I have lots to update you on even though it's only a week since my last blog.
On Wednesday, I personally attended enterprise bargaining negotiations. It is very clear that all sides are committed to ANU being a great place to work.
You already know we've made a pay offer - based on union feedback - that means you'll be earning 20 per cent more in June 2026 than you were at the start of this year. This week I took the opportunity to reaffirm the University's commitment to casual employees, and to present our offer with respect to casual job security and conditions. And at this point, from my perspective based on this week's discussions, Iam optimistic that we are close to an agreement.
This sector has not traditionally treated casuals well, so I want ANU to do better and set an example that is a catalyst for all of Australian higher education to do better - just like we led the way with parental leave and other universities followed. We want our staff to feel secure in their employment, so we won't employ people on a casual basis unless they are a student, or there is a genuine reason for them to be casual.
In detail and building on the bargaining discussions to date, the University's offer consists of the following enhancements for our casual employees:
Reduction of 18.7 per cent of casual FTE over the life of the new Agreement.
Criteria to only use casual employment in specific and appropriate circumstances.
Commitment to create pathways for 116 FTE to non-casual employment - though we expect to exceed this. We remain committed to recruiting and retaining talent.
12.5 per cent super - this is more than any university in the Group of Eight.
Entitlement to long service leave after 10 years' service.
Provision of 20 instances of gender affirmation leave per year.
Commitment to pay staff accurately for the work they do through revised definitions of casual sessional academic activities.
Enhanced notice periods - one week notice period will be required for the University or a staff member to cease a casual employment contract.
In addition, over the course of the week, the ANU bargaining team have presented a position on academic freedom and pathways for fixed term staff to more secure employment after five years.
My goal as VC is simple: I want ANU to be the best place in the country to work.
With this sector-leading offer around casual job security and conditions, and the revised pay offer presented last week of a 20 per cent compound increase over the life of the agreement, if there are any reasons for further strikes, they have not been communicated to me or my team.
The ANU has released an updated Student Safety and Wellbeing Plan which highlights our collective progress over the last year in the critical area of sexual violence prevention and response. This report is a testament to the hard work and commitment of ANU staff. The initiatives, educational programs, and continuous advocacy have been instrumental in fostering a culture of respect, consent, and support within our university community. ANU fully supports the Student Union's actions to highlight work that is yet to be done in this space. We are committed to enacting meaningful changes that ensure our community feels safe, respected, and empowered in their academic pursuits.
It's no secret our world is grappling with some big forces driving massive change at the moment - including when it comes to technology, shifts in geopolitical and economic power, backlash against globalisation and climate change. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of hearing our Chancellor, the Hon Julie Bishop, speak about these "megatrends" at the National Press Club. I share Julie's confidence that Australia - and ANU - can play a useful role in shaping responses to these big challenges. You can read an excerpt of the Chancellor's speech online.
Last night's Three Minute Thesis competition final proved - yet again - that not only is ANU a world leader in research, but that its researchers are some of the best communicators around. In first place was SaiShyam Ramesh from the Research School of Biology talking about "Redefining the Trojan Horse Strategy" (he was also the People's Choice Winner). The runner-up was Nick Bariesheff from the John Curtin School of Medical Research on "Using the Message of Exercise to Prevent Blindness". Congratulations to all the contestants for their wonderful presentations. Watch the 3MT livestream.
I am part of our Council meeting today where we say good-bye to Doug McTaggart who has served on council for 11 years, and welcome Larry Marshall as an observer before he officially starts at our next meeting. On Monday I am attending a University event up in Beijing, before returning for our big Voice Dialogue next Wednesday. I really encourage students and staff to attend - so if you have not yet signed up, please do so, and be an active participant in history.