ACU Update is produced fortnightly for staff, students and friends of Australian Catholic University (ACU). To submit a news article or event, please email or call 07 3623 7491

Brisbane Graduations

The Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) celebrated the final Autumn graduation ceremony of 2008 at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Tuesday 27 May. More than 350 graduates crossed the stage for the Arts and Sciences, Health Sciences and Education ceremonies.

Honorary Doctorates were awarded to three extraordinary women who have spent their lives in service to areas of Catholic health and education. Dr Margaret Vider was recognised in honour of her outstanding contribution to the profession of nursing, nursing administration and Catholic health care. Dr Sister Mary Ronayne was honoured in recognition of her outstanding contributions to Catholic education in Australia. Dr Sister Mary McDonald was honoured in acknowledgement of her outstanding contribution to lifelong learning and community engagement in the fields of education, spirituality, ecology and women’s development.

Hon Doc Vider Chancellor Brother Julian McDonald with honorary doctorate recipient Dr Margaret Vider, Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Quality and Engagement) Professor John O'Gorman.
Dr Sister Mary Ronayne Honorary Doctorate recipient Dr Sister Mary Ronayne
Dr Sister Mary McDonald Dr Sister Mary McDonald is presented her honorary doctorate by Chancellor Brother Julian McDonald

Lucy Kiyiapi    PhD (Counselling) graduate from the School of Psychology (QLD) Lucy Kiyiapi 

Commemorating landmark Indigenous milestones

Indigenous staff & students from the Melbourne Campus (St Patrick’s) were joined by Mission Engagement’s Father Werner Utri to celebrate a Mass in commemoration of National Sorry Day on Monday 26 May.

Held in the Campus Chapel, the Mass remembered the Stolen Generations, celebrated the National Apology and gave those present an opportunity to commit to working with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples and to sharing the journey of Reconciliation.

The Mass included a student from the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of the land, acknowledging and sharing her history.

Father Werner spoke of the renewed sense of commitment to the reconciliation process.  Co-ordinator of Jim-baa-yer Indigenous Unit, Naomi Wolfe, spoke of the opportunity that is available to all to commence a journey of understanding, compassion and forgiveness.

Several Aboriginal students performed readings and contributed in the mass. An Aboriginal icon of Mother and Child, painted by ACU Indigenous Graduate and sessional staff member Katrina Russell was displayed as a reflection point. Education student and local Indigenous musician Jayden Lillyst sang a personal reflective song about identity and welcome.

Children’s choir performance

ACU’s McAuley Choir, based at the Brisbane Campus, was joined by the Kidz 2 Kidz children’s choir in a performance on Wednesday 14 May.

The Kidz 2 Kidz choir, established by Queensland Australian of the Year Local Hero award winner Sana Mammo, is a children’s group committed to advancing understanding of social harmony and tolerance among Australians of all backgrounds.

The children’s choir was conducted by ACU Education graduate Innes Harriman, currently teaching year 5 at St. Joseph’s College at Gregory Terrace.

Kidz 2 Kidz choir The Kidz 2 Kidz children’s choir with conductor and ACU graduate Innes Harriman, left, and group founder Sana Mammo

Social justice celebrated

The Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) hosted over 300 secondary students from colleges across Queensland at the fourth annual Social Justice Youth Forum (SJYF) on Friday 23 May.

The SJYF brought together students from colleges across the state, including Chanel College in Gladstone and Marymount College from the Gold Coast, who demonstrate an interest in social justice, with the aim of inspiring them to make a difference in their local communities.

The 2008 SJYF was opened with a key note address from Father Chris Riley, founder and CEO of disadvantaged youth support organisation Youth Off the Streets. Father Riley was joined by presenters including Jeanne Madden, founder of street support group Street Swags, and Jennifer Byrne, Caritas Australia’s Global Education Advisor for Queensland.

SJYF St. Brendan's Students from St. Brendan's College at SJYF08
SJYF Carmel College Carmel College students at the 2008 Social Justice Youth Forum

Ecumenical Prayer Service at Strathfield

The Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) marked the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” by holding an ecumenical prayer service on 14 May. Campus Chaplain Fr Jack Evans was joined by special guests, Coptic Orthodox Church‘s Fr Matthew,  Latvian Lutheran Church’s Pastor Colvin and the Uniting Church’s Reverend Stevenson in leading prayer and celebration of the bonds shared by all Christian traditions.

Reverend Stevenson delivered a moving sermon invoking the Strathfield community to work together in harmony as different parts of the one body of Christ and to focus on that which unites us, rather than that which divides.  We hope that the relationships we established with our fellow Christian Churches through this service will continue to develop over the coming years.

WYD08 Pilgrim Leader training at Strathfield

The Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) has been host to over 300 Pilgrim Group leaders over the past three weeks as they prepare to accompany their groups through the experience of World Youth Day 2008 (WYD08).  The 3 Training Sessions were both informative and inspiring and if the enthusiasm and energy of group leaders was anything to go by, we are in for a vibrant World Youth Day experience.

One ACU Pilgrim Group leader who attended the training sessions commented “I found the group leader training sessions very enriching … the faith and diversity of the group was a microcosm of WYD08.  I also learnt ways to be a more effective leader.  I gained insights into how to guide my group on a spiritual journey, and to connect with God, each other and other pilgrims.  I’m looking forward to it.”

Bishop Strathfield Bishop Julian Porteous and ACU Pilgrim Group leader Vanessa Forcella

Education service honoured

Head of School of Education ACT Dr Carolyn Broadbent and Senior Lecturer School of Education QLD Dr Eugene Kaminski have been awarded for 25 years of service to the University, at the Faculty of Education’s Academic Conference. 

Dr Carolyn Broadbent and Dr Eugene Kaminski have seen many changes over the past 25 years. Carolyn started out in primary and secondary teaching in Melbourne and moved into tertiary teaching at Signadou Dominican College of Education (now ACU). “I have witnessed tremendous change, which informed my doctoral research in amalgamation and organisational change,” said Dr Broadbent.

Eugene has worked at two of the University’s predecessor colleges, the McAuley College of Teaching Education at Dulton Park and McAuley College of Teaching Education in Mitchelton.

A highlight of the conference, which ran over 28 and 29 May, was an address by ACU honorary doctorate recipient Dr Li Cunxin. 

Education conference Head of School of Education ACT Dr Carolyn Broadbent, Dean Faculty of Education Professor Marie Emmitt and Senior Lecturer School of Education QLD Dr Eugene Kaminski at the Faculty of Education Academic Staff Conference in Sydney

Theology agreement

ACU has signed a landmark agreement with the Brisbane College of Theology (BCT), which will promote scholarship and research in theology and related fields.  Vice Chancellor Professor Greg Craven was on hand at the Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) on Monday 26 May to sign the agreement with Chair of the Board of the BCT Dr Suzanne Fairley.

The partnership will also provide University-accredited courses in theology and related fields, in addition to making ACU’s communication facilities available to the BCT.

Theology agreement Chair of the Board of the Brisbane College of Theology Dr Suzanne Fairley with Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven.

Support in wake of Cyclone Nargis

Staff and students at North Sydney Campus (MacKillop) gathered recently to offer "prayerful and practical" help for the people devastated by Cyclone Nargis in Burma and for those working in the disaster area.

A gold coin collection around the campus raised funds which are to be sent to Caritas Australia's Burma appeal. Caritas Australia is the Catholic Church's Agency for International Aid and Development. The money will be sent directly to their local partners on the ground in Burma.

The MacKillop Campus also attended a prayer reflection in the chapel, where an ACU Burmese student spoke about the difficulties facing her home, and how appreciative she was of the efforts to help her country.

The assembly and appeal were led by Mission Engagement staff Cath Leary and Carmel Shepherd who thanked supporters.

Research into church involvement among youth

Catholic students and staff aged between 18 and 35 are invited to participate in a research project into church involvement among youth.

The study, led by Victorian School of Religious Education’s Associate Professor Kath Engebretson, seeks to discover ways of encouraging Catholic practice among young adults.

Participants are asked to complete a brief online survey, which can be found at

For further information, please contact Associate Professor Kath Engebretson, at or on 03 9953 3292.

Quality audit presentations

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Quality and Engagement) Professor John O’Gorman will complete the final round of Quality Audit presentations across all campuses in June.

Please note the dates for the presentations.

Tuesday 3 June at 1.00pm,
Mercy Lecture Theatre
Tuesday 17 June at 10.30am;
Lecture Theatre IB.12
Wednesday 18 June at 10.30am
Staff room
Thursday 19 June at 10m
Room S1
North Sydney
Tues, 24 June at 2pm
Council Room
Tuesday 24 June at 10am
Room TS 01 

New eLearning resources for staff and students

An exciting new resource to support eLearning at ACU will be launched at the end of June. The resource will include a new eLearning web page, in place of the current ACUonline page, which will provide links to a wealth of information and training opportunities for staff and students.

Two online tutorials will also be available within Blackboard to offer staff and students the ability to develop their knowledge and skills in online teaching and learning – online.

The development is sponsored by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Professor Gabrielle McMullen along with a wide range of enthusiastic staff and students who have been involved in the project since late 2007.

Look out for further promotion of the eLearning facility ahead of the official launch. Contact Project Manager Ruth Laxton on for more information.


Ballarat WYD08 commissioning

Eighteen students from Ballarat Campus (Aquinas) are excited about attending World Youth Day 2008 (WYD08) in July. The students were commissioned recently by Fr Justin Driscoll at Mass on campus, with staff and students pledging their prayerful support for the pilgrims.

Fourth year Bachelor of Education (Primary) students Sally Gregory and Kitty Robinson believe that the WYD08 festivities are an opportunity "to develop a closer relationship with God through interaction with other pilgrims. We also want to learn more about the Catholic traditions. It seems like an opportunity not to be missed."

As part of WYD08 activities, the Aquinas Campus, together with the Diocese of Ballarat pilgrims, will travel to Sydney by bus for the event.

WYD08 Ballarat

An education in bush regeneration

First year education students at the Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) have completed a Bush Regeneration project supporting sustainability in areas across north Brisbane. The community service program provides the opportunity for future teachers to contribute to the sustainability of the natural environment by studying forest ecology of degraded bushland and working with local Bushcare regeneration groups across the Brisbane City and Moreton Bay Shire Councils.

Education lecturer and project coordinator Dr Barbara Odgers was delighted with the dedication of the students to the science unit which is based on first-hand experience in the environment.

After initially performing testing on water quality at the Nudgee waterholes, and then designing a catchment management plan for these areas from their results, the students were required to contact the Bushcare groups themselves, and to organise their own involvement,” said Dr Odgers.

This work is incredibly important as the main cause of degradation is disturbance of the natural vegetation areas which leads to weed invasion and soil erosion. Most Bushcare groups in the Brisbane area spend their time pulling out environmental weeds that take over natural habitats and alter the ecology of the area, meaning that the native animals no longer have food sources in those areas”, she said.

It has been a fantastic exercise for a group of young people who will be the educators of tomorrow to learn first hand about the sustainability of our natural environment”, said Dr Odgers. 

Bush regeneration First year Education students from the Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) at work in the Bush Regeneration project

New future students site

A new website for future ACU students has been launched. The site, viewable at, provides information about course offerings, the student experience at ACU, methods of applying, the background of the University, the six campuses and career pathways to future students, their parents, and career advisors.

WYD08 initiative one step closer

The Canberra Campus (Signadou), the Central Canberra Parish and Centracare have combined in a project which will culminate in bringing 20 East Timorese to World Youth Day 2008 (WYD08). The group will have a week in Canberra prior to heading to Sydney.

In order to ensure that the needs of the group are met, a monster raffle was held at the Signadou Campus, with Parish Pastoral Assistant Sr Kate McMahon drawing together over 20 prizes. A creative multi-cultural afternoon was also organised by Mission Engagement’s Carolyn Heath and the drawing of the raffle took on a festive theme. The events raised over $3500, with a large proportion coming from the parishioners of Central Parish.

WYD08 Canberra Sr Kate McMahon and Dr Jo Brady RSJ enjoy the afternoon

A commitment to professional learning

ACU’s Institute for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (IATL) Director Professor Yoni Ryan is hosting a professional learning event at ACU’s North Sydney Campus (MacKillop) last week.

The three day conference was coordinated and largely funded by the IATL and chaired by Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Professor Gabrielle McMullen.

The event incorporated presentations on student equity and disability students, managing conflicts in the University environment and the Australian Universities Quality Audit (AUQA). 

Over the three day event staff were informed of Carrick Institute developments and schemes and procedures to assist them in making applications to the Carrick Institute.

“These meetings are run twice a year for senior managers with professional learning on Higher Education issues and emerging issues for ACU and the Higher Education sector more generally,” said Professor Yoni Ryan.

“They provide the opportunity for managers who are widely dispersed across our six campuses to meet and share their experiences of learning and teaching matters, of their management issues, and to learn of policy changes in the external and internal environment, which affect their Schools and Faculties,” said Professor Ryan.

IATl professional learning event

Hansel and Gretel performance

Drama students from the Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) put on an interactive musical performance of the classical children’s play Hansel and Gretel recently. Two evening shows were produced, along with a matinee performance especially for Year 4 students from St. Ita’s Primary School.

Hansel and Gretel ACU drama students with Year 4 pupils from St. Ita's Primary School

Sleepout plan for Street Swags

Students at the North Sydney Campus (MacKillop) are planning to "sleepout" at the campus on 15 August to raise awareness about homelessness and to raise funds for Street Swags.

Padded, waterproof Street Swags were invented by ACU graduate Jean Madden, and are being distributed around Australia with the help of a range of partner organisation.

For more information and to take part in the event, please email to contact MacKillop Student Association President second year business student Joshua Ang.

Hallelujah! A cross-cultural choral celebration

ACU’s Central Hall will play host to a dynamic cross-cultural performance of sacred choral works from different traditions, lands and eras on Wednesday 4 June.

The acclaimed Hong Kong Baptist University Choir, one of China’s leading musical ensembles, will be joined on their first Australian tour by the ACU Choir (St Patrick’s Campus) and the Melbourne University Choral Society.

Over 150 varsity voices will take to the stage at Central Hall to present a performance repertoire including works by Mozart, Victoria (Vittoria), Rachmaninov, Bruckner, and various Chinese composers.

For concert details, visit Tickets are $15/$10, and may be purchased by emailing or calling 0423 784 182.

Free philosophy lecture series

ACU’s School of Philosophy at the Melbourne Campus (St. Patrick’s) is proud to present the 2008 Wednesday Lectures, a free public lecture series running each Wednesday for six weeks at 6.30pm.

The lecture series will focus on the environment and how we, as human beings, understand our place in the natural world. Six diverse expert voices will offer their perspectives and reflections on our relationship to our environment. The lectures are open to staff and students of ACU as well as to members of the general public.

The series will commence on Wednesday 4 June, with ACU’s Professor Raimond Gaita speaking on The Significance of the Human.

For further information about the lecture series, please contact Jasmin Chen on or phone 03 9953 3160.

Strathfield Campus hosts Inner West Careers Expo

Over 2000 students visited the Strathfield Campus (Mount St Mary) on Friday 23 May for the Inner West Careers Expo. The Year 10, 11 and 12 students from Catholic, Independent and Government schools in the Inner West and St. George came to learn more about the study and career options available to them.

The Expo, organised by ACU Marketing Officer Catherine Watson, and Tom Pinkey, Careers Adviser from Homebush Boys High School, is usually held at a local highschool, however when that venue was unavailable, the Strathfield Campus was pleased to host the event. Over 70 organisations, including Universities, private colleges and graduate recruiters participated in the event.

students being assisted by staff

God and morality

A public debate, Is God necessary for morality? will be held on Thursday 26 June between 7.30pm and 9pm at the Seymour Centre on the corner of City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale.

Presented by The University of Notre Dame Australia as part of the international conference on Truth and Faith in Ethics, it will feature Professor Raimond Gaita of ACU and King's College, London University, and Professor John Haldane of St Andrews University and be ahired by Mr Phillip Adams.

The debate will be broadcast on ABC Radio National program Late Night Live.

Bookings are $5. For more information and to book, telephone (02) 9351 7940.

Truth and faith in ethics

Happiness, virtue, moral reason, religion and the good life will be discussed by Catholic and non-Catholic philosophers from June 24 to 27 at the Truth and Faith in Ethics conference at the University of Notre Dame Australia Sydney Campus.

Internationally acclaimed philosophers Professor John Finnis, Dr Julia Annas, Papal Adviser John Haldene, Professor Anthony O'Hear and Professor Nancy Sherman and others will take part, including Professor Raimond Gaita and Peter Coghlan of ACU and Dr Hayden Ramsay of the University of Notre Dame Australia.

Visit or email or telephone (02) 8204 4390 for more information.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday 30 June – Thursday 2 October - University Experience

Details on this and other upcoming events can be found at

Promote your event by listing it on the myACU events section and by emailing details to