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 I have encountered colleagues at each of our campuses in recent weeks, I have been delighted with the sense of excitement and anticipation that is building within the University about the year ahead.

In only three weeks from now, we will be welcoming large numbers of students back to our campuses and for the first time, delivering the entire breadth of our curriculum within the Southern Cross Model. There has been an enormous amount of effort over the summer by a great many people in order to bring us to a point of very high readiness for this moment. I am optimistic that our students will enjoy substantial and lasting benefit as a result of this investment.

Over recent months, over and above the preparatory efforts I’ve noted above, a substantial number of colleagues have been involved in the critical task of engaging with prospective students and their families and helping them to understand our ethos, our values and our ambition and how our approach to learning and support connects tangibly to the realisation of their future dreams. I am so thankful to all of the teams who have worked so hard and so creatively to inspire those who will form the incoming 2023 cohort of students to join us. This has been an outstanding team effort which I know will reach a particularly high pitch over the next several crucial weeks.

Three years ago we took the bold decision to revolutionise our approach to curriculum design, learning, teaching and assessment. As we look to the future, we must commit to undertaking the hard work of reflecting on the lessons we have learned thus far in the journey and drawing upon them to generate tangible improvements wherever we can. We must also begin a searching conversation across the University as a whole about the quality of the broader student experience we offer and with clarity and focus work towards the identification of opportunities within our grasp to make immediate and impactful improvements. 

Although this will be difficult, I am reminded constantly when I read through Southern Cross Matters of just how many complex and difficult things we take in our stride as an institution and the wonderful spirit that underpins the approach that we take to solving the challenges we pursue.

I hope you’ll enjoy this edition of Southern Cross Matters and those to come throughout the year very much indeed and wish you well for the journey ahead in 2023.

Tyrone 

Faculty of Business, Law and Arts Associate Professor Mandy Shircore
Faculty of Business, Law and Arts Associate Professor Mandy Shircore

Major milestone for Southern Cross Model

It’s a new year but Southern Cross is already kicking goals with all courses to be rolled out under the Southern Cross Model when the 2023 teaching calendar commences next month. 

This marks a major milestone for the University, with law and health joining the rest of the University’s course offerings under the new Model. The Model includes an academic calendar that is split into six terms of six weeks and content that is interactive and encourages active learning. 

Early data on student results under the new Model has been promising. When compared to pre-COVID figures of 2019, results up to Term 3, 2022 under the Southern Cross Model showed a 16 per cent increase in student success rates in completing units, from 69 per cent to 85 per cent. Mean Grade Point Averages increased from 3.6 to 4.4 and absent fail rates fell by 25 per cent to 4.6 per cent.

This is the first year that law and health undergraduate units will be taught under the Southern Cross Model. Faculty of Business, Law and Arts Associate Professor Mandy Shircore said while some law subjects can be quite content heavy, developing units for the new model has allowed for a focus on the important content and the learning experience for students.

“It has given us an opportunity to ensure that what we’re providing to students is the most relevant, up to date and topical of legal issues,” Mandy said.

“This new model allows the students to progress through the materials that we’ve provided in a scaffolded and carefully designed way. Our unit writers have put a lot of effort into ensuring that it is a really engaging course progression and I think that the unit teachers will enjoy the opportunity to be able to focus more on the application of the law to real life examples and scenarios."

“We’re all pretty excited about the opportunity to focus on developing those problem-solving and critical thinking skills which are so important for lawyers.”

All of the Law degrees have received full accreditation under the Southern Cross Model. 

Clare Thorpe, Director of the Library Services, with IFLA President Barbara Lison and delegates from Indonesia and Malaysia
Clare Thorpe, Director of the Library Services, with IFLA President Barbara Lison and delegates from Indonesia and Malaysia

SDGs journey for Australian libraries: Clare’s best-seller at the IFLA Regional Workshop

Just before the well-deserved holiday break, Clare Thorpe, our Director of the Library Services, flew all the way to Thailand to attend the International Federation of Library Associations’ (IFLA) Regional Workshop for Asia-Oceania.

Bringing together representatives of IFLA Members across the region, the workshop topics included defining and building a sustainable library field in the region, developing advocacy skills to use when meeting with government agencies and funders and evaluating and demonstrating the impact of libraries. 

The session also provided time for networking and building connections between library leaders across the region.

Delegates attended from 28 countries across Central, East, South and South-East Asia and Oceania. Australia was represented by three delegates.

As part of the event, Clare was invited to address staff at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (UN ESCAP) headquarters in Bangkok where she shared how Australian libraries are progressing work towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The workshop was an invaluable opportunity to learn about the diverse range of sustainable development initiatives being led by libraries and library associations throughout the Asia-Oceania region. It was a privilege to meet with library leaders from Uzbekistan to Vanuatu who I will continue to work with virtually during 2023,” said Clare.

About IFLA

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. 

IFLA is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation founded in Scotland in 1927. Its headquarters are at the National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague.

Brendan Moon, Coordinator General at National Emergency Management, Fiona McCallum, General Manager at Good Grief – MacKillop Family Services and Southern Cross Professor Anne Graham AO
Brendan Moon, Coordinator General at National Emergency Management, Fiona McCallum, General Manager at Good Grief – MacKillop Family Services and Southern Cross Professor Anne Graham AO

'Stormbirds', Highly Commended in the 2022 National Resilient Australia Awards

A new program to help children and young people deal with natural disasters has been recognised in a national award scheme. 

Authored by Founder of the Centre for Children and Young People (CCYP) at the University, Professor Anne Graham AO, 'Stormbirds’ creates a safe space for children and young people to practise new ways of thinking and responding to change and loss following natural disaster events. The program forms part of the Seasons for Growth suite delivered by family support agency MacKillop Family Services. 

Later last year the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience recognised 'Stormbirds' with a Highly Commended Award in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award category of the 2022 National Resilient Australia Awards. 

The CCYP has worked collaboratively with Mackillop Family Services for many years to develop programs that support children, young people and adults to understand and cope with change, loss and grief. 

“A key part of the 'Stormbirds' session is ‘Growing Stronger Together’, which supports children and young people to identify ways that a natural disaster can strengthen communities. It’s important that they can name the special people, places and things that helped them through a difficult time. Knowing there are people who continue to support them beyond the immediate crisis is critical for developing resilience and feeling positive about the future,” said Professor Graham.

Congratulations to Anne and the CCYP for this national recognition of their significant work.

Southern Cross undergraduates Pearl Andrews (left) and Yasmeen Daniels
Southern Cross undergraduates Pearl Andrews (left) and Yasmeen Daniels

Off to new heights thanks to 2023 New Colombo Plan scholarships

Southern Cross undergraduates Pearl Andrews and Yasmeen Daniels have been awarded a New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarship for 2023. This prestigious grant, initiative of the Australian Government, will allow Yasmeen and Pearl to study and undertake internships in the Indo Pacific region for up to one year. 

“I am excited to see where this incredible international opportunity will lead Pearl and Yasmeen. These young female leaders from the Northern Rivers have clear goals to learn from this global experience and the communities they meet and are decided to make a positive impact on the environmental challenges we are facing,” said Christine Martin, Director of Global Engagement. 

Pearl, a Bachelor of Indigenous Knowledge student majoring in Law and Justice, is considering internship options within the University of the South Pacific, located in Fiji. She chose Fiji as her primary location to advance her goals of understanding how Indigenous (and Pacific Islander) methodologies of combating climate change can inform Western law frameworks that address environmental challenges.

“It’s a huge honour and privilege to have been awarded this scholarship. I’m hoping to use it as a stepping stone into the rest of my academic and professional career. I’ll be heading off to Fiji in August to study semester two at the University of the South Pacific. There I’ll be focusing on Pacific Islanders’ world views and looking at how local communities are effectively combating climate change through embedding localised knowledge into policy and self-governance.”

Yasmeen, who is studying a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Systems and Marine Systems), is planning to undertake an internship in South Korea, as she would like to be able to experience a completely different ecosystem in a temperate climate. She is also interested in the Korean culture and has started to learn the language.  

By supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the Indo Pacific region, the NCP aims to lift knowledge of this part of the world in Australia.

It encourages a two-way flow of students between Australia and the rest of our region, complementing the thousands of students from the Indo-Pacific coming to Australia to study each year.

man scuba diving
Distinguished Professor Peter Harrison at North Point Lizard Island

Uni’s coral restoration team keeping our Barrier Reef great

More than two centuries ago, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef filled explorers with trepidation, lest their wooden ships be damaged or sunk on the limestone formations just below the surface.

In 1770 Captain James Cook rowed ashore at an island located in the Reef’s far north, climbing a 359-metre mountain to survey the surrounding waters in the hope of navigating safe passage through the maze.

Today we celebrate the Great Barrier Reef as one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Yet the mysterious reefs we once feared now face threats such as mass coral bleaching, crown of thorns starfish and terrestrial run-off. 

Modern day pioneers are helping conserve these wondrous ecosystems. People like the University’s Distinguished Professor Peter Harrison whose ground-breaking Coral IVF technique reseeds coral directly on reefs rather than in the laboratory.

The island Cook climbed, which he named Lizard Island for its abundant yellow-spotted monitor population, is proving the ideal base for Professor Harrison’s coral larval restoration efforts.

Surrounded by coral reefs, the six islands of the Lizard Island group lie midway between the coast and the outer ribbon Reef, about 93km north-east of Cooktown. Most of the islands enclose a deep lagoon, aptly called the Blue Lagoon, that provides sheltered anchorage for the floating nursery pools where coral embryos grow into larvae.

Always the innovator, Professor Harrison introduced new equipment and processes to the Coral IVF technique during his most recent trip in December.

“Lizard Island used to have spectacular reefs but many of these were badly damaged by recent mass coral bleaching events caused by abnormally high seawater temperatures,” Professor Harrison said. 

“Some of these reefs have recovered naturally but many have not, so we are trialling a range of new techniques to increase larval supply and settlement onto damaged reef areas to increase coral recovery.” 

The team was buoyed by the success of a new 4m2 spawn catcher. Placed in the path of oncoming ocean currents and with its boom arms open and a net attached, the spawn catcher made collecting many millions of coral eggs and sperm bundles an easier task.

Nurturing week-old coral larvae to enable them to settle and metamorphose into the single coral polyp stage is critical to ensuring long term survival of a coral colony. To optimise this coral recruitment, swimming larvae were encouraged to attach to limestone tiles placed inside a mesh tent. This significantly improved the production of settled coral polyps. Further, when the team relocated these individual tiles onto reefs the corals were already well-established, thereby enhancing their chances of long-term survival and growth to adulthood.

Professor Harrison recently published a Technical Report outlining the evolution of his Coral IVF technique over the past decade with collaborator Post Doctoral Researcher Dr Dexter dela Cruz.

“Without healthy reefs, we potentially lose up to a million species that live in and around the reef ecosystem and lose essential food supplies and other resources for hundreds of millions of coastal people who rely on healthy reefs,” said Professor Harrison.

Watch the video.

 

SCU Buzz podcast logo
SCU Buzz podcast logo

Have you heard the Buzz?

The SCU Buzz podcast was launched in 2021 and has published nearly fifty episodes, attracting thousands of listeners through Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 

Students and academics as well as professional staff have featured on the podcast, giving their perspective on student life at Southern Cross, their research passions and even some top tips on how to be successful at university.

Colleagues you may have heard on the podcast include Dr Liza Oates (Season 2) with her take on food as medicine, Dr Jean Renouf making sense of climate change (Season 1), Dr Eric Brymer and his research into extreme sports (Season 2), Dr Kathomi Gatwiri on saying no with compassion (season 1), not to mention our favourite bird expert Professor Les Christidis (Season 1) who took a quiz about birds and our bee expert Dr Cooper Schouten (Season 2) who confirms there is no such thing as too many bee puns. 

Our fearless student hosts have tackled topics that give an idea of the width and depth of activity at the University, from amplifying youth activism to handling that first day of teaching prac to cybercrime careers and how much reading you actually have to do in an Honours year. 

Season 3 is launching soon at Term 1 Orientation, but you can catch up on your listening at the SCU Buzz podcast on Soundcloud, or search for SCU Buzz on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Listen here

Welcome to the team

Angeline Leece, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Guoyang Fu, Lecturer in Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Alison McMillan, HR Business Partner, HR Services
Dani Cutler, HR Advisor (Recruitment), HR Services
Keiran O'Reilly, HR Business Partner, HR Services
Ali Shackell, Future Students Officer, Office of Engagement
Paul Kelly, Purchasing Officer, Financial Services
Trent Rippon, Financial Accountant, Financial Services
Marty Oliver, Grounds Officer, Property Services
Lisa McGahey, Project Manager, Technology Services
Linda Atkinson, Project Business Analyst, Technology Services
Rebekah Jones, Student Management Coordinator, Admissions

Angeline Leece, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Guoyang Fu, Lecturer in Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Alison McMillan, HR Business Partner, HR Services
Dani Cutler, HR Advisor (Recruitment), HR Services
Keiran O'Reilly, HR Business Partner, HR Services
Ali Shackell, Future Students Officer, Office of Engagement
Paul Kelly, Purchasing Officer, Financial Services
Trent Rippon, Financial Accountant, Financial Services
Marty Oliver, Grounds Officer, Property Services
Lisa McGahey, Project Manager, Technology Services
Linda Atkinson, Project Business Analyst, Technology Services
Rebekah Jones, Student Management Coordinator, Admissions


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