Corruption Report into Former VC Richard Higgott Released

Former Murdoch University Vice-Chancellor Richard Higgott viewed adult material on his work laptop and had complaints made against him just six months into the job, according to a recently released report.

The Corruption and Crime Commission have been looking into alleged misconduct by the former Vice-Chancellor and his closest members of staff since October 2014.

“This account is how Professor Higgott, when Vice-Chancellor, did not live up to that trust. He seriously breached Murdoch’s policies,” the report said.

Other matters included in the report were Higgott alleged misuse of his corporate credit card and possible destruction of key documents relevant to the investigation.

The report called the University’s control of credit cards ‘lax’ and said Murdoch did not follow its documentation retention policy.

“It is not now possible to form an opinion whether the destruction of certain documents was deliberate to thwart an investigation or unintentional inadvertence,” the CCC said in the report.

The CCC also describe deceptive means Higgott used to employ Deputy Vice Chancellor Ann Capling, who also stood down immediately after the investigation began.

Professor Higgott is said to have not fully disclosed his close personal relationship with Ann Capling, saying that he had a ‘professional association at arm’s length’ and used ‘secret communications’ with Professor Capling.

The report noted that Higgott and Capling had collaborated on academic projects over the past 20 years.

During the investigation Higgott described their email contact as “friendly”, “facetious”, “gossipy and chatty.”

Capling left her job at the University of Melbourne to take up the position at Murdoch University.

Murdoch University issued a statement that while misconduct is rare, they take this situation extremely seriously.

“We do not tolerate poor behaviour by any employee of the University. We live by our values of integrity, respect and professional conduct.”

It is understood the CCC waited until Murdoch University had appointed a new Vice Chancellor due to the sensitivity of the results.

The full CCC report can be read here.

More to come.

Q&A with the cast of Women

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I was invited to a rehearsal of Women on May 15 by Thomas Dimmick and Jess Serio.  I’ve divided the Q&A into two parts, part 1 for cast Q&A and part 2 for Crew Q&A. I will be seeing the first show on Thursday 9th June but there are also shows in Studio 411 near the Murdoch University gym at 7pm on June 10th & 11th if Thursday doesn’t suit your schedule.

Women is written by Chiara Atik, directed by Jess Serio and produced by Black Martini Theatre. It has a nine actor cast who have been rehearsing since mid April with auditions being held on April 9th & 10th.
CAST
Jo – Shannen Precious
Meg – Cat Perez
Amy – Claire Tebbutt
Beth – Virginia Cole
Marmee – Maddy Jolly Fuentes
Laurie – Hock Edwards
Mr Brooke – Matthew Abercromby
Professor Bhaer – Will Moriarty
Mr Lawrence/Carl/Clovis – Michael Casas

Women Event & tickets

Black Martini Theatre

theatre3
How would you describe the play in a sentence or two?
Virginia : Women is a brilliant, witty comedy following four sisters through the formative times in their lives.

Cat: Women is Little Women mixed with a sprinkle of the future.
Hock: It certainly isn’t your average period drama.
Matthew : A light-hearted, fun portrayal of the life, times and hardships for young women in post-civil war Massachusetts.
Maddy: It’s a super witty and tongue in cheek take on Little Women, but still captures the general essence of the original story.
Mike: It’s a funny and witty parody based on the Little Women series that focuses on having a laugh and not taking itself too seriously.
What did you enjoy most during the rehearsal process of ‘Women’?
Shannen: I enjoy being able to experiment with such an exciting and different character, changing her voice, mannerisms and exploring her background and figuring out why she is the way she is. I also enjoy bonding and getting to know my fellow cast and crew!
Claire: What I enjoy most is probably the laughs we all get when someone nails one of their punch lines. And the satisfaction I feel when I can pull a laugh no matter how many times the crew watched me.
Cat: I enjoyed being with my fellow cast members and messing around and having fun, but also being productive and making sure we get our job done.
Maddy: I’m new to Black Martini Theatre so I’ve loved working with a brand new group of people. Our first read-through as a cast was great. Everyone gave it so much energy and found the script hilarious.
Hock: The relaxed vibe. We can, and are encouraged to, have fun while still getting everything we need done.
Matthew: I enjoyed meeting like-minded people from around Murdoch who shared my passion for drama and it has made rehearsals relaxing and fun.
Will: The people involved in this production are amazing to work with and are incredibly funny. Working with them and bringing this show to life more and more every week is what I enjoy the most. This is my first comedic show so turning up to rehearsals every week has been a real treat.

 

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What were the two main things you did to bring your character to life from the script?
Shannen: I needed to watch the film of ‘Women’ and the television series of ‘Girls’ to be able to understand how the writer wanted to combine the two characters into one. I also watched other inspirations of my character so that I could understand how other actors read her.
Cat: I get quite method with my acting sometimes so having a distinct change in the accent helps to differentiate where I stop and Meg begins! And then there’s the non- verbal elements like how she sits and walks that really bring her to life.
Claire: I’ll be quite honest I spent an inordinate amount of time observing limes. [Editor’s Note: Claire’s character, Amy, brings limes to school and gets home-schooled as result in the original book Little Women]
Virginia: For me my main challenge has been with the accent. I’ve never attempted an American accent before so it has been interesting to develop that. I also had to get well versed on different ways with expressing my character through coughing.
Will: The only main thing that I did was sitting down and watching a lot of films with actors speaking in German accents. Films such as Indiana Jones, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained are to name a few. I took a lot of inspiration from Christoph Waltz who stars in both Inglorious and Django to add to my character’s accent and personality.
Mike: Because I have three different characters one of the main things is getting them to all be different and unique. It really helps distinguish and give each character their own space. The second is probably  attempting an accent. Getting voice and posture down is a huge help in building character.

Theatre in June

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June Theatre 2016: Upcoming Plays & Auditions

Upcoming Plays

Women-Black Martini Theatre

 Written by Chiara Atik & directed by Black Martini Theatre president Jess Serio.

Women is Black Martini’s second production this year. Women follows the story of Jo March. She strives to “become the voice of her generation, or at least, a voice of a generation”. But living in 1800’s New England is extremely difficult as a “little woman”. With influences from the HBO hit series Girls, the adventures of the beloved March sisters are shown to the world.
‘Women’ will be performed from June 9th – 11th at 7pm and located in Studio 411.
I’ll be publishing an in depth article this weekend or beginning of next week which will feature a Q&A with the cast & crew.

‘Women’ Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1120741761323201/
Black Martini Production info: http://www.blackmartinitheatre.com/#!current-production/xt0yl
Tickets: https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=20233

‘Six characters in search of an author’- Top and Tail Theatre

Written by Luigi Pirandello, adapted by Steve Moulds & directed by Nick Moran.
“Six characters, abandoned by their creator, invade a rehearsal in progress and demand to be brought to life by a new author. This intimate adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s absurdist classic foregrounds the comedic contrast between melodrama and the contemporary sensibilities of the acting company, all the while asking us to consider just what we believe to be real. The play script was adapted by Steve Moulds and is licensed by Playscripts Inc.” (A quote from the ‘Six Characters’ Facebook event)
Performances are from 16th June -18th June at 7pm and located in Studio 411.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1079075968830372/
Top and Tail Theatre Page: https://www.facebook.com/Top-and-Tail-Theatre-405065149680308/
Tickets on sale: https://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=191887

Play in a Day –  Black Martini Theatre

‘Play in a Day’ will be hosted on the 25th of June where teams of 2-8 people can collaborate, write and perform an original short play based on the same theme and object. The theme/objects will only be given out on the day. Each team gets to nominate a team name and a captain. Plays can be up to 10 minutes and teams have from 9am to 7:30pm to plan, write and rehearse their play. Not all members have to perform but all can help in their capacity as a writer, director or any other stage role. Team members must be Murdoch University students past or present. Please check the registration form for more information.

‘Play in a Day’ is a yearly competition for people in teams to write a short play script in a day and perform in front of an audience in the evening on the same day. This theatre competition is run by Black Martini Theatre in June and was a success last year. The ‘Play in a Day’ was created  to encourage writers, performers or anyone interested in theatre to compete and showcase their talents and ‘theatrical skills’. Even if you aren’t interested in competing, please do come and support your friends or family by either seeing them perform or driving them home after a day full of excitement. This year, registrations opened in May and teams have until June 1st to register, after which they’ll have to pay a small fee (if there are still openings). There’s limited space for the first 12 teams, so if you’re interested and haven’t registered, get your team registered before May finishes! Below you’ll find a link to registration and the competition guidelines.
‘Play in a Day’ 2016 Registration form: http://www.blackmartinitheatre.com/#!auditions/d0w5z
Black Martini Theatre Website: http://www.blackmartinitheatre.com/
Black Martini Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/blackmartinitheatre/

In 2015, seven teams registered for ‘Play in a Day’ to compete for first place in front of a panel of judges. Last year’s performances were stunningly captivating and the scripts were wonderfully imaginative (I enjoyed watching it with my mum). Last year, teams were given the theme greed and a fire-fighter’s hat which they had to include in their performance. The top three teams won prizes with runner up team members winning trophies and chocolate and the winning team receiving a larger trophy and a box of wine. “In third place with their play “Clueless” was Big and Hairy, Yet Still Approachable. Coming in second was Peek and Boo with their play, “The Destructive Greed”. And finally, the  winners of the B trophy was The Brecht-Fast Club with “The Department”.

Theatre in June 2016: Upcoming Auditions

For news on the upcoming productions of each Murdoch Theatre Company, please check out their Facebook pages and subscribe. A couple of them have their own newsletter to advertise opportunities for students interested in acting, writing or set, lighting and costuming design. I will make sure to liaison with the theatre companies and the METIOR magazine to see what information I can release. However some auditions might only be open to those who already have experience in theatre or company members. Please check out part 2 of the theatre guide published on Thursday May 19th, for information on the companies and their contact details (or just search on Facebook).

Below will be brief descriptions, dates and contact information for upcoming auditions for productions by Murdoch theatre Companies and independent theatre companies in Perth, WA. There will are usually  auditions happening in August. More information along with Facebook events will be available once details have been finalised, closer to the time. I’m quite sure productions need at least 2 months to rehearse and combine all the production elements. So if you’re interested, keep in mind that you’ll need to be informed of when auditions are so you can prepare well in advance.

Black Martini Theatre
Top and Tail Theatre: Auditions near the beginning of August
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Top-and-Tail-Theatre-405065149680308/
Second Chance Theatre
Murdoch Theatre Company: Auditions in August
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MurdochTheatreCompany/
Modicum Theatre Perth Inc.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ModicumTheatrePerth/

Bike Week hits campus with talks of bike share program

The Murdoch University Sustainability Team (MUST) are bringing events to campus that will encourage students to hop on their bikes.

The week has kicked with a screening of UnReal, a mountain biking film, on Bush Court at 7pm tonight to get students in the spirit.

To emphasis the power of the humble machine, MUST will also provide smoothies generated by pure cycle power during this Thursday’s market day stall.

Students are also encouraged to bring their bikes along to the Bike Doctor stall to get a quick check-up or repair.

A free breakfast on Bush Court will be provided between 7:45am to 9am this Friday only for those who have rode their bikes to campus.

The week will end with a bike repair workshop on Saturday from 2pm-4:30pm at the Bike Repair Station on Bush Court.

Registration is required for the breakfast and workshop so check out the Facebook event page for more details. 

The MUST team hope that these events, funded in part by the Guild, will help to encourage more people to save precious energy.

Parking price hike aftermath

Bike Week also comes during a time of increased parking fees which Sustainability Officer, Lauren Hodson, hopes will send more students riding into university.

“There have been a lot of complaints about the increase in parking fees so why not ride?

You’ll get fit and, if you live far away, bikes are allowed on trains,” she says.

According to Hodson, current bike facilities including bike compounds, rentable individual lockers and a bike repair stand, are sufficient.

However, there is still early talk of a bike share program  similar to Curtin’s.

Murdoch to follow in Curtin’s footsteps

Curtin University launched their own bike share program in October of last year with  over 30 bikes and helmets provided around their campus.

With a  ride costing $5 for an hour, their program works on the basis of booking a bike, entering a code to unlock it and riding around in style.

We could see this type of program coming to Murdoch with Hodson stating that such an idea is in the very early stages of discussion.

“We would love to have a program like that at Curtin however it does appear to be a very expensive set up,” she says, stating that any trial runs won’t happen until at least semester two.

“I haven’t had discussions with Curtin about the cost, or logistics, but I hope to soon.”

Guild President, Guy McDonald, is also on board for the idea but believes that all areas need to be carefully considered.

‘Bike share programs tend to face issues with bicycles and helmets going missing.

 Any group planning one would need to either address that issue or have the funding required to continually replace equipment,” he says.

McDonald does say that he is still happy to talk with the University or any student club regarding Guild support for a bike scheme.

Hodson is also looking for any expressions of interest in a bike share program or ideas on how it could be run so feel free to email sustainability@student.the-guild.com.au with your suggestions.a thing

Murdoch student to shave it all for cancer research

Madura McCormack

An estimated eight Australians are diagnosed with leukaemia every day, with 1, 720 people losing their battle with the cancer in 2014.

Murdoch student and Guild Sustainability Officer Lauren Hodson knows too well what it’s like to be drawn into the crossfire, losing her father to the disease ten years ago.

On March 13, Lauren will take to the clippers and lose her long locks in a bid to raise funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.

“I’m doing this as a f%#k you to cancer: you can take away our warriors’ hair but you will never break their spirit,” says Lauren, who studies international aid development and law.

Taking this big step has been years in the making, she says, and is something she has thought about for years.

Her father was diagnosed with cancer when Lauren was very young, and after a successful bone marrow transplant, managed to stave off the leukaemia for two years.

Just two weeks after her 13th birthday, Lauren’s father succumbed.

“Despite the impact that cancer had on my Dad, he had never looked as brave or more like a warrior than he did when he was going through treatment and fighting his battle,” she says.

It was during her father’s cancer treatment that Lauren found herself invested in fundraising for cancer research.

“My school teacher knew, and read us this old Japanese tale about the Hiroshima bombing. In this story it says if you fold a thousand paper cranes, you will have a wish come true. I decided I would surprise him and fold a thousand paper cranes, and the whole school came together to fold them,” she says.

Presenting her father the cranes was a moving moment, and what happened after added to the gesture.

Lauren and her mother approached the hospital to use the cranes for a fundraising event, and through this, earned enough money to refurbish the somber hospital walls into a more welcoming space for patients and their families.

“It shaped the way I look at fundraising for cancer research. I really see the value of it and the people got to see the immediate benefits when they went in to get treatment for cancer,” Lauren says.

To her, taking part in the World’s Greatest Shave means standing in solidarity with those that fight the courageous battle with cancer. She wants to show them that they are not alone.

“Cancer fighters should feel like the brave warriors they are, they should be able to hold their (bald) heads high with pride knowing their strength in the war they are fighting.”

So far she has raised 75 per cent of her goal amount, and needs only a small push to reach her target.

To donate to Lauren’s World’s Greatest Shave campaign, head here.

Screenshot 2016-02-20 16.37.28

This article originally appeared in the Edition #1 2016 of METIOR, on stands around campus now. Grab one today. 

 

Murdoch parking permit fees surge

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Madura McCormack

Highlights

  • Parking rates up by average of 30 per cent
  • Funds to be used for upgrading and maintenance
  • NTEU launches petition in protest
  • Murdoch University has 39 parking spots available per 100 students, twice national average
  • Daily permit rates remain unchanged at $5
  • Guild President to have meeting with university on January 18

 

Parking rates at Murdoch University have increased across the board, with full year Red Zone parking now costing $480 and $500 for students and staff respectively.

This is a marked increase from 2015 when the same category cost $390.

Parking at the Student Village has risen a staggering 47 per cent for residents, at $250 per annum and $140 a semester.

The rate increase has been made to reflect the true cost of maintaining, operating and upgrading parking services says Steve Dickson, Senior Executive Director at Murdoch University.

“Murdoch University is embarking on an investment plan to improve our car parks and roads,” says Mr Dickson, stating the new fees will allow for necessary upgrades to the 13 car parks and 15-kilometre road network.

“In 2013, we announced the University was unable to continue to heavily subsidise the delivery of parking facilities and services.

After consideration on the financial impact on our students, it was decided we would only adjust fees on a gradual basis and over a number of years,” he says.

Mr Dickson confirms that any further parking rate increases will be capped at the rate of inflation until 2018.

The University made an announcement on Thursday, January 14, stating that the latest increase is ‘the final instalment of a four-year staged process’.

Infographic (2)

Sources: Parking permit application form 2015 and 2016, provided by NTEU Murdoch.

Union and students unhappy

The National Teaching and Education Union [NTEU] Murdoch office say there was no consultation before the increase, and the surge was only noticed when a member went to purchase a permit.

The NTEU has since launched a petition opposing the price hike, garnering more than 230 signatures so far.

“Students and staff who live in areas where public transport isn’t readily available or practical will be seriously disadvantaged by these changes,” says Beth Cole, NTEU officer at Murdoch University.

“The lack of consultation or even advice to staff or students doesn’t start us off on a good foot with management for the New Year.”

Comments on the NTEU petition

Comments on the NTEU petition

A meeting between Guild President Guy McDonald and the university to be held on January 18 will allow the student representative body to voice a number of concerns he says.

The cost of parking-related maintenance and services is currently more than $1.2 million per year, according to the university.

The increased rates will fund on-going maintenance and safety such as improved lighting and 24/7 security.

Parking availability at Murdoch University is twice the national average, at 39 spaces per 100 students, says Mr Dickson

While still better than other universities, which average 19 spaces per 100 students, parking at Murdoch is a competitive sport.

“When I was last there [in 2014] parking lots in the expensive red zone were always quite empty while the green zone was so full.

People were parking on the verges then receiving hefty fines despite having nowhere else to park,” says Murdoch student Hannah Pratt.

“Punishing us for parking or having a car when that’s a prerequisite for most jobs in Perth and, therefore, necessary for survival for many working students is wrong,” she says.

Staff_parking (1)

Editor’s note: In a 1994 edition of METIOR, former Guild President Adam and current Greens MP Adam Bandt was tackling the parking issue as well. Check out the article, on page 9.

All aboard: A trip on the Leeuwin

I just spent a week on the Leeuwin, a three-masted sailing ship that travels up and down the WA coast, building character in young people by teaching them about sailing, leadership, and teamwork.

I was on board with about 38 other university kids. We were divided into four groups of about 8-10 people. Each group was led by an experienced volunteer in about their early 20s. The volunteers showed an amazing level of leadership tragically lacking in many politicians and teachers. Each group would take turns doing watch, which could involve sitting on the deck for four hours at night, steering the ship or watching the horizon for danger.

On that second day, we sailed about 80 miles out past Rottnest. The island had been sheltering us from rougher waters and the effects were noticeable as we got further into the ocean. Sea sickness hit well over half of us. To get from the front of the ship to the back, you’d have to step over horizontal bodies lined up on the deck. It looked like that scene in Gone with the Wind where Vivien Leigh walks through a sea of wounded soldiers.

A typical day on the Leeuwin would start with morning exercises at 6.30. That might involve yoga or calisthenics. After that, we’d have breakfast and start ship chores: Deck scrubbing, bathroom cleaning etc.

In the afternoon, our groups would rotate to take lessons in knot tying, ropes, navigation and such.

On about the third day, lessons went out the window when the crew caught a Wahoo off the back of the boat. Everyone crowded around to get a look. The beast was over a meter weighed over 20 kilograms. Eventually, it was bled, hacked into slabs about the size of a man’s forearm and taken to the galley. It was made into a curry type thing. I think we had it for lunch the next day. It tasted pretty good.

The day after that we dropped anchor off Rottnest and spent the afternoon on pinkies.

On the last night, we had a talent show. I saw a girl reciting pi to four hundred while her friend juggled rope balls and a third man danced around their heels with his legs crossed.

I had one of the best weeks of my life on the Leeuwin and I seriously recommend everybody applying for it. My highlight was climbing the main mast. At the top is a small plaque with a message. The only people who know what it says are the people who’ve climbed up and read it.

Murdoch appoints Eeva Leinonen as new Vice Chancellor

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Professor Eeva Leinonen will become Murdoch University’s Vice-Chancellor from 2016.

Professor Leinonen is the university’s first female Vice-Chancellor and replaces Professor Andrew Taggart, who has been acting in the role since October 2015.

The university has been on the hunt for a new Vice-Chancellor since the controversial resignation of Richard Higgott late last year.

The Murdoch Senate referred Mr Higgott to the Corruptions and Crime Commission (CCC) for suspected misconduct.

It is unknown at this time the stage of the investigation.

Previously the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wollongong, Professor Leinonen has a background in psychology and linguistics.

Her most recent citations focus on children, speech, and children with autism-spectrum disorder, particularly with Aspergers.

She was also Deputy Vice Chancellor for 19 years at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.

Professor Leinonen said in the statement that she saw Murdoch as a university with a ‘solid foundation, a strong research focus, and an impressive vision’.

This story will be updated as new information becomes available. The Murdoch University Wikipedia page has somehow already been updated.

 

Murdoch ranks in top 100 universities under 50

by Madura McCormack

Murdoch was ranked top 91-100 universities under 50 years old by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) earlier this week.

The 40-year-old university is joined at the bottom end of the chart with Charles Darwin University and the University of Canberra.

QS is one the most widely read university rankings in the world but has been criticised for giving weight to subjective indicators.
Screenshot 2015-11-26 10.11.17

QS rankings are based on metrics that include academic reputation and staff to student ratio.

Murdoch University has a total of 10,809 students and 833 staff, with 19 percent of the student population being postgraduates, according to the data provided by QS.

Screenshot 2015-11-26 09.51.41

Infographics taken from QS Top 50 under 50 rankings

QS confirmed in an email that the data was given to them in April this year by Murdoch University.

Murdoch University named in ‘concerning’ data security report by Auditor-General

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Madura McCormack

Western Australia’s auditor-general, Colin Murphy, released a report today detailing concerns about the security of sensitive information stored by agencies.

Murdoch University was one of the seven agencies involved in the audit, which also includes Curtin University and the Legal Aid Commission of WA among others.

Murdoch University makes up 31 of the 115 failures logged in the report, seven of them extreme.

“Most concerning was that we continue to find weak controls in some basic, easy to fix areas such as passwords, patching and setting of user privileges,” says Mr. Murphy of the seven agencies.

Three of the university’s databases were tested, including Murdoch Finance, Murdoch Student Admin and Murdoch Human Resources.

Chart shows the number and severity of the findings per agency database. Source: Auditor-General report, 5 Nov.

Chart shows the
number and severity of the findings per agency database. Source: Auditor-General report, 5 Nov.

At one unspecified agency, the auditors managed to compromise two accounts and browse highly confidential and sensitive records on individuals including minors, the report said.

The same process was performed a week later, only to find that appropriate action had not been taken by the agency.

The Auditor-General’s report also identified accounts at agencies with passwords such as ‘test’ and ‘password1’.

University response

In response to the findings presented to Murdoch University, the institute has ‘engaged the services of an independent technical consultant’, it says in the report.

“Some of the actions have been completed, including the acquisition of a comprehensive password management system,” Murdoch University said in the report.

“Many of the remaining actions require specialist technical skills which are being sought.”

Here’s another time Murdoch University IT has been sketchy.

READ MORE: Poor State Government data security putting confidential information at risk, reports finds// ABC