Key initiatives and projects
COVID-19 pandemic response
Monash University spent 2021 adjusting and adapting to ongoing lockdowns and restrictions as a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, while delivering our teaching and learning, and other operations, remotely for the majority of the year.
Ongoing border closures prevented our international students from returning to Australia to begin or recommence their studies. However, study centres were established in Shanghai and Singapore to support students prior to borders reopening, and the Monash Suzhou staging post grew to hold more than 500 Monash Australia students.
The first Australian COVID-19 mRNA vaccine candidate, developed by the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was successfully manufactured by Melbourne-based company IDT in preparation for phase one clinical trials to be conducted by the Doherty Institute in early 2022.
To assist staff in balancing work and remote learning for school-aged children and other childcare responsibilities, staff were able to access a day-a-week carer’s leave (expanded to two days for the last part of semester two) from their sick leave. Flexible working arrangements were also introduced, with full-time staff given the option of working from home for up to two days per week (pro-rata for part-time staff). The University established a new pay-as-you-use parking system as a more equitable model for staff who work part-time, or sometimes from home, or for those who combine driving and other transport options. In September, two ‘Recharge Days’ were granted to staff, without the need for annual leave to be taken, to provide some respite after such a challenging period. Additionally, the University’s academic promotion round timelines were extended.
In partnership with Monash Health, Monash’s University Health Services (UHS) opened vaccination centres at our Clayton, Caulfield and Peninsula campuses for staff, students and the wider community to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. By year’s end, more than 4400 vaccinations had been administered through UHS.
In September, the University conducted a #VaccinateMonash Survey to understand how many staff and students had, or were planning to be, vaccinated against COVID-19, and to better support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout for the Monash community. At the conclusion of the survey, 96 per cent of staff respondents and 95 per cent of student respondents were either vaccinated, booked or planning to be vaccinated. Incentives such as a $150 support payment for some casual and sessional staff, and campus retail vouchers of up to $50 for staff and students were also provided to encourage and support our community to get vaccinated.
The University’s COVID Safe Plan also introduced a series of health and safety practices, including Monash’s Roadmap to Reactivation, in line with the State Government’s ‘Victoria’s Roadmap: Delivering the National Plan’; QR codes for entry into each building; and increased cleaning on all campuses and sites.
The first half of 2021 was influenced primarily by the Enterprise Agreement Variation (EAV), which expired in July. Activities included a review of recruitment and appointment practices, and an implementation review to ensure EAV efficiency outcomes in key workforces were maintained. Initiatives were also refined to accommodate increased workplace flexibility practices resulting from COVID-19.
A focus on increasing security of employment for casuals, sessionals and short-term contract staff resulted in the implementation of a policy to transfer eligible research-only contract staff to continuing contracts. This was in addition to existing fixed-term employment protocols and casual conversion practices to ensure ongoing employment is made available to eligible staff. In 2021, Monash transferred 326 staff from casual and fixed-term contracts to secure continuing employment (more than double the number of transfers in 2020), and a further 365 casual staff members were offered fixed-term appointments. Additionally, negotiations with the National Tertiary Education Union about a proposal for greater security of employment for sessional staff undertaking PhDs were initiated by the University.
Overall, Monash honoured its commitment to maintain workforce levels in 2021, with no programs for redundancies (involuntary or voluntary) at the University in 2021. We continue to prioritise opportunities for existing staff, and our workforce profile is strengthened through the retention and promotion of staff in an extremely competitive and challenging talent sector.
Established by Monash University, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce is an agile, responsive body that brings together 32 national peak health organisations and more than 250 clinical experts from across primary, acute and critical care settings. The taskforce publishes world-first COVID-19 living guidelines, updated weekly to provide reliable, current advice for clinicians and policymakers, enabling them to provide the best possible care for people with COVID-19 in Australia. These guidelines have supported Australia’s excellent record of care of patients with COVID-19. Additionally, they have been adapted for use by several international bodies and are regularly accessed by clinicians worldwide.
Governance and regulation
On 10 September, Monash launched its new Strategic Plan, Impact 2030. This is a 10-year strategy to ensure the University’s focus on being excellent, international, enterprising and inclusive will meet its purpose to address the global challenges of this time. Through its education and research, the three global challenges of climate change, geopolitical security and thriving communities will be addressed in collaboration with governments, industries and communities. This new Strategic Plan sets the framework for education and research plans, but also for the University’s work through its faculties, research institutes, campuses and portfolios.
Monash University’s new Environmental, Social and Governance Statement 2021-2025 was launched on 6 October. Developed by a University Council working party, it builds on the actions and initiatives achieved under the first statement published in 2016, which provided a clear position for the principles, consistent with the ethics and values of the University, that would guide its operations.
Monash University launched its inaugural Health and Wellbeing Strategic Action Plan 2021-2025, which outlines our commitment, vision and initiatives to safeguard and promote the health and wellbeing of our staff.
In 2021, Monash University proactively engaged with government by issuing more than 120 items of formal correspondence and strategic positioning documentation to state and federal ministers, members of Parliament and senior public service leaders.
This engagement related to matters such as government budgets, Monash’s activities in education, research and work on establishing a COVID-19 vaccine, support for international students, secure travel corridors, the role Monash played in Victoria’s and Australia’s economic recovery, and campus reactivation post-COVID-19. Ministerial and members of Parliament visits to the University for the progression of major initiatives continued throughout 2021 when public health settings allowed.
Additionally, a series of reviews and new legislation and policy relating to the higher education sector were introduced or progressed in their development by the Federal Government throughout the year, including the adoption of the Model Code on Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom and the Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020. The University also consulted on the Victorian Government's Windfall Gains Tax and amendments to charity exemptions for Land Tax.
In 2021, while the University continued to implement its Governance Framework for Controlled and Associated Entities across the Monash University Group, a review of the Framework was initiated. As part of the establishment of Monash Indonesia, a governing Statute for Monash University Indonesia was adopted (as required by Indonesian law) and a wholly-owned company was incorporated in Indonesia to provide services to the Indonesian campus (PT – Monash Indonesia Services). A major project was undertaken to incorporate the World Mosquito Program (WMP), previously a part of the Institute for Vector-Borne Diseases within the University. All WMP assets were transferred to World Mosquito Program Ltd (incorporated in Australia and wholly-owned by the University) on 1 January 2022 and a wholly-owned subsidiary of that company was established in France (WMP Europe). These new entities will facilitate the roll-out of WMP's proven technology to reduce the spread of mosquito-borne viruses in various countries.
After receiving approval in 2020 to establish the first foreign university campus in Indonesia, Monash University, Indonesia welcomed its first student cohort in October 2021. Located in Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD) City in southwest Jakarta, the Monash University, Indonesia campus is in close proximity to innovative technology companies and Indonesian universities. It will progressively build to enrol approximately 2000 students annually, and along with producing high-impact research it will offer master and PhD degrees, as well as executive programs and micro-credentials in areas of high demand.
In August, Monash University signed a strategic partnership agreement with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, India. The partnership will involve a number of initiatives, including research collaborations, education programs, industry partnerships and a joint PhD program between the two institutions.
The new Monash Suzhou Research Institute building in Suzhou, China, was officially opened in October following a signed agreement in 2020 between Monash University and Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). The building will provide a presence for Monash at SIP on a more permanent basis, and will accommodate approximately 50 research teams, 100 research academics and 400 PhD candidates, plus supporting staff for Monash. Additionally, the building will provide a strong platform to support collaboration with researchers from both Southeast University and other universities in China.
The establishment of the Monash University European Research Foundation, a not-for-profit entity incorporated under Italian law, will complement the Monash University Prato Centre’s activities, facilitating the acceleration of our in-country research (including participating in European and national funding schemes) and industry engagement in Europe, thereby enhancing our capacity to tackle global challenges in partnership with others.
Enterprise and industry partnerships
Despite COVID-related lockdowns, construction on the Victorian Heart Hospital (VHH) progressed well in 2021, with main structural works and the façade completed, and the fit-out well underway. The VHH is a joint partnership between the Victorian Government, Monash Health and Monash University, and will provide innovative, holistic and patient-centred care, as well as world-leading research and education.
As Australia’s first dedicated heart hospital, the VHH is located in the eastern precinct of the University’s Clayton campus and will have allocated spaces for Monash students to learn, research and gain experience while studying alongside industry experts. It will accommodate approximately 195 beds, an emergency department, cardiac catheterisation labs, specialist surgical and imaging facilities, and telemedicine services for local, national and international patients. The hospital will have capacity to provide 2000 cardiac surgeries per year as well as 108,000 consultations and outpatient appointments. It is expected to be completed at the end of 2022.
Planning for the new Monash Station as part of the Suburban Rail Loop has begun, with construction anticipated to start in late 2023. This new underground rail link will connect Melbourne’s middle suburbs, including linking existing train lines and major health, education and employment centres. The Monash Station, at the corner of Howleys and Normanby roads, was this year confirmed to be a part of the first stage of construction. The University will continue to work, in collaboration with the Victorian Government and others, to ensure effective benefits for the broader Monash Technology Precinct.
In 2021, Monash successfully generated the first iBlastoid, a ground-breaking technology with the potential to revolutionise cell therapies and fertility markets, and pioneer treatments for conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease. The technology allows us to study the very early stages of human development using non-embryo models, and derive easily-produced stem cells, enabling large-scale manufacturing across a broad range of applications.
Monash University and global energy company ENGIE committed to a long-term alliance until 2030, following two years of collaboration to advance Monash’s award-winning Net Zero Initiative. A core element of the Alliance is the Net Zero Solutions Fund, to which Monash and ENGIE will contribute in order to develop new solutions to help precincts and cities achieve net zero. Its intent is to tackle the range of technological, economic, policy and social barriers to achieving net zero emissions at the city scale and, by doing so, accelerate the global energy transition.
A total $53 million was awarded to various Monash University projects under the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF) Pool 1 funding, with all projects formally announced and commencing in 2021. These included the Smart Manufacturing and Commercialisation Hub, the Safe and Equal @ Work and Access to Justice programs, Victorian Health Innovation Centre and Net Zero. VHESIF Pool 2 projects with additional funding are expected to be announced and commence in 2022.
For VHESIF grants provided during 2021, a total of nine interaction reference numbers were required, which entailed correspondence with the Industry Capability Network (Victoria) Ltd.
Established in 2021 following a $12 million donation from Three Springs Foundation, Monash University’s new Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies will be housed in the Faculty of Arts’ School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at the Clayton campus. The centre, to be launched in March 2022, will enable significant collaboration between philosophy, neuroscience, medicine, education, and interfaith dialogue research and studies.
Monash University will establish Victoria’s Health Innovation Centre following a $17.5 million funding grant through the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund. Located within the Monash Technology Precinct, the centre will include a flagship cardiovascular disease-focused accelerator named HeartLabs, and a virtual clinical trials hub-and-spoke network, which will enable the creation of high-value jobs and startups, and attract and nurture new clinical trials.
In November, Monash University launched its Neuromedicines Discovery Centre, a cross-disciplinary centre that will work in three major areas – Better Medicines, Better Minds and Better Futures. The centre will bring together the combined expertise and resources of world-leading researchers from Monash University and collaborators from University of Melbourne and The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health to propel new treatments for mental ill health spanning the entire medicines development pipeline, from drug discovery and optimisation, to clinical trials, new healthcare guidelines and into the public policy arena.
In 2021, the Monash Commission commenced its second inquiry, ‘The Liveable Metropolis: The future role of intermediary cities to deliver resilience, impact and prosperity’, which will deliver practical recommendations for urban planners, governments and communities for developing transformational cities of the future.
A panel of nine expert national and international commissioners has been engaged from a range of disciplines to bring complementary global perspectives to explore particular post-COVID dimensions to better understand the emerging evidence that may redefine liveability, especially those that intermediary cities may be able to actively address.
The evidence-gathering process of the Commission also commenced, and as part of this process a multidisciplinary group of Monash academics was formed to develop submissions informed by emerging evidence and literature in relation to key questions posed by commissioners under overarching inquiry meta-themes, including ‘societal and behavioural’, ‘spatial and technological’ and ‘systems and governance’ perspectives. The official website (commission.monash.edu) was launched to provide insight into proceedings that will continue into 2022.
In September, staff and students from the Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre and Monash International Affairs Society worked with the Australian Government and the Australian Defence Force to evacuate 11 young scholars from Kabul in Afghanistan to safety in Australia, following the Taliban takeover. Over the past two years, these Afghan scholars had participated in high-profile debates for Progressive Thinking and the Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre. Upon arriving in Melbourne, they were safely housed at our Clayton student accommodation, and the University ran a fundraising campaign, the Afghan Scholars Appeal, to support their new lives in Australia, including the continuation of their studies and reunification with their families. Pleasingly, approximately $350,000 was raised by more than 900 donors.
In October, Monash University announced a new Indigenous Australian Voices Program, comprising four modules designed to equip all students with an understanding of Indigenous knowledge, cultures and contemporary issues. The program fulfils the University’s commitment made in its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Framework to provide students with an opportunity to understand the rich and complex histories of the lands on which we study, work and live. It also acknowledges the First Nations peoples whose lands our campuses are on, and includes insights and experiences from First Nations students who study at Monash University, Indigenous academics and local Indigenous Elders. The program will officially commence in 2022.
A new $51 million bushfire resilience program, Fire to Flourish, led by the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, harnessed the strengths and expertise of Monash researchers across the University to help communities build pathways out of disadvantage. In partnership with the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Metal Manufactures Pty Ltd and The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, and with additional funding support from the Lowy Foundation, Monash is working closely with communities severely affected by the 2019-20 summer bushfires to pave ways for a community-led approach to disaster recovery to be developed, tested and refined.
Monash University Publishing launched a series of short books, In the National Interest, designed to inform, influence and inspire public debate on governance, policy and government. They contribute to the national conversation about Australia’s future, and showcase reflections and proposals from the academy, government and beyond, including eminent researchers, policymakers and political practitioners. So far, the series includes 14 books with a different author for each edition.
In November, after extensive development at Monash University, The Global Academy project commenced a month-long closed trial with 750 outlets of international publishing partners. Titled 360info, the service officially launched in January 2022. 360info is an independent information resource operating as a ‘wire’ agency available to publishing and broadcasting content partners across the Asia-Pacific region. It is designed to be a media resource providing contextual, explanatory and, at times, evidence-based corrective information. Professional curators will collate the thinking, knowledge and research from universities across the region.
University innovation and operations
Throughout 2021, Monash University conducted its first hybrid Open Day experience, Discover Monash. This comprised two digital events, Digital Open Day (25 and 28 July) and Get Ready to Apply Expo (1 September), and an in-person Campus Discovery Day at our four Victorian campuses (between 6-8 December), attracting 10,275 registrations and connecting with almost 5000 attendees across all three elements. The hybrid approach was established as a result of the rapidly changing environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing flexibility to ensure a positive experience for our prospective students, both locally and overseas.
Throughout 2021, works to revitalise and regenerate the campus environments for students, staff and the wider community continued, with a number of buildings and facilities officially opened, completed or commencing construction throughout the year.
View pages 25-27 of the 2021 Annual Report.
Throughout 2021, a number of appointments were made to senior academic and professional leadership roles across the University, while some Monash staff were appointed into new roles or had their existing positions extended.
View the full list on page 27 of the 2021 Annual Report.