"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

From the Vice Chancellor

Professor Tyrone Carlin

Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President

If the past year or two has taught us anything, it has been that there is always another surprise waiting. In the face of the tumultuous events through which we have all lived, we adapted rapidly to uncertainty by rallying around the idea that we could not allow uncertainty to paralyse us. By adopting this approach, we took a very considerable burden upon ourselves.

More times than we may wish to recount, we found ourselves forced to write off the precious hours invested in an initial approach and begin from scratch on another. We spent many more fighting our way through mazes of systems and processes in pursuit of solutions that we instinctively knew should have been much more readily within our grasp.

In the face of these and many other challenges, we demonstrated agility, resilience and creativity and delivered remarkable learning opportunities and support for our students and continued to enhance and mature our research agenda.

As the world begins to pivot back to something more closely resembling “normal”, we find ourselves both looking backwards with a view to cementing valuable lessons from our experiences and forwards to the future we wish to build for our University. This process of reflection is timely and important. It offers each of us an opportunity to participate in the generation of the insights that will guide us as we continue to grow and improve and in the clarification of our priorities for the next several years.

That is why spending time in conversation with so many colleagues from across the University has been such a highlight for me over recent weeks. Whilst many different ideas have emerged, three themes have shone through.   Read more

First, there is a very strong sense of the importance of increasing the level of the investment that we make in our people, processes, technology and campuses as well as clarity that in order to sustain this investment, we have substantial work to do to improve our financial foundations. 

Second, there is a strong sense that it will be in our interests to continue to change and innovate in order to deliver the highest quality student experience and the most impactful research and that creating the conditions where we can achieve this change more seamlessly and quickly will be vital to our future success.

Third, that as we move forward, we should focus to a greater extent on engaging with our communities and regions, not in an inward looking or parochial manner but rather as an institution that delivers a global perspective, connections and opportunities.

These are powerful ideas which can very meaningfully inform the approach we take to planning for and securing our future. But we should treat them as a beginning and commit to building on them together in coming months. Each of us can and should have a voice in creating the roadmap to our future and I encourage you to confidently share yours as we undertake this important work.

I hope this edition of Southern Cross Matters provides you with some stimulating insights into the quality and impact of what we achieve together as a community and that you will continue to send me your valuable suggestions for how we can continue to improve.

Professor Tyrone M Carlin
Vice Chancellor and President

Leading the world through “we” rather than “me”

Professor Anne Graham

Professor Anne Graham

For Professor Anne Graham the “we” rather than the “me” has become a mantra, since establishing the highly regarded Centre for Children and Young People (CCYP) back in 2004.

Anne’s research focuses on the rights, well-being and safety of children and young people (0-25 years) in the key contexts in which they live their lives – family, school and community. She has led more than 70 research projects including seven Australian Research Council-funded studies.

“To help ensure this research is relevant and accessible to those who can best use it to improve children’s lives, we collaborate closely with partners in translating research into summaries, websites, ‘good practice’ guidelines, webinars, professional learning workshops, and education programs,” according to Anne.

Central to this approach is hearing directly from children and young people not only about their experiences but what best supports them when life gets tough.

“This work has actually positioned SCU as the go to institution for research involving children. As a smaller regional Australian university, we are now the leading international voice on how to do this kind of research collaboratively with our long-standing partners such as UNICEF. It requires a ‘we’ not a ‘me’ mindset to achieve this kind of impact.”

Anne has a particular interest in understanding and supporting children to adapt to change, loss and grief in their lives. More than 300,000 children, young people and adults in five countries have participated in evidence-informed education programs she has developed with partner organisation Good Grief at MacKillop Family Services.    Read more

Her current research includes bringing together the available international evidence about the impacts of COVID-19 on children and young people’s lives, particularly their mental health, and developing resources to help them adjust to the emerging new ‘normal’. She says increased fear and anxiety have been a feature in much of the research, with many young people reporting feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

“Routines have been disrupted and life has become unpredictable.

“COVID-19 has influenced who they can see, where they can go, what they can do and the changes keep on happening, often at very short notice. Schools re-opening, school closing; we’re allowed to visit our friends, we’re not allowed; we’re not the priority for getting vaccinated, we’re being rushed to get our jab; we’re not sitting final exams, we are sitting them. Some young people breeze through these experiences but others benefit from knowledge, skills and support networks to help them through”.

She believes now more than ever it’s important to hear from young people about their experiences, to help them focus on what they can influence rather than what they can’t and, most importantly, to affirm their capacities to make positive changes in their lives, with appropriate supports in place.

“The days are gone when if you don’t talk about things they’ll go away, we really need to learn from children and young people and help build their skills in understanding and adjusting to change and uncertainty”.

The CCYP and long-standing research partner, MacKillop Family Services, will shortly be releasing resources for schools to support students as they settle back into their ‘new normal’.

Seeing the light and making green savings

Going green by switching to LED lighting

Going green by switching to LED lighting

We take them for granted, but without them we’d really be in the dark. We’re talking about the humble electric light.

Illuminating our campuses is a costly business but thanks to some lateral bright thinking, the Property Services team has come up with an alternative way to keep the lights on while saving almost $3 million dollars.

Our Lismore, Gold Coast campuses as well as the National Marine Science Centre at Coffs Harbour are going green by switching to LED lighting. Converting 9000 fittings is a huge logistical task but it’s on track due to be complete by January next year.

It’s a project the Property Services Director, Danika Head, is passionate and proud to be a part of and in doing so she found an upside to COVID shut downs. 

“We kicked off the project in July and one of the beauties of mostly empty campuses is it allows access for technicians to implement the changeover as quickly as possible,” Danika explains.

Her team took advantage of a New South Wales energy conversion rebate of almost $400,000 helping to recoup the project cost in four years.    Read more

“It’s a good win for us doing these sorts of projects, we obviously don’t have finite resources so it’s a really good result for the team.”

Here’s how it stacks up.

The project will cost $836,891 but will save $1.3m over four years and double that over the next decade.

As for carbon emissions it represents a reduction of 532 tonnes – that’s the equivalent of 100 round-the-world flights.

It’s already paying off with a $30,000 saving on September’s power bill.  It’s estimated that LED lamps operate up to 50 times longer than conventional ones so maintenance costs are also expected to reduce by more than $110,000 per annum.

The University continues to develop its green profile with other projects like the Southern Cross University Electric Kombi Conversion which is the basis of a curriculum package for New South Wales schools.

Danika is now focused on the future.

“Sustainability is one of my biggest passions, as well as the LED conversion we also recently introduced water saving measures and we hope to be able to leverage more similar projects.”

International Movember collaboration is ahead of the game

Associate Professor Christian Swann

Associate Professor Christian Swann

COVID-induced delays aren’t stopping sports psychologist, Associate Professor Christian Swann, rolling out the Ahead of the Game mental fitness program globally.

“Movember has been supporting the project from its development at Wollongong University in 2015,” says Christian.

“Now I’m with Southern Cross, they’re covering 10 percent of the cost of my ongoing work as a subject matter expert. That involves overseeing the scientific integrity of the program for each new country that takes it up.”

Ahead of the Game has now been adapted and delivered to five countries, involving 8000 young rugby league players with a focus on improving youth mental fitness through community sport.  It targets both mental health and literacy resilience combining both to underpin overall wellbeing.

Christian believes it’s the most evidence-based program there is in the world and it’s one of Movember’s flagship programs within their children and adolescence stream of work.

“Working with Dr Swann is a vital part of Movember’s approach to ensure that programs like Ahead of the Game remain true to the evidence base as they’re implemented globally,” According to Owen Brigstock-Barron, Movember’s Director, Community and Workplace.   Read more

Even though it’s been delayed for 12 months the 2021 Rugby League World Cup will a be key player as far as Ahead of the Game is concerned. It will be the first ever global sporting event to officially launch a mental fitness charter.

Christian joined Southern Cross at Coffs Harbour in 2018.

“It feels a lot more connected than other larger institutions where, if you do see potential for a new initiative or opportunity, it can be put forward without having to go through a maze of layers.”

Ahead of the Game is now the basis of a British made Sky Sports documentary. It features the stories of high-profile players who are now delivering Ahead of the Game and showcases the program.

Further details are available here:

The Rugby League World Cup is now scheduled to run from 15 October – 19 November 2022.

Coral Reef research comes to life at World Expo in Dubai

Australia’s Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai

Australian Pavilion 'Blue Sky Dreaming' at the World Expo in Dubai

Distinguished Professor Peter Harrison is now back on the Great Barrier Reef marking the 40th year of his tireless research into the life of coral.

He’s again focusing on the annual event when coral spawn, in one of nature’s most spectacular displays. If you didn’t already know, Peter is recognised internationally as an eminent researcher, pioneer and expert in the field of coral reproduction and larval restoration.

“We know that coral larval restoration process can be very successful at re-establishing breeding populations within two to three years on badly damaged reef systems. But we need to scale-up that process now to be operating beyond hectare scales and eventually into kilometre scales. Therefore understanding how to take what we know is successful at small scales and re-engineer it into much larger scales is the next phase of the research program,” Peter says.

Earlier this year our University honoured him with a Distinguished Professorship. His work is part of a spectacular audio-visual display at Australia’s Pavilion at the World Expo which opened in Dubai last month and runs until March. 

According to Peter, “It’s been very exciting and an honour to have my research featured in the Australian Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai. It’s a great opportunity to engage with international audiences about the importance of corals and reef systems but also their fragility and the need for action on climate change as well as active interventions to try and restore some of these foundation breeding corals as quickly as possible.”   Read more

The Australian Pavilion celebrates the aspirations and achievements of Australia, its innovation and optimism, as articulated in the Pavilion’s theme ‘Blue Sky Dreaming’.

“We have set out to make a pavilion experience that vibrantly brings together the spirit and energy of Australia, is informative and at the same time fun and entertaining,” says Artistic Director Andrew Walsh.

And in the United Kingdom Peter’s research features as part of a Channel 4 News documentary  Emergency on Planet Earth, in the lead-up to COP26.

Watch The Team Racing to Save the Great Barrier Reef with IVF  for interviews and on-the-ground vision of Peter with his team during  coral spawning at The Whitsundays, as well as Anna Marsden from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Even after 40 years Peter is determined to continue with his work. “We are looking forward to applying the knowledge from the work in the Philippines and the Great Barrier Reef and expanding into other regions to help support reef recovery.”

Did you know?

Forest Science graduate

Forest Science graduate

Times Higher Education 2022 world rankings

An international report card to be proud of

Academic & University News | Times Higher Education (THE)

The highly respected Times Higher Education 2022 world rankings have registered a big improvement for Southern Cross University’s standing in Physical Sciences.

Southern Cross has moved up more than 50 places to be in the top 250 in the world. Last year we sat in the 301-400 bracket and now we’re in the 200-250 range. The category is based on  Geology, Environmental, Earth & Marine Sciences. It’s ranked using five criteria:

  • Citations
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • International Outlook
  • Industry Income

“We’ve done particularly well in Citations, Industry Income and International Outlook with the main focus on Earth/environmental and Marine Sciences,” according to our Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Professor Nick Ashbolt.

He cites ground-breaking research papers published in leading nature journals and major international team-funded grants, from people like Professors, Peter Harrison, Damien Maher, Bradley Eyre, Terry Rose and Brendan Kelaher to name a few, as helping lift the University’s profile.

“Our consistent track record in securing Australian Research Council (ARC), Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Agrifutures and Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) funding has certainly played a significant role in where we sit on the international stage.”

A detailed breakdown can be found at: World University Rankings 2022 by subject: physical sciences.


Welcome to the team

Kirsty Mitchell, Wellness Project Lead, Faculty of Health

Olivia Robinson, Partnership Officer, Office of Engagement

Peter Kurtz, Manager, Infrastructure Provisioning, Technology Services


A friendly reminder

Don’t forget, we’d like to hear from you. We’re hungry for information about the great work you or your colleagues are immersed in.
Send your ideas to content@scu.edu.au


Professor Tyrone Carlin

Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor and President

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I am paying particularly close attention to what students who have experienced learning within the Southern Cross Model are saying about their experience of it. Their feedback has on balance been very encouraging but also contained suggestions that will be helpful to us as we continue to evolve and improve what we do.

One thing in particular that has struck me about the way that many students have described their experience of the Southern Cross Model is the sense that they can “see the finish line” in a way they never could in the traditional semester model and how this motivates them and gives them a sense of focus and confidence.

As I have reflected on this, it has seemed to me that one of the deeply challenging issues we face as a group of colleagues is that it can sometimes be very difficult to “see the finish line”. The tasks we have taken upon ourselves are profound, and very often the seeds we sow will not bear fruit for many years to come.

Yet there is a difference between the perfected form and something that though not perfect we can be confident represents a better us. We have taken it upon ourselves to work towards the creation of a University that more comprehensively and authentically engages our students in learning and drives them to greater opportunity and success – no matter their background. And we have taken it upon ourselves to more deeply entwine the vital work we do in research with our educational mission, and in so doing to more purposefully engage with industry and the community to drive impact from that research.   Read more

We are in the early stages of a long journey in which we will work with focus to commit and recommit to quality and to excellence and in so doing invigorate our professional lives, elevate the prospects of our students and anchor the next stage of development of our regions. These things are not achieved in a single season. They require a sustained sense of shared purpose and enormous diligence. They also require the humility to listen and the courage to objectively evaluate the evidence available to us and where required, admit failure – but then learn from that and move on.

We will carve out our place in the future not through giant leaps but through committing to many small steps. As we do this, I think it is important that we adopt the attitude of not letting the best be the enemy of the good. This is not about embracing the idea that what we have done is good enough, but rather, challenging ourselves to make positive strides that are good enough to allow us to take the next steps, and then the ones after that and then building the momentum to continue taking more positive steps forward.

We should not fear failing to reach immediate perfection, or indeed failing to reach perfection. Rather, we should rue the opportunities we lose each day by not taking the first positive step that is within our grasp, and then building on it.

More than anything else, I think the contents of this edition of Southern Cross Matters evoke that spirit – and I hope that you will really enjoy reading it and find it motivating.

Professor Tyrone M Carlin
Vice Chancellor and President

CTL teamwork for innovative learning solutions

Aimee Andersen

Aimee Andersen, Educational Designer, Centre for Teaching and Learning

head and shoulders of Ellie Magee Jessup

Ellie Magee-Jessup

For Aimee Andersen, an Educational Designer at Southern Cross University’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), supporting academics to deliver outcomes is all about team work.

She is part of a unique, diverse and dedicated team. Together with other CTL specialists such as Digital Designers, Curriculum Designers and Digital Technologists, Aimee partners with Faculty academics from across the University to co-design engaging and innovative learning opportunities for students.

It’s like a developmental engine room – a collegial effort with a shared focus on establishing the deep, active learning that underpins the Southern Cross Model and supports our students to succeed in their studies. It is also one of the areas of priority investment for the University.

"One example is that, working with the academics, we were tasked with creating active learning activities to test students’ knowledge of complex formulas and data analysis using Excel.

“As this type of activity would have traditionally been conducted in class, we needed to create learning opportunities that tested the students' knowledge of complex formulas and calculations with Excel in Blackboard,” Aimee explains.

In this case, the high level of student engagement points to a successful outcome.

Aimee works alongside people like her Digital Design colleague Ellie Magee-Jessup, who took on the challenge of developing interactive learning opportunities for a Scientific Data Management and Analysis unit.

“It involved transitioning from some complex in-class spreadsheet activities to online self-learning activities.

“But collaboratively finding the key objectives allowed us to narrow down a concise but engaging way for students to still explore the concepts,” Ellie says.

Their tailored, interactive solutions have helped keep students engaged with online learning as part of the adaptation to COVID-19 challenges.

It’s something Dr Lachlan Forsyth, Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, is proud of.

“It’s been a pleasure to see the new Southern Cross Model emerge through these types of collaborations,” he says.

Southern Cross Model teaching a “no-brainer”

Dr Sharon Nisbet

Dr Sharen Nisbet

Out with the old in with the new – it’s really easy to get hooked on teaching in this way.

That’s how Dr Sharen Nesbit sums up what it’s like to teach within the New Southern Cross Model.

Since the beginning of the year, a number of courses have been delivered in the shorter, more focused unit structure of six teaching weeks, and it’s proving to be a winner for both staff and students.

Dr Nisbet’s been teaching in the model since day one.

“It allows teachers to keep the energy levels high. It’s a sprint not a marathon, so it’s a matter of go in hard and go in early,” said Dr Nisbet of her work teaching the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise.

“Previously, a lot of units were quite bloated and overblown. There’s a lot taught that doesn’t relate to the assessments. Students are assessment-focused but they’re (also) time-poor; they’re busy.

“By streamlining the process for students it’s streamlining it for teachers. To me it’s a no-brainer. It’s more interesting.”

Dr Nisbet works closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) team who have been invaluable in designing and delivering specific activities to help with her teaching in an online environment. 

She’s now working on converting other units to the new model.

“My experience has been very positive with the model. It’s really easy to get hooked on teaching in this way. Units are well-curated, well-aligned and they make sense.”

SURF’s up and it’s all about being industry savvy

Associate Professor Dirk Erler (right) and Dr Shane McIntosh inspect waste processing at Richmond Dairies

Associate Professor Dirk Erler (right) and Dr Shane McIntosh inspect waste processing at Richmond Dairies

It could be described as riding a wave to success. SURF stands for the Strategic University Reform Fund and Southern Cross has secured $2 million to oversee a new innovative partnership with government, industry and business.

The idea is to create a more circular local economy by reducing production costs, regenerating resources into value-add materials, and enabling the creation of new jobs in the Northern Rivers region.

It’s a pilot program simply called the ReCirculator and will be overseen by Southern Cross researchers Professor Andrew Rose and Professor Dirk Erler.

“Both Andrew and Dirk have track records in the application of circular economy solutions with industrial organics waste emanating from food production,” says Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Mary Spongberg.

The pair know their way around the region having recently worked on projects with well-known local food processing businesses.

Based at the Lismore campus, their task will be to deliver four demonstration projects that apply circular economy principles in manufacturing, agriculture and food production. 

“This grant allows us to take what we do at bench-scale, in a lab, and bridge the gap to that technology becoming implemented in reality,” said Professor Rose.

They’ll work closely with regional partners North East Waste, Lismore City Council, the Casino Food Co-op and Richmond Diaries.

“We actually care about the same things and we’re motivated by the same desire to create opportunities, to create a better place to live and that’s something unique about being a regional university,” said Professor Rose.

If catching the ReCirculator wave is successful over the next two years, the University will have the opportunity to apply for a further $10 million in federal funding.

Swell time for Southern Cross

Student ambassadors with the Electric Vehicle converted Kombi

Student ambassadors with the Electric Vehicle converted Kombi

Sculpture by Southern Cross Alumni Daniel Clemmett

A sculpture by Southern Cross Alumni Daniel Clemmett.

What do our Electric Kombi and coastal art have in common?

They were both part of this year’s Swell Sculpture Festival on the Gold Coast from September 10 to 19, that featured 65 large-scale contemporary sculptures installed on Currumbin Beach.

When it comes to sun, sand and surf, a VW Kombi is right at home. These days, restored Kombis are a common sight but ours is a bit different. Southern Cross University students and lead contractor EV Machina converted the 1976 machine to a state-of-the-art electric vehicle on Lismore campus.

The University partnered with the Swell organisers last month to showcase the long distance eco-friendly machine at Wallace Nicoll Park, with student ambassadors on hand to talk to festival-goers about the project and the University. Great exposure considering the event attracted 100,000 people.

The Southern Cross Electric Kombi is rapidly powering its way off the beach and into New South Wales classrooms as part of a curriculum unit package thanks to PhD researchers in the Faculty of Education, Simone Blom and Dave Ellis.

Also on display right next to the Kombi, a sculpture by Southern Cross Alumni Daniel Clemmett.

Did you know?

The latest round of successful academic promotions has been announced:

Lecturer (Level B):
  • Elizabeth Goode, SCU College
  • Luke Jeffrey, Faculty Science and Engineering
  • Mitchell Longstaff, Faculty of Health
  • Cooper Schouten, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Maggie Scorey, Faculty of Health
Senior Lecturer (Level C):
  • Leticia Anderson, Faculty of Business, Law and Arts
  • Amanda Hughes, Faculty of Business, Law and Arts
  • Benjamin Mos, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Kirstine Shrubsole, Faculty of Health
  • Golam Sorwar, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Associate Professor (Level D):
  • Richard Lakeman, Faculty of Health
  • Raina Mason, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Paul Orrock, Faculty of Health
  • Suzi Syme? SCU College
Professor (Level E):
  • Dirk Erler

Read more at: www.bluespringscdc.com/academic-excellence/


Welcome to the team

Cynthia Briggs, Lecturer, Gnibi College Indigenous Australian Peoples

Jo Brodie, Project Manager, Reef Restoration and Adaption Sub-Program, National Marine Science Centre

Katrina Crellin, Business Partner, HR Services

Ashleigh Edwards, Executive Officer, Office of VP (Engagement)

Tom Foster, Manager, Application Services, Technology Services

Ben Giles, Technology Support Officer, Technology Services

Renee Hogben, Professional Experience Coordinator, Faculty of Education

Kristy Hume, Manager, Client Services, HR Services

Isaac Jurjens, Applications Delivery and Support Officer, Technology Services

Gill Mathews, Project Manager, Digital Experience, Office of Engagement

Alexandra Ordonez Alvarez, Research Associate, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Mustafa Ucgul, Lecturer, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Jennifer Williams, Future Student Officer, Office of Engagement


Professor Tyrone Carlin

Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor

I reflected in the first edition of Southern Cross Matters on the turbulent period through which we are living and my gratitude to the University community for continuing to work together so ably and with such purpose in the face of such a degree of challenge.

During the intervening month, we have all witnessed further upheaval, including a swathe of additional public health-related directives impacting a number of our research activities, on-campus teaching and skills development, student placements and course compliance requirements.

Further, changes to border control regimes and in particular the hard border arrangements presently in place between New South Wales and Queensland are proving especially difficult for many of us and look set to persist for a considerable period to come.

These are times we will all long remember. They have vexed us and given rise to considerable levels of anxiety and uncertainty. But they have also brought us together and motivated us to find solutions to the problems that we face in common.

I think you will see precisely that spirit shining through in the story on how the Faculty of Health has been keeping pace with rapid and complex changes in their operating environment to ensure  that students can continue to learn, progress and move towards completion.    Read more

You’ll see the same spirit echoing through the description of the clever and enormously effective approach that we’ve taken to our virtual open day events. It is simply not possible to drive the level of engagement that we have seen this year without the dedicated input of a very wide group of colleagues – and it really has had impact. Every positive engagement with our community counts.

In responding so well to the problems we find in our immediate path, we are also in turn laying a sound foundation for our future and providing outstanding people with a basis of confidence to join the University and contribute to the transformative journey we have begun.

I hope that you find this second edition of Southern Cross Matters informative, interesting and inspirational. Thanks to everyone who kindly sent me feedback after reading the first edition. I look forward to your thoughts in response to this edition, and to more of your stories about our University.

Faculty of Health ensures placement continuity despite COVID challenges

female health worker

Faculty of Health working hard to prioritise placements for final year students

It’s a challenge not a crisis.

That is the indefatigable spirit with which the Faculty of Health is approaching the unpredictable and demanding circumstances around border closures and restrictions that are impacting clinical placements.

Southern Cross has more than 2,500 students involved in health placements in any normal year. It is a complex matrix to manage in any circumstance. But even more so when hard border closures stop students from physically attending their placements or lock-downs and changing workplace requirements make it even more problematic. 

Professor Rhonda Nay recently joined Southern Cross as Chair of Discipline (Nursing) and brings with her a wealth of experience. “At this stage it’s a challenge but not a crisis. I think that’s down to the way in which the team not only approaches a difficult situation, but the excellent networks they have to manage it and not panic,” she says.

The team is responding quickly to the often sudden changes, with the primary intention of helping students complete their placements in a safe and meaningful way.

Firstly, they’ve worked with NSW Health and Queensland Health to provide students with access to COVID vaccinations as part of the Phase 1B vaccination roll out and kept on top of the constantly changing workplace requirements as they become more clear for health workers.   Read more

“Then the team is constantly working and adapting to restrictions that have been introduced and eased at different times in each state, and across LGAs (local government authorities), facilities and sites,” Professor Nay said.

Beyond Nursing, the Faculty of Health is juggling placements across 10 disciplines.

“We have a great team in the Faculty of Health and our students are committed health professionals and eager to be out on placement,” says Charlie Foxlee, Professional Experience Team Leader.

It’s involved reallocating students, where possible, to placements in their home state to enable placements to continue, working hard to prioritise placements for final year students.

“As a regional university with campuses either side of the New South Wales and Queensland border, we have been uniquely challenged by the pandemic,” says Charlotte Kelly, also a Professional Experience Team Leader.

“Many of our students and supervisors live in the border zone community and it can be difficult to navigate the rapidly changing restrictions in both states. But we are committed to getting our students out on placement and ensuring they can graduate and provide our local communities with essential health care workers.”

A fully electric Kombi is sparking a new way of teaching and learning

Southern Cross University Electric Kombi

Southern Cross University Electric Kombi

The launch of the ambitious Southern Cross University Electric Kombi Project is now rapidly growing in popularity as a learning resource for school classrooms.

More than just a cool retro-conversion, the Electric Kombi Project has been turned into a series of digital resources covering topics such as renewable energy, the difference between diesel and electric engines, as well as what engineers do and the variety of careers available in engineering.

The Kombi is powered by a suite of 5.3kwh batteries, while the curriculum package is powered by the knowledge of two Southern Cross researchers in the Faculty of Education – Simone Blom and David Ellis.

The package includes a detailed unit map of 30 lesson plans that align with the iSTEM program outcomes and objectives including the iSTEM Process for STEM inquiry.

“We were both excited by the opportunity,” Simone says, “as we could see how it enabled student learning in STEM to be put in the context of a real-life, industry example while also demonstrating how STEM subjects authentically work together in practical application.”

While both Simone and David were busy with full-time academic workloads, the Kombi Conversion curriculum package became a project of passion. Going above and beyond, they completed the lesson plans through a series of evening meetings and weekend correspondence to ensure the resource was developed to a high standard.   Read more

As a team, David and Simone harnessed their strengths: David with extensive expertise in the technologies, contexts of design, technology and STEM education, and project-based learning pedagogies; and Simone with experience and expertise in science and technology education and writing secondary school STEM resources.

“What teachers do in and out of the classroom has a lasting effect on their students,” says David.

“Engaging teaching and learning programs not only are effective for student learning, but also inspire students and encourage them to entertain new possibilities. 

“As STEM teachers we aim to empower our students with the knowledge to make informed decisions in an effort to reduce our impact on the environment. 

“The Kombi Conversion Project is a perfect example of how the decision to move away from fossil fuels will reduce our impact on the environment and open up new opportunities for innovation.”

It’s a sentiment Simone endorses.

“When you work together on projects, it enables each person to bring their expertise to the fore and pushes the bar further upwards – creating a rich, authentic and high-quality product. This is what inspires us to do what we do: knowing that we can assist teachers in the work that they do with their students – our collective future,” she says.

So while Australia’s most talked about Kombi hits the roads, young students can hit the books. The 'Southern Cross University Electric Kombi Conversion Curriculum Package' is endorsed by the STEM Industry Schools Partnerships (SISP) program, an initiative of the NSW Department of Education’s Educational Standards Directorate. Since its launch last month, the package has been downloaded or adopted by 46 schools.

And just to add a little more to the #SCUKombi story, engineering students like Max den Exter worked extensively on the project, applying knowledge from his studies to the unique conversion. The technical smarts behind the conversion come from Andy Naughton, of EV Machina, himself a Southern Cross Environmental Science graduate.

It’s been a long road to bring this humble 1976 machine into the 21st century, but now it’s well and truly on the road again.

Test drive the Kombi Conversion Curriculum Package at iTeachSTEM website or at www.bluespringscdc.com/kombi

One-stop industry shop in bold new Southern Cross initiative

Professor Les Christidis

Professor Les Christidis

What happens when you bring two highly regarded Southern Cross specialist research groups under the one umbrella?  You structure a more competitive organisation to successfully gain research grants and support our postgraduate researchers of tomorrow.

Professor Les Christidis reckons it’s one of the University’s really good news stories of 2021. He’s referring to the formation of the Southern Cross Analytical and Research Services, or SCARS, and he’s driving the initiative.

Les strongly believes we have world-class capabilities which we are growing.  

“The challenge was to create a one-stop shop for industry. So, we decided to consolidate our Analytical Research Laboratory (ARL) and Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL) facilities under the SCARS umbrella to further develop and grow our reputation in the areas of agriculture, natural plant products and geosciences,” Les explains.

“The new SCARS team boasts more than 90 technical and professional staff and trainees who generate almost $9 million in commercial activity. SCARS also supports the research of academics and Higher Degree Research students in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.”

There’s no doubt EAL and ARL are go-to organisations for industry.   Read more

“Their work is of a consistent high-quality. EAL is definitely the leading lab for soil carbon in Australia, if not the world! I intend to keep working with them for soil testing to support the rapidly expanding soil carbon industry,” says Ignatius Verbeek, Managing Director, AgriX Operations Pty Ltd. 

But it’s not just about industry; SCARS has a clear focus on the engagement and support of academics and Higher Degree Research students.

Our postgrads gain access to world-class analytical equipment that leads to publications, kick-starting their science research careers," says Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett, Chair of Discipline (Science) in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

“Our research teams are able to establish projects that answer important questions about environmental contamination and food safety, which enables us to partner with industry to solve problems.”

People like laboratory trainee Simone Ogg are getting invaluable first-hand experience as part of Certificate III and IV courses.

“I began the traineeship at EAL as a gap year from my science degree and have enjoyed it so much that I’m hoping to continue lab work when I return interstate for university. This traineeship has enabled me to complete my courses at my own pace,” she says.

And Graham Lancaster, SCARS Senior Manager puts it into perspective: “The SCARS model is a realised vision of centralised commercial/research services and infrastructure. This unique structure and success are the envy of other universities.”

A virtual success story for an Open Day that ran for a month

Lucy Shinners

Faculty of Health, Lecturer (Teaching Scholar) Lucy Shinners

What do you do when you’re not allowed the traditional university Open Day? Put it on for a month, that’s what.

Southern Cross University’s Open Day (for a month) was a 30-day open invitation to prospective students across Australia to visit virtually through a series of live webinars, on-demand presentations, virtual reality campus tours and online chats.

It was one of the most elaborate collaborations across academic and professional colleagues that Southern Cross has seen, and it delivered strong results.

One of the most popular live webinars was in Nursing. Lecturer Lucy Shinners said the revised, all-digital format was a great success. 

“The production team handled it really efficiently with clear communication about how the day was going to progress. We got questions before we started which allowed us to prepare; when I turned up, I was quite confident about everything,” she said.

Lucy explained that the majority of questions from prospective students involved a breakdown of how much time is spent online and on campus, study loads, flexibility and alternative entry pathways.   Read more

“It was actually a really nice dynamic situation with the Session Host asking casually phrased questions sent in from the attendees, so it felt like a conversation; it wasn’t like a pre-structured interview. So, the day went really well with high registration numbers. In fact, better than previous webinar sessions.”

Lucy’s session was among many that featured outstanding results. Overall, the Open Day (for a month) registrations were up 60 per cent on last year, with more than 10,000 visitors to the Open Day platform. As another mark of success, 1,600 people took virtual campus tours and there was a record number of applications for the Open Day scholarship on offer.  

The innovative approach to a conventional event in the recruitment calendar included collaborations with the University Events team under Lena Mager and with Production Services colleagues, along with the University’s digital agency Social Garden. The Future Students team was central to the live webinars and had team members on the phones and online chat until 7pm each night during the campaign.

The Open Day platform included contributions from the Content and Design team with the assistance of the Digital and Marketing teams, championed and co-ordinated in detail by the Future Students team and the whole project led ably by Jemma Neylan and the Partnerships team.  

Did you know?

Megan Lee

PhD candidate Megan Lee

Faculty of Health PhD candidate Megan Lee is Southern Cross University's most popular author on The Conversation. Her seven articles have attracted a total of 835,116 readers over the last few years.

Megan’s published articles focus on her PhD research in nutrition and mental health. Megan has also recently published on occupational stress in academia and the impact of anonymous student feedback on academics, mental health and wellbeing.

The Conversation articles are republished globally and Megan’s work has appeared in 53 different outlets in Australia, USA, United Kingdom, Indonesia, South Africa, India and France to name a handful. She’s on the way to becoming a Conversation millionaire!

Welcome to the team

Professor Fiona Naumann, Associate Dean (Education), Faculty of Health. Fiona was formerly Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning at the QUT Faculty of Health. She holds a PhD in Clinical Exercise Physiology, a Graduate Certificate and Masters of Higher Education and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

“My motivation to join Southern Cross was to work at an institution where I could have significant and meaningful impact on the quality of teaching and learning and ultimately the delivery of amazing student experiences. I believe the Southern Cross Model is an interesting concept and drawcard in terms of being able to be part of true curriculum transformation,” Fiona says.

“I want to support staff across that transformation process, creating a shared vision and an environment of collaboration and support. The higher education sector has really taken a hit during COVID and I would like to assist students and staff transition out of the uncertainty and look towards a future with new opportunities.”

Her experience in higher education is broad, having worked at a regional university (University of the Sunshine Coast), a Catholic university (University of Notre Dame) and a Group of Eight university (UNSW Australia).

“The staff I have met in my first six weeks have been so welcoming and have reinforced my decision to come to SCU as a great one.”

Also joining the team

Professor Rhonda Nay, Chair of Discipline (Nursing), Faculty of Health. Most recently Rhonda was Chair, Interdisciplinary Aged Care and Director of the Australian Institute for Primary Care and Ageing, of the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care and the Dementia Training and Research Centres La Trobe University.
Dr Diarmuid (Dee) Hurley, Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Health. Dee's academic and research background is in psychology and mental health intervention, with a Bachelor degree in Psychology and Sociology (Ireland), Masters degrees in Sport and Exercise Psychology (Finland and Germany), and a PhD in Psychology (UOW, Australia).  
Manjula Angammana, System Administrator, Technology Services. Manjula has more than 20 years of experience in Hospitality, Education and Health services. He’s excited about delivering customer satisfaction with new initiatives in the technology space.

Sophia Gerontakos, Research Assistant, National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM). Prior to joining Southern Cross, Sophia worked in clinical practice as a naturopath in Brisbane and completed her Honours degree by research at Endeavour College of Natural Health in Brisbane. She is currently completing her PhD thesis at the NCNM.

Lydia Plowright, Communications Outreach Officer, National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM). After a decade working in banking and corporate communication roles in Sydney, Lydia relocated to the Northern Rivers in 2018, where she has been working with local not-for-profits.

Julia McConnochie, Research Development Officer, Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research). Julia is passionate about supporting researchers to build and strengthen research capabilities for impact and excellence. She has a background in research project management.

Dr John McKenzie, Senior Data and Research Analyst, Office of the Vice Chancellor. John is looking at factors promoting success for Indigenous SCU students. John has previously studied Indigenous health and education outcomes through on-the-ground evaluations and the linkage of government data sets.

Eliza Walter, HR Business Partner, HR Services. Eliza has a HR Generalist background, and has previously worked across Professional Services, Property, Financial Technology and Aged Care.
Nicholas Catel, Applications and Delivery Support Coordinator. Nicholas has a deep passion for Information Technology and believes the position is a perfect fit. He has completed a Bachelor degree in Information and Communication Technology and a Diploma of Project Management.

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Professor Tyrone Carlin

Professor Tyrone Carlin, Vice Chancellor

Welcome to the first edition of Southern Cross Matters. I hope you will find the material in each monthly edition to be interesting, informative and useful.

Each of us brings a particular focus and frame of reference to our work at the University. But what makes life within an institution such as ours particularly rewarding is our shared sense of community, and the impact that our teaching and research brings to the lives of so many each day.

Southern Cross Matters is designed to be a platform that helps us all to stay in touch with key developments, and our many achievements as a University community.

We are moving together through a period of tumultuous change and challenge. This is asking much of every one of us. In these circumstances, knowing that we can continue to achieve excellence whilst we build for the future is important to all of us.

As you read this edition and share it with your friends and family, I hope you are inspired by the story of our recent PhD graduate, Dr Louisa Salmon and her amazing supervisor Associate Professor Gail Moloney. I hope you enjoy learning a little about some of our new colleagues, and why they were attracted to join SCU. I hope you reflect on the incredible achievements of our researchers, in this instance evinced through the work of Brad Eyre and Dirk Erler whose ARC funded projects will make a real impact on our environment and on many of the enterprises that are key stakeholders for this University.    Read more

I also hope you look carefully at the material relating to the continued development of our new academic model, and reflect carefully on it. Setting out to revolutionise the philosophy and design of all of our educational programs over a three year period was, to put it mildly, an audacious call. Right now, large numbers of academic and professional staff are working very hard on the next phase of this journey, and it is important to be reminded why. We did not set out to do this just to be different.

We did not set out to do this so that we could say that we were not standing still. We set out to do it because of a profound conviction that we could and should do better for our students and more than that, that there is simply no reason why Southern Cross University cannot provide a better quality curriculum and learning environment than any other Australian university.

Listen to the stories of our students in the video links embedded and their response to our work on our new academic model and I believe you will clearly understand why we continue to commit to this ambitious project, and how we will make deeply valuable differences to the lives of our students as we do so.

We are a small, young University. As we look forward, we need to continually ask ourselves why that should not be a recipe for allowing us to be consistently outstanding and innovative – the better to serve our students and the communities in which we are privileged to be based.

Celebrating Coffs Harbour graduations

Dr Louisa Salmon with Vice Chancellor Tyrone Carlin

Dr Louisa Salmon with Vice Chancellor Tyrone Carlin

Dr Louisa Salmon describes herself as a quiet achiever but there was one moment in our recent Coffs Harbour graduation ceremonies that drew loud applause for her.

It was a powerful moment as Dr Salmon had her determination rewarded with a Doctor of Philosophy.

Dr Salmon has cerebral palsy and her thesis focuses on children who have had to overcome disabilities. Titled ‘Social experiences of children with disabilities: resilience, social identity and bullying’ the graduation guests were moved by that very resilience displayed by Dr Salmon in achieving her PhD.

“Working on a thesis for a decade, it was hard to see the end,” she said.

“I am a quiet achiever, but it really was great to be acknowledged for the years of work I put into my studies, along with all the other graduates.” Dr Salmon said.

 Her drive and motivation to achieve excellence was based on the desire to make a difference to the lives of people who have profound disabilities.

She’s thankful of the dedicated support from her supervisors, Associate Professor Gail Moloney (SCU),  Professor Lewis Bizo (UNE/QUT) and Professor Iona Novak (Cerebral Palsy Institute), the University’s Student Equity & Inclusion team, Duncan Blair, and Maddison Norton, as well as her parents, friends and carers.    Read more

Professor Moloney put the achievement into perspective.

“Apart from Louisa’s obvious academic capabilities, she has a remarkable determination, fortitude and a capacity to overcome barriers, along with a wicked sense of humour that allowed us to laugh when, like all PhDs, things didn’t go to plan.”

 Face-to-face graduation ceremonies seem such a privilege now as COVID-19 continues to cancel these events but on a rare reprieve from restrictions more than 1200 people enjoyed the Southern Cross University graduations at Coffs Harbour on June 26.

Under the conditions, the graduation organising team adapted remarkably well to ensure that one of the most important days in the students’ lives was able to be celebrated on campus in a safe and enjoyable environment

Three University Medals were presented to Janelle Maye Driscoll, Gurpreet Singh and Meri Oakwood.

Two Honorary Doctorates were conferred, one to the former Southern Cross University Chancellor Nicholas Burton Taylor AM (Honorary Doctor of the University); the other to Ian Hutton OAM (Honorary Doctor in Natural and Physical Sciences).

Southern Cross Model builds momentum

Diploma of Civil Construction graduate Tayla Preddey

Tayla Preddey is now studying the Bachelor of Engineering Systems (Honours) (Civil)

Early data shows that the new Southern Cross Model is achieving improved outcomes for students.

To date four courses have commenced under the Model:

  • Bachelor of Business and Enterprise
  • Associate Degree of Civil Construction (Engineering and Management)
  • Diploma of Civil Construction (Engineering and Management)
  • Preparing for Success Program (PSP)

On average the latest student feedback on these courses is more positive than feedback on courses in our traditional teaching format. When compared with data from Session 1, 2020, the aggregated success rate in Diploma and PSP units rose from 60% to 78%. GPA rose across all courses.

When asked in focus groups, as part of an ethics-approved research project, students have described the Model as “confidence boosting”, “stress relieving” and “the best workload experience I have ever had”.  

This from a PSP student – “I was relieved because I remember trying to juggle four subjects was hard. So only focusing on two was a big relief.”    Read more

Business student Lucia Miles has put her thoughts about the Southern Cross Model into a video on YouTube

“The new academic model is great. It’s so manageable; it’s just a good balance … and I’m doing well in all my courses.”

Equally, Engineering student Tayla tells her story on this video on YouTube

“I’ve already completed two of the units in this new study mode and I love it,” she says. “The teachers are right on top of it and it’s a new thing for everybody but they’re really good with it.”

Expert hand guiding model success

Dr Liz Goode

Dr Liz Goode

The Southern Cross Model implementation has been boosted through the applied expertise of Dr Liz Goode.

Dr Goode is a Teaching Scholar working in the Academic Portfolio Office (APO) to strengthen and lead Communities of Practice in the Southern Cross Model. She has more than 10 years’ experience in enabling education, working in the University's Preparing for Success Program (PSP) and at the University of Newcastle to support the achievements and successes of non-traditional students.

According to Professor Thomas Roche, Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Quality), Dr Goode has been an integral part of the University’s move to the Southern Cross Model. She was part of the team that piloted the first courses in the new Model this year, including the redesign of several of SCU College’s PSP units and co-designing and teaching a new academic communication unit for the Faculty of Business Law and Art’s Bachelor of Business and Enterprise.

Together with colleagues in the APO and SCU College, Dr Goode is engaged in a number of scholarship projects that aim to evidence and disseminate the impacts of the Model on student learning, experience and success.


12,000 reasons why we have great libraries

Students at Coffs Harbour campus library

Students at the Coffs Harbour campus library and learning centre

The number of interactions with Southern Cross libraries has jumped almost 30 per cent in the last year.

Since the COVID crisis hit it’s been a rollercoaster ride for library staff and students over the last 18 months. But the pandemic has shown how versatile and nimble staff can be in keeping this vital resource functioning.

First, almost three months of lock down for all but Coffs Harbour, then in July 2020 the University’s libraries at Lismore and the Gold Coast re-opened their doors again with a reduced capacity and strict social distancing measures in place.

Floor plans and work stations needed to be reconfigured to cater for the restrictions and students relied on special kiosks to access library services with an online chat function and precautionary measures like plastic keyboard covers and hand sanitizer provided.

Throughout the pandemic a dedicated band of library staff members have been on site at each campus every day. They continued to provide services, including mail out lending, our online help resources, virtual appointments and video tutorials.

Interestingly there were 9580 chat transactions in 12 months prior to closure, and 12,282 in the 12 months following closure. Additional online ebooks and textbooks were purchased to increase access to all students.    Read more

The beefed-up virtual services have continued throughout and provide a valuable model for provision of services into the future. This means that we are able to provide equality of access across the entire student population no matter where they live.

The lessons learnt from the first closure in 2020 created the ability to quickly react and adapt staffing arrangements and other practical measures and to put them in place immediately.

New Library Services Director

Director of Library Services Clare Thorpe

Director of Library Services, Clare Thorpe

In July Clare Thorpe joined the University as the new Director of Library Services. Clare has a strong focus on empowering staff to achieve excellence in service delivery in multi-campus and online environments.

Clare brings more than 20 years’ experience in Library services having worked at QUT, Griffith University, State Library of Queensland and since 2017 at University of Southern Queensland. She currently serves as a Board Director of the Australian Library and Information Association.

Clare explains, “I’m a long time admirer of SCU. The SCU Library is known for its innovative campus library spaces and its risk-taking early adoption of new systems and technologies. I am excited to contribute to the SCU model and looking forward to building on SCU Library’s achievements, continuing the digital transformation of our collections and services which we escalated during the pandemic.”

Did you know?

Professor Bradley Eyre

Professor Bradley Eyre

Southern Cross researchers are in elite company with the awarding of two highly sought-after Australian Research Council linkage projects totalling $1.2 million.

Associate Professor Dirk Erler aims to transform meat residue into agricultural soil improver in collaboration with Northern Cooperative Meat Company, QUT, Justus-Liebig University of Giessen, and Department of Regional NSW ($510,507).

The second project, led by Professor Bradley Eyre, in collaboration with University of Western Australia and Healthy Land & Water Ltd, will use new innovative measurements and modelling to investigate nitrogen removal pathways of the coastal zone ($704,711).

Welcome to the team

Starting with the University in June and July are new colleagues:

Jessica Taylor, Clinical Trials Coordinator, National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine. Since relocating to the Northern Rivers in 2014 Jessica has been working as a Practice Nurse in Ballina and Byron Bay. Jessica has now returned to her research roots accepting the position with the National Centre of Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross.

Bern James, Research Assistant, Clinical Trials, National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM). Bern has managed a specialist nephrology practice over several years and multitasked the roles of nurse, research assistant and site clinical trials co-ordinator. She now feels excited and blessed to be able to contribute to a dynamic and highly motivated group of people at NCNM.

Kate Currey, Lecturer, Faculty of Health. Kate is passionate about mental health nursing and nursing education and believes the position is a perfect fit. She has completed a Graduate Certificate of Clinical Education and Teaching and a Masters of Mental Health Nursing.

Isaac Byrne, Content and Marketing Assistant, Office of Engagement. Isaac has just graduated from Southern Cross with a Bachelor of Business majoring in marketing and takes the first formidable steps in his career with this graduate role. Isaac lives in Lismore where he also went to school and will be based at our campus there as part of the content and marketing team.

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