It was back in 1990 that the Signadou Dominican College of Education formally handed over responsibility for their Teacher Training College to Australian Catholic University (ACU).

Fast-forward 15 years, and a new ‘welfare hub’ for the community was launched when Blackfriars was officially opened by ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries in September 2005.

Today, the Campus – covering four hectares of landscaped grounds – offers degrees in Education, Health Science, Human Services, Nursing, Paramedicine, Philosophy, Social Work, Teaching and Theology. It is also the base for the offices of the Public Policy Institute, Catholic welfare agency CatholicCare Canberra and Goulburn, and the Institute of Child Protection Studies.

The Canberra Campus as it now stands – underpinned by the University’s researchers, students and staff, and supported by ACU’s partner organisations – plays a pivotal role in improving the lives and prospects of children and adults in the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese and beyond.

2011 review: Signadou Review Panel

Midway through the University's Strategic Plan 2009 - 2011 it came to light that the Canberra Campus was facing a range of operational difficulties not  experienced at other Campuses. As a result, the Vice-Chancellor of ACU, Professor Greg Craven, initiated an external review as a means of providing advice to himself and Senate on the most appropriate strategy to adopt for the Canberra Campus moving forward. The Signadou Review Panel* was established and held its first meeting in March 2011.

The review process lasted six months, and it highlighted two key areas:

  1. The importance of Signadou to Canberra, the ACT, and surrounding regions, especially for the University's Catholic partners.
  2. The Campus is facing significant operational difficulties around market share/increased competition, student numbers, and infrastructure, buildings and capital.

2012 Working party assessment

Following the external review, the Vice-Chancellor established a working party** to analyse the Panel’s Recommendations and provide him with appropriate advice.

The Working Party devised an action plan comprised of three key actions and a number of associated activities to facilitate the redevelopment of the academic activities on the Canberra Campus, and to reinvigorate the Campus. The recommended actions were:

  1. Establish a Campus Management Plan
  2. Establish a consultative group
  3. Develop a bold new approach and focus for the Campus

The recommendations were accepted by the Vice-Chancellor and conveyed to Senate, who unanimously endorsed the approach.

Next stage

The next stage is devising a new plan for Canberra Campus: one that addresses the challenges facing Canberra while leveraging off the Campus’s strengths.

*The Signadou Review Panel consisted of:
Mr Francis Sullivan (Chair) – Secretary General, Australian Medical Association; Former CEO, Catholic Health Australia
Ms Rita Daniels – Principal, Daramalan College; Member of Board, Australian Catholic University Ltd
Professor Ken Dillon – Dean of Studies, Charles Sturt University
Mr Gerald Santucci – Director, Snedden, Hall & Gallop Lawyers; Chair, Marist College Canberra Advisory Board
Emeritus Professor John Warhurst – Adjunct Professor, Australian National University; Deputy Chair, Catholic Social Services Australia

** The Working Party consisted of:
Professor Pauline Nugent (Chair) – Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Professor Anne Cummins – Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Learning and Teaching)
Professor Michelle Campbell – Executive Dean, Health Sciences
Mr David Craig – Director, Marketing and External Relations