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Evidence of equity action puts University of Newcastle first in Australia

Dr Leila Momenzadeh with her child
Dr Leila Momenzadeh with her child

The University of Newcastle has been recognised as a national leader in gender equity and Indigenous participation.

Following strict benchmarking and peer review by Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), the University has become the first organisation in Australia to achieve five ‘Cygnet’ awards from SAGE.

The awards measure and validate efforts by institutions to reduce and remove barriers to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky AO said he was both delighted and proud that the University of Newcastle was the first institution in Australia to achieve the result.

“We know we’re a stronger and more successful University if we have a diverse and inclusive workforce – and supporting everyone to reach their full potential is critical to ensuring that,” he said.

“The more barriers we remove, the brighter the future is for our University and future generations of women and people from underrepresented groups in higher education.

“Many organisations profess to be committed to these values we’ve genuinely put action ahead of the talk and been willing to do the hard work to make a difference,” Professor Zelinsky said.

Dr Janin Bredehoeft, CEO of Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) was excited about the value of the University of Newcastle’s work to the wider community.

“Achieving five SAGE Cygnet Awards is a huge milestone for the University of Newcastle in its equity, diversity and inclusion journey. It represents an important step towards the next level of SAGE accreditation, and growing maturity in building a thriving, equitable workplace.

“The University has approached this challenge with absolutely unbridled enthusiasm. By supporting carers on staff, and improving fairness in workload allocations, they added to their already excellent work and earned two more Awards.

“My huge congratulations to the team driving this work, and to the University for its deep commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

The University has been recognised for initiatives to:

  • Career development support for women across the Institution and assessed the impact of leadership, mentoring, and support programs on the progression and retention of women and other underrepresented groups.
  • The impact of strategies including targeted female and targeted Indigenous recruitment and high-school outreach programs to improve the pipeline of female and under-represented students and staff in engineering, science and the environment fields.
  • Indigenous Cultural Capability training aimed at increasing cultural safety and belonging and helping non-Indigenous staff and student move from being culturally aware to culturally responsive
  • Support for carers, including embedding entitlements into the EBA, policy changes and capital expenditure.
  • Ensure the fair, equitable and transparent allocation of work.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Excellence and Program Lead Professor Jennifer Milam said she was pleased that SAGE had endorsed the progress the University had made.

“The impact of creating targeted strategies to reduce gender and intersectional barriers, to improve female and Indigenous participation, to support carers and to create clear plans for the career progression of underrepresented groups is highly important,” said Professor Milam.

“The latest recognition also reflects that the University of Newcastle has a sector-leading Enterprise Agreement that supports our staff – and ultimately that leads to better results for our students.”

“Our work doesn’t stop here. We will continue to plan and find ways to lower and eventually eliminate barriers that prevent participation for all staff and students,” Professor Milam said.