Research is integral to our future

A message from Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis: As a university we are positioning ourselves to become a leader in responding to priority areas with focused impact. 

Alongside our contributions in teaching and engagement, the research we conduct determines the kind of impact we wish to make. 

Increasingly we are taking a more thematic direction for our research, to ensure it is aligned to our vision, our mission, people, place and community. 

There has been a clear need to shift focus in the way we conduct research, with a greater emphasis on engagement with stakeholders, and the revenue that puts us on the path to a sustainable economic future. This is not just to approach research endeavours in a more usual and sustainable way, but also to improve our capacity to generate mission-related impact. 

Building on our strengths, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise has firmly and consistently moved to steer the university’s approach towards enterprise, industry and stakeholders - an approach that is already bearing fruit and shows considerable promise for further endeavours. 

ACU has had success with its partners in securing new grants with a total project value of $2.5M for research across faculties, institutes and centres. This is an encouraging indication of our growing capacity to generate the kind of external support necessary to realise our vision and commitment to our research priorities. 

Some of the more recent projects that have received valuable recognition and funding include: 

  • Federal Government grant for Microcredentials in Higher Education pilot for Maths iSTEM, Science iSTEM, and phonics.
  • Queensland Government stage three funding for the Healthy Ageing in Queensland project, a multistage project to develop age-friendly government policies and strategies.
  • Australian Automobile Association Road Safety Research Program grant for The Road to Safer Walking: Improving Hazard Perception in Older Adult Pedestrians.
  • Templeton Religion Trust funding for the research program Aesthetic Cognitivism, Manuscript Cultures, and Knowledge, in collaboration with The University of Glasgow.
  • Aged Care Research & Industry Innovation Australia (ARIIA) grant to increase the capacity of aged care workers, consumers and families to improve oral health with Amelo Dental as well as joint project funding with Flinders University. 
  • NSW Department of Communities and Justice for NSW Sexual Violence Project Fund project Trauma-informed respectful relationship education.
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Veteran Wellbeing Grants Program funding to maintain and improve the independence and quality of life for members of the veteran community.

These are by no means the full extent of our research successes, which include significant industry awards that recognise several of our colleagues’ achievements in their respective fields. 

Often this work is conducted with associates at other institutions or in partnership with industry bodies. Our community extends to the connections we make and the partners who collaborate with us. Even these last few weeks have seen us seal four new partnerships with Indian universities. I have also just had the pleasure of attending the Association of Southeast and East Asian Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASEACCU) Conference in the Philippines. ACU was well represented at the conference, including the delivery of a lecture on Integral Ecology and Laudato Si'

Our ties with such organisations provide us with a global lens that allows us to better understand the communities we seek to serve. In August 2024, ACU will host the 2024 ASEACCU General Assembly and Conference at our North Sydney campus. I look forward to welcoming members from Southeast Asian Catholic colleges and universities and promote the shared mission of Catholic higher education as a service to society through faith, scholarship, and ethical leadership.

Close ties with affiliates around our campuses ensures that we are involved in highly integrated research and education hubs. We’re seeing this develop in Melbourne where our new metabolic chamber, due to be ready for human trials in 2024, will reinforce ACU’s position at the forefront of metabolic disease, exercise, and dietary research. The metabolic chamber will make a substantial contribution to the of the already thriving 'care precinct' in Fitzroy. 

Other recent initiatives that are guaranteed to deliver positive outcomes in areas of need include the successful bid for a NSW Government grant to create a STEM Centre of Education Excellence at the Strathfield campus; establishment of the Australian Centre for the Advancement of Literacy; and the ongoing development of the Sports Performance, Recovery, Injury and New Technologies (SPRINT) Research Centre and its associated partnerships. Each of these activities applies a multidisciplinary approach to addressing an identified need, enhancing existing expertise, to provide solutions and opportunities for teaching, research and community engagement. 

Next month the inaugural Director of the Graduate Research School will join the university as the Research and Enterprise portfolio grows its capacity to meet our strategic priorities. 

With a sharper focus on building an integrated, sustainable and resilient research model for ACU on our domains of research strength, we can enact our vision that supports flourishing lives and thriving, ethical communities. 


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