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Member Spotlight: Fleur Reid

In these Spotlight discussions, we feature the individuals that make up our ecosystem – what they each bring to our community, and what they gain from it. 

My name is Fleur Reid. I’m the Associate Director of Risk and Audit at the University of Canberra. We have been a Member of Unimutual for twenty years.

Why is University of Canberra a Member?

As a small University member, we receive exceptional benefits from being with the mutual, including lower contributions for property and liability protections as we have stronger buying power as part of the broader group. We are able to reduce the number of insurers providing protection which means less exposure across our protection.

We regularly engage directly with Unimutual’s Risk team, seeking advice on preventative actions and incident management. We are also  privileged to have the staff come and present at our Annual Insurance Information Day, which provides a forum for our staff to understand insurance and risk management strategies – which in turn helps us reduce our exposure across the wide range of University functions, including property, research and contracts.

What is important to us as a Member is that Unimutual staff understand our business, what we do, what we need, and as a long-standing member, they know our history. Unimutual works with members to achieve the best outcome.

“What is important is that the Unimutual staff understand our business and know our history. Unimutual works with universities to achieve the best outcome.”

What does UC gain from being a Member?

As a smaller University we value the benefits we receive and can provide, including

  • the sharing of information, knowledge and experiences;
  • active participation in webinars and conferences (I was fortunate enough to be able to share with other Members my experience in developing, testing and then activating in real incidents, the University’s Business Continuity Plan);
  • seeking advice on preventative measures, lessons learned from incidents and claims;
  • regular current advice on emerging risks;
  • and access to checklists to assist with holiday shutdown periods, vacant buildings, business continuity processes, assistance with valuing our research material etc… the training sessions which Simon [Unimutual] has run directly with the researchers on valuing research material have also been invaluable to help us recognise our high value research and minimise spoilage claims related to

What is UC’s approach to risk management?

We take a practical approach to managing risks at the University. When I first commenced at UC, we were very rigid in our risk management thinking, in that risks could only fall within specific categories. With the roll out of a new framework, templates in-line with Risk Management standards, and driving the delivery of training across all areas, including controlled entities, faculties and research centres, I have seen a significant change in the way risk management is undertaken across the University and being applied at strategic, and operational areas, including projects and fieldtrips. To go into a meeting and for risk management to be an item on the agenda is rewarding and refreshing!

Being a Member has given me the ability to seek advice on areas of high risk exposure and to check whether our risk management framework is adequate. In addition, having an independent organisation help drive risk management within our University has also helped significantly in raising the awareness and importance of risk management, and assisted our staff in addressing vulnerabilities.

“I have seen a significant change in the way risk management is undertaken … for risk management to be an item on the agenda is rewarding and refreshing!”

When has being a Member made a notable difference for you?

Unimutual are always available when we need advice and support. This was demonstrated by a significant power outage incident we endured in January 2017, which primarily affected our faculty buildings, which house our temperature-controlled environments, including fridges, freezers and animal incubators, as well as tenants.

For our energy provider to reinstate power, works were required which ultimately resulted in power being disconnected for a period of 4-5 hours to five buildings, resulting in further interruption to other faculties, classes, exams, staff, students and research material. Due to limited availability of specialist technicians in Canberra, already resource constrained due to Government works on rail networks and hospital upgrades, ActewAGL were unable to perform the works outside of business hours.

Prior to the incident Unimutual had assisted us in undertaking an exercise to assess the value of our research material and where the valuable holdings were. The data from this exercise assisted our staff in the prioritisation of protecting the research during the incident. When the incident occurred, we quickly informed Unimutual and sought advice from lessons learned across the sector regarding power outages and perishable assets, in order to achieve the best possible outcome in the circumstances we were facing. This included determining whether it was better to relocate affected research to other power supplies or keep it in the existing locations and understand how long the research could withstand not being connected to power before temperatures dropped below optimal levels resulting in spoilage of the contents.

Unimutual are always available when we need advice and support…Unimutual assisted us in assessing the value of our research material – this data assisted our staff in the prioritisation of protecting the research during the incident. When the incident occurred, we sought advice in order to achieve the best possible outcome in the circumstances we were facing.”

What University initiative particularly excites you?

UC is currently undergoing significant changes both physically with the campus development and also through our student experience – for example by restructuring our courses through our Curriculum Review and enhancing the way students interact with the University through our Digital Student Journey project.

Over the next decade, our Bruce campus will be transformed into an integrated learning community, abolishing the boundaries between the academic, industry and community of all ages, and establishing UC as a showcase of the confluence of living, learning, innovation and entrepreneurship. We are embarking on a comprehensive campus development plan that will see our campus transform into an integrated learning community with $2 billion being invested over the next 15 years through collaboration partnerships.

We have been involved in the development of building the University of Canberra Hospital, which opened in July 2018 as a specialist centre for rehabilitation, recovery and research. We now also have a new cancer centre built on our campus, and we will see a new aged care facility and campus community which will see a multi-stage development of up to 3,300 residences constructed on campus over a 15 to 20-year period, starting in 2019.

What risks face Australian universities?

The University sector has been hit hard with the capping on Commonwealth supported places (CSP) funding, affecting domestic student numbers through the government releasing the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). This has resulted in a freeze at the 2017 level on the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (CGS) funding for Bachelor level courses in 2018 and 2019, as well as the introduction of performance-based funding measures by 2020.

These performance requirements will be incorporated into funding agreements with implementation details to be developed in consultation with the sector. Access to growth will be based on each university’s achievement of performance objectives such as attrition, low socio-economic status (SES) participation, and workforce preparedness of graduates.

Climate change and weather will also continue to hit universities hard due to the large number of physical assets that Universities hold and the locations on which Universities have been built.

We previously spoke to Board Member, Jane Fenton – read her responses here.

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