Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are keeping well. In following up from last week’s R U OK? Day, it’s important that you know about the mental health support services available to you. I encourage you to use or recommend to colleagues these free and confidential services. If you’re not OK, or you know someone who is struggling, please reach out.

As was also mentioned in the all-staff update last week, on behalf of the senior executive, we’re pleased to be issuing an extra day of leave on 1 October! We’re calling this one-off event ‘Wellbeing Day’ and recommend that staff use it to attend to their mental health and wellbeing needs. Thanks to the HR team, this leave will be automatically booked on behalf of continuing and fixed term staff, without your need to formally apply for leave. If it is operationally critical that you work on the day, please arrange to take an alternate day with your supervisor.

As I mentioned in my email earlier this week, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences with the University during this challenging time. This short, online survey is an important way for us to ensure that UOW is doing all we can to prioritise and support your health and wellbeing. If you haven’t already, and have some time to spare today, please provide your open and honest feedback.

In case you missed the all-staff event last week, I wanted to update you on our new staff intranet, which is on track for first phase release in November. The platform will bring together UOW staff news and key intranet functions in a new look “Universe” intranet site. Priority has been placed on implementing a solution that enhances internal communication and staff engagement; improves the accuracy and speed in which information can be found and accessed; and equips staff with a dashboard for easy access to tools, resources and systems. I’m sure you share my excitement at what is to come!

In research news, a team of UOW researchers have been awarded an impressive $2.5million in funding over five years through the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Centre of Research Excellence. Their research will aim to reduce medical overdiagnosis and overtreatment, making Australia’s healthcare system even more effective and efficient. Well done to Professor Stacy Carter who is leading the team, which includes Dr Chris Degeling and Dr Patti Shih.

More vital research from UOW aims to reduce the risk to homes as fire season approaches. Published in the scientific journal Fire, Lead author and Director of the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfire, Professor Owen Price, says their research “reveals the best methods for preventing fire damage”. A very timely report, and one that could have great influence on the outcomes of future summer seasons.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Shuqing Yang from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, whose Coastal Reservoir Technology and Applications is now available for pre-order. As he says “Australia is the driest continent in the world, but 95% of our rainwater is lost to the sea. We are aiming at the development of freshwater resources from the sea without desalination”. I look forward to reading more on this innovative new development.

I’m also very pleased to share that UOW alumnus, Usman Iftikhar, has won the Committee for Sydney’s Western Sydney Champion award! Usman has volunteered his time with UOW over the years to facilitate an entrepreneurial careers panel for current students, has presented as a guest lecturer for EIS (ENGG942 –Professional Practice) and has been a speaker at alumni events. Usman won this prestigious award for his entrepreneurial mindset in co-founding Catalysr, a social enterprise that runs pre-accelerator programs to help ‘migrapreneurs’ think big and launch their own start-ups. Drawing form his own experiences as an underemployed educated migrant, Usman personally mentors 30 individuals and has helped launch 15 new businesses across Western Sydney. Usman’s mission is to help create 10,000 new jobs in the next 10 years. Well done Usman and what an incredible thing you’re doing! We’re very proud to have been part of your journey!

Mid-Autumn (or Mooncake) Festival is being celebrated on Tuesday 21 September, and is the second most important festival in China after Chinese New Year. If you are celebrating this occasion, I would like to wish you a blissful Moon Festival and I hope you enjoy the festivities with your household. I invite all staff to join in the fun through a virtual celebration or by trying your hand at making mooncakes! Please enter them in the #UOWBakeOff on Twitter.

Onto Tuesday’s Trivia with Trish, I’m continually impressed with the attendance and engagement each week. Kate Schreiber has taken the crown as winner again with another $50 gift card coming her way! We need all the trivia buffs out there to join us next week to give Kate a run for her money. Be sure to register here. Honourable mentions to: Tania Brown, Clare McKenzie and Chris Tulloch whose quick answers secured plenty of points.

As Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology and mindfulness expert, Dr Pickard, mentioned in a very good story about student emotional exhaustion for The Stand, “First, we need to admit that it’s OK to not be OK. And then we can think of what we need and figure out how to do that.” Let compassion for yourself come to the table this weekend and find what it is you need.

Keep well and enjoy the sunshine this weekend.