Newcastle Business School in Australia has been a signatory of PRME since 2015. The school committed to embedding learning objectives that are pertinent to responsible management and the Sustainable Development Goals into its assurance of learning. The School also has a strong focus on research of topics of global significance, such as climate change, disaster relief, indigenous participation ,gender equality and strong collaborative partnerships with community and industry. Here are seven initiatives highlighted in the school’s most recent Sharing Information on Progress (SIP) report.
The University of Newcastle received the Bronze Award under the Athena SWAN Charter, which recognises efforts to eliminate gender bias and develop an inclusive culture that values all staff. The University has undertaken an assessment of gender equality in the institution, including quantitative (staff data) and qualitative (policies, practices, systems and arrangements) evidence, identifying both challenges and opportunities, and has in place a four-year plan that builds on this assessment. This includes the establishment of key leadership roles, including the inaugural Women in STEMM Chair, the new Assistant Deans Equity, Diversity and Inclusiveness roles, the promotion of Women in Research Fellowships and the engagement of leaders and staff through promotion of a Gender Equality Leadership Pledge. In February 2018, the University of Newcastle was recognised as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality for the fourth consecutive year. The WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation is a leading practice recognition program that aims to encourage, recognise and promote active commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces.
2.The Hunter Research Foundation Centre (HRF)
The Hunter Research Foundation Centre (HRF) conducts a program of research that is unique in Australia in its focus on key aspects of the economy at a regional level and in the degree of engagement with community, business and government. Using the local Hunter region as an example, the HRF Centre develops and shares deep knowledge and insight on the dynamics of regions in transition more generally. The Hunter has seen rises and falls in export income from coal and agricultural products and is facing long-term changes in coal mining. Through surveys of businesses and households that happen twice a year, as well as analysis and ongoing engagement with key stakeholders across the business, government and community sector, the Centre brings together insights that contribute to strategy and policy development to key industry and government stakeholders in innovative ways. For example, a state agency contracted with the Centre for research on the value to the local economy of the health sector. The report, discussion, and background work resulted in a $750-million commitment to redevelop the John Hunter Hospital Health and Innovation precinct. The Centre hosts a range of events including most recently events focused on housing affordability in the region, the shift from coal to renewable and a forum on sustainable cities and the evolution and potential of second cities as vital alternatives to the increasingly congested and costly capital cities.
- Financing Literacy Programme for High School
The University of Newcastle and Greater Bank have established a five year partnership to build financial literacy in the community. With their combined strengths in education, banking, community engagement and regional focus, the partnership between Greater Bank and the Newcastle Business School provides community education programs and experiential facilities that support informed financial decision making when it comes to managing money. The Greater Bank Finance Academy is set to deliver its pilot Fundamentals of Financial Literacy Program to more than 500 high school students across the Hunter.
- Sustainable cities
Newcastle City Council and two students from the Newcastle Business School have been working on delivering a transformative project that supports local Aboriginal communities. As part of an Industry Placement Course during Semester 1, 2019, the students worked with the council to develop an initial business case to support an Aboriginal Tourism Connector for Newcastle. The aim of the Tourism Connector is to support development and inclusion of Aboriginal tourism in Newcastle; to create employment, education and skills development opportunities; to contribute to economic self-sufficiency for local Aboriginal people; to create a sustainable enterprise that has the potential to be a best practice model. This project is being developed as part of the UN Global Compact Cities Program. This program supports partnership formation between local governments, private sector, civil society organisations and academia, enabling project development and financing of high impact projects to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda.
- Environmental sustainability
In 2018, the University of Newcastle released its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2019-2025 (ESP). The ESP is a roadmap for sustainable operations, and sets bold targets in areas including energy, water, waste, biodiversity, transportation, procurement and investments. For example, the University of Newcastle signed a contract for 100% renewable electricity from 1 January 2020. This complements the University’s ongoing solar panel project, which has seen 278 solar panels installed at its Ourimbah campus, and a commitment to installing a further 7,000 solar panels across Ourimbah and Callaghan – one of the largest Photovoltaic (PV) solar installations in the sector. Combined, these installations could power around 500 typical households. The University of Newcastle partnered with a leading waste management contractor and together, we are working to achieve an ambitious target of 70% recycling for general solid waste. This has included the composting of food scraps at a state of the art sorting facility and transformed into composted materials that are used across the Hunter Region as soil rehabilitation in our agriculture and horticulture industries.
- Partnership between UON and the Kenyan Government
A new partnership between UON, the Kenyan Government and the Australian Government will facilitate a valuable education initiative under the Australia Awards Fellowships. A collaboration between academics and government representatives, the fellowship is aimed at strengthening public service performance and building governance capacity in Kenya.
The program involved the development and delivery of executive training to the KPSC Board and Secretariat in public service governance, effectiveness and productivity. The program received UNITAR United Nations accreditation for its engagement with SDGs by addressing development challenges, building strategic partnerships, and contributing to effective governance and advanced principles of gender equality and inclusion. The research being undertaken as part of this program has the potential to inform policy and practice for public organisations in other developing countries.
- Moving forward
Newcastle Business School has a PRME working group that, along with the Dean, have made a commitment over the next two years to undertake a more comprehensive mapping of the SDGs in curriculum and research output and increase visibility of the SDGs in course materials and outlines. They have also committed to organising a more prominent engagement in Sustainable Development Goals Day moving forwards. There are plans in place to implement a staff and/or student award for Ethics, Sustainability and Responsibility to assist with embedding the PRME values within the school.