Q&A: Strategic Priority 6

ACU’s Strategic Plan 2020-2023 features six strategic priorities that outline our vision for ACU in the coming years.

The ACU Strategy Execution Framework supports the effective execution of the ACU Strategic Plan and provides more information about strategic priorities, key focus areas, annual priorities and enabling frameworks.

To help you understand how you can support our strategic plan, we’ll be highlighting a different priority each month through a Q&A. This month, we hear from Chief Operating Officer Dr Stephen Weller about Strategic Priority 6: Service, stewardship and sustainability.

1. How is ACU working towards this strategic priority and what are some examples of how we are already achieving it? 

ACU is making good progress in the first year towards this strategic priority, which is a very diverse priority that requires a multi-faceted approach focusing on the university’s needs, as well as the student experience and the staff experience. 

We have already achieved a great deal despite the upheaval of the pandemic. Achievements include the staff website facelift, enrolment and class selection improvements, the inaugural Work Health & Safety Action Plan, the response to ongoing cybersecurity threats, and the roll-out of the new risk management system. These took place alongside a range of improvements to our digital workspace, such as upgrading room bookings, shifting from shared drives to OneDrive, moving from Skype to Microsoft Teams, and upgrading SharePoint.

2. How does this strategic priority interact with ACU’s focus on opportunity, innovation and ethics?

There is a strong alignment between this priority and ACU’s new focus. An example of this is the establishment of the Blacktown Campus, which is an exciting opportunity for ACU to grow our profile and enable greater access by the Western Sydney population to higher education. 

Innovation is evident from the growing use of automation to provide greater efficiencies and free up staff to spend more time on more value-added activities.

An ethical approach is expressed through our focus on sustainability, such as the recent Sustainability Week, as well as on tackling the issue of modern slavery via our suppliers of goods and services. Stewardship is fundamental to this priority. This ethic involves caring for, and responsibly planning and managing, our resources, and it underpins all that we do.

3. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed or influenced our work in this space?

The pandemic has significantly impacted this strategic priority by driving agile, rapid and innovative approaches to service offerings or business solutions, as well as accelerating ideas that were under development. It has compelled us to consider our service delivery models, virtual infrastructure, staff and student engagement, design of our spaces, and the on- and off-campus experiences.

This pivot has been demonstrated by the rapid roll-out of technology to enable staff and students to work and study remotely, the swift mobilisation of our support services to students and staff via AskACU and Service Central, the conversion of major on-campus events such as Open Days and midyear Orientation programs into successful virtual events, the replacement of traditional graduation ceremonies with a virtual event and an on-campus photo opportunity, and the online delivery of student career and counselling services.

While some of these initiatives responded to the unique circumstances of a pandemic, the flexible nature of these activities means these will continue to coexist with the on-campus experience.

4. How can staff and managers contribute to this strategic priority?

Whatever your role is at ACU, we are all stewards of the university’s resources, both financial and non-financial, including our most important asset: our people.

To be an effective steward involves empowering yourself by growing your understanding of the university, in all its dimensions and with a holistic perspective. It also requires engaging with and participating in the life of the university where possible, for example everyone should experience at least one orientation and graduation event to connect with our core raison d’etre: our students.

Being a good steward is also about understanding your responsibilities and seeking the knowledge you need to fully participate in your role. It is by accepting our position as stewards that we can all take a role in improving the workplace and the student experience every day.

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