillips. Winner Misha and runners-up Jorgia and Safiye treated the crowed to a reading of their impressive work. 

Imaginarium was the aptly titled venue supported by our University at this year’s Festival. A packed house was there to listen to a panel featuring our Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Education Impact) Ben Roche with Jeff Goodell and Jess Scully on sustainability, while Professor Mary Spongberg chaired a panel on the Feminist Trajectory with journalist Tracey Spicer, Nakkiah Lui and Madison Godfrey. 

In Recovery was another popular session, examining new approaches to rebuilding and restoring community resilience following the floods. The panel, chaired by Nell Scofield, featured our very own Professor Mandy Reichelt-Brushett and Dan Etheridge from the Living Lab together with Naomi Moran from the Koori Mail.

It was a wonderful end to a week of words which saw thousands flock to the region’s favourite literary Festival.

Dean of Education Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles at the ICRIEMS
Dean of Education Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles at the ICRIEMS

Professor Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles delivers keynote speech at an international conference on sustainability and education

Southern Cross Dean of Education Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles travelled to Yogyakarta (Indonesia) to share her research on climate change and education with colleagues at the International Conference on Research, Implementation & Education of Mathematics and Sciences (ICRIEMS). 

The conference focused on advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education and research.


As a world-leading researcher in environmental education and sustainability, Professor Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles’s keynote speech delved into child and youth-led climate research, curriculum, and pedagogy, drawing from her latest publication 'Climate Change Imaginaries' (with Rousell, Routledge). 

“Although limited, formal climate change education responses have predominantly focussed on imparting Western science rather than grappling with cultural understandings of climate change,” said Professor Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles.

She also gave a five-part lecture series at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta (UNY) on climate change and education working with hundreds of Indonesian pre-service science teachers and university academics.

Further information on Sustainability, Environment, and the Arts in Education (SEAE) Research Centre can be found here.

Dr Georgina Dimopoulos at the University of Liverpool
Dr Georgina Dimopoulos at the University of Liverpool

How to strengthen children’s voices in the family justice system: Dr Dimopoulos’ experience at the University of Liverpool

Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Business, Law and Arts, and Research Associate at the Centre for Children and Young People, Dr Georgina Dimopoulos has recently spent a few weeks in Liverpool (United Kingdom) working on children’s rights projects.

How did you get the opportunity to visit the University of Liverpool? 

I first connected with Professor Helen Stalford in 2020 when she examined my PhD thesis.

My thesis – and subsequent book, 'Decisional Privacy and the Rights of the Child' (Routledge, 2021) – build on Professor Stalford’s research on children’s rights in judicial decision-making. 

Last year, we became collaborators on a project about strengthening children’s voices in the family justice system, through an initiative of the Family Law Reform Now Network in the UK. After having worked together remotely for a while, I enthusiastically accepted Professor Stalford’s invitation to visit the University of Liverpool to work on this and other children’s rights projects.

How was your experience with Professor Helen Stalford?

In one word: inspiring. It was a great time to be visiting, as I had the opportunity to attend and be involved in various events showcasing the diverse children’s rights research being undertaken at Liverpool Law School. 

Some highlights were the opportunity to present my research-in-progress on how Australian family court judges can communicate their decisions more effectively to children, as well as to meet and learn from young unaccompanied asylum seekers about their experiences and the impacts of COVID-19 delays.

How is the family justice system in the UK in comparison with the Australian? 

The Australian and UK family justice systems are disappointingly similar in their approach to children’s participation. Both systems take a very protectionist, paternalistic approach to involving children in decision-making about their best interests. Both fall short in meeting their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to give children a right to express their views and be heard in family law proceedings – particularly so in cases involving family violence and abuse. In both systems, children feel marginalised and perceive that adults do not listen to or care about their views. 

But more promising is that we are seeing progress in both jurisdictions, in terms of enhancing children’s safety through improved risk screening and assessment processes, as well as reform proposals to improve children’s experiences of participation. In England and Wales, a different approach to hearing and centralising children’s views and wishes is being trialled as part of the pilot of integrated domestic abuse courts. In Australia, the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 (Cth) that is currently before Parliament contains changes that will better recognise children’s rights and participation. 

Most importantly, both systems have much to learn from one another. Given the parallel challenges – particularly the long-standing tension between protection and participation– there are many opportunities for knowledge exchange, information sharing and potentially greater impetus for reform.

When it comes to children involvement in research, what is their approach? Would it be quite similar to the Centre for Children and Young People’s (CCYP) approach? 

The University of Liverpool’s approach to involving children in research is very similar to that of the Centre for Children and Young People. It is a children’s rights-based approach, which respects the agency and evolving capacities of children and young people. This approach supports children and young people to be involved in research not only as participants, but also as co-researchers. 

To this effect, the University of Liverpool has a Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG), made up of children and young people aged 12 to 24 years who provide input into the design, implementation and dissemination of research projects at the University. This may be an initiative for the CCYP to consider too!

Lecturer & Manager of English Language Programs at SCU College Zoe Hancock with students
Lecturer & Manager of English Language Programs at SCU College Zoe Hancock with international students

Values in action

Zoe Hancock, Lecturer & Manager of English Language Programs at SCU College.

“As part of an incredible team at SCU College, we regularly welcome students from around the world across all our campuses. For many of our students it is their first time studying abroad and the transition to this new environment can be a challenging one. Our experienced team of administration and academic staff work together to ensure our students have the best chance to succeed not only academically but also personally as they build self-confidence, independence and broaden their worldviews. We encourage students to engage with the local community through volunteering, participating in language exchanges with local high school and TAFE students and joining clubs and events on campus. For many of our students their stay with us is a transformative experience. I am proud to be a part of a team that helps facilitate this. We care.”

Did you know...


Erica Wilson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Innovation) has been nominated for the 2023 Gold Coast Bulletin Women of the Year awards by Harvey Norman. Erica is one of the 27 finalists nominated across nine categories. The winner of each category will be announced on 16 September.

Southern Cross University has claimed the overall University champion title in the women’s category after an outstanding performance in the Gold Coast Marathon. This is the first time the University has won a Championship Pennant in the sport of Distance Running. In total, Team SCU had over 200 registered participants, making it the second largest team overall at this year's Marathon, and the largest Team in the Corporate Challenge.

Through the Scout platform, a range of courses are available to Southern Cross staff 24/7. This includes free access to LinkedIn Learning (home to over 16,000 courses). There is a wide range of ways to apply these resources to your role, whether you need to communicate effectively or find ways to stimulate creative problem solving. You will find tools, tips and templates for just about everything you might need. Check out all of the features that allow you to customise content to your preferences, share content with your peers or even create a suite of recommendations for your team to complete over time.



Stuart Thurgate, Technical Assistant - Southern Cross Analytical Research Services
Ruth Greenaway, Director - Centre for Teaching & Learning 
Kellie Toohey, Associate Professor - Faculty of Health
Moana Tane, Senior Research Fellow - Faculty of Health
Kym Yuke, Project Manager - Faculty of Health
Karen Faulks, Transaction Services Officer (Billings) - Financial Services
Gabe Augustin, Senior Engineer Data - Technology Services
Greg Moffatt, Senior Systems Analyst - Technology Services
Prajjwal Poudel, Student Administration Officer - Admissions
Nic Mason, Student Administration Officer - Admissions