ACU (Australian Catholic University)

ACU Alum

Issue 1, Spring 2011


ACU researchers help former child migrants reconnect

Researchers at ACU have received a share in more than $3 million to help reconnect Forgotten Australians and former child migrants with their families.

ACU's Professor Shurlee Swain and Dr Nell Musgrove will work in collaboration with a team from the University of Melbourne to develop a new website and records database for the national Find and Connect campaign.

The service will help Forgotten Australians and former child migrants access professional counselling, locate material to help trace their personal and family history, and, if possible, reunite with family members.

As part of the project, up to eight child welfare historians will join ACU for three years to assist with the development of the website.

The Find and Connect service is part of a commitment made during the Federal Government's 2009 National Apology to more than 500,000 Forgotten Australians and former child migrants - many of whom suffered abuse and neglect while in out-of-home care last century.


Health and wellbeing centre on track

Work is well underway on ACU's $75 million expansion of its Melbourne Campus in Fitzroy.

The new National Centre for Health and Wellbeing on Young Street, which is aiming for a 6-Star Green Star Energy rating, will comprise lecture theatres and state-of-the-art learning facilities, as well as a gymnasium, bookshop, chapel, student centre and rooftop garden.

The nine-storey development will incorporate a range of environmentally sustainable initiatives including acting mass cooling concrete slabs, rainwater harvesting, solar hot water heating panels and wind turbines.

The centre will enable ACU to graduate an additional 500 students a year in nursing, paramedicine, midwifery, exercise science, occupational therapy, psychology and public health - as well as greatly increase research capacity in those areas.

The project is due for completion by May 2012.


New title for AFL star Jim Stynes

Melbourne Football Club president Jim Stynes OAM was recently awarded ACU's highest honour, Doctor of the University, in recognition of his service to the community, particularly in the areas of youth depression, homelessness and suicide.

One of AFL's most celebrated players, and the only player recruited from outside Australia to win the prestigious Brownlow Medal, Jim's legacy extends far beyond his football career - to building resilience and inspiring greatness in young people.

In 1994 Jim co-founded the youth charity, Reach Foundation, with the vision that every young person will receive the support and self-belief they need to fulfil their potential.

His motivation has not wavered, despite battling with cancer since mid-2009 - if anything his determination has increased, referring to the challenge of surviving as the "marathon" of his life.

Jim shared the celebration of his achievement with his god daughter, Sarah O'Connor, who graduated from a Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts in the same ceremony.


New Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) appointed

Professor Pauline Nugent, Dean of Health Sciences and former Victorian Businesswoman of the Year, has been appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at  ACU.
She will have national responsibility for the University's five faculties, Indigenous education, community engagement and academic matters related to international education.
Professor Nugent has a background in nursing and trained at St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne. She holds a Master of Education from Monash University and a Bachelor of Applied Science from Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences.
Her scholarly record includes publications, public lectures and conferences in nursing education, rural health, clinical research and health curriculum development as well as public funding of research development and evaluation projects worth more than $5 million.
Professor Nugent was appointed to the inaugural Chair of Nursing Development at Deakin University in 2003, after serving as the Head of School of Nursing since 1997. In 2007, she took up the role of Dean of Health Sciences at ACU, where she facilitated a 37 per cent increase in student load for health sciences, introduced new courses in physiotherapy and paramedicine, and established new research centres and domestic and international partnerships.


Setting the benchmark with paid parental leave for dads

Australian Catholic University is implementing a new workplace agreement that will set the benchmark for parental leave provisions in Australia - by including dads as well.

Under the proposed Enterprise Agreement, fathers who nominate themselves as the primary carer will be entitled to 40 weeks leave at 60 per cent pay, provided they have been with the University for at least two years.

This is in addition to the Government's paid parental leave scheme which was introduced on January 1 this year.

ACU Vice--Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, said the new agreement puts ACU at the forefront of not only the education sector, but across industries.

"We are determined to promote gender equality and continue to attract and retain the very best staff," he said. "This new Agreement will allow parents of either gender to elect to be the primary carer, and provide them with the financial support they need."


ACU above world standard in theology research

The quality of research at ACU, especially in theology, has been recognised through the Federal Government's Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) initiative.

The ERA initiative, showing how Australia's research efforts compare to the rest of the world, gave ACU a score of four out of five for the Religion and Religious Studies category - a performance above world standard.

This result puts ACU equal with some of the country's most prestigious universities - and in the very top class of achievement in Australia, with no other theology provider receiving a higher score.

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