Southern Cross Matters

Helping us stay in touch with key developments and our achievements as a University community.

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

From the Vice-Chancellor

When the University’s leadership team and our Council set out to create a new strategy for Southern Cross University in 2022, the foremost consideration was to distil and capture the essence of our purpose as an institution. That statement of purpose and our defined values, represent the foundation from which we have set our direction, defined our priorities and determined our level of ambition. They shine a light on the path towards the University that we are becoming and the means through which we are making changes for the better in the lives of our students and the communities we serve.

We say that our purpose is to change lives through revolutionary learning and research with real impact. And we mean it when we say this. But no encapsulation of purpose, however elegant, can have any authenticity in the absence of a group of people with the talent, passion and commitment to translate thought into deed.

More than anything else, this month’s edition serves to shine a spotlight on just a few of the enormously talented, passionate and committed people we are all blessed to call our colleagues. As you will see, they are doing amazing work in the domain of research that has real impact and changing the lives of our students through our revolutionary approach to learning. 

But as is so often the case, for want of “column inches” – there is so much left unsaid about the colleagues profiled in this month’s edition. 

In my recent Town Hall, I had the opportunity to speak about the enormous contributions of our newly appointed Distinguished Professor, Anne Graham – and her character as a person. 

But what of some of the other colleagues profiled in this month’s edition? 

For example, the piece on Professor Mark Hughes highlights his outstanding contribution to research in his chosen domain of specialty. This absolutely should be celebrated. But how many readers know about the many other contributions he has made to building up our University over the years – including through previous service as a Dean and as Chair of Academic Board? 

What of Professor Nigel Andrew? Not only is he hugely energetic in spreading the message about anything to do with the incredible world of insects and in so doing, building awareness at a national level of Southern Cross University, but he is an eager and highly effective contributor to the University’s student recruitment events – shining a light for the next generation of scientists. 

Dr Lachlan Yee also has a bit of a passion for insects. Just ask him to talk to you about Black Soldier Flies and you will discover this! And how good is it to see colleagues from our Faculty of Business Law & Arts and our Faculty of Science & Engineering teaming up to work together on waste reduction and sustainability? I think Owen, Pascal and Lachlan are setting such a great example for others through this work – and each is also responsible for some truly outstanding results in their teaching, as judged by student feedback. 

We read all about Dr Simone Blom’s national citation in the 2023 Australian Awards for University Teaching and of her passion for education and teaching. This is just excellent. But in the limited space in the story covering this, you don’t hear about her reputation as a problem solver, as an amazing colleague, a person much admired and depended on by those around her, nor her sheer energy in participating in so many significant engagement activities. I have come to realise that if I am turning up to an event on campus at which we have invited students from the schools in the regions that surround our campuses, Simone will almost invariably be there as a force for good!    

Time and time again, when we have visitors to our University, I hear the same thing from them. “Wow!”, they say. “You have some truly incredible people at Southern Cross University!” 

We sure do. 

I hope you enjoy this edition of Southern Cross Matters as much as I have and look forward to sharing future editions with you throughout the remainder of 2024. 

Nigel headshot
Professor Nigel Andrew interview with 10 News First at fire ant senate inquiry

Professor Nigel Andrew advises national fire ant enquiry

Respected Southern Cross University entomologist Professor Nigel Andrew was recently invited to give evidence at a national fire ant inquiry where he backed calls for a cooperative research centre.

Travelling to Brisbane for the inquiry’s first public hearing, Professor Andrew presented to seven members of the senate committee including Senators Glenn Sterle (chair), Matt Canavan (deputy chair) and Peter Whish-Wilson.  

“The senators asked plenty of probing questions which was great. Hopefully this will actually lead to a renewed push to eradicate the fire ants and not just continue with the current system of funding aimed at containment,” Professor Andrew said.   

“Hopefully there will be a nationwide consensus in how we actually manage the species and not just say, ‘oh, this is a Queensland issue’. It must be seen as a broader issue beyond agriculture. This is an invasive species that can impact on all parts of our life and can have massive financial and health implications for the Australian community.”  

Professor Andrew backed calls for the establishment of a fire ant cooperative research centre (CRC) to better understand the pest in the Australian context in order to eliminate it.  

“If we're looking at a 10-to-15-year method to eradicate fire ants, then we must have the research levels and funding to complement it. Instead of a research program running three years, you actually want to have the ability to develop a research program that runs over the entire period that we're hoping to eradicate the fire ant.”  

Afterwards, Professor Andrew gave TV interviews to 10 News First and ABC News as well as radio interviews to ABC NSW Country Hour, ABC Coffs Coast Breakfast and ABC Mid North Coast Breakfast.  

Go to the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee webpage to view Professor Andrew’s written submission (number 57).  

Headshot of Anne
Distinguished Professor Anne Graham AO

Professor Anne Graham AO named Distinguished Professor

Professor Anne Graham AO has been named a Distinguished Professor of Southern Cross University, in honour of her significant contributions to research and academic endeavour.

A sociologist and Professor of Childhood Studies, with a background in primary teaching and teacher education, Anne has spent years working to promote children's rights and wellbeing, leading the renowned Centre for Children and Young People (CCYP) at the University, where she has also mentored many early and mid-career researchers.

Launched in 2004, the CCYP focuses on research that is ethical, robust, relevant and, most of all, participatory. “By capturing the perspectives of young people, together with key adults who support them, we can better understand what they know and need and work more collaboratively towards evidence-informed strategies and solutions," said Distinguished Professor Graham.

Professor Graham has published widely and authored several award-winning programs, based on the research she leads, to help children and young people understand and navigate experiences of change, loss and grief in their lives. A not-for-profit initiative, under the auspices of the MacKillop Family Services, the Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds programs are implemented across 5 countries and have been adapted for use in communities following natural disasters (floods, bushfires and earthquakes), for refugee children, for post-suicide intervention work in schools, and in juvenile justice and prison settings.

"Helping children and young people understand that change and loss are part of life and there are things they can do that will help them through difficult times is central to the program’s success and longevity”, says Anne. “Importantly, they leave the program knowing their reactions are normal, they will be OK, and that ‘I am not the only one’”.

Unfailingly optimistic, Anne says the world is in good hands with today's young.

"Young people do want to change the world for the better. That is why we need research that hears from them, takes seriously what they have to say, and translates this into sound policy and programs that work for them. If we do, that will be a momentous shift for good."

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Professor Mark Hughes

Professor Mark Hughes leads world-first study into LGBTQ+ aged care

Professor of Social Work Mark Hughes will be leading a world-first study into: Co-creating rainbow inclusive care for gender and sexually diverse people in residential aged care.

Supported by $999,533 in Federal Government funding from the Medical Research Future Fund, the five-year project aims to improve care for gender and sexually diverse people in residential aged care.  

“The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety heard evidence of abuse and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in residential aged care. It concluded that greater recognition and respect of diversity was needed to provide a safe environment for all residents,” said Professor Hughes. 

“Currently a large proportion of LGBTQ+ people fear residential aged care and expect to be discriminated against in these settings. We need to change this, particularly for those who experience intersectional disadvantage related to culture, frailty, HIV status and cognitive capacity,” he said. 

Delivered in partnership with four other major Australian universities, the team of researchers will also work with aged care providers, faith-based service providers, older persons advocacy groups, aged care peak bodies and LGBTQ+ community organisations to research and codesign an LGBTQ+ inclusive model of care and supporting guidelines and resources. 

“LGBTQ+ people will be at the centre of this project – as co-researchers, members of a Lived Experience Advisory Group and participants in the codesign processes – and it is essential that the model developed reflects their aspirations for how they and their partners and friends would like to experience residential aged care.” 

An expert on aged care and social work, Professor Hughes has led numerous research projects into ageing experiences among LGBTQ+ communities, recognition of gender and sexual diversity in aged care policy and practice, and social work practice with older people. In 2023 he was appointed as the new Editor-in-Chief of the Australasian Journal on Ageing.  

“I’ve been researching LGBTQ+ ageing for over twenty years, following a career as an aged care social worker. It’s been a challenging field in which to gain funding and I’m very appreciative of the University for supporting this program of research over so many years. The strong connections that have emerged over time between older persons organisations and LGBTQ+ community groups provide the foundation for this study and I’m deeply grateful for our partners’ confidence in the project.” 

Learn more about the project

meat in display case
Red meat packaging in supermarket

Working with industry to achieve zero plastic waste to landfill

Ever wondered what happens when you combine polymer science, business administration and sustainability? Well, if you haven’t now is the time.

A team of experts from the University’s Business and Science faculties have been working closely with the Australian red-meat processing industry to achieve a big target: zero plastic waste to landfill.  

A research project led by Dr Owen Hogan, alongside Dr Lachlan Yee and Associate Professor Pascal Scherrer involved a comprehensive examination of single-use on-site plastics in the Australian red-meat processing industry and established a platform for facilities to identify and monitor their plastic usage, ultimately working towards zero plastic waste.   

“Our research uncovered a significant diversity of single-use on-site plastic products used in red-meat processing, with a total of 44 different types of plastic items identified. It also highlighted the industry's progression towards more sustainable solutions, especially in retail-ready packaging, driven by international initiatives and Australia's National Packaging Targets 2025,” Dr Hogan said. 

Despite some evidence of recycling efforts, the team uncovered that the majority of single-use on-site plastic waste currently goes to landfill each year, primarily due to the limited options available for dealing with contaminated waste streams.  

“The project is the first of its kind to develop a foundational understanding of single-use plastics in the meat processing industry and identify opportunities for waste reduction and improved sustainability,” Dr Hogan said. 

The research provides the impetus for the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) to develop a circular roadmap for plastics, build systems that track and monitor plastic consumption, engage with plastic producers for alternative solutions, and collaborate with waste services for better waste recovery streams.  

“Due to its lightweight, highly versatile and cost-effective properties, plastics are prevalent across all parts of processing and packaging. The challenge is to identify viable alternatives or develop circularity for plastics. The Australian red meat industry is committed to reducing solid waste to landfill within the next 10 years. AMPC and Southern Cross University are exploring opportunities to continue this vital work.”  

The report is available to view here: Diverting plastics from landfill – Final report.   

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Dr Simone Blom

Teaching lecturer named one of Australia’s top educators

If a teacher is not having fun in the classroom, how can they expect their students to have fun?

Fun, passion and connection are at the heart of Southern Cross University Education lecturer, Dr Simone Blom’s, teaching philosophy and why she was named one of the nation’s top educators in the 2023 Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT). 

The AAUT citation honours Simone ‘for sustained positive impact on first year pre-service teacher science education by improving confidence and enjoyment through innovative, relational, and inspirational pedagogies and learning experiences.’ 

Surprised and delighted by the award, Simone was quick to acknowledge the team effort. 

“This is recognition for everyone in the Faculty of Education, and Centre for Teaching and Learning,” Simone said. “Southern Cross University students get to experience such high-quality learning because of everything we do as a team.” 

While part of the dedicated Southern Cross University education team for 10 years now, it is remarkable Simone found her way to the profession at all after regarding her own high school teachers as ‘crazy’ for choosing to return to school having already endured 13 years as students. 

After earning a Bachelor of Environmental Science, Simone took a gap year, and discovered her true vocation. 

“I was working with children in a school holiday environmental program, and I thought, ‘I love this! I want to be a teacher’,” she said. 

Simone returned to study a Bachelor of Teaching (Primary and Secondary) and worked as a high school Science teacher for seven years. Then, wanderlust struck, and she embarked on a Northern Territory adventure. 

“I ended up teaching Maths, Food Technology, Year 7 English, Chemistry, even pre-school Music - I did everything!” she exclaimed. “It made me realise how much I’d grown as a teacher.” 

Whether teaching pre-schoolers in the Top End or undergraduates at Southern Cross University (Lismore), Simone’s approach is consistent – connect with students first, build relationships and have fun. 

“My students always feel that I’m having fun, that I love what I’m teaching,” she said, “and they become a part of that.” 

Simone's recognition follows AAUT citations for Dr Michael Whelan in 2020, Dr Mieke Wietsel in 2019 and Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett in 2018. 

Did you know...

Alumna Moesha Johnson heads to Paris Olympics
Southern Cross University alumna, and 2019 Summerland Credit Union Rising Star scholarship recipient, Moesha Johnson is on the road to Paris 2024!  

In August, the Tweed Heads Biomedical Science graduate will race along the Seine River in the brutal 10 km Open Water Swim and is also gunning for Olympic qualification in the 1500m pool event. Let’s cheer her on!  

Uniting for Youth workshop 
Law students were given front row seats to hear from a caste of frontline legal professionals at the recent Uniting for Youth: Collaborative Pathways to Better Outcomes workshop.   

Speakers included Judge Skinner of the District Court and President of the Children's Court of NSW, senior officers of the NSW Police, representatives from the Department of Communities and Justice, the NSW Children’s Court Magistrate and more.   

“The workshop covered topics on how to better manage children in out of home care who also come into contact with the criminal justice systems, and the high needs of children in out of home care,” Associate Professor and Chair of Discipline (Law) David Heilpern said.   

Goodbye landline, hello Teams! 
It is the end of an era for desk phones at Southern Cross University. Our Technology Services team successfully transitioned 4,600 University telephone numbers, including critical services such as the campus libraries, security, student hubs, and 905 staff telephones!  

This is a sustainable solution for the University, reducing its IT and hardware footprint by minimising physical handsets, fax machines and paper consumption. All 2,100 handsets were sent to a company who specialises in electronic waste to be sustainably disposed of.  

Welcome to the team

Brendon Murphy, Professor - Faculty of Business, Law and Arts

Kelly Bittner, Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Education

Tracy Young, Senior Lecturer - Faculty of Education  

Amanda Levido, Lecturer - Faculty of Education

Borkwei Ed Nignpense,Lecturer - Faculty of Health  

Ada Giedrojc, Transaction Services Officer - Financial Services 

Radhika Sewram, Research Assistant - National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine