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Curtin University of Technology
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Campus news

Curtin makes new offer to staff union

C295/09

Curtin University of Technology has made a new pay offer to academic and general staff.

Academic staff have been offered an 18 per cent increase and general staff 17 per cent to the end of 2012. There is a small difference between the offers as the two groups of staff have slightly different working conditions.

Curtin Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jeanette Hacket, said she hoped the National Tertiary Education Union and the unions representing general staff would encourage their members to accept the pay offer.

“We believe this is a substantial pay increase which the union should support. On top of the increases we are also offering a $1000 sign up bonus to staff,” she said. 

The new offer also includes measures to improve working conditions, such as the piloting of a workload management system for academics, increased job security and superannuation for grant funded research staff, improved allowances for general staff, better conditions for sessional staff and casual staff including a 9 per cent superannuation contribution irrespective of hours worked.

“The new offer maintains Curtin as the second highest paying university in WA, as well as confirming its position within the top third of universities in the sector,” said Professor Hacket.

“I hope the unions will cancel the one-day strike planned for 16 September in light of this new offer by the University.”

For other media releases see the media release archive.

Curtin calls on union not to disadvantage students

C292/09

Curtin University of Technology says it does not believe industrial action by the National Tertiary Education Union will have a dramatic impact on students.

The union has announced a one-day strike for 16 September and has foreshadowed other potential action including withholding student results.

Curtin Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jeanette Hacket, said only a small number of academic and general staff were in favour of the action.

“I understand that only 8 per cent of all academic staff voted in favour of taking industrial action, which means it should have very limited impact on our students,” she said.

Professor Hacket said she shared the Curtin Student Guild’s concern about any action that would be detrimental to students.

“This is a matter between the University and the union and I don’t believe students should be used as a bargaining chip,” she said.

“The fact is, we are still in negotiations with the NTEU and in May this year we offered academic staff a 6 per cent increase and general staff a 5 per cent increase.  These offers are still on the table.”

Professor Hacket said the union had misreported recent pay increases for senior management claiming they received an 18 per cent increase in 2008 while other staff received only two per cent.  In fact, a 13.4 per cent pay increase — the first for 18 months — was granted to members of the senior executive in 2008 as a result of an independent review. Other staff received between 11-11.5 per cent pay increases over the same period, not 2 percent as the NTEU suggests.

Professor Hacket said Curtin salaries were competitive within the higher education sector, and that the NTEU’s claim could result in job losses.

For other media releases see the media release archive.

Premier launches $100 million centre to boost megaproject chances

C290/09

In a bid to host the largest scientific project of the early 21st century, Premier Colin Barnett today launched the $100 million International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth.

The Centre is a joint venture between Curtin University of Technology and The University of Western Australia (UWA) and is sponsored by the State Government.  The CSIRO and iVEC are both collaborating partners.

Designed to play a pivotal role in Australia's effort to secure the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), ICRAR will coordinate WA’s radio astronomy research.

The Centre will be led by some of Australia’s most eminent astronomers who are based at the two universities.  They include Director Professor Peter Quinn and Deputy-Directors Professors Steven Tingay, Lister Staveley-Smith and Peter Hall.  Quinn, Tingay and Staveley-Smith are Premier’s Fellows and Hall is Australia’s only Professor of Radio Astronomy Engineering.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the Centre was the embodiment of WA’s continuing commitment to outstanding research in support of the national bid for the SKA project.

“The establishment of this Centre will allow WA to attract more of the world’s leading radio astronomers,” Professor Robson said.

“It will create a collaborative environment for scientists and engineers to engage and work with industry to produce studies, prototypes and systems linked to the success of these radio astronomy projects.”

Curtin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jeanette Hacket said the development of ICRAR, combined with large investments from the universities and government, would help to make Australia an attractive location for the SKA.

“This project has the potential to make WA the international hub of radio astronomy and computing research.

“Radio astronomy and the SKA bid are significant research priorities for Australia and the international astronomy community” she said.

“Along with the significant commitment of our partners in government and education we are working to make WA the chosen location for this project.”

The SKA, involving 19 countries from around the world, will be the most powerful radio telescope on Earth, with the ability to examine the formation of galaxies, stars and planets.

If won by Australia — one of two countries shortlisted to be the project’s home — the primary facilities would be based in the ‘radio-quiet’ Murchison region, north-east of Geraldton.

The State Government provided $20 million funding and UWA and Curtin have contributed the remainder as funding and in kind support, making ICRAR one of the largest hubs for research in radio astronomy in the world.

For more information: www.icrar.org

 

For other media releases see the media release archive.

Curtin pharmacy students reach national final

C288/09

Two Curtin University of Technology pharmacy students reached the grand final of this year’s National Student Business Plan Competition.

Joanna Pynt, of Como, and Katherine Reid, of Padbury, were honoured at the National Pharmacy Women’s Congress on the Gold Coast for their Women’s Pharmacy business concept, judged among the top three in the nation.

The prestigious competition, held by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, invited all Australian universities with a school of pharmacy to submit a team.

The competition asked students to create a business plan, simulating the set-up of their own community pharmacy.

Ms Pynt and Ms Reid researched women’s health in Western Australia and discovered a considerable need for more professional advice.

“Two out of three non-prescription pharmacy customers in WA are women; the State’s birth rate reached more than 30,000 last year; and just 51 per cent of WA women viewed their health as excellent. We wanted to improve that figure,” Ms Reid said.

Their Women’s Pharmacy plan outlined how they would purchase and establish a pharmacy specialising in women’s health.

Curtin School of Pharmacy Lecturer, Nikki Di Costa, incorporated the national competition into a final-year pharmacy unit.

“I wanted to give all students the opportunity to create their own business plans, and I selected Curtin’s best business plan to enter into the competition,” she said.

Ms Pynt and Ms Reid’s submission placed third nationally, narrowly trailing first place University of Sydney and second, James Cook University, Queensland.

“To be recognised in the top three is a tremendous achievement, particularly given each university was only allowed to submit one team. We were competing with the very best,” Ms Di Costa said.

“The competition provided a wonderful opportunity for our students to apply the skills they have learned at Curtin in a real-life case study. It is certainly something they can build on once they graduate and consider starting their own small business.”

Ms Pynt and Ms Reid shared a $1500 cash prize and won Curtin a further $1000.

 

For other media releases see the media release archive.

The global tobacco industry – worried about Western Australia

C283/09

A Curtin University of Technology research program has identified some of the ways in which the world’s biggest tobacco companies monitored developments in Western Australia for more than 50 years.

Australian Medical Association WA President Professor Gary Geelhoed has launched a report from Curtin’s WA Tobacco Document Searching Program, entitled, “We are still not yet out of the woods in W.A.”: Western Australia and the international tobacco industry”.

 “This report is a fascinating record of why tobacco companies feared WA becoming a world leader in tobacco reform,” said Professor Geelhoed.

“Unfortunately, we lost momentum for some years but it’s encouraging that in recent times WA politicians have been determined to regain the lead and put the health of the community above all other considerations.” 
 
Curtin Professor of Health Policy, Mike Daube, emphasised the importance of learning from the past.

“We now know just how worried the international tobacco industry was about developments in WA – and with good reason,” he said.

“We know what the industry thought might affect their sales, and how much they lobbied to prevent any effective action.

“This industry has not gone away. They will continue to monitor and lobby, so it is important that we learn from the past as that is the best guide to their future behaviour.”

The issues consistently of most concern to tobacco company executives over more than 50 years were:

  • Restrictions on tobacco advertising and sponsorship;
  • Tax increases;
  • Strong health warnings;
  • Litigation;
  • Activities of health organisations and tobacco control advocates;
  • Position of politicians and political parties on tobacco issues;
  • Establishment of the WA Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway);
  • Establishment of smoke-free areas;
  • Public education campaigns.

The report, “We are still not yet out of the woods in W.A.”: Western Australia and the international tobacco industry is available to download from http://healthsciences.curtin.edu.au/watdsp/

Note to Editor:

Internal tobacco industry documents now accessible following litigation in the United States, show that the most senior tobacco company executives in New York and London were kept fully informed about developments in WA in relation to policies, governmental actions, media, health organisations and even individuals and were concerned about WA’s role as a national leader.

The report shows that tobacco control activities in WA were very closely monitored by the companies’ headquarters.

Monitoring included regular reports from West Australian and national company executives, public relations reports, media reports, political reports, and even a distinguished scientist, ostensibly in WA for research purposes, who was a generously funded consultant sending confidential reports to the Philip Morris company on developments in the State.

The companies were deeply concerned about measures such as advertising bans and tax increases, and especially worried about action from WA that might spread into the Eastern States. The international industry’s monitoring of tobacco control developments in WA can be traced back to at least 1957, and has clearly continued into the 2000s.

Concerns in internal memos are typified by comments from senior tobacco company executives in the US about reports on WA proposals for stronger health warnings in the 90s:

“This doesn’t sound good at all…They are taking the lead!! This will spread elsewhere. Don’t want to sound alarmist BUT I am alarmed”.

“More sensitive issues…we need to deal with the West Australian labelling problem which has some chance of spreading to South Australia and the A.C.T. (Canberra). It is imperative that this initiative be stopped”; and,

“I had not realized that potentially it was so imminent. Of course, this is quite a set back and our task now is to prevent its spreading to other States… I am sure you understand my concern and that I am grasping for straws of hope”.
 

For other media releases see the media release archive.