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Curtin acts to stamp out misconduct

Media release

The Vice-Chancellor of Curtin University has committed to implementing the recommendations of a report by the Corruption and Crime Commission (Commission) which they transmitted to Parliament today.

The report focuses on allegations of serious misconduct against a former sessional academic staff member in the School of Economics and Finance, who in 2009 offered to improve the grades of four female students from China in return for sexual favours.

Two of the students reported him to Curtin’s integrity and standards area, and the matter was referred to the Commission.  All of the students affected were offered support and counselling at the time, and the lecturer no longer works at Curtin.

The Commission’s report is critical of some of Curtin’s internal procedures and practices, and includes recommendations for change.

Vice-Chancellor Jeanette Hacket said she had been deeply shocked to learn of the allegations, which were made in 2009.

“I am extremely disappointed that the educational experience of these students has been so negatively impacted,” she said.

“Our integrity has been called into question, and I acknowledge that the trust placed in us by our students and the broader community has been breached by this staff member.

“As Vice-Chancellor, I am determined to address the recommendations made by the Commission, so we can be confident our students are receiving the highest standards of professional and pastoral care.”

Professor Hacket said misconduct was contrary to the University’s Code of Conduct, Guiding Ethical Principles and values, and would not be tolerated.

“The University has already done significant work to improve internal policies and processes in relation to the assessment of students since learning of these incidents,” she said.

“The recruitment of sessional academic staff has also been addressed to ensure that all practices are in accordance with cutting edge HR practice, as with the selection of continuing staff.

“We are now rolling out a student wellbeing initiative across the University and have established a ten-person Professional Standards and Conduct Unit which is developing an information and education program on staff conduct.

“We will ensure all staff are absolutely aware of our Code of Conduct and the implications if they are in breach of it. We will also ensure students know how to lodge a complaint and feel empowered to do so if they have any concerns.”

Professor Hacket said the University had a proud history of graduating career ready, well rounded students who entered the workforce determined to make a positive contribution to their communities.

“I hope people will remember that the University employs over 4000 staff, including many award winning scholars and researchers, who genuinely believe in the transformational power of education and dedicate their professional lives to helping others,” she said.
Media contacts:

Julia Nicol, Director, Public Relations, 08 9266 7711, 0409 202 134, j.k.nicol@curtin.edu.au

Kristy Jones, Manager, Public Relations, 08 9266 1930, 0402 517 300,
k.jones@curtin.edu.au

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