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Chair's update - August

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

I’m honoured to be providing members, friends, and colleagues my first update as Chair of UniSport Australia.

I would like to thank my predecessor, Dr Dee Anderson, for her years of service to UniSport as Chair.

At our last meeting, the Board commenced planning for 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing the promising results of the current trajectory – something I intend on communicating to you directly through this blog, and hopefully, in person.

I appreciate how quickly members and students alike have embraced the Nationals concept – and understand the effort all members have put into supporting and advocating this change on their campuses. Nationals Div 2 and the UniBank Leadership Forum provided a strong introduction to the year, and I’m confident Nationals Div 1 will emerge as a key stepping stone in the dual career sport and education pathway.

For the moment I’m pleased to report I have been fortunate enough to recently visit eleven universities across the country, including four in Western Australia. To date we have held meetings and visits with The University of Sydney, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, The University of Notre Dame, Bond University, Australian Catholic University, University of Southern Queensland, Monash University, and The University of Melbourne. It was fantastic to speak directly to these member universities, and gain insight on how best to see out Strategy 2020, and discuss potential directions for the future as well as areas where we can lend support.

Meetings are also being scheduled over the next few months for both myself and CEO Don Knapp with Sport Australia (formerly the Australian Sports Commission) and the Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian Olympic Committee, and Commonwealth Games Australia. We have met with representatives from state and federal governments, namely: Sen. Bridget McKenzie – Minister for Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications; and Adam Marshall, MP – NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events.

Don Knapp is working closely with Martin Doulton, the Board Appointed Representative (International), on methods of collaboration between myself, as Chair, and the International University Sports Federation (FISU). With the merger of Australia and other Oceania University Sports Association affiliated countries into the Asian University Sports Federation in 2019/20, an introduction into the FISU network could see remarkable opportunities for all of us in university sport. These relationships are increasingly important as we continue to adapt to new standards and expectations for sport in Australia. Don and I have also met with Andrew Leontarou, (Managing Director) and Andrew Woodward (Chair) from the Tertiary Access Group, and Universities Australia CEO Catriona Jackson, with whom we hope to identify further partnerships and growth areas for the benefit of our UniSport members.

Lastly, you will have seen the announcement from Don Knapp regarding his stepping down from his role as CEO at the end of this year. I’ve been honored to have worked with Don these many years within my capacity not only as a Director of UniSport Australia, but through my role at the University of New England. He has successfully guided the organisation – and the entire university sport sector – through periods of unprecedented growth and change, and his incredible achievements during his more than ten years of service are a testament to his integrity, determination and – above all – his passion for what we all do. I am eager to learn far more than I already have in my short time as Chair, and with Don’s departure it is vital to focus on the recruitment of a new CEO who will be able to build on the success of Unisport Australia and to further support our members in their roles to deliver a strong sporting culture on campus.

I look forward to touching base again soon. Hopefully I get the opportunity to catch up with many of you in person at Nationals Div 1 at the end of September and, as always, if myself, the Board, or any of our staff at Unisport Australia can help you on campus – please get in touch.

All the best,

David Schmude

Chair, UniSport Australia

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