I am sure
that all of you are pleased to be reading the recent reports concerning the
lack of new cases of COVID-19 here in South Australia and the Northern
Territory. If this continues then the restrictions we have all endured will
have succeeded and we can all begin to expect their progressive lifting over
the coming weeks.
Government has also launched the COVIDSafe app that provides for rapid
contact tracing designed to protect the community from further outbreaks. If
you are one of the 3 million Australians to have already downloaded the app
then well done. If not, then I’d encourage you to consider downloading it as
its effectiveness will increase with the number of users. Some of you may have
security concerns but, for me at least, these are outweighed by the benefits of
reducing the likelihood
of a return to lockdown restrictions in the future. It is free and easy to
install and you can find it here https://www.covidsafe.gov.au.
know, our campuses remain open and some staff have been working on-site
regularly throughout these past few weeks to maintain essential operations
including research. With an easing of restrictions expected later this month,
the University is now preparing plans for the safe return of all staff and
students to campus subject to prevailing health advice. The return is likely to
be phased and so please keep an eye out for information coming from your
College or Portfolio and I offer my thanks in advance to all of your for working
together on the staff return to campus.
details on arrangements for students will follow in due course from the Deputy
Vice-Chancellor (Students), Clare Pollock. Please also watch out for updates on
matters specific to your College from your Vice-President & Executive
breaking news, last night our Chief Information Officer, Ms. Kerrie Campbell,
was announced as Telstra’s South Australian Business Woman of the Year. This is
a marvelous recognition of the leadership Kerrie has brought to Flinders where
the IDS team have been transforming our systems and digital infrastructure at a
cracking pace. Congratulations and well done, Kerrie.
Hardship Support Fund Update
Hardship Support Fund has been extremely well received. The immediate Hardship
fund, managed through FUSA, has directly benefitted almost 2,000 students who
have already received support grants. The first round of Matthew Flinders
Scholarships has also just closed with over 1,500 applicants which are currently
being reviewed. The first payments under this scheme are expected to be made
pleased to receive a positive response from the Treasurer to a request for
State Government support for international students, who have been left out of
all other safety-net payment schemes. The State Government will contribute $3
million to the Matthew Flinders Scholarship Scheme.
originally announced an $8.5 million dollar fund with an aspiration to raise a
further $4 million to give a total of $12.5 million. With State Government
assistance and your generous support, we are already over $12 million. While
the Government support is specific to international students, the rest of the
fund is open to all eligible students.
on public gatherings meant we had to cancel April graduations and so we all
missed the opportunity to celebrate with our newest class of Flinders
graduates. Our creative staff in digital media decided we could still offer
some virtual handshakes and fist-bumps so I spent yesterday afternoon
locked-down in front of a greenscreen ‘meeting’ all of those who’d sent in a
photo. It was a lot of fun and thank you to the team who made it all happen so
you would all join me in offering our congratulations to all of our newest
graduates and wishing them well for the future.
and eligibility for JobKeeper
universities applied last week for the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme.
This scheme is designed to support businesses that have lost at least 30% of
revenue, or at least 50% for those organisations with a turnover in excess of $1 billion.
while the universities in question clearly believed they met the requirements
of the scheme, the Treasurer later announced a clarification that disqualified
University was not among those who applied and I would remind staff that our
current modelling suggests that we are facing a $54 million revenue shortfall
in 2020, representing just over 10% of total revenue.
our financial position could yet worsen and we will continue to monitor this
closely. However, for the moment, we believe that the savings required in 2020
are manageable given the measures already announced. That said, we must all recognise that significant uncertainties
remain for the 2021 budget year and beyond.
Australia dialogue with the NTEU
group of VCs are presently in discussion with the NTEU’s national executive to
develop a plan designed to help institutions navigate this crisis. The
intention is to develop an agreed wording for a new clause that could be added
to existing enterprise agreements to enable various cost-management measures
during these difficult times.
clarity, any amendment to our agreement would require a staff vote with a
majority in favour before it could be enacted.
If and when
any wording for a clause is agreed through this process, then I would expect
that each individual University would carefully consider whether or not the
proposed clause was appropriate or necessary to their specific circumstances. I
would reiterate that some of the cost-saving measures being mooted would not be
required at Flinders given our relative financial position.
College and Portfolio staff briefings
am planning a series of College and Portfolio briefings that will start later
this month. They will be planned as virtual sessions but, subject to prevailing
health advice on social distancing and group gatherings, we might find that
some may have limited capacity for attendance in person.
forward to having the opportunity to brief you all in more detail about how we
are responding to this crisis as an institution. It will also be an opportunity
to answer your questions and to hear your comments and ideas on what more we
might do in your area to ensure that we emerge from this in the strongest
been living though an historic period that will change lives and directions
around the entire world. We will be required to think in new ways about
many aspects of our future and I look forward to working with the Flinders
community to learn from this difficult time and shape our future together.
and stay safe,