Never Stand Still
law professor Jane McAdam resets the asylum-seeker debate
Frank Lowy on his family, his past and his motivations for giving
INNOVATION INCUBATOR Shining a light on our most successful start-ups
NATURAL BORN PRETENDERS Are our attitudes to guns stifling our childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s imaginative play?
UNIKEN • Contents
uniken Summer 2013/14 Cover story In the hot seat
Features Women in leadership
Shining a light on innovation
Let’s talk about sex
The weekend effect
In conversation with Frank Lowy
Visionaries or vigilantes
Graeme Salter, ARC Super Science Fellow in Exoplanetary Science
Parks and recreation
When the box office bombs
Some of us have desk jobs. Graeme Salter discovers planets. At just 28, Salter has a PhD in astrophysics from Oxford University and is now an ARC Super Science Fellow in the School of Physics. His research involves using some of the world’s largest telescopes, including Gemini South and the Anglo-Australian Telescope, to look for planets outside our solar system. “I’ve never really understood people who don’t look up at the sky and wonder,” he says. One of his observation techniques – direct imaging – involves measuring a planet’s light as it orbits a star. It is so difficult it can only be done by a handful of people in the world. The main problem is the glare. “Imagine sitting 50 kilometres away from the most powerful lighthouse on Earth trying to detect a firefly hovering 10 centimetres away,” Salter says. Not content to observe space from Earth, Salter was recently one of only 10 finalists out of 87,000 in the international Space XC competition, which gives the winner a free ride into space. After an intense day of mental and physical tests in London, including spinning in a gyroscope, Salter just missed out.
Arts Natural born pretenders
Regulars Your time starts now
Upfront 3 UNSW books
Cover photo: Tamara Voninski. Uniken is produced by UNSW’s Media Office; +61 (2) 9385 1583 or email@example.com. Issue 71. Editor: Steve Offner. Deputy Editor: Fran Strachan. Editorial Advisers: Kathy Bail, Denise Knight. Contributors: Cassie Chorn, Anabel Dean, Myles Gough, Ali Gripper, Susi Hamilton, Denise Knight, Alvin Stone. Photography: Michael Anderson, Andy Baker, Maja Baska, Britta Campion, Sittixay Ditthavong, Lian Lunson, Peter Morris, Prudence Murphy, Ben Rushton, Grant Turner, Tamara Voninski. Design and Production: Fresco Creative. Subediting: Dani Cooper. Proofreading: Pam Dunne.
Download the Uniken App for
your time starts now …
“I was gutted. I dream of looking back down on Earth and feeling the sensation of weightlessness,” he says, adding that his ultimate goal is to work in the International Space Station. First interest in space: As a kid, I was always looking up at the stars. My dad handed me a pair of binoculars to look at the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997. I was about 12 and I got my first telescope after that. Likelihood of extraterrestrial life: We’ve got thousands of confirmed planets and we’re starting to find them in habitable regions where liquid water can exist. If life developed on Earth, why not elsewhere? Peak experience: Climbing Kilimanjaro because I battled altitude sickness and really pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do. It was worth it; the sun was rising just as we reached the top. Most treasured possession: My motorbike, a Kawasaki Ninja 250. It gives me freedom. Favourite dance track: “Apache” by the Sugarhill Gang, but you have to dance like Will Smith and Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. By Fran Strachan. Photo: Sittixay Ditthavong
UPFRONT • awards wrap
scientists of the year Plant ecology and quantum computing aren’t usually terms uttered in the same breath, but the disparate disciplines were on everyone’s lips in November when UNSW won two of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – the nation’s most prestigious science awards. Associate Professor Angela Moles, from the Faculty of Science, won the 2013 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year for her study of global plant ecology. Engineering’s Associate Professor Andrea Morello was awarded the 2013 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year for advances in the development of a quantum computer. Prime Minister Tony Abbott presented the $50,000 prizes – which honour early or mid-career researchers who have made outstanding achievements that can improve human welfare or benefit society – at a dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament in Canberra. Moles was recognised for travelling the planet as part of her epic World Herbivory Project, which includes the development of a computer database of more than 450,000 plant species. The research on patterns of distribution could help predict the impacts of climate change on plants and the animals that depend on them. Morello is developing the building blocks of siliconbased quantum computers – ultra-powerful devices that will revolutionise computing. Last year, a team led by Morello and Professor Andrew Dzurak created the world’s first working quantum bit based on a single atom in silicon, demonstrating they could both read and write information using the spin, or magnetic orientation, of an electron bound to a single phosphorus atom. This year they created an even more reliable qubit using a single nuclear spin. The wins were a highlight in a prize-packed few months for UNSW, which kicked off in September with success in the
Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, the “Oscars of Science”. UNSW won three of the prestigious awards. Associate Professor David Wilson, from the Kirby Institute, won the Prize for Emerging Leader in Science for his work overseeing Australia’s surveillance system for HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs; Professor Rob Brooks, from the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, won the Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research; and Dr Mike Letnic, from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences who, as part of a team researching dingoes, won the Prize for Environmental Research. In November, UNSW also won four of the eight NSW Science and Engineering Awards for 2013 and picked up five of the nine NSW Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. Recognised in the Science and Engineering Awards were: Professor Martina Stenzel (plastic nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery); Professor John Webb (distant quasars and a finding on the variability of the laws of physics across the cosmos); Scientia Professor Justin Gooding (cutting-edge chemical sensors and biosensors); and Professor Katharina Gaus (specialised cell membrane structures and the signalling pathways that determine cell function). The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards, presented by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, celebrate scientific excellence and encourage younger Australians to follow in the footsteps of outstanding peers. The five winners, all from Science, were: Dr Julian Berengut, for his research on whether the laws of physics are changeable; Dr Jessica Grisham, for her studies on anxiety disorders; Dr Belinda Liddell, for her work on the neurobiological mechanisms of traumatic stress; Dr Sarah Perkins, for her investigations into Australian climate extremes; and Dr Neeraj Sharma, who is developing the next generation of batteries and fuel cells.
PM’s Science Prize winners … Andrea Morello and Angela Moles. Photos: Peter Morris
UNIKEN • Upfront
• GRANTs win
UNSW tops the state
UNSW joins Pacific Rim network
UNSW secured more than $54 million in funding from the latest Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Major Grants and Future Fellowship programs, the highest total in the state. We were the top grant winner in the ARC’s Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme, which supports collaborative research initiatives between higher education and industry. The University secured 12 new LIEF grants beginning in 2014, totalling $11.4 million with contributions from partner organisations. This is the highest total in Australia. UNSW secured funding for 68 new ARC Discovery Projects worth $23.1 million, the highest total in NSW. UNSW’s largest grant went to Associate Professor Garrett Prestage from the Kirby Institute, who will lead a $600,000 project investigating drug use among gay and bisexual men. The second largest grant ($550,000) went to Professor Ashish Sharma from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering to develop better forecasting and warning systems for floods. Young researchers also shone. The University won 23 new Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards worth $8.7 million, the second highest total in the country. And in the ARC Future Fellowships category, UNSW secured 14 new Fellowships worth about $10.85 million – the highest tally in NSW. Also secured was funding for an ARC Discovery Indigenous project. The success follows UNSW’s strong showing in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding round in October. UNSW received $37 million for 67 grants starting next year. The largest – a Partnership Project grant of $1.26 million – was awarded to a team led by Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, to investigate the appropriateness of healthcare delivered to children. Combined with the previously announced Program Grants, UNSW has the largest amount of NHMRC funding for any institution in the country this year – almost $88 million.
UNSW’s standing as one of the region’s leading research universities has been reinforced with its election to the prestigious Association of Pacific Rim Universities network. Membership enables UNSW to engage with 44 leading research-intensive universities in the Pacific Rim region, including Stanford, UCLA and the universities of Hong Kong and Tokyo. The election follows UNSW’s invitation to join GlobalTech, the Global Alliance of Technological Universities, an honour that recognises UNSW as one of the world’s top science and technology universities.
Women excel in NHMRC awards The National Health and Medical Research Council has recognised three UNSW researchers in its Excellence Awards. The awards are given to the highest-ranked applicants in their respective funding schemes. The UNSW recipients were: Associate Professor Jane Butler, who is based at NeuRA; Associate Professor Rebecca Guy, from the Kirby Institute; and Dr Julie Brown, a conjoint senior lecturer in the School of Medical Sciences based at NeuRA.
Bob Carr on board Former NSW Premier and Foreign Minister Bob Carr has been appointed Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. A UNSW alumnus, Mr Carr says he’s looking forward to “reinventing himself as an Asian specialist”. Mr Carr’s tell-all book based on the diaries he kept while in government, Diary of a Foreign Minister, will be published next year by NewSouth Publishing, part of UNSW Press.
Astronomer wins writing prize The Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing was awarded to a leading astronomer, Professor Fred Watson, for ‘Here come the ubernerds: Planets, Pluto and Prague’. Watson is Astronomer in Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory at Coonabarabran. His winning piece is from his 2013 book, Star-Craving Mad: Tales from a travelling astronomer (Allen and Unwin).
Celebrating 50 years UNSW’s 50-year partnership with the Prince of Wales Hospital has been celebrated with a gala dinner attended by staff, alumni and special guests from both institutions. The Prince of Wales Clinical School opened in 1963 to provide practical ward experience for students. It is now one of five Sydney-based clinical schools associated with UNSW Medicine, which lead teaching and research for the Faculty. Around 200 guests were at the dinner at Scientia’s Leighton Hall.
• Fine fellows
Engineering elite Engineering Dean Professor Graham Davies and Emeritus Professor Maria Skyllas-Kazacos have been elected fellows of the prestigious Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). They are among 26 elected fellows this year. Davies (pictured right) serves as the Chair of the Group of Eight Deans of Engineering Committee and is a fellow of the United Kingdom’s Royal Academy of Engineering. Faculty of Engineering enrolments have risen 50% over the last five years under Davies’ leadership, and he’s been instrumental in delivering major building projects, including the $123.5 million Tyree Energy Technologies Building. “Graham Davies has achieved an international reputation for his research into opto-electronic circuits for telecommunications applications, and for advances in the growth of semiconductors for these devices,” the ATSE citation says. Skyllas-Kazacos is well known for developing the rechargeable vanadium redox flow battery, and is one of eight women who were elected into the academy this year.
UNIKEN • Upfront
Briefs Language collaboration
Sisters doing it for themselves Six Aboriginal women from Sydney’s west – including three sisters – graduated with postgraduate qualifications in public health from UNSW in November. Sisters Dea Delaney-Thiele and Sheila Hure both graduated with Masters of Public Health, while their sibling Joanne Delaney and colleagues Aunty Elaine Lomas, Jennifer King and Sethy Willie received Graduate Certificates in Public Health. Delaney-Thiele is now pursuing a Doctorate in Public Health at UNSW, among the inaugural intake into the competitive Future Health Leaders program. UNSW has the country’s largest number of Indigenous medical students, with 56 enrolled out of a total of 260 nationwide. Another 10 are engaged in postgraduate degrees. (Pictured: Sheila Hure, Joanne Delaney and Dea Delaney-Thiele.)
Vale Sir William Tyree 1921-2013 Some people find their vocation early in life and Sir William Tyree – engineer, visionary and philanthropist – was one of them. From modest beginnings as the creator of a small electrical engineering business in Sydney’s inner west, Sir William went on to found one of the largest electrical transformer manufacturing businesses in the Southern Hemisphere – Tyree Holdings. He sold the company in 1969 to Westinghouse, but remained at the helm for another 10 years. But Sir William, who passed away on 25 October aged 92, is also remembered for his generosity. Through his A.W. Tyree Foundation, he donated funds to universities, including UNSW, for scholarships to advance engineering and education. This generosity is no more evident than in UNSW’s Tyree Energy Technologies Building, which was completed last year and is now home to groundbreaking energy research. Sir William also recently provided more than half a million dollars to be put towards the establishment of Australia’s only graduate program in Nuclear Engineering. UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer says Sir William was “enormously publicly minded”. UNSW hosted a public memorial for Sir William in the Tyree Building on 18 November. Read the full tribute in newsroom.unsw.edu.au
UNSW and the University of Sydney are joining forces to foster the study of modern languages by offering crossinstitutional enrolments. UNSW undergraduate students studying minors in Indonesian, Modern Greek or Italian as part of their Bachelor of Arts degree will complete the majority of their language courses at the University of Sydney. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Dean Professor James Donald says it is a well-established model. “Many universities are grappling with falling enrolments in certain languages and are entering into similar agreements to make sure programs survive – it is both economically responsible and in the best interests of our students.”
Honour for Jennie Lang Vice-President, Advancement, Ms Jennie Lang, has won the Distinguished Contribution to International Education Excellence Award. Presented by the International Education Association of Australia, the award recognises the outstanding contribution of a professional colleague who has led groundbreaking initiatives to improve international education in Australia. “Jennie Lang has been spearheading international education within Sydney and across Australia since 1987 and has played a leading role in developing an industry that is now the envy of the world,” the award citation says. UNSW Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer says the award is “fitting recognition for Jennie’s significant contribution as an industry leader, policy maker and marketing innovator”.
US solar partnership Solar engineers from UNSW are partnering with a consortium of top US universities on next-generation silicon solar cells with targeted efficiencies of 29%. The current world record for conversion efficiency for silicon cells is 25% and was set by the UNSW solar photovoltaic research group in 2008 with its PERL cell. “These are some of the most cutting-edge solar cell and physics groups … and we’re delighted to be working with them,” says Dr Richard Corkish, Head of the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering.
Making a career in Law Pozible Law alumni have used an online crowd-funding campaign to raise more than $30,000 for a scholarship program that helps disadvantaged young people from Sydney’s south-west to study law at UNSW. The graduates used the Pozible site to raise the $30,000 to ensure the Ngoc Tram Nguyen Scholarship is offered again in 2014.
UNIKEN • Upfront
• Special edition
• Rhodes scholar
michael kirby on Gandhi
law grad wins place at oxford The state’s newest Rhodes scholar, Arts/Law graduate Kunal Sharma, will use the prestigious prize to critically analyse the structures of private property, taxation and social welfare. Heading to Oxford University next year, Kunal will undertake a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Master of Public Policy to assess these issues, which he says have come under renewed focus with the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Described by his teachers as having one of the best legal minds they have come across for years, Kunal studied at UNSW on a Law Scientia Scholarship and graduated this year with first-class honours. He is currently working as a graduate lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills. Dean of Law Professor David Dixon says Kunal is “an extraordinarily impressive young man”. At 12 years old, Kunal migrated with his family to Australia from India, and lived in a one-bedroom flat above a pizzeria. At age 13 and then again at 20, he was diagnosed with cancer, forcing the amputation of his right leg. “A lot of people seem to think these elite programs are designed around a particular person,” Kunal says. “Although my experiences were different, it didn’t mean I shouldn’t give it a shot.” Photo: Ben Rushton/Fairfax
• Awe inspiring
Innovation Centre takes shape A new centre for innovation at UNSW will provide world-class facilities and position Sydney as a major centre for innovation in the Asia–Pacific region. The Crouch Innovation Centre has been made possible through a donation from Michael Crouch, the Executive Chairman of Zip Industries. “Innovation is what will continue to make Australia great,” Mr Crouch says. “The centre will be a world-leading environment for students, staff and the community where innovative products and new companies will be developed. It will make an important contribution to productivity growth and the Australian economy,” he says. To be housed within a new building next to the Australian School of Business, the Crouch Innovation Centre has been designed as a “building of awe”, where passers-by on the ground floor can look in and see spaces devoted to innovation. ASB Dean, Professor Geoffrey Garrett, who has toured other innovation centres at Harvard, Yale and MIT, says the UNSW facility will integrate the best of those centres, so as to “inspire in students a life of innovation; to seek better ways to do things and solve problems”.
Adapted from former High Court Justice Michael Kirby’s UNSW 2013 Gandhi Oration, Penguin Books has published a Penguin Special What Would Gandhi Do? Regarded as the Father of the Nation in India, Mahatma Gandhi is known globally as a symbol of wisdom and compassion. Kirby, himself a tireless advocate for non-discrimination and human rights, shows the applicability of Gandhi’s views on some of the world’s most pressing current issues: women’s rights, climate change, animal rights, and sex and sexuality. More books by UNSW authors are featured on page 26.
• Wealth creation
Who wants to be a millionaire? UNSW has produced more millionaire graduates than any other Australian university, a new global analysis has found. The league table, compiled by consulting company WealthInsight and Spear’s magazine, lists UNSW as 33rd in the world in the number of millionaires among its alumni. The most popular course for millionaires was engineering, followed by the MBA, economics and law, although many no longer work in their field of expertise. “Entrepreneurs, who ultimately end up being the wealthiest in the world, are innovators and the top subjects are those which encourage new and smart thinking, whether technical or financial,” says Spear’s editor Josh Spero. The analysis also highlighted the emergence of computer science as the eighth most popular course. “This shows the rise of the tech industry,” says analyst Oliver Williams of WealthInsight. “In future years, as more and more tech entrepreneurs make it big, we should expect it to move further up the list.” At 33 in the world, UNSW is the top-ranked Australian university. UNSW has an excellent track record for producing and nurturing technology start-ups. “These results highlight the advantages and opportunities a UNSW degree provides. We are certainly the place to be for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer says. Read more about UNSW’s most successful graduate-led start-ups on page 10.
LEADERSHIP The success of the University’s Academic Women in Leadership program will see the launch next year of a similar program for professional women, writes Denise Knight. For Kristy Muir, the Academic Women in Leadership (AWIL) program came at the right time in her career, helping to give clear direction about her next move. “When I started the program in 2010 my CV looked like a spray of bullets,” says Associate Professor Muir, who at the time was the Director of the Disabilities Studies Research Centre in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. “The program gave me the space to fill in gaps and take the time to assess my values, strengths, weaknesses and where I wanted to go in my career. I learned a lot.” After the program, Muir successfully applied for the Associate Dean (Research) position in the Faculty. “I honestly think that without AWIL I wouldn’t have had the confidence to back myself or the insight that I had the skills to do the job. The program and career coaching gave me the skills on how to have the conversation with my Dean, James Donald, about my goals,” says Muir, who recently took up the role of Research Director at the Centre for Social Impact. AWIL was established in 2006 as part of the University’s Academic Women’s Employment Strategy, which aims to increase the number of women in senior roles. Along with coaching, participants in the program undertake a needs analysis, workshop sessions and mentoring. One of Muir’s mentors was Professor Richard Henry, then Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic). “This was a reaffirmation that the University was backing its rhetoric and taking the issue seriously,” Muir says.
The rave reviews prompted the Vice-President, Finance and Operations, Jonathan Blakeman, to initiate the Professional Women in Leadership program, to be launched by mid-2014. “As the executive sponsor of the program, I am excited to be able to introduce a new opportunity for our high-potential professional staff. It will make a real difference to their careers as well as maximising the talent here at UNSW,” says Blakeman. He says the idea took shape after a discussion with Faculty general managers, the majority of whom are women. “It was a bit of a no-brainer in the end – AWIL has such a successful track record, why not take the model and adapt it for professional staff?” Applauding the initiative, Vice-President, Advancement, Jennie Lang, a member of the University’s Executive Team, says she is excited to see more high-achieving women joining UNSW and establishing successful career paths. “In my own Division of Advancement, I have given a number of talented women opportunities to step up, which they’ve done brilliantly,” says Lang, who predicts a more balanced gender profile in the senior leadership team in the future. “We’re already seeing it in some of our most prestigious research institutes – Professors Michelle Simmons, Veena Sahajwalla, Jane McAdam, Robyn Ward just to name a few of the inspiring women leaders at UNSW.” UNSW has set its own gender equity targets and the success rates for women applicants in the latest promotion rounds for Professor and Associate Professor were 91% and 85% respectively – a clear indication of progress with the support of executive sponsors and Human Resources. To complement this work, Deputy Chancellor Jillian Segal this year established the UNSW Senior Women’s Network, which held its inaugural event in March. Segal is a high-profile company director – currently with ASX Limited and the National Australia Bank – and a strong advocate for increased representation of women in leadership roles. Networking opportunities are important for women working to adapt and transform organisations, she says. “The push across corporate Australia through the ASX corporate governance guidelines is for listed companies to focus on the number of women on boards and in management, and more women are coming through. That’s what we want to see at the University – it’s simply good business.”
Leading women … Kristy Muir, Jennie Lang and Jillian Segal.
ACADEMIC A love of maths has taken a Belfast student into the heat of the international climate change debate, writes Alvin Stone. For Dr Lisa Alexander and her extreme weather team, the fires that raged across NSW in October, destroying more than 200 homes in the Blue Mountains, were a grim validation of their research. Their detailed observations of the past century of weather data and future projections had been pointing to increased fire risk due to global warming for some time. And Alexander, the chief investigator of extreme weather events at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, believes the recent fires are a portent of what is to come. In the past 50 years, she says, Australia’s heatwaves have been getting longer, hotter and more frequent; and winters shorter and warmer. Australia’s fire-weather days are increasing in number and intensity. In 2013 Australia has seen one of the earliest onsets of the fire season, its hottest summer on record, the hottest March on record and the record for the hottest average 12-month period has been broken three times in three consecutive months – from July to September. “This year is going to be off the charts,” says Alexander in her Irish brogue. Her team’s research is cutting edge – and often controversial.
Climate scientist Dr Lisa Alexander. Photo: Britta Campion
As a lead author in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Alexander has felt the fury of climate sceptics. “I have had a few emails over the past few weeks saying I am associated with a fascist organisation – meaning the IPCC,” she says. Talking about her experiences – this was the third time she was involved with the IPCC at a high level – Alexander still manages to laugh. She pays little attention to those who rail against climate science. “One email I received actually said I hope you can live with your conscience or ‘con science’. That was funny, it actually cheered me up.” Her work at UNSW and with the UN is a long way from her early years in Belfast where she had a love for maths although, she adds, “I wasn’t top of the class”. In fact climate science wasn’t on the radar until she was well into a Masters in applied mathematics and came across her first climate model. “I thought this was really cool and then at the same time the UK Met Office [the UK’s equivalent of the Bureau of Meteorology] put out an advertisement that said: ‘Do you want to work with top models?’,” she recalls. “The Met Office got into a whole lot of trouble over that, but it was the humour in the advert that appealed to me, so I applied.” She got the job, but was immediately diverted away from climate models to deal with a more pressing issue –
the lack of good observational climate data worldwide. “Without that data, climate scientists couldn’t say anything in the second IPCC report about extremes or the detection and attribution of weather events to climate change,” Alexander says. “The problem was, and continues to be, that few countries are prepared to give raw observational data away.“ The group came up with the idea of requesting weather indices – calculated values derived from raw data, things like rainfall amount on the wettest day, number of extreme events over a period of time or daily temperature ranges – the data countries were far more willing to exchange. “I ended up co-writing a paper that developed these indices, which went into the third assessment report of the IPCC.” It became one of the most cited papers in the field. In 2005, Alexander moved to Australia and continued to work for the Met Office based at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Here she met Neville Nicholls who encouraged her to do a PhD and ended up being her co-supervisor. “Neville remains one of the most inspirational people in my life,” Alexander admits. At the end of her Doctorate, Alexander took a job with the Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW. With two IPCC reports already under her belt and an impressive international research record, she came to the centre as a well-established figure in the field. Research team member Dr Sarah Perkins says Alexander’s track record was intimidating. “Before I met Lisa, I had this image of a nine-foot figure who was incredibly distant. Yet she is one of the most approachable and easy people to work with. She gives us incredible freedom and trust in the areas we choose to research.”
Smoke from bushfires hangs over Sydney. Photo: Bob Barker/Newspix
And there are big things ahead for the group. For the past three years the centre has developed a global set of indices that are allowing researchers to examine the mechanisms of climate events that range from Australia’s recent La Niña to the
United States Dust Bowl of the 1930s. “We have spent three years of hard work assembling the data and now we’ve got what we need,” Alexander says. “With this in hand we’re looking forward to some very exciting research.”
IPCC – A TOUGH GIG In the world of science few things have a profile as high as the IPCC reports released every five years. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this equates to glamour in the scientific world. It is one tough gig. Dr Lisa Alexander is a veteran of the reports, with the latest her third outing. This time she was a lead author of the chapter on surface and atmospheric observations as well as the Summary for Policymakers. “The assessment of extremes in the report actually covered a large number of chapters,” Alexander says. “We formed a subset of authors from each relevant chapter and as a result we had to be across everything.” Alexander was also nominated to the group writing the Technical Summary and the group
writing the Summary for Policymakers (SFP). “The SFP is supposed to be a short document that summarises two million words down to 14,000,” she says. Once the scientists finish with the initial draft, negotiators from every country hammer out the final wording. They were given just five days. “We just worked until the early hours of the morning to get it done,” Alexander says. “I don’t think the Chair, Thomas Stocker, slept at all for the entire five days.” The final report says it is very likely heatwaves will grow in number and intensity. Droughts and heavy rainfall events are likely to intensify. The oceans will continue to warm more rapidly than the land and become increasingly
acidic, while ice in the Arctic could be reduced by 43–94% over the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months by 2100. Given the certainty, Alexander believes there may be little need for a sixth IPCC report in 2019. “The trend … has been growing certainty about the basic things we already thought we knew,” she wrote recently in an opinion piece co-authored with the Climate Change Research Centre’s Professor Steven Sherwood. “The take-home message may simply be that while scientists should continue to strive for improvement, policy makers and the public had best get on with decisions based on the information at hand, rather than hoping for a crystal ball to appear.”
UNIKEN • Feature
SHINING A LIGHT ON
INNOVATION UNSW produces more millionaire graduates and successful tech start-ups than any other Australian university. By Myles Gough.
Right now, there are 1,500 technology start-ups in Australia. But by year’s end it’s projected that roughly three-quarters of them will fail. That’s a rate of three startups going under every day. And yet, “global comparisons with other technology start-up ecosystems suggest there is no better time to be an entrepreneur in Australia”. Both these assertions come from a 2013 report titled The Startup Economy. It was commissioned by Google to identify ways to accelerate the growth of the Australian technology start-up sector, which “has the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of GDP to the Australian economy” and more than half a million jobs by 2033. Realising the sector’s full potential, however, will mean rapidly expanding the Australian ecosystem over the next 20 years to include 43,000 technology entrepreneurs. Today there are only 2,000. UNSW is doing its part and has one of the best track records across all Australian universities for producing successful technology start-ups and graduates. In August 2013, the US website CrunchBase, a leading authority on technology entrepreneurs, ranked universities based on the number of graduates who had started companies. UNSW led all Australian universities with 16 founders and co-founders. According to another analysis released in October by the UK-based Spear’s magazine, UNSW produces more millionaire graduates than any other Australian university. It was ranked as 33rd in the world, behind some of the
biggest names in innovation, including Harvard, Stanford and Columbia. Some of the successful companies led by former UNSW students include software giant Atlassian, BlueChilli, Julpan, ClickView and the education technology companies Smart Sparrow and Open Learning. Some of these founders are already millionaires – others are well on their way. Recently, the University and its commercialisation company, NewSouth Innovations, have spearheaded initiatives to encourage more student entrepreneurs such as mentor-run workshops and pitching events (see story page 12). Computer Science and Engineering Head of School, Associate Professor Maurice Pagnucco, opened a rentfree incubator space for students in December 2011. “The most important thing universities can do is expose their students to real-world experience and practice as much as possible rather than simulated experiences,” he says. That means providing workspaces where they can share ideas and build things, and creating opportunities to network with alumni and pitch their companies and products to investors. It also means equipping students with the necessary technical skills. “Having an idea is one thing,” says Pagnucco. “Being able to realise it is another thing entirely. Students need technical skills in computer science to develop solutions and to engineer complex software that is robust, efficient and secure.”
Adam Brimo, Mijura, Open Learning Bachelor of Arts and Engineering While studying at UNSW, Adam Brimo was dissatisfied with his mobile service provider, Vodafone. He set up the website Vodafail.com as a forum to vent his own frustrations, but it soon registered thousands of complaints from other customers. The resultant campaign gained national media attention, led to an Australian Communications and Media Authority inquiry, a billion-dollar upgrade to Vodafone’s local network and saw Brimo named Choice’s 2011 consumer activist of the year. This success was a sign of things to come. In October 2012, UNSW became the
Saul Griffith, Instructable, Makani Power Bachelor of Materials Science and Engineering Saul Griffith doesn’t stop inventing. The UNSW materials science and engineering graduate, who in 2004 won a scholarship to complete a PhD at the MIT Media Lab, is the co-founder of numerous start-ups. Unlike most of the other technology entrepreneurs on this list, Griffith’s focus is primarily on hardware. He’s interested in developing processes for manufacturing new materials and products. In 2004, he co-founded Squid Labs, which has spun out seven companies. One, Makani Power, designed, built and tested airborne wind turbines. These require 90% less material to manufacture than conventional turbines, can generate electricity at lower costs and can access strong winds at high altitudes and over the ocean. Google invested US$15 million in the start-up between 2006 and 2008 and acquired the company this year. Another venture, Instructables.com, is an online hub for the do-it-yourself community where people can share step-by-step instructions. Griffith is now the co-founder of Otherlab, which is focused on projects dealing with solar energy, prosthetics, electric vehicles and education.
first university in Australia to offer a free massive open online course (MOOC) courtesy of Open Learning, a start-up co-founded by Brimo and Associate Professor Richard Buckland. The Open Learning platform differs from other online courses by encouraging student participation and learning through games. It also incorporates a social element where students can ask questions, self-regulate discussions and work together to build study notes. As of September, Open Learning had offered more than 80 university and privately run courses to more than 25,000 students. The company was ranked second on the 2013 Anthill Smart 100 Index, which monitors the Australian start-up and innovation scene.
Dror Ben-Naim, Smart Sparrow PhD, Computer Science and Engineering The future of education is personalised learning, says Dror Ben-Naim, founder of Smart Sparrow. Just as advertisers customise ads based on internet usage patterns, he says the next wave of educational technologies will be able
to track student progress and provide work that better caters to their learning style. Unlike MOOCs, many of which are simply re-using old teaching styles in a new medium, the Smart Sparrow platform is making online learning richer, more interactive and adaptive. It provides feedback to students and analytical information to teachers regarding student performance and learning behaviour. The result of more than seven years of research at UNSW, Smart Sparrow began with Ben-Naim’s PhD project investigating data mining and intelligent tutoring, and his work with UNSW academics to build customised virtual labs. The company released its beta version in 2011, and six months later secured multi-milliondollar funding from OneVentures and UniSeed. Today, Smart Sparrow is partnering with universities around the world, developing adaptive learning platforms for high-school students, and is the technology powering a world-first biomedical education skills and training network. SebastiEn Eckersley-Maslin, BlueChilli Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, UNSW Canberra After 10 years in the Royal Australian Navy, with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq under his belt, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin turned his attention to technology start-ups – and not just his own. In 2010 he founded BlueChilli, which helps business-minded people lacking technical expertise get their ideas off the ground, and turn them into
Boosting student participation and learning … Adam Brimo with Open Learning colleague Melody Wang. Personalised learning … Dror Ben-Naim. Photos: Grant Turner/Mediakoo
Ori Allon, Urban Compass, Julpan, Orion PhD, Computer Science and Engineering
SEEDS OF SUCCESS UNSW has spearheaded initiatives to develop a culture of student entrepreneurialism. In 2011, the School of Computer Science and Engineering opened an incubator space, providing student companies with rent-free office space for up to 12 months to share with like-minded individuals while they commercialised their ideas. Google engineering director Alan Noble, who sat on the judging panel that selected the space’s first three resident companies, said at the time it was promising that UNSW was assisting students to make the transition into start-ups. “The fact that universities are starting to establish incubators for tech start-ups is definitely progressive, and happening not a minute too soon,” he told Uniken. The school also hosts regular pitch nights, providing the opportunity for students to hone presentation skills while networking with leading innovators, alumni and potential investors. “The key is to develop a creative mindset in which students are developing their own ideas, taking them to market and not being afraid of failure,” says Maurice Pagnucco, head of Computer Science and Engineering. NewSouth Innovations (NSi) is also fostering student entrepreneurialism. In 2012, it hired a student enterprise
profitable companies. It’s an incubator, an accelerator, a digital agency and venture capitalist firm all in one, he says. If a pitch is successful, BlueChilli commits $150,000 worth of technology and marketing services. This involves developing the software and platform, and designing websites, user interfaces, graphics and branding. If the new company goes on to receive “angel” funding, BlueChilli then matches every
manager, Joshua Flannery, and established a division that guides students through the process of developing, launching and operating a business. “We want to attract students with great ideas, and we want to give them the advice and support they need to be successful,” says Flannery. Students can workshop their ideas at the eight-week UNSW Start-Up Games, network with Australia’s largest angel investor syndicate at the Sydney Angels Mixer, and pitch online business model ideas at the Sydney Seed Fund Pitch event. Flannery says NSi is looking forward to scaling up these programs to coincide with the 2015 launch of a new UNSW innovation hub, the Crouch Innovation Centre, designed to encourage collaboration across all disciplines. At the AGSM, a new course will partner MBA students with Sydneybased start-ups to tackle strategic business issues. AGSM entrepreneurship and strategy course director Dr Jeffrey Tobias says: “Immersing people in real-life environments with real strategic problems is the best way to get them involved in entrepreneurship.” – Cassie Chorn
dollar invested up to $250,000. The goal is to help launch 100 start-ups by 2016. It may sound ambitious, but the former UNSW Canberra student, is well on his way. In the past 18 months, BlueChilli has made 35 investments and launched 19 companies, nine of which have received “angel” investments. His advice is simple: “Start and be seen.” Also, start with your second-best idea because your first attempt will likely fail.
Ori Allon is not your typical serial entrepreneur. While most experience a few failures, everything Allon touches turns to gold. He sold his first two ventures to Google and Twitter respectively and in September, BRW magazine estimated his net worth to be around $70 million. His latest venture, Urban Compass, is focused on helping New Yorkers find vacant apartments, an absolute commodity in the city that never sleeps. At the same time it provides a hyper-local social network that helps residents get to know their neighbourhoods. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the company in May and it now has an estimated value of US$150 million. Allon rocketed to entrepreneurial glory in 2006 – the year he sold his Orion search engine to Google and began working at the company’s California headquarters. At the time Allon was working on his PhD in the UNSW School of Computer Science and Engineering, and the technology he developed caused a three-way bidding war between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. In 2010, after leaving Google, he founded Julpan, another advanced search engine, which was later purchased by Twitter. Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, Atlassian Bachelor of Business Information Technology The “tech exodus” of Australian start-ups moving overseas is a problem the country’s emerging ecosystem has to address, but it doesn’t mean successful start-ups can’t be built in our own backyard. One of the best examples is the Sydney-based firm Atlassian, founded in 2002 by former UNSW students Scott Farquhar (pictured below left) and Mike Cannon-Brookes (right) and with a $10,000 credit card. The pair met while studying Business IT at UNSW and launched their company straight out of university. Atlassian builds and sells products that enable easier, more efficient collaboration between software development teams. Today, the firm has 25,000 customers globally including Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, ebay, Cisco, Oracle, BMW and NASA. The founders have come a long way from the early days of working out of a garage. For two years running, the pair has topped the BRW Young Rich List. This year their shared worth was estimated at $550 million.
ABOUT SEX Professor Peter Aggleton believes a lack of sex education in the new national curriculum is leaving our children exposed. Ali Gripper reports. Like many young people in the UK in the 1960s, Peter Aggleton was brought up in a household where talking about sex was strictly off-limits. At the boys’ grammar school he attended, the young man studied and dissected the reproductive system of flowers, frogs and cockroaches, but there was little conversation about relationships or intimacy. It was something, he was often told, that he would “learn about later”. The fact he was gay at a time when such things were taboo added to the atmosphere of embarrassment, confusion and silence. More than 50 years later – in Australia at least – it seems no great improvements have been made in helping young people understand sex and relationships. The professor of education and health in the Centre for Social Research in Health at UNSW said in a recent lecture he was dismayed when he discovered the lack of sex education in Australia’s forthcoming national curriculum. The world expert in sex education says before he moved to Australia, he had regarded the country as having an “admirable track record in tackling HIV”. “Imagine my surprise on learning about a less-confident side of things, and the difficulties many Australians have when it comes to teaching young people honestly and frankly about sex,” he says. While working with teachers, teacher educators and health workers to set up the newly formed Australia Forum on Sexuality, Education and Health, Aggleton found there was an almost complete lack of sex education in many schools. “Key elements focusing on sexuality are often watered down to the point they disappear,” he says. Despite international experience showing sexual health education should begin at an early age, sex education in primary schools, he says, tends to be “patchy” and “inconsistent”.
Many states and territories leave it to schools to decide what – if anything – to teach. Few teacher-training programs provide more than a couple of hours’ advice on how to do so. As a result, Aggleton says, many teachers “feel ill-prepared to teach about sex and relationships”. Overall, he says, there is too much emphasis on anatomy and not enough on relationships, gender and sexual identity and communication. The need for young people to be able to talk frankly about sex is more important than ever because sexually transmitted infections are on the rise. Of most concern, he says, is the surge in rates of Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV. A recent three-year study across five states found 13% of 12–15-year-old girls tested for sexually transmitted disease had Chlamydia. “Safer sex is falling off the radar,” he says. Children are starting their sexual relationships much earlier than in the past. More children are coming out as same-sex attracted or gender variant and need support. There is also growing concern about issues such as sexting and homophobic bullying. One of the main reasons for such behaviour, he says, is that we live in a society where the expression of sexuality is increasingly ubiquitous. “You only have to look at television and advertising to realise that sexual imagery is increasingly prevalent ... yet at the same time, we remain anxious and prudish about sex,” he says. “If teachers in schools are able to talk about sex and relationships, it would be enormously beneficial. “Thinking back to my own days at school, things could have been so much better. We liked and trusted our teachers. So why so much silence?”
We remain anxious and prudish about sex … Professor Peter Aggleton. Photo: Michael Anderson/ Paramount Studios
AGENDA As director of the new Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, Professor Jane McAdam is determined to return social justice and legal obligation to the asylum-seeker debate, writes Anabel Dean.
Photos: Tamara Voninski
Every time she writes a newspaper opinion piece or gives a radio interview, Scientia Professor Jane McAdam’s email inbox surges. Some of the messages convey threatening and unsubstantiated accusations that she is “destroying Australia”, but more often they express appreciative requests for more information. Her latest role as founding director of the new Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW is about to satisfy that hunger for information and informed debate. “I’m not actually trying to put forward a political viewpoint,” McAdam says. “I’m trying to put forward the international legal perspective outlining Australia’s refugee policies and why they violate so many of our international obligations. I also give what I think is the ethical view and that’s usually the same as the international legal approach.” McAdam’s ambition is to create the foremost independent academic research centre – the “go-to place” – on legal issues relating to refugees and other forced migrants. The centre will bring a principled, human rights–based approach to the subject and provide an important bridge between scholarship and practice. It will enable high-quality research to inform public policy debate and legislative reform as an independent space that connects academics with the legal profession, policy makers and the public. “The time is right because Australia is in a very dark place when it comes to asylum law and policy,” McAdam laments. “We’ve seen an erosion of respect for the international obligations that we have voluntarily committed to and we’ve seen a lot of political slogans driving policy. These have both fostered and drawn upon fear that already exists within the community that’s very often based on false premises.” It’s precisely this point that spurred Andrew and Renata Kaldor – leaders in the world of education and arts philanthropy – to help fund the establishment of the centre. They want to restart the conversation about Australia as a country of tolerance and respect. Incensed by the lack of informed debate, they are eager to encourage more rigorous national discussion informed by facts, but absent of politics. Their interest in the subject is founded on personal experience. Andrew was born in Budapest, in the early days of the Hungarian Communist regime.
obviously we were very sensitive and very conscious His parents escaped in 1947 with the help of that we could have been on that boat; our children so-called people smugglers and forged documents. could have been on that boat.” The family sought refuge in a camp in Austria. McAdam intends that, among other things, the Australia was the first country to accept them. centre will recognise the beneficial contributions His wife, Renata, was born in Prague. She fled made by refugees like the Kaldors. She cites the Czechoslovakian Communist regime with a 2011 report that acknowledged refugees as her family, using methods that would have been being “some of Australia’s most productive and frowned upon today. “Yes we are refugees,” Renata successful people” with five admits, “and yes there is out of eight billionaires a special interest for us, (in 2000) coming from but there is an enormous “In Jane, we’ve found this refugee backgrounds. number of Australians treasure who is articulate, McAdam believes having who don’t have the an advisory committee that backgrounds we have and passionate and who can is non-partisan is essential. who are just as engaged, make a huge difference.” “It’s my job to keep all frustrated and concerned governments accountable about the way things have to their international legal turned in this country. We obligations regardless of their political colours,” are trying to show that humanity is not lost here she says. “None of the major parties has had a and everybody has the goodwill to come up with good track record on this issue in recent times.” a solution to progress this, but in an international Advisory committee members are from across context as well.” the political spectrum, including refugee advocate Memories of the Tampa and “children and barrister Julian Burnside and former NSW overboard” affair in 2001 remain vivid. “You go Liberal Premier Nick Greiner, whose family fled back in history to things that really make you communist Hungary as refugees in the 1950s. aware of your own complacency and I suppose that “Our primary purpose is not to play in the became a very emotional issue for us,” says Renata. daily [political] game,” Greiner recently told “I don’t think we were any different from many the ABC. Australians who didn’t have our background, but
“People like the Kaldors, like myself, are of refugee background and we are … concerned about the human rights aspects of the whole debate and hopefully [we can] have a debate that’s a little more rationally and scientifically based than what has been essentially an emotional, political debate.” Raised on Sydney’s lower north shore, McAdam credits her parents with instilling in her a strong sense of social justice. “I was always being told how fortunate I was,” she recalls. She was educated at Wenona, a non-denominational private girls’ school, under the motto “That I may serve”. “At Wenona, there was this idea of service learning, and that had an impact,” McAdam says. She has since served on the school’s board. While her upbringing was a world apart from the experiences of most refugees, McAdam remembers being aware of the issue from an early age. There was the admiration for the Vietnamese orphans who became friends after their adoption by local families; and she points to a tremendous example of generosity from her great aunt, who helped facilitate a visit by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to Australia in the 1950s and then secretly gave financial support to a family of Czechoslovakian musicians who were living under Communist rule. The friendship between the families endures to this day. When it came to choosing a career, it was the equation between law and justice that first motivated McAdam to study law at Sydney University in the 1990s (where she attained first-class honours). “In much of my law degree, though, the justice element was missing,” McAdam recollects. “I didn’t find it terribly inspiring and contemplated giving it away because I found it very dry, very technical. The study of human rights law and migration law changed all that and sparked my interest again.” International refugee law is, she says, “an intellectually stimulating and challenging area of the law, made even more so because of the political context”. Working as the associate to a Federal Court judge in 2000 sealed the deal. Many of the cases involved self-represented asylum seekers, and one in particular became the impetus for McAdam’s doctorate at Oxford University. “An Indonesian man was before the court.
Asylum seekers waiting at Christmas Island. Photo: Wolter Peeters/Fairfax
rigorous and sharply focused legal skills, which express her ‘They say I’m not a refugee, but look I’ve got bullet wounds,’ commitment to justice and the rule of law, to challenge he told the judge, lifting up his shirt to show the scars. He preconceptions and to shift the policy debate.” was crying as he said: ‘If you send me back they will kill me.’ The Kaldors agree, saying there is no better candidate and I thought ‘well even if that man is not a refugee under the no better home for the centre. “We’ve found this treasure technical legal definition, if he is at risk of being killed who is very articulate, very passionate, who can really upon return, surely there must be a law that stops that make a huge difference,” says Renata. “We were absolutely from happening?’” convinced that she was the right person to bring this forward McAdam would later become instrumental in securing and that UNSW Law, with its emphasis on social justice, amendments to the Migration Act, based on Australia’s was the right home.” international human rights obligations, that now ensure The stellar career of McAdam – one of the youngest refugees get protection in Australia if facing torture, the professors appointed at UNSW – has been fortified by her death penalty, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment partnership with Ben Saul, Professor of or punishment back home. International Law at Sydney University. This year, McAdam was made a “We have had very similar careers and Young Global Leader of the World “The time is right for this it’s hard to know who has influenced Economic Forum, an honour whom in what ways,” McAdam admits. bestowed annually on 200 exceptional centre … Australia is in a Both completed doctorates at Oxford leaders under 40 from all over the very dark place when it comes with the same supervisor, returning to world. She is a research associate at take up academic positions at different the Oxford University Refugee Studies to asylum law and policy.” Australian universities. Centre and one of only a handful of “We try not to compete for things Australians – including Julia Gillard directly,” she says. “Fortunately, when – to be appointed as a non-resident we have done so, we have both been successful, such as with Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington the Australian Research Council Future Fellowships that we DC (ranked as the world’s top think-tank). were awarded in 2011.” She smiles. “It’s amazing to have Her impressive record has not gone unnoticed by Law someone close who understands exactly what you’re doing.” Faculty Dean, Professor David Dixon, who is delighted Occasionally they collaborate on overseas research, bringing to have the centre under her stewardship. different perspectives to the issues. “Jane expresses so well UNSW Law’s approach and It’s clear that McAdam’s work is much more than a job: it’s a priorities,” Dixon says. calling. The dynamism she brings to the role will be needed in “She feels very strongly about refugees, but knows that the years ahead, and not least, to tackle the emails now arriving neither a general desire to ‘help people’ nor engaging in from every corner of the globe. party-political bickering is adequate. Instead, she uses
the weekend effect Research shows being hospitalised on the weekend could be dangerous to your health, writes Susi Hamilton. Enrico Coiera jokes that his dad always has heart problems on a weekend. “I always tell him it’s better to have his serious medical problem during the week,” laughs the director of UNSW’s Centre for Health Informatics. It’s a black gag, but there’s growing evidence that getting ill on a weekend is more than just an inconvenience. Research led by Professor Coiera shows death rates are greater for patients who are admitted to hospital on the weekend rather than during the working week. Based on seven years’ data from NSW hospitals, the research shows when it comes to certain diseases – including cardiac arrests, heart failure and some cancers – patients admitted via the emergency department from the early hours of Saturday until midnight Sunday are up to 15% more likely to die than if they’d been admitted on other days. The research, funded by the NHMRC and published in the British Medical Journal Quality and Safety, found there were excess deaths in 16 of 430 major diagnosis groups that were assessed. Known as the “weekend effect”, the phenomenon until now had never been systematically analysed to understand the scale of the problem, how it unfolds over time, or why it occurs, Coiera says. Many hospitals routinely reduce service levels on weekends. “But illness occurs 24/7, not just in normal business hours and weekend admissions are both necessary and unavoidable. The idea we can offer reduced levels of service at the weekend might need to be re-evaluated,” Coiera says. The research team, including Drs Blanca Gallego Luxan and Oscar Perez Concha, Liverpool Hospital cancer expert Dr Geoff Delaney and intensive care
Monday mourning … death
rates are greater for hospital admissions on weekends. Photo: Thinkstock/ Getty Images
specialist Professor Ken Hillman, found excess deaths from acute heart problems (such as cardiac arrest and heart rhythm irregularities) follow a pattern associated with reduced availability of clinical services, including a lack of the full range of treatments and testing services. All the excess deaths in the acute heart problem group happened in the first 24 hours. But in other groups of patients, like those with cancer (including lymphoma and non-acute leukaemia), the weekend effect seems to be the result of sicker people turning up in emergency departments after regular hours. “Cancer patients might remain at home during the week, despite being unwell, as they are looked after in the community, but then present to the hospital over the weekend because they cannot cope and need care,” says Coiera, who is based at UNSW’s Australian Institute of Health Innovation.
Other disease groups, such as those involving heart and kidney failure, show a combination of both trends. The findings are the result of a systematic approach to research that Coiera has applied to much of his career and which led to the creation of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in e-Health in 2012. Coiera hopes the big data collected by the centre will fuel more research that impacts directly on patient care. “It is the low-hanging fruit,” says Coiera, who as a young medical doctor in the 1980s was fascinated with the potential of computers and other technology to improve healthcare. “As an individual doctor I knew I could only ever treat one patient at a time. But by treating the entire health system and improving the way we deliver care to our patients, there’s the potential to help so many more,” he says.
WITH FRANK LOWY UNSW Chancellor David Gonski talks with Australia’s most generous philanthropist, Westfield co-founder Frank Lowy, about his past, his family and his motivation for giving.
David Gonski: Frank, I want to cover a number of issues, a number of ideas, [regarding] the great person in my opinion that you are … You were born many years ago in Fil’akovo in Czechoslovakia. To say that you came from humble origins is an understatement. I wanted to ask you, so many years later, do you still think back to that time, and … does it affect your thinking? Are you very careful with money, even though now you’ve got a lot of money?
Frank Lowy and David Gonski at the Philanthropy Australia event hosted by UNSW. Photo: Andy Baker
Frank Lowy: Careful is the wrong word, but I want to be responsible … using money properly because it’s corrupting if you don’t. So you need to value the money that you have, the money that you spend, the money that you deal for other people … losing other people’s money is a terrible thing … So I am very careful of how money is spent. Not in a stingy way, but in a proper way. DG: When you look at your family, [your wife] Shirley went to this university, the three boys went to this university, their spouses went to this university. They’ve all got degrees … but you didn’t get an education in the traditional sense and no one would say
that you weren’t successful. Yet you’ll back education, you’ll talk about education. Why do you believe in education when basically you did so well without it? FL: Well because [of ] the lack of it for me! I mean, education is the basis of life in a way. But education is not only what you get in school or university; education is what you get by living. I miss the education I didn’t have [but] I made it up in very many other ways, and … I am very pleased that I have been able to educate myself in matters of life. DG: Frank, more than 50 years ago you chose to come to Australia. Why? FL: [It was] a kind of an accident ... in Czechoslovakia … even though the war was over, anti-Semitism was still there. We were really displaced people in our own place … because the people didn’t want us there. There was not much sympathy for what happened … and many people were saying or thinking, “Well, I wish Hitler would have done a better job.” I was a boy of 14, close to 15. I didn’t feel like going back to school and of course my father wasn’t there to tell me to … [Instead] I went with a Zionist group [and] … there was an opportunity … to go to Palestine. So I went to my mother and I asked her blessing, and she agreed … We went from Prague to Paris, and [from there], as illegal immigrants, to Palestine. I was actually what you call today a boat [person]. At the time it was thought that my mother and brothers would also come to Palestine. But through circumstances … they finished up in Australia … [and] I was in Palestine, Israel …
and I was very lonely. The yearning for a family to get together after the tragedies of the war and loss of my father was great. DG: … It’s very clear that your mother was very important to you and to your life generally. Tell us a bit about your mother?
countries go through the same thing. So the basic issue is, the government is responsible for its borders … it’s black and white. But at the same time [the government] needs to deal with these issues in a humane way … So it’s very difficult and various governments try to deal with it differently. But none of them have fully succeeded … We do our best, but probably the best is not good enough.
FL: My mother is very important, was very important, and will be until I die. I think of her very often … During the disastrous time of 1944 when my father was taken away, my brother was DG: Let me change the subject slightly … you are one of in hiding, my sister was in hiding somewhere else. I was 14. Australia’s largest private philanthropists. Why do you do it? My mother and I were left alone to fend for ourselves, Why do you give money away? and wherever we were, she was my home. FL: Philanthropy comes to me with my mother’s milk … She was a strong woman. She was very pious … and of When I was a little boy and living in [Slovakia]… my father course she was a very sad lady because … she had six brothers couldn’t pay the mortgage. Of course what happens when and sisters in Slovakia, each family with two or three children. you don’t pay the mortgage? They take the house away. So They all disappeared, I mean they were deported, and the rest is my mother summoned her family history. Afterward … my father and they came to us and rescued was snatched away … never to be the family and put the money up heard of again. That was a major “My father was snatched for what my father couldn’t do. blow to her. She was only 44 at Then of course, [there were] the time, and so she had a very away, never to be heard of again. the terrible days of 1944, [when] difficult life as a result … In fact, That was a major blow to my mother. we were in the ghetto. My brother she died here in Sydney when she risked his life to bring us some was 60 or 61 … and I believe she She died here in Sydney and I believe food, and I sneaked out at night died of a broken heart. she died of a broken heart.” and took it off him and took it DG: Frank … [at the birthday back to my place … a two- or celebrations for the Lowy three-bedroom flat probably with Institute] Rupert Murdoch made a 30 or 40 people … I gave [the food] to my mother. What terrific address in which he talked about Australia having … did she do? She … shared it with everybody … I said to her a culture of openness and acceptance of others. My question to what’s going to happen tomorrow, the next day? She didn’t you is, you came to Australia … with nothing. Rupert … used answer; she just shared it with everybody. So that happened you as an example. Was he right that Australia was open to you? 80 years ago … It’s still ingrained in my mind … I have a Is he right that Australia is still open to you? cliché about it: when you have a little, give a little. FL: Well, my experience was only positive. I came here … [and When you have a lot, give a lot. in] about a week I got a job in a process factory … there was no DG: You are a very wealthy man now. I would be a little animosity towards me whatsoever … I have never experienced diffident to ask how much you give. But if you wanted any disadvantage of being either a foreigner or Jewish … to give us guidance, that’s fine. Australia should be, and is, proud of that. FL: … In fact it is quite a lot … in the last 10 years, the Lowy DG: Frank I can’t resist asking the question. Because a little family has given away $350 million. [applause] earlier you said you were a boat person, and … [in] your Australian Multicultural Council Lecture of 2012 you said, “To imagine a better life for you and your family and to make the leap of faith required to leave behind all that is familiar, calls for a special kind of courage. If we look at new arrivals in Australia from this perspective, our capacity would be greater to welcome them warmly and to help them make a new home here.” What do you feel about the way we’re looking at boat people, the way we’re looking at policies in relation to boat people? FL: Well, it is a very difficult question to answer. There are millions of refugees … and not enough places to take them. What we are going through at the moment … many other
DG: So how do we get [other] people to do the same? FL: You’ve asked me that question many times … [When] you asked me for the … cancer research contribution [for the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW], I would have been quite happy to do that anonymously, but you said no “we need your name because other people will see it either as an example or they may want to aspire to be something like you”. This is an edited extract from the Philanthropy Australia event “In Conversation with Frank Lowy” held at UNSW and sponsored by UBS. For the full conversation go to newsroom.unsw.edu.au
Vigilantes UNSW experts are at the centre of a debate about whether geo-engineering has a place in the fight against global warming. By Myles Gough.
algae bloom. Photo: Corbis
In a June 2013 entry on his personal website, American entrepreneur Russ George heralded the return of a rare North Pacific right whale to Canadian waters as a “stunning affirmation of the utility of ocean pasture restoration”. The so-called restoration was set in motion by a 10,000-square-kilometre plankton bloom he helped orchestrate a year earlier when he dumped 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean, near a chain of islands off the coast of northern British Columbia. The bloom of microscopic life was meant to generate a positive ripple effect across the ecosystem’s food chain and rejuvenate the dwindling salmon stocks that hold economic and spiritual value to the islands’ Haida First Nations people. An added benefit: it has been suggested plankton blooms can absorb and trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
George told The Guardian that his experiment – carried out under the auspices of the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation – was the “most substantial ocean restoration project in history”. He even managed to wrangle robotic buoys from the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to help with data collection. However, there are concerns about the scientific merit and long-term environmental impact of these artificial carbon sinks. “What he is doing is unproven and potentially environmentally harmful,” says Professor Rosemary Rayfuse, an international law of the sea and environmental law expert at UNSW. “According to scientists it is impossible to control whether the algae blooms are safe, whether they result in the depletion of other nutrients, and
whether there is any significant or longterm carbon dioxide sequestration.” What’s more, Rayfuse says, George’s actions violated two international treaties prohibiting ocean fertilisation for financial gain. An Environment Canada investigation is ongoing. Many have come to associate George’s actions with geo-engineering – a relatively new term encapsulating a controversial research discipline aimed at moderating global warming through deliberate and large-scale intervention in our planet’s climate systems. This includes ways of reflecting sunlight back into space to mitigate warming (solar radiation management or SRM) and ways to artificially remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – one of the intended effects of iron sulphate fertilisation. When interpreted more broadly, it can also include weather modification. Ideas about altering the Earth’s climate systems to achieve desirable ends aren’t new. During the 1950s and ’60s, Soviet scientists brainstormed ways to encourage melting of the Arctic ice cap in order to free up land and resources trapped beneath Siberia’s permafrost. And during the American war in Vietnam, the US military seeded clouds with silver iodide in an attempt to extend the monsoon season and wreak havoc on enemy troops.
The quest for more knowledge is well underway. Between Since the mid-1970s there has been a UN treaty prohibiting 2009 and 2010, the US government spent US$100 million on weather modification for hostile purposes, but geo-engineering 52 research initiatives “relevant to geo-engineering”. (More than can generate climate or other environmental conditions US$2 billion had been requested through grants). favourable to one country at the unintended expense of another. In China, where climate-related disasters are already That’s one of the reasons why it remains starkly polarising, even a source of social unrest, the government has listed geoamong scientists. engineering as one of its scientific research priorities. And as Opponents also consider it counterproductive to the recently as September this year, The Guardian reported that objective of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Russian officials were urging the Intergovernmental Panel “We genuinely need to find solutions to climate change. on Climate Change (IPCC) to include support for climateHowever, engaging in risky, controversial and even illegal, altering technologies in its landmark 2013 report. (The IPCC activities is of questionable utility,” Rayfuse says. “It would report made mention of these technologies but stopped well be more appropriate to restrain our consumption and short of encouraging their development.) decrease emissions.” Private citizens are also making their stamp. In 2007, UNSW’s Richard Corkish, Head of the School of Photovoltaic billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates established the Fund for and Renewable Energy Engineering, says there’s “probably” Innovative Climate and Energy Research, which supports no way to determine the efficacy of geo-engineering “without SRM and carbon dioxide reduction dangerous experiments”. projects. This fund is co-administered by “My main concerns are the risk of physicist and geo-engineering proponent disastrous consequences, the risk of diversion “My main concerns are David Keith from Harvard University, of research and implementation resources the risk of disastrous who advises Gates on climate science away from feasible responses to reducing and was named one of TIME magazine’s greenhouse gas generation, and the risk of consequences … and heroes of the environment in 2009. offering society a magic bullet quick fix,” the risk of offering Keith has been lobbying for Professor Corkish says. the establishment of international Dr Alex Sen Gupta, a senior lecturer society a magic governance structures that will allow at the UNSW Climate Change Research bullet quick fix.” small-scale field trials of geo-engineering Centre (CCRC), says concerns about the technologies to move forward – but not environmental risks are absolutely justified. the kind carried out by George. “Initial modelling studies already indicate some serious side In a March 2013 article in Science magazine, Keith and effects to geo-engineering,” he says. “Possibly the largest risk UCLA law professor Edward Parson argued: “If research for solar radiation management relates to regional decreases in is blocked then in some stark future situation where rainfall and the possible failure of monsoon systems on which geo-engineering is needed, only unrefined, untested, and billions of people rely.” excessively risky approaches will be available”. Despite the risks, CCRC director Professor Steven Sherwood To avoid a future “policy train wreck” they say governance says there’s “no reason to prohibit research just because it is must achieve four aims: “letting low-risk scientifically valuable motivated by geo-engineering”. research proceed; giving scientists guidance on the design of “All research should conform to accepted environmental socially acceptable research; addressing legitimate public impact and safety standards and laws,” he says. “If some test really concern about reckless interventions or a thoughtless slide promises to advance knowledge, competitively with other options from small research to planetary manipulation; and ending the of spending the research money, and won’t do lasting harm, go current legal void that facilitates rogue projects.” for it.” But UNSW’s Corkish wonders whether governance At the CCRC, Dr Steven Phipps is using computer models to will simply add weight to the notion that geo-engineering simulate geo-engineering scenarios, which ultimately need to be offers a quick fix for addressing climate change, which could validated through field tests. “The technologies are being debated encourage even more risky behaviour. now, whether we like it or not,” Phipps says. “It’s critically “We already know how to restrict greenhouse gas emissions important the debate is based on facts, not speculation.” but so far society has been convinced by vested interests Sen Gupta agrees, saying given the slow pace of greenhouse to delay implementation,” he says. gas mitigation, “it isn’t hard to imagine a situation where we “It would be a global farce to not implement real, need to buy some time for the planet”. effective, renewable energy responses while generating “We’ll need to know as much as possible about the the risks associated with geo-engineering.” beast we may be forced to unleash,” he says.
We already know how to restrict greenhouse gas emissions … Professor Richard Corkish.
Parks and recreation We need a public debate about the pros and cons of allowing commercial interests into our public parks, writes Catherine Evans.
Catherine Evans is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Built Environment.
Our much-loved Centennial Park will soon become completely self-funded – raising the prospect of one of Sydney’s most iconic public spaces becoming more populated by commercial interests. For Centennial Parklands, this may seem a logical step – the Park has been the setting for revenue generating events for several years now. Many may welcome additional festivals and kiosks in one of the city’s premier outdoor spaces, but this increased activity belies a gradual and distinct shift in park management and programming – and ultimately to the concept of a public park itself. This is not unique to Sydney – indeed we are just catching up. Many of the world’s iconic urban parks have succeeded only because of private funding and commercial activity: in New York, think Central Park and the High Line; in Chicago, Millennium Park. We also have our own precedents: the Open Air Cinema is a seasonal and much-loved fixture in the Botanic Gardens, and further west, just last year, the Western Sydney Parklands Trust signed a lease for a Wet‘n’Wild theme park. These leases and the associated user-pay facilities are a double-edged sword: they raise money and attract visitors, but they also alienate land designated as public, and in the process create a “haves and have-nots” scenario. Only those who can afford the entry fees, and only those who can readily travel to these venues, are able to access the facilities.
Even as commercial activities increase in parks, research is demonstrating the diverse range of benefits that public parks bestow: They provide critical and diverse social, ecological and economic benefits; they improve livability, amenity and public health; they deliver important ecosystem services; they assist with climate change mitigation and adaptation; they enhance community interaction, increase amenity and property values; they diversify recreational, educational, tourism and leisure opportunities. These are critical services, increasingly referred to as “green” infrastructure in contrast to the grey of roads, rails, airports and energy. The costs of maintaining spaces like Centennial Parklands and Western Sydney Parklands are considerable, and these costs will only rise as the plantings, roads and facilities expand to meet ever-increasing demands from residents and visitors. There is no question that we need to think anew about the provision of our parks – but we need to proceed carefully and deliberately. For example, the Strategic Vision for Centennial Parklands, released earlier this year, revealed plans for a privately funded sandstone labyrinth with an entrance fee that would bring half a million dollars to the Parklands. While the money might be welcome, the precedent it sets needs careful scrutiny. Likewise, the income generated from a theme park in Western Sydney Parklands certainly
won’t be enough to cover the parklands’ operating costs, so other commercially driven activities are likely to follow. Part of the challenge lies in bureaucracy. The state government is just one stakeholder within a complex web of administrators spread across regional, subregional and local planning authorities. Clearly, the problem is more than funding – it is also a lack of coordinated planning. But we can’t afford to let bureaucracy get in the way of the responsibility for providing parks. What makes Centennial Park unique is its large open spaces, expansive views and extensive pond system. If we start filling up large areas – as in the case of the labyrinth – the physical integrity of the park will be compromised and other businesses may seek to do the same. Donations and private philanthropy, while well meaning, might not allow for the best outcomes over time. Maintaining our parklands may include commercial interests. But if parks are so critical to our wellbeing – and in so many ways – we need to ask serious questions about them, most importantly what does a self-sustaining park look like, and what might it offer its city? Who administers such a space? How and, most importantly, for whom? It remains to be seen if the Strategic Vision and the accompanying Master Plan for the Centennial Parklands, will do what we need most of all – spark a robust public debate. Without it, our future parklands may look and function in ways we may deeply regret.
UNIKEN • First Person
When the box office bombs Australian filmmakers need to rethink their distribution strategies if they want to secure a wider audience, argues Lauren Carroll Harris.
Weak scripts, depressing subject matter, art-house style. That’s the stereotype of an Australian film and for years we’ve been told that our filmmakers’ obsession with “miserable, suicidal, preaching tragedies” is the problem with the local industry. We’ve asked how we can increase production budgets and tell more entertaining, mini-Hollywoodstyle stories. But they are the wrong questions. Great films fail financially all the time, and terrible films make stacks of cash. Can you really say that Save Your Legs! – one of 2013’s Australian film crashes – was really worse than the God-awful rom-com I Give it a Year, the number one film released in the same week? It is all very well for films to tell a spellbinding story, but to make an impact, they have to be seen – and for that to happen, they have to be effectively distributed. Australian films aren’t worse than other films, it’s just theatrical releases don’t work for them. Though it didn’t rate in any Top 10 box office figures, Tim Winton’s The Turning has successfully pursued an alternative distribution strategy of touring special events. It made more than $1 million, an incredible figure given how few screens the film played on, and expanded its presence across the country creating a great base from which to launch the DVD. But our outdated audience measurement system doesn’t recognise that film’s success – by focusing just on ticket sales, it ignores a small but culturally resonant film like The Turning, and renders thousands of highly engaged lovers of local films invisible. Only one in 10 first-release films is now viewed at the cinema. Instead around 65% are viewed on videoon-demand and DVD/Blu-ray. Audience behaviour is changing. While physical space for cinema screens is scarcer, online paths to distributing and sharing films continue to open up. The internet has allowed inexpensive film production: anyone with enough talent can now make a movie.
If we don’t catch up with digital distribution soon, Australian films will continue to be released stillborn into a theatrical system that is not designed for them, damaging their ability to compete. Small releases in art-house cinemas send the message that local films are old-fashioned and lack broad appeal. And in the other newer viewing sites like video-on-demand, to which audiences are gravitating, new and old Australian films are massively under-represented. Overseas filmmakers are experimenting with lo-fi release tactics, setting up their own distribution systems, targeting their market, keeping budgets low and retaining control of the profits. Carlo Ledesma’s cult horror thriller The Tunnel was crowd-funded, then released in 2011 primarily on torrent sites: it profited from being given away by using BitTorrent as free, viral, word-of-mouth publicity to sell tickets to special screenings, DVDs and merchandise. Rather than fearing piracy, The Tunnel filmmakers commandeered file-sharing to effectively reach their identified audience and drive interest in ancillary products. They reached more than 4 million viewers, sold more than 25,000 DVDs, had more than 800,000 streams, and also released their film as an iPad app – a much more effective and expansive model than the traditional box office route. Other filmmakers are producing their own professional webisodes online and sharing ad revenue with YouTube and other streaming services. How else can we hijack peer-to-peer systems for the benefit of our industry? I don’t have all the answers, but the question needs to be asked: by researchers, filmmakers, audiences and policy makers. We are wasting public funds on production if films, no matter how good they are, never reach an audience.
Lauren Carroll Harris is a UNSW PhD candidate, focusing on the Australian film industry and distribution.
Lauren Carroll Harris’ publication, Not at a Cinema Near You: Australia’s Film Distribution Problem, is published by Currency House’s Platform Papers series.
PRETENDERS The innate impulse of children to play with weapons has seized the imagination of UNSW photomedia artist Prudence Murphy, writes Ali Gripper.
Rhyl #1 from the Boys with Guns series. Photo: Prudence Murphy
She reminisced with her brothers about their carefree The first thing you notice in Prudence Murphy’s inner-city childhood in the bush on the outskirts of Queanbeyan. Sydney studio are the guns. Pinned to the wall are photos of semi“My brother said to me, ‘Using guns and weapons was automatic weapons, pistols and shotguns used in the Columbine not about the killing. It wasn’t about violence. It was just school massacre. Toy guns, stripped down to their various playing with the idea of power.’” components, are laid out with forensic neatness on a table nearby. As the Boys with Guns series began to take shape, Yet Murphy is not a criminologist or a detective. Instead the Murphy became concerned that parents were at risk of 42-year-old College of Fine Arts lecturer is researching her next stifling children’s imaginative play. “Parents project their photographic series, Detective Special, featuring guns and other own fears onto the child,” she says. weapons, and the way children interact with them. Suppressing children’s innate desire to experiment with With her soft voice and delicate hands, you could be forgiven power can often backfire, she says. “A friend of mine for thinking Murphy is examining a piece of fine jewellery as she confiscated any domestic object that could be holds up the handle of a pistol to the light. used as a weapon and put them on top of her Detective Special examines what Murphy calls “Parents project wardrobe. In the end there was almost nothing the “fetishisation of firearms”. She also wants to left. The mop was up there, the eggbeater, explore the genres of child play involving guns – their own fears broomsticks, chopsticks. She realised she’d policemen, villains, soldiers and cowboys. onto the child.” gone too far.” Good artworks provoke discussion, and the Rather than do harm, Murphy says, playing series will certainly do that. Murphy’s last work, with imaginary weapons helps develop problem-solving and Boys with Guns, was something she felt “compelled to investigate negotiating skills. She says her three sons were far more agitated after observing polarised views concerning children’s gun play”. after playing computer games than they ever were playing makeThe photographic series, which was well received nationally, believe with guns. was born out of Murphy’s observations of the natural impulses “The notion of picking up a stick and turning it into of children to play with weapons, real or imagined. a gun is innate. It is a primal instinct all children in the Her curiosity deepened when she noticed her then 11-monthworld experience. It’s about stepping into different roles. old son pick up the TV remote control and pretend to shoot his “It’s not glorifying war, it’s about processing the realities three-year-old brother. of life.” “I was fascinated and began to question where this desire and urge to turn an object into a weapon came from at such Prudence Murphy’s Detective Special series will exhibit next year. a young age,” she says. Visit prudencemurphy.com
FINDING PEACE A decade-long book collaboration between a UNSW academic and film director Wim Wenders asks us to rethink the way we view peace, faith and humanity, writes Fran Strachan.
A deep friendship developed over 10 years … Wim Wenders and Mary Zournazi. Photo: Lian Lunson
California’s Mojave Desert, the home of the Joshua Tree, was a fitting location for German film director Wim Wenders and UNSW cultural philosopher Mary Zournazi 9/11 and the Iraq War, the writer felt inspired to write about peace. to put the finishing touches to their book, Inventing Peace. “I happened to hear Wim on ABC Radio talking about some They could feel the reverberations of bombs exploding at the silent films he had made with students exploring the idea of nearby army base and they could see the occasional mushroom peace,” says Zournazi. “I was aware of him as a filmmaker but cloud appear on the horizon. certainly didn’t know him personally.” “We were staying in this peaceful landscape with the madness She decided to contact Wenders. It was a bold move. of violence on our doorstep – it was the perfect metaphor for The celebrated director, best known for his films Paris, Texas, everything we were writing about,” says Zournazi, senior lecturer Until the End of the World, the Buena Vista Social Club and the in the School of Social Sciences. Oscar-nominated 3D film Pina, has a hectic schedule. Interspersed with thoughtful, honest dialogue “I don’t think there are many film directors who would take between the authors, Inventing Peace includes cinematic, the risk of writing a book with someone philosophical and artistic examples to they knew nothing about – it has been a demonstrate different approaches to privilege,” says Zournazi. “Society is desensitised to peace, faith and humanity. The authors quickly discovered a “It wasn’t up to Mary and me to images of suffering and violence. mutual desire to reinvent a visual and come up with a new concept of peace. moral language for peace. We want to encourage people But the necessity for its reinvention was Tapping into personal experience, the a big realisation for us,” says Wenders. to learn to look again.” book explores Wenders’ time in Africa The book took 10 years to write, working on a documentary about raped largely via emails between Australia and and battered women, his views on the connective experience of Germany and whenever the authors could connect in different 3D film and reflections on the deaths of his brother and father. corners of the world: Los Angeles, Montreal, Tokyo, Toronto and Zournazi writes about homelessness, inequality, religion and faith. finally the Mojave Desert. “Society has become desensitised to images of suffering and “Put it this way, we learned to be patient with each other,” violence,” says Zournazi. “We wanted to encourage people to says Zournazi who had not met Wenders before starting the learn to look again.” book. “The first five years were about finding our mutual The academic says they decided to manage the “huge subject language,” she says, admitting the working relationship between matter” by focusing on everyday situations rather than just an artist and philosopher was both, “interesting and inventive”. tackling peace at a global level. “We have developed a deep friendship over the years,” “We were interested in the concept of small actions leading she says. “Just like peace, good relationships take time.” to big change – how we can build peace within our relationships, This unusual collaboration began in 2003 when through a smile or helping someone on to a bus, the simple Zournazi had just released her book, Hope: New gestures. Ultimately we are trying to make peace visible and Philosophies for Change. tangible in new ways.” Emotionally raw from the experience of nursing her mother through a terminal illness and still shaken by
UNIKEN • Arts
BOOKs Limbang Rebellion: 7 Days in December 1962 – Eileen Chanin, COFA Shadow Play 2007 directed by Madeleine Hetherton, produced by Linda Micsko, choreographed by Rowan Marchingo
reel Dance A world-first archive tracking the development of dance-screen collaborations is opening up the world of choreography and movement to an even wider audience. UNSW is now home to the ReelDance Moving Image Collection, an archive of more than 200 renowned and emerging performances from over the past thirteen years. The free resource features dance performances from Australia and across the globe. It was curated by ReelDance’s founding director and UNSW dance lecturer, Dr Erin Brannigan, along with celebrated choreographer and film director, Tracie Mitchell. The dance films in the collection were selected from hundreds of entries to the ReelDance International Dance on Screen Festivals presented in Sydney biannually between 2000 and 2012. Hours were spent “digging through years of submissions to find the gold” that made the final collection, Brannigan says. “There is no other archive like this in the world,” she says. “It is very difficult to gain permission from artists to make their works freely available and even harder to find a platform to support streaming films online – this is a real privilege.” The archive includes dance films by previous UNSW Dance Residents Narelle Benjamin, Sue Healey, Nalina Wait, Kate Champion, Martin del Amo and Meryl Tankard. They are among some of Australia’s most accomplished choreographers that have also benefited from UNSW’s Dance Research Residency Program, an annual collaboration between Critical Path and the Creative Practice Lab in the School of the Arts and Media. The ReelDance collection will provide resources for teaching, research and artistic development in dance, an art form Brannigan describes as “notoriously difficult to pin down”. “Dance is rarely transcribed into another medium – it always happens in real time. The only way it can be studied is by re-watching filmed performances which, up until now, have never been available in a central, accessible collection,” she says. The archive will be housed in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Repository in the UNSW Library. View the collection at repository.arts.unsw.edu.au
– By Fran Strachan
In December 1962 a surprise rebel uprising rocked northern Borneo. The leader of the anti-colonialist North Kalimantan National Army, Sheikh Azahari, mounted the insurrection that became known as the Brunei Revolt. Limbang, an administrative centre in the British colony of Sarawak, was the pivot of the rebellion that led to the military and diplomatic conflict known as ‘Konfrontasi’. Combining eyewitness accounts with thorough research, Limbang Rebellion provides a gripping account of the week when Limbang seized the world’s attention. NewSouth 20 x 3: Eliminate your belly fat in an hour a week – Steve Boutcher, School of Medical Sciences
Australia ranks in the top five fattest nations and has the second highest rate of childhood obesity. Visceral or belly fat that clusters around internal organs can contribute to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. Boutcher’s research has found that completing an interval sprint training program for only one hour per week, combined with a healthy Mediterranean eating plan, is the most effective way to reduce this fat. Nero Assimilation and Empire: Uniformity in French and British Colonies, 1541–1954 – Saliha Belmessous, School of Humanities and Languages
Assimilation was an ideology central to European expansion that legitimised colonisation for centuries. Assimilation and Empire, winner of the 2013 General History Prize in the NSW Premier’s History Awards, shows that assimilation was driven by materialism, ideas of human perfectibility and the modern state. Belmessous reveals the complex inter-relationship between policies of assimilation and discourses of race in the French and British colonies. Oxford University Press On Bondi Beach – Andrew Metcalfe, Ann Game, Demelza Marlin, School of Social Sciences
On Bondi Beach tells the story of a day in Bondi by allowing residents and visitors to tell their stories. The beach changes as the day passes. Different people arrive and leave, and as their lives and stories intersect, those being talked about become those who are talking. This is a book about living in a particular place, but it is also about contemporary Australia, flourishing in transience and diversity. Australian Scholarly Publishing
We have lost a visionary engineer & technology pioneer with a very big heart.
UNSW’s Vice-President, Advancement, Ms Jennie Lang, remembering University benefactor Sir William Tyree, who passed away on 25 October, aged 92 – UNSW Newsroom
“We need to ask hard questions about whether the faith we put in pencil and paper is justified.” Professor George Williams on the 2013 federal election and why we need to consider electronic voting – ABC TV, 7.30
Diaries have an immediacy, a messiness and a point of view that makes them valuable. But it is not sensationalist.
“It was a night to celebrate Australian science and the visionary thinkers shaping our future … But there was one key person missing – the Minister for Science.” DVC (Research) Professor Les Field reflecting on the PM’s Science Prizes and the fact that, for the first time in more than 70 years, Australia does not have a dedicated science minister – The Australian
Strata owners should not be required to tolerate barking dogs, but if they have to cope with sharing a lift with a wellmannered dog as he is taken out for a walk, so be it.
Law lecturer Cathy Sherry, urging the NSW government to go further with its proposed changes to strata law – Sydney Morning Herald
Cutting taxes as quietly as possible and hoping this increases jobs and growth is UNSW Adjunct Professor Bob Carr reassuring the public about his decision to publish a tell-all diary good politics. But unlike 1980s about his time as foreign minister – The Australian America, the Coalition’s day of reckoning when it comes to The person who won the cutting spending must come, award I’m getting last year grew fully functioning breasts and quite soon.
from stem cells – that is way cooler than what I do.
ASB Dean Geoffrey Garrett, comparing Tony Abbott’s prime ministership with Ronald Reagan’s first year as US president – AFR
Associate Professor Angela Moles on winning a Prime Minister’s Science Prize – Sydney Morning Herald
ON THE ALASKAN ICE â&#x20AC;&#x153;I had never been in the ice before and I was amazed by the formations and diverse wildlife. Huge flocks of eider ducks darkened the sky and the beautiful ribbon seals and walruses with their giant tusks had to continuously keep their breathing holes open in the ice.â&#x20AC;? Rebecca Neumann, winner of the Women in Science category in the 2013 UNSW Science and Engineering Photo Competition, snapped this image when she was a guest researcher on an icebreaker in the Bering Sea off Alaska. The PhD student in the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences wanted to capture the harsh conditions the scientists faced as they studied clams and other organisms living under the ice. To view all the winners go to science.unsw.edu.au