Governor’s address | 50 Years of Innovation Gala Dinner

Governor’s address | 50 Years of Innovation Gala Dinner

August 31, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Thank You, Tracy, and it is indeed a great
pleasure to be at this wonderful dinner tonight, It is a true celebration. I’d
like to begin by acknowledging Mr Colin Beckett, Chancellor, Curtin University and
Mrs Sarah Beckett, the Honourable Mark McGowan MLA, Premier of Western
Australia, the Honourable Wayne Martin AC Chief Justice of Western Australia and Mrs
Margie Martin, State Cabinet Ministers, the Honourable Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC,
Former Governor and Mrs Tonya McCusker AM. The Honourable Colin Barnett MLA,
Former Premier and Mrs Lyn Barnett. Mr Sean L’Estrange MLA representing the
Leader of the Opposition, Professor Deborah Terry AO Vice-Chancellor Curtin
University and Professor Ottmar Lipp. Members of State Parliament, consul
generals, consuls mayors, distinguished guests, all. I would also like to
acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Noongar
people and pay my respects to their elders past and present. And I’m very
pleased to be speaking to you tonight, both of the official visitor of four of
the state’s excellent universities, including Curtin, and on a more personal
level as someone with a passion for continuous learning. Anniversaries give
us reason to pause for a moment in busy lives, we’re encouraged to look back and
consider what we have achieved, how this has shaped us and what this means for our
future. Tonight, Curtin is looking at its achievements over the past five decades,
and inspiring us with its plans for the future. I have my own personal experience
of Curtin’s history, for example as a government nominated member of the
University Council in the late 1980’s, as a member of the Curtin Business School
Advisory Board for more than five years, and as Adjunct Professor within the
Curtin Business School, an honorary appointment for close to two years, prior
to becoming Governor. Curtin University has many reasons to be proud of its innovation, its applied approach and its ranking
of 22nd in the world in the QS Top 50 Under 50. My experience over the years
has led me to the view that accreditation is important and I’m
pleased that the Curtin Business School has also achieved the prestigious and
internationally recognised accreditation from AACSB international. The Autism
Academy for Software Quality Assurance based at Curtin, is also undertaking
important work helping individuals on the autism spectrum, find
employment in the IT industry. I recently became patron of his social initiative,
which is the first of its kind in Australia. To date, people on the autism
spectrum have only had about one half of the labor force participation rate of the
remainder of the population, 42 percent compared to 83 percent for those without
disabilities. Yet individuals on the autism spectrum are
particularly valued for their strengths including their ability to be systematic,
with a high level of job focus and attention to detail, which is ideal for
software checking. This exciting initiative helps them to identify and
develop interests in stem, using coding and robotics as the platform, and helps
them to get internships and then jobs. I’ve met some of those participating
and it’s truly a life-changing experience for them. And I congratulate Curtin, Mr
Jim Ellis and all involved on this exciting initiative. On my regional visit
to the Goldfields last year, I was fortunate to visit the WA School of
Mines and meet with students enjoying the university experience in Kalgoorlie.
The School of Mines has been the start of many, an illustrious career in mining.
And I note that this year Curtin was ranked second in the world for mineral
and mining engineering by the QS World University Rankings. [Audience applause] Universities are incredibly important. I
know that many of you will be university graduates yourselves and will have your
own particular memories of university life. For some, attending university is
not only the path to a better career but can be groundbreaking and helped to
break cycles of poverty. Curtin has undertaken research to make higher
education more accessible to the disadvantaged. It is also the first host
of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education, which is
looking at ways of improving higher education prospects, for marginalised and
disadvantaged groups. I’m sure that there are many things that universities can do
to help close the education gap, but I’m reminded tonight of the role we can all
play in addressing these inequities through our active support of
universities. And especially through the support of student scholarships which
gives students from all backgrounds and walks of life, the chance to
realise their full potential. Curtin University’s strong international focus,
has also provided many opportunities for staff and students to
learn side-by-side with those from other countries. That adds a very valuable
dimension to the learning experience. Curtin is also very focused on
collaboration as we heard from the Vice-Chancellor, and the
collaboration also includes collaborating with our state’s other
excellent universities. And I’m pleased to see increased collaboration which
will make our university sector even stronger. I think it is wonderful that
Curtin is an inclusive and welcoming university, strongly
focusing on working with industry. Curtin has continued to transform and adapt
over time, to innovate and respond to the community and the needs of
industry. It had a good base to build from as the West Australian Institute of
Technology and it is appropriate to celebrate the excellent university which
is now 50 years old. I applaud the bold thinkers and leaders of WAIT and
Curtin and the students who have worked together to shape the organisation over
the past decades. I would like to end with three quotes from a famous doctor,
Dr Seuss, which I think are useful for both students and
universities to reflect on. Dr Seuss said “Why fit in, when you were born to
stand out?” And “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can
steer yourself in any direction you choose.” And the final quote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know, the
more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” We can all look forward with
great enthusiasm to our leaders of the future, who I hope will remember these messages when they graduate from Curtin University, and act to make our world a
better place. Congratulations again to Curtin
University on this significant anniversary. Thank you.