ACU National Update is produced fortnightly for staff, students and friends of Australian Catholic University (ACU National). To submit a news article or event, please email or call 02 9739 2533

Feedback requested for market-friendly website public launch in February

Staff are invited to test the University’s new website, designed in response to the Vice-Chancellor’s request that it be market focused and easy for staff, students and the public to access.

Staff need to ensure that all content has been moved across to the new website, and that all links relating to their content and department are functioning correctly under the new design.

The redesigned website, with new colours and graphics and improved navigation menu, is expected to be released to the public on Tuesday 10 February 2009. Feedback is welcome at until Friday 30 January.

Web Services Manager Peter Coppola has asked all staff to check content, adding that if no feedback is received by then, it will be assumed that all links and content have come across correctly and the launch will go ahead as planned.
To access the new test website, staff should go to and use their network login and password.

Alternatively, staff may use a guest login and password as follows:
Guest user login: guest09
Guest password:ninety

General feedback on the design and navigation is also welcome, but the main focus is on finding any major flaws in the navigation process and any missing links.

Encounter with Pope Benedict

Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) student Vanessa Forcella was honoured to meet Pope Benedict earlier this month.

Vanessa was part of a delegation of six Australian university students who travelled to Rome to join Cardinal George Pell for the handover of an icon commissioned by Pope John Paul II in 2000.

The Marian icon, a red and gold mosaic, is called Sedes Sapientiae, or Seat of Wisdom. It has been travelling through European countries and has now been entrusted to Australian students to inspire them to bring Christianity to life in their universities.

“It was just amazing,” said Vanessa, who has finished exercise science studies and will begin a Diploma of Education next year. “It was something I’d never thought I’d actually be able to do. I felt very blessed.”

Vanessa Forcella with Pope Benedict XVI
Vanessa Forcella with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

The student experience showcased

The University’s latest acunique magazine, Champions of Change, features graduates, researchers and students of ACU National learning, leading, volunteering, celebrating achievements, and more.

“Often it is the people we meet at cultural and sporting events who help shape our futures,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven says in his introduction, Empowering Leaders of Change.

“Inspiring new friendships with people of all backgrounds can develop into the important social networks which give us strength and refresh our perspectives deep into our professional careers and personal lives.

“I am delighted that this issue of acunique showcases a few of the activities enjoyed by students of all six campuses of Australian Catholic University, activities which foster just such friendships.”

The current issue of acunique is now available online.

acunique volume 11

Learning for life rewarded

Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven has announced that The Ballarat Learning for Life Project has been awarded the 2008 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Community Engagement.

The award recognises the project has matured as a sustainable and strategic suite of community-university initiatives.

 Both The Smith Family and the University aim to give hope to marginalised children, families, people and communities, the University through teaching and learning, and The Smith Family through reflection and scholarship.

The Smith Family expects to use the model as a basis for policy and practice nationally.

Professor Craven has extended his congratulations to School of Education Senior Lecturer Dr Ann Gervasoni of the Ballarat Campus, Ms Heather Le Roy of The Smith Family, and all associated with this exciting program. 

Presentation of the Award will occur at the University’s Ballarat graduation ceremony to be held on Saturday 2 May 2009.

Melbourne campus hosts Winja Tiddas exhibition

ACU National’s Melbourne Campus (St Patrick’s) art gallery, 26 Brunswick Street Fitzroy, is currently host to the Winja Tiddas exhibition, a collection of works by Indigenous women in Victoria.

The exhibition features the Healing Gathering Possum Skin Cloak, a collective effort of 11 indigenous women who gathered over two days as part of a project to raise awareness for cervical cancer among indigenous women. 

Also on display is a selection of paintings from Winja Upulna, St Kilda’s drug and alcohol recovery house for indigenous women. The paintings were produced as part of a program that empowers indigenous women by teaching them to express themselves and their culture through painting.

The exhibition is open weekdays 11am to 4pm until 30 January.

possum skin cloak
The Healing and Gathering Possum Skin Cloak, on display in Melbourne
(photo: Jess Kritzer)

Grant for euthanasia study

Aged Care Associate Professor Dr Fran McInerney has been awarded the Nurses Board of Victoria’s Mona Menzies Postdoctoral Research Grant for 2009.

The $48,900 grant is for Dr McInerney’s qualitative study into Registered nurses’ constructions of requested death, exploring Victorian Division One Registered Nurses’ understandings of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

“It was a big surprise and thrill for me to be awarded this grant,” said Dr McInerney, who holds a joint appointment with Catholic Homes and ACU National’s School of Nursing and Midwifery (Victoria).  “It enables me to pursue an important area I've been exploring for more than a decade now, so I feel very privileged.”

Student leaders prepare for 2009

Student leaders from all campuses met recently at the North Sydney Campus (MacKillop) to plan events and activities for 2009.

Student Senator and ACU National Student Association (ACUNSA) Chair James Wood said the leaders were planning an exciting year, with a national event scheduled in September to be held in Central Australia for interested students. Further details will become available in Orientation Week.

A free ACUNSA 2009 Student Diary will be made available to all students during Orientation Week and in the first couple weeks of Semester One from local campus Student Associations.

Orientation Week will be held from 16 to 20 February. Details of events for all campuses are available here.

The outline of the 2009 academic year is now available online.

2009 Presidents and Vice-Presidents gathered at North Sydney

Ballarat lecturer highly rated

Ballarat Campus (Aquinas) Nursing Lecturer Murray Bardwell has placed third in the UniJobs 2008 Lecturer of the Year awards.

The competition, which received more than 60,000 votes for the 6,421 student-nominated lecturers, aims to promote and reward the quality of Australia’s higher education sector.

ACU National’s top 10 lecturers were recognised as Murray Bardwell, Robin Fisher, Brian King, Paula Schulz, Dr Andrea McDonough, Dr Stephen Buckle, Dr Peter Drum, John Quilter, Dr Helga Neidhart and Dr Gayle Spry.

Please visit for further information.

Graduate nurses attend pinning ceremony

More than 400 nursing students graduating from ACU National’s North Sydney Campus (MacKillop) recently attended a pinning ceremony to welcome them into the nursing profession.

The time-honoured tradition dates back to London in the 1860s, when Florence Nightingale chose to honour her most outstanding graduate nurses by presenting them with a medal for their excellence.

Graduate Irene Mayo congratulated her fellow classmates on persevering through the many years of study, exams, and clinical placements during their holidays.

“All nursing graduates from ACU National have two things in common - an appreciation for knowledge, and the ability for compassion and kindness to enrich the lives of others,” Irene said. “We don’t know what the future holds, but what we can decide is our attitude. We are the ones who decide to be flexible, happy, healthy and productive in our lives.”

ACU National Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven wished the graduates long and successful careers, and said he had always observed nurses to be practical people, imbued with a large amount of common sense.

“You are now members of one of the great caring professions,” he said. “It is this notion of service that is critical to the idea of a Catholic university and central to the concept of nursing.”

pinning ceremony
Nursing student Irene Mayo with Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven

King of a film recognised

The work of Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) IT client service officer Dee Dee Shi has resulted in the production of a short film, My Little King, which is being shown at the Flickerfest Film Festival.  

Dee Dee, an ACU National Arts graduate who completed a double major in drama and information technology, first began writing the film’s script halfway through 2007 while undertaking a Write for Film course at QPIX.

Her script was chosen out of hundreds of submissions to be produced in a joint project between the Pacific Film and Television Commission (PFTC), Australian Screen and QPIX. She was involved throughout the filming process, including the casting and on-site shooting.

“I am always grateful for the support provided to me by ACU National teaching staff during my time as a student, including Lindsay Farrell, Dr Tracey Sanders, Dr Delyse Ryan, Ms Judy Fromyhr and especially Dr Simon Ryan for guidance in my film studies,” Dee Dee said.

My Little King will screen at Dendy Portside in Brisbane from 26 February to 1 March 2009. Please visit the Flickerfest website for further information about the film and screening times.

Child protection workshop success

ACU National’s Institute of Child Protection Studies and the ACT Department of Housing, Disabilities and Community Services jointly hosted a recent professional development workshop with internationally renowned experts in the field of the trauma and family violence.  

Widely published child and family psychiatrist Arnon Bentovim and his wife, consultant social worker and individual and family therapist Marion Bentovim, ran the two-day workshop, Safeguarding Children Living with trauma and family violence: An evidence based approach to assessment and intervention: A seven staged model. Some 80 child and adolescent mental health and child and family welfare practitioners from agencies across Canberra took part.

Arnon’s most recent book, a Guide to the Assessment and Intervention of Children Living in a context of Trauma and Family Violence, will be published in February. The Bentovims founded Child and Family Training to develop the evidence based approaches which were discussed during the two-day workshop.

child protection professional development workshop
Kate Jones from the ACT Department of Disability, Housing and Community
Services and Institute of Child Protection Studies Research Fellow Gail
Winkworth with Marion and Arnon Bentovim

Melbourne lecturer appears in Christmas broadcast

Associate Professor Geoffrey Cox from ACU National’s Melbourne Campus (St Patrick’s) appeared in an ABC-TV broadcast of Carols from St Patrick’s on Christmas Eve, where he conducted the combined choir.

Professor Cox has been Organist and Director of Music for the carols over the past 10 years. Appearing with him were two ACU National Music graduates, Deon Henman and Paul Taylor, who played the organ.

The program featured Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.

Carols at St Patricks
Professor Cox conducting the combined choir at Carols from St Patrick's
(photo: ABC TV)

Praise for ‘outstanding’ support

Ballarat Campus (Aquinas) first-year education student Kylie Mitchell, in her role as a primary school teaching artist, has praised the support of visual and performing arts lecturer Roger Hillman. 

Mr Hillman assisted Kylie in her music project which allowed the primary students at Skipton Primary School, some 50km from Ballarat, the opportunity to have their vocals recorded onto CD.

Mr Hillman, despite not directly teaching Kylie, took the time to make the 100km round trip to support the students.

“I'd just like to recognise the support Roger gave me, as a pre-service teacher, by humouring my idea, and bringing it to life, and the experience he gave to the children and staff of Skipton Primary school,” Kylie said. “I think that this kind of support is truly outstanding, and goes above and beyond the call of duty as an ACU National member of staff. What amazing support I have behind me as a future teacher.”

Brisbane Campus to host youth ministry training day

ACU National’s Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) will host a training day for people involved in youth ministry on 21 February.

The event will be run by Brisbane archdiocese’s Youth and Children’s Ministry Team, which has recently been joined by ACU National lecturer Liz Anderson. It will provide an opportunity for parish based youth teams to receive formation in the Catholic faith and gain resources and strategies for engaging with young people.

The day, the first of its kind, will feature a keynote address from Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby and a choice of 27 workshops.

Visit for more information.

Education professor launches new book

A new book, edited by ACU National School of Education (Vic) Lecturer Professor Philip Clarkson, was launched recently at Monash University in Melbourne. The volume honoured Emeritus Professor Alan Bishop and featured contributions from 13 international leading educators.

Emeritus Professor Peter Fensham, who launched the book, described it as “a new and exciting style of festschrift”, with chapters that contributed new knowledge to the field.

Professor Clarkson said the volume highlighted the depth and quality of Bishop’s contributions to the field of education.

 “Scholarship perhaps is no longer the pursuit of key ideas, but is judged by how many articles one can write in a year,” said Professor Clarkson. “With Bishop’s long contribution to education, quantity was not important. He wrote when he had something worthwhile to say for the wider community.”

Professor Clarkson and colleagues at book launch
Professors Clarkson (left), Fensham and Bishop after the launch

Upcoming Events

  •  Australian Business Week program  -  12 November 2008 – 29 April 2009
  •  Catholic Bioethics Colloquium 2009 - 25 January 2009 – 27 January 2009

Details on this and other upcoming events can be found at Promote your event by listing it on the myACU events section and by emailing details to