Dean's Report

Melbourne Leadership Conference

The Melbourne Leadership conference, held recently at Torquay, is an annual event which brings together leaders from across the University to focus on the big issues affecting the University and the wider higher education sector. This year, naturally, much emphasis was placed on the new University Strategy with individual sessions on Place, Discovery, Global, Education and Community. I was pleased with the inclusion of a discussion on the graduate student experience in the Education session led by the new Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Life) Professor Kerri-Lee Krause. We examined what the core characteristics of an excellent graduate student experience might be and how we could achieve this for our graduate students at the University.

The overarching theme of the new Strategy is Advancing Melbourne and it is due to be released to the University community soon.  The strategy has been through various iterations after wide consultation across the University and will set the agenda for the next 10 years. In light of the new Strategy we will be reviewing our own MGSE strategy this year to ensure it aligns with the broader University direction.  Naturally, there was also much discussion about COVID-19 and the University’s response to this challenging time for our Chinese students and for our staff who are working hard to respond to our isolated students.

Dean's Lecture Series 2020, CPECE award and new Cognate Leader

The 2020 Dean’s Lecture Series was launched on Monday night with a lecture by Dr Jayne Osgood from Middlesex University, London examining ways to move beyond narrow formulations of diversity in early childhood looking particularly at an example of how Chinese New Year is celebrated and plays out in the baby room of an early childhood centre. It was also the perfect occasion to announce that Professor Nicola Yelland has been selected as the 2020 Critical Perspectives on Early Childhood Education (CPECE) Distinguished Scholar Award recipient, an annual award that is given to a scholar who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the dissemination and understanding of critical perspectives on early childhood education at local, national, and international levels. My warmest congratulations to Nicola on this prestigious award.

I would like to extend my thanks to Associate Professor Neryl Jeanneret who has recently relinquished her role as Arts and Creative Education (ACE) Cognate Leader, her enthusiasm and hard work were greatly appreciated. I’m delighted to announce that Associate Professor Mark Selkrig has agreed to take on this role and will start imminently.

MGSE Executive

The MGSE Executive met on 18 February where we reviewed and approved the 2019 Progress report on our Divisional Indigenous Development plan which has now been submitted to Chancellery. We also acknowledged the work MGSE is doing with Marcia Langton and her team on a project titled National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curricula Project, which develops resources in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures for teachers.

I gave an update on my participation in the recent roundtable that the Productivity Commission convened to discuss the role of the education system in supporting mental health. The Productivity Commission has been conducting an inquiry into the social and economic impacts of improving mental health and released its draft report in October 2019.  I also provided an update on the work of the Victorian Children's Council (VCC) Middle Years of Secondary Schooling Working Group which I chair. The Working Group provides advice to the Minister and the Department of Education on the middle years of secondary school and the approaches secondary schools can take to better support the engagement and achievement of students, and better engagement with families in their children’s learning. Ten draft recommendations have been compiled as a result of the last Working Group meeting and these will be finalised soon.

New format for Staff Dialogues

Lastly, this year we will be changing the format of our Staff Dialogues to a floor by floor event. I really enjoyed my five weeks on level 4 during the refurbishment project and valued the informal interactions I had with many staff. These more casual encounters provoked some interesting conversations and suggestions from a wide range of staff. To this end, as part of a new approach to staff dialogues, we will be holding morning teas on each floor starting with level 7 - we’ll provide the muffins and you bring your cup of tea or coffee.  We won’t be checking the roll at these events so if staff from other floors choose to turn up then they will be well received. The aim is to have two of these morning teas per floor throughout the year and dates will be circulated soon.