From the COO
Chief Operating Officer
The portfolio of the Chief Operating Officer provides proactive support to staff and students carrying out academic, research or other engagement activities as part of their work at UNE.
To do this, each of the operating units within the portfolio is constantly reviewing its provision with a view to proactively improving its performance. Many of the units have been commended for past performance within the University by internal staff and students, and by benchmarking their activities against other universities. We compare very well on many scales but we aim to continually improve to ensure we provide excellent service. I will now detail a few of the significant developments within the portfolio that will help keep our support to staff and students at the highest level attainable within our current resource base.
The Facilities Management Service (FMS) has been exceptionally busy developing a Campus Master Plan for the entire Academic and Bellevue campuses. This was heavily consulted upon within the UNE community and with the external community who were either impacted by, or who use our facilities. This master plan will ensure that our facilities across the campus are maintained in a proper manner and are developed to provide quality spaces for our staff and students to work, rest and play.
Within the Information Technology Department, for five of the past six years the university has invested in a range of capital funded projects such as a $1.4m investment into UNE learning spaces to ensure are teaching areas meet the highest standards and support the teaching and learning objectives of our staff and students. Additionally the university has supported the desire to move its IT infrastructure into the cloud. Such a move will improve flexibility that will help both staff and students achieve their objectives more efficiently.
Human Resource Services (HRS) has increased its focus on health, safety and wellbeing to ensure that UNE is providing a safer environment for students, staff and visitors to UNE. This focus has meant that additional resourcing has been provided for the Health and Safety function and there are a range of health and safety initiatives in progress. During the next year a new safety app will be launched that will allow staff and students to seek assistance in a variety of circumstances and across our campus. I encourage all students to visit the Safety Hub website to gain a greater understanding of health and safety at UNE. The site can be accessed via Students/Support/Safety and Security. Additionally, a specific wellbeing initiative recently introduced was the access for on campus students to free flu vaccinations. HRS has also recently partnered with the School of Business to provide students studying Human Resources the opportunity to obtain practical experience working on real projects being undertaken by HRS which forms part of the assessment for one of their Units. Currently the Directorate has 15 students working on a variety of projects to provide real life work examples to students and to improve outcomes for staff and students.
Within the College system an additional ‘Residential Wellness Week’ for commencing students was added this year for all commencing students. During this week, sessions on ‘consent’ training, self-care, mental health matters, safety and security, prevention of sexual assault and harassment, responsible consumption of alcohol and accessing of University’s support services (Counselling and Student Grievance Unit etc) were conducted. The feedback from the commencing students on the ‘Residential Wellness Week’ has been extremely positive and it is schedule to run these sessions each year. In recognition of the increasing stress many students feel under from all components of their lives, the University has this year approved the establishment of a dedicated Counselling position for the Residential System. The take up of this service is constantly monitored, and where necessary extra resources will be found to support student. To further support students in the colleges, a new position of ‘Manager Student Support and Residential Programs’ has also been created to develop and implement student support and welfare programs across the Residential System.
A small, but nevertheless important unit within the portfolio is the Business Intelligence and Data Governance (BI&DG) unit. One of their important tasks is maintaining the ‘Early Alert’ system which monitors student data continuously to detect those students who may be at risk of discontinuing studies or who may require additional support, with the aim of providing assistance to any of UNE’s 22,000 on-campus and external students.
The portfolio is also home to UNE Life which provides a myriad of services across the university to enrich the lives of staff and students. Members of the University community will have seen a substantial number of improvements in services that either have or are in the process of being improved upon. One of the main services that sadly is currently out of action is the swimming pool. I am pleased to be able to report that work is now underway to improve this much used facility and at the same time improve the quality of the changing rooms. Whether it is the bookshops, retail outlets, cafeteria, sports facilities or sports clubs, UNE Life is working closely with the student body to ensure a great service. For the future, UNE Life will take on responsibility for Security on campus and staff and students will see a new breed of security patrolling and assisting staff and students across the campus in a friendly and supportive manner.
As Chief Operating Officer, I am proud of the level of support my portfolio currently provides to the University community. My sole purpose is to enhance staff and student experience, to ensure that they are safe and that they have the resources necessary to help all fulfil their potential. However, should you feel we have room to improve in any area please either contact my Directors of myself where we will be only to pleased to consider your suggestions.