Driving societal impact, creating safer communities and celebrating sport at UNSW – 15 November 2023

15 Nov 2023
Sports blues

Dear colleagues

Societal impact is at the heart of everything we do. It’s a distinguishing characteristic of a UNSW education and the primary driver of our research. To help us determine the areas where UNSW can have the greatest impact on society and help us focus our efforts for maximum effect, we are developing the University’s first Societal Impact Framework.

The framework will inform the next UNSW strategy, for which planning is already underway. Consultation with students, staff and the wider UNSW community will take place early next year to identify our University’s distinctive strengths and greatest potential for creating meaningful change. We want to hear from you to genuinely understand how UNSW can contribute to a better world and the strategic priorities needed to enable this beyond 2025. Read more about the Societal Impact Framework in this edition of Inside UNSW, including how you can be involved, or visit the Societal Impact Framework website.

Middle East – supporting students and staff

Last week, in an email to all students and staff I again acknowledged the significant impact of the loss of life in the Middle East and thanked colleagues for the characteristic kindness and empathy of the UNSW community supporting those who have been impacted by either the tragedy overseas or unacceptable vilification here in Australia. I also reminded us of unacceptable behaviour at UNSW and the consequences of such actions as well as reiterating how important it is to be aware of those who are finding the situation particularly distressing, and to continue to show tolerance, compassion and kindness. For those who missed the email, I have included it to provide you the opportunity to reflect on it. Please remember that UNSW has a range of support services available for students and staff, including the Student Support Team, and a confidential counselling service for staff and their families through the Employee Assistance Program.

Safer Communities creating a welcoming, safe environment

Last week I also wrote to you about the launch of Safer Communities, this is a critical initiative that will accelerate and integrate the University’s efforts in gendered violence, managing psychosocial risk, respect at work, protection from unacceptable behaviours, and more broadly promote student and staff wellbeing. We want to create a University environment that is as safe as possible so that everyone in our community can enjoy their experience of UNSW. The Safer Communities approach also increases the opportunity for staff to report, be supported and rapidly resolve potential issues which impact student and staff safety and wellbeing. It is a very concrete step forward on our continuing journey to improve campus safety. Visit the new Safer Communities website for more information.

Insight Survey Phase Two results

Detailed results from Phase Two of the Insight Survey, for staff employed on a casual basis, are now available.

With an overall engagement score of 81per cent, the large majority of our casual staff told us that they feel proud and motivated to work at UNSW and are willing to recommend UNSW as a great place to work. The strengths that we can celebrate include positive results around respect, safety and autonomy. The key areas where we can do better include collaboration, demonstrating that people are important to UNSW’s success, and taking action on your feedback. With this in mind, we have chosen to initially focus our efforts on a priority area: UNSW demonstrates the people are important to the University’s success.  

We want you to see meaningful change in this focus area based on your clear feedback. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey and shared their ideas at our Listening Groups. We will continue to keep you updated as we review potential ideas for action and determine the best way forward.   

Dr Janine Gertz wins 2023 Stanner Award

Please join me in congratulating Dr Janine Gertz, who has won the prestigious 2023 Stanner Award for her PhD thesis, Gugu Badhun Sovereignty, Self-Determination and Nationhood. The Stanner Award is presented biennially by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) for Australia’s best academic text by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander author.

Janine is a Gugu Badhun/Ngadjon-ji academic, and Indigenous Research – Indigenous Law Centre Lead with UNSW’s Nura Gili. In being selected as the winning piece from a record number of entries for the award, Janine’s thesis was described by the judging panel as “exciting, beautifully written”.

AIATSIS interim CEO Leonard Hill said that the quality of this year’s entries “demonstrates the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic writing.” UNSW is privileged to have an academic writer of Janine’s calibre among our colleagues. Read more about Janine’s 2023 Stanner Award.

Cyber security update

The security of our information resources and the privacy of our students and staff are essential to our University’s operation. As we saw last week, the resilience of our systems and networks shone through. But it is important to remember that cyber security is everyone’s responsibility, and we all need to take seriously our obligations to protect the information in our care.

UNSW’s Cyber Program continues to build and improve the University’s cyber security. New Cyber Security Awareness training will be introduced later this month, and from December we will be strengthening our password standards. By learning a few simple steps and better understanding the University’s guidelines, we can keep our data safe and protect both ourselves and the University from cyber security threats. Find out more in this edition of Inside UNSW.

2023 UNSW Sports Awards

I had the great pleasure of attending the UNSW Sports Awards Gala Dinner earlier this month (pictured above), one of the hottest tickets on the UNSW calendar. It was a fantastic night celebrating the many achievements of athletes, teams, clubs, volunteers and club administrators over the past year. On top of the incredible sporting achievements, what really struck me was the generosity of everyone working together to support each other and the University sporting community. Congratulations to all the athletes and to the volunteers, clubs and coaches! I’m already looking forward to the next event. A full wrap of the awards night can be found on the UNSW Sport website.

UNSW co-hosts Go8 Sustainability Forum

I was proud to welcome Sustainability Directors and senior managers from our Group of Eight (Go8) partner universities to UNSW last week for the Go8 Sustainability Forum. The group has been sharing experiences, collaborating and taking action on campus sustainability, focusing on environmental sustainability, since 2008.

This forum is an exemplar of our universities’ quest for positive impact. In addition to demonstrating how complex organisations with large footprints can make great strides in environmental sustainability, such as UNSW’s plastic-free dining initiative and of course our 100 per cent renewable energy achievement, the Go8 are applying research in areas like solar photovoltaics, renewable energy and sustainable materials to help ensure a liveable future for our planet.

Thank you to our Head of Sustainability Will Syddall and Manager UNSW Sustainability, Arifa Sarfaz for their dedication to creating a sustainable campus at UNSW, and to Chief Property Officer Tim Beattie for championing. Read more about the Go8 Sustainability Forum.

Donations of food and essentials to the People’s Pantry

If you are able, I ask you to consider making a donation to the People’s Pantry food relief service, which helps people in crisis in south-eastern Sydney. Kingsford Legal Centre (KLC) and UNSW Law & Justice are collecting donations of food and essentials including personal hygiene items, as demand for the service continues to grow. Please drop your donations in for the Christmas drive until Friday 1 December. See which items are needed most and how to contribute.

Awards and accolades


Best regards

Professor Attila Brungs
Vice-Chancellor and President