Dean Forbes

AUCEA Board Meeting and Workshop

Monday 1st August 2011

MACO Conference Room, Flinders University

Professor Dean Forbes

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International & Communities)

Flinders University

Good morning and welcome

Flinders University has a strategic commitment to engage with its communities. Key Strategy 1 in Flinders Strategic Plan is titled ‘Building Supportive Communities’.  It is the most often mentioned of our nine strategies.  It reflects our firm view that universities must work closely with local communities and together shape new ways of enabling people in the community and the university to leverage and benefit from their complementary strengths.

Our main focus is in the Adelaide metropolitan area. 

I will return to that shortly, but I should mention that Flinders has a broad geographical footprint.  The commencement of the delivery of the graduate medical degree through the Northern Territory Medical Program in Darwin, along with the rural medical clinical centres in Renmark, Warrnambool, Alice Springs, Katherine, and Nhulunbuy, provide a range of settings for local community engagement projects.

In the last few years Flinders has put much emphasis on Adelaide’s southern suburbs, and staff have built a range of good working relationships, especially in the Marion and Onkaparinga local government areas.  The Southern Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (SKTP) office, headed by Penny Crocker, was established in 2009 and is dedicated to supporting these activities.  There is also a strong contribution from Diane Ranck and the Marketing and Communications Office and the Careers and Employers Liaison Centre, managed by Peter Torjul.

A number of our activities in the southern suburbs address regional leadership and capacity building. Flinders online database, which is shortly to be launched, includes over 200 projects.

The closure of key industries in the South, along with the impact of the GFC, has made regional structural adjustment a priority.  Flinders is represented by the Vice-Chancellor on key regional bodies such as the Southern Adelaide Economic Development Board and the Southern Suburbs Coordinating Group that are helping set a new regional agenda.

We have funded 35 Knowledge Exchange (KEG) projects that are now underway, building partnerships and addressing local issues. Recently one of those projects  - the Social Justice Network - was launched. You will hear more about that later this morning.  Another is a research driven partnership.  The Medical Devices Partnering Program has an exciting new approach to engagement that you will also hear about today.

We have an interest in the regional infrastructure underpinning structural adjustment.  Flinders is contributing to the planning of the Tonsley Park sustainable industries precinct, one of the most significant projects on the State’s agenda. For those of you not familiar with the area, it is located a few hundred metres to the north of the campus.  We are in the process of completing a business case around having a significant presence on the site.

We are also working with SAEDB on the strategic aspects of the National Broadband Network rollout in the South. We are keen on harnessing local corporate buy in and working with the community on localised projects.  The approach being taken has attracted national interest.

There are other partnerships in the South. Flinders is a sponsor of the Fleurieu Art Prize, and will make contributions through staff from the areas of event management, environmental science and the Flinders Art Museum. We are also committed to contributing to a World Lifesaving event, Rescue 2012.  We think our input could include contributions to paramedic services, event management, digital media, education, and languages support.

Recent curriculum reforms led to significant changes in the ways we manage Work Integrated Learning (WIL). Following on from a recent nation-wide WIL project with the IRU group of universities, Flinders University is now partnering with Business SA to find meaningful and useful opportunities for students.

Finally, we recognize that in order to provide effective support to our communities we need to have regular opportunities for professional development. The internal Community Engagement Reference Group (CERG) facilitates a cross-university dialogue about individual projects, as well as strategic advice.

In relation to Work Integrated Learning, three Communities of Practice have been formed covering innovation, implementation and preparation.

We have also consistently taken advantage of the opportunities presented through being part of the Australian Universities Community Engagement Alliance (AUCEA).  In addition to attending and presenting papers at the annual Conference, we have regularly welcomed AUCEA visiting  scholars from the UK and USA.  In the last few years, Serena Siefer and Barbara Ferman have both delivered excellent workshops. We also hope to see Barbara Holland here later this year.