Statement from Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander on Alcoa

18 February 2014

Statement from Deakin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander on Alcoa

This is another very difficult day in what has been an extremely difficult year for Geelong.

Nobody wants to see people losing their jobs, but the community shouldn't lose hope. While we grieve for jobs lost, our task now is to do what Geelong does best: reinvent ourselves and our community for the jobs of the future, as uncertain as that may seem today.

Geelong has always shown enormous capacity to meet the challenge of change. Our last big challenge was emerging from the decline of the wool era to establish the manufacturing success we have enjoyed for more than a few decades. And over the past 40 years we have begun to grow a University in Geelong.

Deakin is contributing to making Geelong a great place to live, work and study – a University Town with a reputation for smart, innovative education and research that makes a difference to the communities we serve.

Deakin University is already playing a part in helping the region adjust to the economic changes ahead and we stand ready to do more, in partnership with the City of Greater Geelong and our State and Federal Governments.

Over the years, Australian universities have played a critical role enabling local economies to restructure and develop new economic bases. The University of Wollongong has been the driving force behind the economic transformation of the Illawarra Region, and the University of Newcastle has continued to deliver world-class innovation since steel production declined in Newcastle and the Hunter region in the 1990s.

And so too in Geelong. Today, one of the great new opportunities for Geelong manufacturing is in carbon fibre, the aluminium of the 21st century and as many of you know, a central plank of Deakin's contribution to modern value-adding manufacturing across a number of industries.

That is why Deakin built a new carbon fibre research facility at our Geelong Waurn Ponds campus.

Carbon Nexus is the world's first dedicated, pilot scale research plant capable of producing large-scale quantities of industrial and aerospace quality carbon fibre and world-class research into carbon fibre. The facility is part of Deakin's $102 million Australian Future Fibre Research and innovation Centre (AFFRIC) – a partnership with CSIRO and the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing.

Deakin also has a $55 million state-of the-art Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training (CADET) at Waurn Ponds – a partnership between Deakin and the Australian Government. With CADET, Deakin has joined with The Gordon Institute of TAFE and local secondary schools to help build aspiration and educate young people for careers in engineering in the region, especially for young women who are currently under represented in Engineering.

Alongside this is our new Health Precinct which includes a medical school, a new research hub and the sod turning of the new 200-bed Epworth Hospital within the precinct.

These are just some of the projects located at Deakin's Waurn Ponds Campus to leverage research and development capability that will directly benefit local businesses and the Geelong economy. We are also working with the Gordon on the State Government-funded Skilling the Bay initiative, which focuses on educational pathways as a critical step to supporting Geelong's economic transformation.

The best way for us to help those hurt by job loss today is to work together to provide the jobs and industries for our future.

Deakin is your University, we will do what needs to be done and more.

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