Anthology Webinar Series

The UOW anthology webinar series spotlights the passion projects, skills and expertise of our alumni community through a curated collection of knowledge, stories and conversations.

The Future of Law and AI

Traditionally, the law has been slow to adopt new technologies. However, legal practitioners are already using AI to automate tasks such as document review, contract analysis and predicting court outcomes.

Speaker 1 [00:00:05] Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which I'm broadcasting today. The Gadigal people of the Yuin Nation. I acknowledge their elders past and present, and their young emerging leaders. I pay my respects for the ongoing custodianship of Yuin lands, and I acknowledge their resilience and survival as their territories bore the brunt of the first wave of British invasion and its colonial aftermath, which are ongoing. I also pay my respects to all first peoples joining us today. These lands are a stolen lands. Sovereignty has never ceded and treaties are yet to be negotiated. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land. So hello, my name is our Armin and I'm going to be the participating chair of this panel. So I'll also be introducing everyone to you. I'm a lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Wollongong, where I research at the intersection of technology, science and law. My current projects investigate the ethical and legal implications of cutting edge developments in artificial intelligence, big data genetics and neuroscience. I have previously been involved in ethical AI projects, including a project funded by DFAT. I'm a coding nerd and I'm currently collaborating with colleagues at University Sydney to prototype AI power tools for potential use in education and research. My hair is actually blue and it's not a visual effect. So next, Terri Terri's the executive director of the Center for Legal Innovation at the College of Law. She works internationally with leaders of legal businesses to help them identify and analyze emerging trends in order to develop strategies to deliver services and products in the neo legal ecosystems. She's the driving force behind the College of Law, Global Initiatives, networks and programs, including the Legal Permanent Lab and the Innovation Incubator Program. Kerry has received widespread recognition and acclaim as an industry thought leader and advocate for women in law. Next. Alex. Alex is a manager in KPMG's Legal Operations and Transformation Services Team and specializes in the Legal Transformation Advisory and Product Design and development. He has broad experience in digital transformation and innovation across the telecommunications, property and legal industries, as well as expertize in legal service design and legal product development and legal operation. Alex has previously held transformation and innovation roles at Gilbert and Tobin Vicinity Centers and NBN. He was also responsible for researching and writing Australia's first research report on the Internet of Things and consumer issues. Finally, Lyria. Lyria is the director for Allen's Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation and a professor and associate dean of research in the Faculty of Law and Justice at UNSW Sydney. She is the co-lead of the law and policy theme in the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Center and the Faculty lead in the UNSW Institution for Cybersecurity. Lyria's research explores issues around relationship between technology and law, including the types of legal issues that arise as the technology changes. She has also worked on legal and policy issues associated with artificial intelligence, as well as the need for oversight for law enforcement intelligence. So welcome, everyone, and it's so great to have this panel about some very interesting topic. If you have any questions, please post your questions in the Q&A section. And if we have time at the very end, we will try to answer as many questions as possible. So the whole reason for this session is, as you know, AI has been affecting our lives in many different ways. And it may sound surprising, but in today's world there are many good AI's out there that the public can access and build this stuff. And we are kind of at the point that we can more confidently predict that the future of the legal profession will be affected by how we are going to embrace and leverage these new technologies, including artificial intelligence. And that's why today we are going to have that discussion. And before I begin and talk about anything, I'm going to just add something very boring probably about the definition of AI. And as many of you know, there is no clear definition of what is AI. And some people don't like the even the term AI. But in general, in today's discussion, we're going to talk about two different types of AI expert systems and machine learning. Expert systems are those that are kind of old fashioned, as we call them. It's just simple. Some say algorithm, even their programing. One example is if you buy alcohol from Woolies, the system would be like if the person is buying alcohol when you're doing it online, the delivery person then has to check their ID and then it says if they're checking their ID after check whether they are above 18 and if the answer is yes, then give them the alcohol. So that's the if then they're programing and we are providing all the information and rules for the system. However, in machine learning, we usually give a lot of data to the system and if we provide enough data, the system will learn the rules. So it will find the the patterns. Then it will be able to, with some accuracy, predict some outcomes. There are huge differences between these two types of AI.  Many people don't consider expert systems. The first system that I just discussed as an AI and if we considered it as AI would be some kind of mad AI scientist, because I've been making these kind of automated systems since high school. So yeah, we will discuss further why this distinction is important and as as much as we can, we will refer to as we discussed, we are going to say whether it's expert system or machine learning, because machine learning is the type of AI that in today's world, when we say AI, people are usually referring to machine learning and not expert systems. Okay, so with that introduction, let's start the conversation. Let's start with this question. What are some of the current uses of AI in legal profession? How about Alex start with that one. 

 

Speaker 2 [00:07:05] Yeah. Thanks Armim. So in the kind of role that I do, it's predominantly consulting and a lot of that consulting is to in-house legal departments. So a lot of what I'm seeing is, is how much demand we're seeing in a lot of the use cases that are coming from general counsel and their teams, but also what law firms are adopting and what they're offering in these legal functions. So one of the I guess the biggest and probably most valuable use case at the moment is using some kind of AI system for document analysis and review, particularly large scale review. So a great example is the due diligence component of M&A. So a couple of specific use cases would be using AI or OCR optical character recognition to digitalize some contracts. So believe it or not, a lot of legal functions still have paper contracts, and often they might need to scan them and upload them into PDF. These systems can be quite good at taking those images and turning them into text or turning them into information unless there's a blur or a coffee stain or something like that. And I've seen that those limitations in the past and other use case related to document review is the ability to extract key information from documents. So if a document is structured in a certain way, such  as a contract, these algorithms can extract information and compile it into structured data. So if you feed it a thousand documents of the same kind contracts, for example, it can be taught to recognize that if they say contract date, hyphen, space, date format, that date can be extracted and put into a table, for example, other use cases.

 

Speaker 1 [00:09:08] What is the accuracy of these kinds of systems? So it's a machine learning system.

 

Speaker 2 [00:09:14] It it varies among different vendors and different providers. So some providers have been in the space for quite a while. They have a lot of data to have taught the models. They do a lot of supervised and unsupervised learning of the models, but it varies. I wouldn't say all of them are 100% yet. Maybe some of them accidentally get 100%. But we are seeing kind of studies out there that get pretty close. So 99% and they kind of compare that to human review as a gold standard. But it varies wildly and that's kind of one of the challenges with the legal industry is that anything less than 100% is quite risky. And so building that accuracy is, I think, the key enabler to building the trust, which will then lead to adoption. But just very quickly, some other use cases is using different forms of AI called NLP, so natural language processing. And what that does is effectively turns human language into some form of insight or decision. So really a good use case is a chat bot. You speak to a chat bot, it understands what you want and it directs your query accordingly. A lot in the legal industry e-discovery, so the ability to basically search, locate and extract insights from large troves of data has been used quite a lot. So Gilbert and Cobin, where I was working previously and KPMG have quite a large capability in this area because there's, there's a lot of demand for it in the industry. And another use case more broadly is around prediction. So AI's is very good at analyzing large troves of data and finding patterns. And as a result, it can be used for things like predictive litigation. So predicting outcomes of litigation. Although there are biases, you can predictably triage matters. So a lot of hospitals, for example, use AI to triage requests based on prioritization rules and also any predictive analytics. So being able to analyze large troves of data and predict what kind of workloads will come in the volume of workloads, the nature of workloads. But those are kind of broader use cases that I've seen across the industry.

 

Speaker 1 [00:11:41] Great. Thank you, Terri. Do you want to add any?

 

Speaker 3 [00:11:45] Yeah, just just a couple and. Hi, everyone. Thanks for having me. Yeah, I think it's some taking some of those point source solutions, kind of single purpose solutions in a way that Alex was referred, has referred to and to me how they have then become connected together. So whether they've become connected together as part of a contract lifecycle management system or whether they have become connected together in such a way or allowed or supported the ability to kind of create self-service kiosks, I guess. And legal research is obviously another one there that it gets used for, but kind of flipping out of the practice of law stuff and flipping into the business of law stuff. You know, obviously we're using this to kind of undertake a whole bunch of different analyzes around things like billing and pricing and performance reviews and marketing for client preferences. So lots of different applications across the board. I think in kind of the legal world, whether it's, you know, whether it's a practice of law or the business of law. And I know Lyria is going to tell us some really cool stuff about the courts.

 

Speaker 4 [00:12:59] Okay. On that note, I thank you for having me as well. So some of the stuff that that happens in courts is also happening in practice. Right. So we talk about, you know, the use of AI in legal research. Well, you know, judges sometimes do that, too. So, you know, leaving aside that kind of thing, perhaps some of the you know, it goes sort of from low stakes to sort of higher stakes, sort of low stakes end you've kind of got things like automated filing systems, right, where this is beyond digitization. So this is beyond the ability to sort of do basic e-filing where it's done not with paper, but with digital files, but to the point that those files can kind of be pre scanned and tested against criteria, for example, so that say if it's not the right in the right format or something like that, that will be detected and the and the filing will be refused. So there's sort of automation in that kind of context. At the high stakes in you've got things like the use, particularly in the United States, although it is also used elsewhere of sort of risk assessment tools in the context of things like sentencing. So this is the sort of very controversial end where essentially and a lot of people have heard of systems like Compass and it's become, you know, sort of broader controversy around the use of these things. But essentially, the idea is that you have a risk assessment tool that takes, you know, properties of humans and works out, you know, what is their propensity to re-offend based on historic data of people like them and people not like them? And whether or not those people ended up re-offending. It then assumes you're going to do the same thing, more or less probabilistically, as people like you gives you a score, and then that gets factored into a sentencing decision. It's not automated end to end, so it's not I don't think anyone's doing it that, you know, the computer says seven years in jail or anything like that. But the idea is that these kinds of scores in the United States in particular get factored into sentencing decisions. There's all sorts of other uses, you know, one can keep going. And again, a lot of them parallel. So, you know, using things like natural language processing in the context of transcripts and so forth. But perhaps we'll go from examples into a more interesting conversation.

 

Speaker 1 [00:15:26] Yeah. We have AI courts or AI judges, right? In Estonia, for instance. Last night I was talking to someone about Estonian and their digital governments and it was just amazing. But I was very surprised that they call some of the courts, some of the judges in their system that these are AI judges. But as you said, there are not many of them are not that are matters that are very sensitive or rigid. Yeah.

 

Speaker 4 [00:15:56] So there's two ways in which that can work. And it mirrors your sort of expert system machine learning distinction from earlier. So you can absolutely take the kind of, you know, relatively simple areas of law often dealt with in local courts, found without proper color or whatever, you know, those kinds of things and turn them into if-then-rules. right. So it is then that, it is then that resulting in, you know, therefore your fine is $250 and in particular in the sort of low stakes decisions, and particularly where there is the ability to appeal, where you do feel that that is the right answer for your case. You know, that's relatively, you know, of often quite low stakes. And then you've got this sort of potential idea at least, and I'm not sure if anyone's going this full scale yet of using machine learning to determine things and often discussed in the context of higher stakes matters. So you could, for example, think about something like family law, property settlements and put that through a sort of machine learning thing and sort of the judge going through and, you know, working it out and forming views on particular things. You can have some sort of like, you know, the split is going to be this and this is how much money this person gets and and so forth, again, based on a sort of machine learning analysis of earlier outcomes. Now you can do that at the law firm end as just a prediction, like when you tell someone if you fight is in court, you're probably going to get X. And again, that that's kind of okay. I think when when you start talking about doing that kind of thing in court, it's really quite deeply problematic. And you have to ask a lot more questions about what it really means to exercise judgment versus to predict an outcome.

 

Speaker 1 [00:17:44] Yeah, so we have this bail and system program being developed in Australia by Judicial Commission of New South Wales that it's going to use machine learning system to help predict the bail decision and bail decision makers. What do you think about that? Do you think that's a high risk matter and it shouldn't exist because we are still developing it?

 

Speaker 4 [00:18:05] I can keep going, but if anyone else wants to come in, let me know. So I think that comes up with very similar problems to the systems being used in the US in the context of bail and sentencing that I spoke about earlier. So first of all, the first question is what variables get used? So if you look at the US system, the COMPASS system, that, as I said, often gets spoken about in this context, there's all sorts of variables in there that I think people would feel really uncomfortable using in a bail decision. So one example of a variable is whether your parents are divorced or still together and if they split up, how old were you when that happened? Now, that might indeed correlate with things we might know from psychological research or sociological research that that might have an impact on criminality and so forth. Probabilistically, again, not not destiny, but even if that's true. Right. And you know, I'm not going to be the statistician here. It's a real question of whether we should be making decisions, whether that's sentencing, bail or anything else around variables that are beyond the person's control. You know, it's one thing to say, here's a decision because you've committed 20 offenses and they're really high scale and people have died, versus saying something that your parents might have done, which is really relevant to you because of the statistical correlation. And I think those two things have to be kept very far apart. So partly I want to know about the tool and what it does and what the variables are. The second problem is that leads to all sorts of errors in these kinds of systems and there's all sorts of feedback loops. So as an example, if you have, you know, you sort of you're learning off the data, you're giving people bail and then you're seeing what they do, do they turn up to court? Do they commit crimes and so forth. But the only people you're measuring after you implement the system is the people to whom you've granted bail. So you end up with a sort of natural statistical bias in the collection of data that skews ongoing results. What that means more or less is that an error that you originally have doesn't get fixed, despite the fact that the system continues to learn. I can keep going, but I think broadly the answer is A it depends on the system and what gets used and how it's assessed and what, you know, what its performance criteria are, including things like differential impact on different populations, and so forth. But second, I suppose it's a little bit of a be careful because sometimes things sound better than they actually are and there's a lot of marketing spin in these systems.

 

Speaker 1 [00:20:36] Great. Thank you so much for that, Lyria. So next question for you, Alex. These systems that we discuss, some of them are not necessarily about their accuracy, that AI increase the accuracy. It's about how much time and cost we save. Right. So considering that how helpful these systems could be, how is the business in your organization? Because that's what you do, right? Departments come to you and say, how fast do you find what is what type of AI or legal technology, legal tech is useful for us? So what I want to know what is the trend, how things are happening in the changing in the last couple of years? Do you see more people, you know, more departments and organizations approaching you? Or things hasn't changed?

 

Speaker 2 [00:21:24] Yes. So we've certainly seen both from my experience, our collective experience with talking to our global teams, as well as obviously keeping finger on the pulse through industry surveys and things like that. We see a bigger interest in AI tools and it does fluctuate. So we see some years where when legal departments are asked, you know, what have you adopted? AI becomes high or what are you planning to adopt? AI Is top three in the list, for example. And then we have other years where it dips because their focus has shifted towards contract lifecycle management or matter management, for example. So I think overall there is an interest there but until the tools, until there are clear use cases, until there's clear needs, and until this clear trust, I think that will really drive the adoption of a lot of these tools. In law firms the use case is quite a bit different. So if we break down, what are the actual jobs that are trying to be done or what do they want to achieve from the adoption of AI. Legal departments it's typically around. Currently, most of the demand is around document reviews. So it's around being able to automatically extract information from documents, do comparison between documents because that actually assists them in their day to day job, which is reviewing negotiating documents. And it gets rid of a lot of that crappy manual work and human error that that really is the value proposition for these kinds of things. On the flip side, we have law firms who are still using it in the same way, but they're using it either internally to become more efficient. So using it for due diligence, for example. So instead of having an army of juniors working till three in the morning doing document review and sipping, you know, coffee endlessly, you can use these tools to maybe not do the entire job, but at least you can cluster, you know, the 36 out of 1000 documents that look like employment contracts. So lets cool lets send them to the employment lawyers or it can at least extract some data with varying levels of confidence so that you don't have to. But I think right now the best we're going to get is a hybrid approach. And again, the adoption of eDiscovery is much larger in law firms because they actually offer it as a client service because they actually have the the scalability and they have enough demand coming in for them to justify an e-discovery team and e-discovery tool. Whereas if you go to a legal function with, let's say, 30 lawyers across the Asia-Pacific, they're not going to invest in buying, procuring, assessing, training on these tools, using the tools, maintaining the tools, teaching the tools, because it's just not worth it for them. So, so I think in terms of buying AI specific tools, most of where I'm seeing it now for legal functions is, like Terri said, where the AI module or feature is part of a bigger solution. So contract lifecycle management is a really good use case. So these systems effectively help with the end to end process of managing contracts from drafting to negotiation to execution to post execution management. So where does it fit into that? Well, if you pull in a contract or a contract being negotiated, the AI can check and pull out any information from the contract, keep it in a table so you can do reporting. You can set up automated notifications when something is about to expire, things like that. But I haven't seen too much adoption of tools that are just  AI, like a chiaro or a luminance or anything like that.

 

Speaker 1 [00:25:22] So considering that, again, it's going to save us, save the partners a lot of money and some of them are considering it. And it seems the movement is being very slow comparing to some other industries. Would you tell me or agree that for inctance in medicine they are much ahead of law? And what is the reason why? What is holding us back?

 

Speaker 3 [00:25:46] Well, you know, I could shorten it for you Armin by saying so much tech, so little time. But I guess I really do think in part that's true. It's it can be kind of quite overwhelming if you're trying to match, and I think it's always important to match a client needs to what tech you you need to buy if you need to buy any tech at all but to make sure that you know what needs your kind of trying to service before you start. But I think once you start along that then it can be kind of quite overwhelming. I think the situation on choosing tech is improving for a bunch of different reasons. One of them is that there are more sophisticated consultancies like the one that Alex works in and the other big fours. And of course some law firms and Alex has mentioned some of those as well that now have actually been through the process themselves. So effectively, they're advising on something that's a lived experience versus just looking at a bunch of demos, so they've really got that. But I think the other thing that's really helping in that respect is the rise of platforms, and they come in kind of with different hats on. But there are other sort of platforms where you can jump in like reynen court, you can jump in, there's a whole bunch of pre-selected technologies. You can try them out, you can demo them, you can choose which ones you want and then deploy them. So you've got kind of a built in level of being able to both trust the folks that have choose those and verified them, but also being able to try them out. But I think we're also seeing something I was going to say is basic, but it's not basic because it's becoming increasingly sophisticated. But something like the Office 365 suite where we're seeing, you know, pretty much everybody's got that right. And so we're just seeing that functionality increase all the time where there's just more and more available, where people are already familiar with a certain part of that platform. So it's not a huge leap for them to start becoming familiar now. But another part of that platform, and I think we're going to see more and more of that. So I think we are going to see, for example, the platforms that are dedicated just for litigators or just for kind of deal makers. We're going to kind of see that collection, that verification, that thinning out process, as well as folks that are already in the market, just expanding their products as well. So I think that's going to help a lot. But going back to what Alex is saying as well, I think I think it is an issue with trust. I think it's a lack of familiarity. I think that time really is a big issue for a lot of people that are trying to make these choices. So it's not any one thing. It's a combination of things. But but I also want to say that it's inevitable, if you look at every other industry as you referenced Armin at the beginning of this, we know that we're going to have to get on board and now we've got catch up to do, which fortunately we can because of the nature of technology. But it's it's just kind of like it's it's not negotiable. You know, we've got to jump on board. So things are improving, I think, to make the decisions easier. But I do still think we are at the point that for many it's quite overwhelming.

 

Speaker 2 [00:29:08] Hmm. If I can probably add to that as well. Yeah, absolutely. I think we're kind of shifting towards the topic of what's actually driving that demand and what are the enablers. And I think from my point of view, the first one is trust. So, you know, lawyers are trained to be risk averse. Their job is to be risk averse. And they you know, they have a natural tendency towards, you know, skepticism towards certain things. So that trust threshold is usually a lot higher for that kind of industry just because of the nature of the work and the riskiness of the work. So how is that trust enabled? I mean, a couple of the ways that we've seen it overcome is an understanding of how the system works. So from their point of view, they put a document in or they ask a question. Something happens in the background and then they get an answer. You know, you put an image of you putting some kind of image of an animal and it comes out, you know, it's a cat. 93% accuracy. Well, how like, how did you make that decision? So understanding, even at a high level how these things work and make decisions enables trust for that transparency piece, also repeatable and kind of demonstrated accuracy. Because at the end of the day, they're trying to get a job done and that job done is get a contract out, you know, do a review. They don't care how it's done. But ultimately, if they can prove that, look, the accuracy is 100% or it is acceptable, and I think that will that will really build trust as well as genuine use cases because if they don't have a genuine use case. If there's no demand for it, no one's going to buy it, you know, until they until there's genuine demand and people see the value in these things maybe through social proof or as the industry matures, that's really going to drive it as well. So it almost kind of comes to the service designer in me speaking of those four lenses of like a perfect product, right? Is it desirable. So the other use cases for it. Do people want it? Is it a priority for them at this time? Is it feasible? So does it work? Is it accurate? How does it work? Does it fit within our systems? Is it viable? Is the cost worth it? Is the investment in time and effort, training the models worth it? You know, does it work out of the box or do I need to do all this additional work. Does it I add to my workload because people are quite resistant to changing the way they do things. And the last one is usability. We all know that you could have a product - you know name your favorite streaming service, your favorite mobile phone, my water bottle, you know, my mouse. It could have all the features in the world and promise everything. But if it's not, if it's not usable and user friendly and people enjoy using it, then it will fail. So I think trust and those four components feel like a very good product and a very good user experience are what's going to really help it, help it succeed.

 

Speaker 1 [00:32:08] Great. So Terri said it's inevitable that some organization is going to start using this kind of AI power tools. And if it's going to save them a lot of time and cost that would mean it's going to be,  their services would be much cheaper for a client so that we could see some kind of competition there. And that can be a starting point for many businesses to adopt, you know AI power tools. Right. And with that, can we say there might be, you know, more access to justice? Lyria, what do you think about that?

 

Speaker 4 [00:32:48] So I think I mean, there's certainly it is the case that there are some tools that can be built to enhance access to justice. I think that's that's undeniable. So, you know, what is access to justice for a lot of people, they just want to know something relatively simple. Right. They have a legal question. They want to get an answer that applies to them. And we can build those pieces again, that expert system point, like we can build those systems now. Similarly, people might want to know, you know, is it worth bringing litigation? How much money am I likely to to get in damages or whatever? And then again, you can have systems that can at least give people a clue to what that answer might be. And that answer might be more of a machine learning system. The question is not whether there are systems we can come up with that could potentially increase access to justice. I think it's a question of, you know, starting from, you know, the other way around, what are the access to justice problems and how many of them can be solved by these kinds of systems? And the truth is, if you ask the question that way around, I don't think AI is sort of an easy answer to what is a very complex set of access to justice problems. You know, I think there has to be a whole range of different solutions and there might be some computer system parts of that puzzle, but it will not be by any stretch of the imagination, the whole picture.

 

Speaker 3 [00:34:09] I just want to, if I may, just jump in and underscore something there that Lyria has said. We tend to sometimes jump into and assume that technology equals increased access to justice. But, of course, if you don't have access to technology, then you don't even you don't even get to the first steps. So, and I know you mentioned that, Lyria. I know that's something close to your heart as well. But, you know, I just want to underscore that because it's not the same. Tech does not equal access to justice for those reasons.

 

Speaker 2 [00:34:41] And I think it can help facilitate. So the things that Lyria's saying, and Terri are saying involve kind of automating what, it's effectively automating or increasing access to certain bits information. So having that kind of expert system where it can at least say, okay, is your matter and doesn't need to be complicated, it can say iss your matter relating to family law. This, three, four, great of that is it related to this this. And at least it can help triage a material percentage of those queries that would otherwise have had to go to a lawyer. So they'll have to wait for it. They may not have the resources to reach that person. They may have language barriers, for example, or knowledge barriers. So I think a lot of that automation, if it's done well, can reduce costs, which is another one of the kind of hindrances. Lyria.

 

Speaker 4 [00:35:39] Yeah, I just. I just kind of wanted to jump in and say that, you know what I was, I suppose, trying to get at in terms of the broad access to justice problem. I mean, the first part of the access to justice problem is do people think of their problem as a justice problem? Like, do they actually whenever they have a problem, do they go, oh, this is a legal problem. Ok, you know, let alone it's a you know a family law might be relatively easy, but people often don't categorize their problems into those kinds of categories. And, you know, yes, you can have research tools that then can.... but I think the more you sort of really get a grasp on it. Maybe this is also going back to Armin your earlier question about, you know, why did they use it more in medicine than law. You know, it's very different kinds of problems being solved in each of those domains. And, you know, it's not necessarily helpful to sort of say more is better in something like access to justice. I think it's really a question of, you know, understanding the big nature of the access to justice problem, looking at where tech can help either in reducing legal costs by making legal service delivery more efficient or by providing people with certain kinds of answers that are really helpful to a bulk of people and then making sure they can find the tools that will give them those answers, which of course, is a big part of the problem. Because when you Google, if you're not careful, you'll get the answer to the law in California. So, you know, there's there's a whole sort of stack that is a little bit more complicated than, you know, it's just the aI bit of the problem.

 

Speaker 2 [00:37:14] Mm. Yeah. In my experience working clients as well, a lot of the time people are so quick to jump to these super complex tools when really things like an FAQ list or a template email will move the needle faster and further than taking nine months and spending X amount of dollars and effort in adopting some insanely complex system. Like I think people, and this is kind of where just starting small and just really knowing what the underlying problem is that you want to solve, like we advocate, but you don't need to. These tools are fantastic and the use cases are so broad and the user experience is getting better and better. But sometimes it's just a matter of like, let's understand the process and let's fix the process and do what we can. And then we can consider taking the high fidelity approach.

 

Speaker 1 [00:38:08] Great. So I'm just. I just want to be very conscious about the time. Can you? I know it's difficult. What can you quickly tell me? How do you imagine the future of the legal profession? What's going to be the nature of legal work? Let's say in the next ten years, if the legal departments and organizations and the law court process, if we start adopting these kind of tools. How would you see it? What would be the title of the job? What would be the nature of workplace? Terri?

 

Speaker 3 [00:38:42] I think that it's almost, I think that it's moving at a pace where whatever we imagine now is going to be wrong very soon. And so that's that's why I always hesitate to predict too much, because the reality is and to go back to your point Armin, you know, just look at medicine, just look at what they are doing with artificial intelligence application in medicine and how it's actually changed the entire mindset about how one approaches medicine, which is all about preventing something before it happens versus reacting to it and trying to cure it. So I think that I think we are we are going to see a digitization increase of the work that we do. Which is going to lead us down a whole bunch of different ways in terms of how we work quite differently, but also where we do it and how we do it. And we're starting to see some of that come through really I think as a result of COVID increasing even a little bit, we've got to get a silver lining out of it somewhere, right. Increasing a little bit in terms of how differently people want to work and where they want to work. But I would say as we look ahead, that the greatest part of being a lawyer is going to continue to be our humanity. And so I think that we are going to sit side by side with technology, stripping out all of those things that can be stripped out. All of the commoditized, routinized stuff will get stripped out one way or the other. We will sit actually at those points, and I think Lyria kind of alluded to it earlier of where we are exercising judgment, primarily where we're exercising judgment. So creativity, empathy, experience, where that is being applied, which will be the more complex parts of trying to determine which way forward. And that will sit in parallel. So I don't think it's going to be either, or. There will be some sure that that we won't continue to do. But I think we're going to sit in that bed. And so to me, that really changes not just the nature of the practice, but the nature of the people in the practice, how we concieve work, but also the people that you'll need and the sort of skills and capabilities that you'll need. And it's way beyond the tech bit because that will become a given like a law degree has become a given to practice as a lawyer. The bit around the humanity bit, that's going to be something that will be a differentiator.

 

Speaker 1 [00:41:28] That's great. Lyria, you want to add something?

 

Speaker 4 [00:41:31] Yeah, only one little thing. And I love what you said at the end their Terri about. you know, humanity and that being really important. I think what will make people successful in the future is the ability to work alongside systems. So I don't think we need a world where, you know, every lawyer knows how to code. Some will. That's lovely. And they'll have specialist jobs at the intersection of the two. But what I think will be the sort of recipe for success in using these kinds of systems as well,  is understanding them. I think a lot of the time at the moment, systems have actually been used very poorly. I mean, I gave the Compass example, I mean, just saying, oh, we've got a machine learning risk assessment, data driven, let's throw that into parole and bail decisions shows that they don't understand what these tools do. So the people who can understand that and get enough about expert assistance, machine learning, okay, this is what the kind of system can do. Here's its weaknesses before I use it. These are the things I want to test and evaluate, and now I'm using it. Here's how I know I can work effectively alongside it to actually form those judgments. So I understand the outputs and understand the limitations of those outputs. People who couldn't do that, I think that will be that will be the recipe for success.

 

Speaker 1 [00:42:44] Right. Yeah.

 

Speaker 2 [00:42:45] Yeah, I think I would tend to agree. So I think the question was around redefining legal education. What is the future of the profession look like? And I, I think I look at that. I use some predictive algorithms. Yeah. All right, cool. That one worked. Okay - ill keep training that one. It was, I think to me its the whole concept of T-shaped lawyers really comes to play as well. So, you know, the traditional view of lawyers being, you know, just very, very good at their specific fields. I think as the world increases, as the world changes and as the use cases require broader knowledge, so understanding of systems, I think is absolutely critical one. The understanding that IT is converging on everything we do. So almost everything will have some kind of digital lens or some kind of technological edge that needs to be understood. But then also those those skills for lawyers to improve user experience. So things like, you know, service design is encroaching on law. It's now called legal service design because it helps improve a user experience. Things like project management, which from other disciplines are now encroaching on law because they're called legal project management, because they've realized, hey, we can look to this other industry and see how they're doing things and apply the same learnings or processes to what we do. Shocker. Incredible, you know, groundbreaking concept.

 

Speaker 4 [00:44:19] I'm sorry.

 

Speaker 2 [00:44:21] No. Yeah. And that's kind of that was where I was going with that. But I mean, to Terri's point as well, it's really around the low hanging fruit. Are those low complexity, repeatable kinds of work. That can be automated. And I mean, if that if you're if you plan on going into the legal industry to do low complexity, repeatable work, then yes, maybe you should be worried your role may change from what you envision. But what we're seeing a lot of clients, the key thing that they want in their legal function through legal technology or transformation is the lawyers just want to do more meaningful work. They want to do work that's more strategic, that really drives the needle forward and play that role as a trusted advisor, not just some widget factory that pumps out contracts, you know, simple things. So I think that's really, you know, at the heart of what legal tech and legal ops is there for and what will actually, you know, that compelling vision that will draw people towards it.

 

Speaker 3 [00:45:26] Terri. Yeah, I was just going to add, I think it's beyond the T shape, actually. And I know and I know we've had the D shape and the O shapes lawyers, you know, since then as well as so many shapes, so little time. But I think that's the reason that I say that, is because I think just to kind of maybe add on to what you were saying there, Alex, I think the practice of law is a multi-disciplinary endeavor, shall I say now a multi-disciplinary business. And I think the folks that work in legal departments have always known that because they're part of obviously a much bigger whole with a lot of other specialists around them. But I think increasingly we're seeing a whole bunch of and this is getting probably a little bit into career options now, a whole bunch of other specialisms that have arisen and are now increasingly prevalent in law firms. I think there has to be if the growth of what's expected of you in terms of not just the content of legal services and advice that you give, but the way that you deliver it, you're starting to get into a whole bunch of specialisms around that. And it's too much to expect lawyers to keep expanding the top of the T to take all of those things in. Certainly they have to understand the context and be all over that. But there are other specialists that can genuinely jump in and do those roles more effectively. They may have started as lawyers, they may not, but I think it is that combined effort of specialism that we're increasingly seeing for good reason in the practice of law now.

 

Speaker 1 [00:47:02] Yes. So on that note it feels like we are putting too much weight on the individuals to, you know, kind of catch up. How should we redefine the legal education to prepare people you know, future graduates for that kind of legal environment in let's say the next 5 to 10 years. And like personally to me teaching them one a specific skill wouldn't do it because of these exponential you know technology things changing very fast and something new happens everything and it goes in a different way to me. It's like we should teach them how to be adaptable. And as Terri said, learning how to work with people in different fields like multidisciplinary teamwork or what they call flash things, those kind of skills that help them, you know, to adapt themselves and be confident enough to learn anything from, you know, any area of knowledge. I think that's the kind of thing they are probably going to need. Lyria, you disagree I guess?

 

Speaker 4 [00:48:08] You know, no. I think that, look, I divide these up into several boxes, right. And I was actually just typing an answer to Marcus's great question as well, because it comes to the same point. Some students will do multi-disciplines, you know, they will be data scientists and lawyers or they will be computer scientists and lawyers. And those students will have awesome roles, right, doing really, really cool things. And we can run elective courses to really help students who really want to go a lot deeper into those things beyond the dual degree, obvious example of doing both disciplines fully. What I think everyone needs, though, is a different thing. It's a basic familiarity. So I think everyone needs to have a basic sense of what machine learning is, what its limitations is, how it works, what kind of logic it involves, what data driven inferencing is, all of that kind of stuff. And plus also an ability then to work with people in those other disciplines. So I'll give you an example of a course I'm running at the moment, which is law students and engineering students actually in the same classroom, learning from each other in common problem solving. And it's around a particular area, it's around cybersecurity. So the engineering students are doing security engineering, the law students are doing the regulation around cybersecurity. And they have to work together to answer questions like, oh, you know, you work for a company that is looking to build a fleet of automated vehicles. You know, what are the risks the board should be aware of and do you recommend they go ahead? Obviously, more detail in the tutorial problem than that, but you can only answer that question by getting everyone in a room and working on it together. And it's the same kind of thing about, you know, these kinds of machine learning systems and what gets used and what doesn't get used and how it gets used. You want students who can ask the right questions of people with the right technical knowledge, and that's a skill that we aren't necessarily doing well across the board in universities because we put students in separate classrooms so much, and you know we don't have them talking to each other, but there's lots of opportunities that, you know, universities are doing, whether it's getting them together around particular projects, getting them together for particular subjects. And the more we can do that and expose students to the idea that they will be the expert in the room, but only on one thing. I think the more we avoid the kind of bad applications that we've been talking about.

 

Speaker 1 [00:50:34] Great. That's. That's amazing. Yeah, I know some faculties are developing such courses that allows students for the first time to to work with the students from other disciplines on one project, like list things together and learn how to communicate. And that's communication part, I think is very important. Again, from a personal perspective, I've worked with people from different disciplines and I found it very difficult to communicate with them because the way they think about the legal issue is very different, the way we think about legal issues and the other way around, of course. Alex, did you want to add something?

 

Speaker 2 [00:51:09] No, I think I think Terri and Lyria covered it quite well. I think for me in terms of the, you know, equipping future generations of lawyers with the right skills, like Lyria mention I think it's just understanding the how, so how do these systems work? Just at a very basic level. So you have an understanding of, okay, this was the input, this was the output and understanding what goes on in between. And that also helps you navigate these tools and regulate for these tools. The other thing is probably like the what? So what are the actual use cases? Because in reality the actual practice of law will vary year on year. So having a good understanding of what does the modern lawyer do, what tools do they use? Like how are they using technology to deliver legal services and improve the delivery of legal services? And the last one is the why. So understanding why it's there, like why is it being adopted? Why is AI supplementing what we're doing and kind of why do people like it. You know it's actually building that that desirability and that that interest in something which will lead them to pretty much the other things as well. But that's probably my summary. Yeah.

 

Speaker 3 [00:52:27] I mean can I just add, I would add one thing to that and I think it still is fundamentally important to temporize the curriculum. So I look at something like and contextualize it, I guess. I look at something like technology and it's pervasive. It doesn't matter what subject you want to teach, it has some relevance. And and I think it doesn't matter that the technology that you're learning on, of course you have to update the curriculum but is going to change because the law that you learn at law school doesn't stay the same for, you know, 10 or 20 or 30 years. So you're constantly updating yourself with that. So, you know, if we've got a subject in banking and finance, why are we not teaching cryptocurrencies? If we're teaching a subject in contract, why are we not talking about blockchain and smart contracts? I mean, all of those elements to me are just part of what folks are going to encounter in that subject area. And it doesn't take a lot to contemporaries it. It doesn't take a lot to include it. You know, if we're doing a subject on dispute resolution, why aren't we looking at online dispute resolution? You know, so it's I just think there's a simple tweaks that are also important to put into the curriculum as well as the ones that ought to be mentioned here.

 

Speaker 1 [00:53:50] One serious problem I see here is that we don't have any kind of map like how the industry is going and what are the needs to kind of inform the universities or the faculties that, okay, these are the themes, this is the direction, guys. This this is what what we need, you know, you need the instance electives in these areas. And that's very difficult to create.What I'm saying is that I know it's a difficult task, but I think that should be a priority if we want to connect the generation that we are educating, what they learn would be relevant in the future to what they're going to do and what the market needs, and to improve their employability. So we are almost out of time and I think we have enough time probably for one question. Just quickly, is there any support available for firms, etc. to individual startups seeking to innovate using air in illegal the space?

 

Speaker 3 [00:54:47] Yes.

 

Speaker 4 [00:54:52] Do you what more than that?

 

Speaker 3 [00:54:53] Yeah, look, I think you could he's a couple of really, really, really fast suggestions. And I'm very happy if you want to grab me on LinkedIn and chat further about it. But there's the Australian Legal Technology Association. Join it. Sorry. And I apologize for the shameless plug. There's a center for legal innovation where we have a bunch of free stuff available. That's why I feel comfortable emphasizing it for you to jump in and kind of have a look there. There are hackers, legal hackers meetings depending on where you are in a lot of different cities where you can jump in and start learning about it. And there are technology incubators and accelerators. There's not a lot of them, but there are some you can apply to them. They are run by law firms, by and large. But there's also some outstanding clinics that are being run now at universities where you really do get a very close connection. And Lyria will know more about those, I'm sure, than than me, and she's involved with at least one of them, I believe, or at least a center that knows lots about them. You should be jumping all over those opportunities as well.

 

Speaker 4 [00:56:02] The stuff I know is a lot of university stuff and that'll depend on your university and I don't know, University of Wollongong. But what I'd also say as well is that people who've done start ups tend to actually be quite generous to people who are interested in doing start ups. Very! And you can often just reach out on LinkedIn and say, you know, you're looking at getting into that space with other people who've tried it, or succeeded in it. And I think, you know, generally speaking, you find quite a generous response and people will help.

 

Speaker 3 [00:56:33] I just want to underscore that hugely generous community. Yeah.

 

Speaker 1 [00:56:38] Yeah. I'm not sure who asked the question, but at the University of Wollongong I'm not sure if we have start up courses looking for partnership, but next year probably we're going to have one, which is developed by me. That part of it would be yeah, a lot of internship and developing legal tech apps.Anyway, so we are almost it's almost time. I'm sorry, we don't have any more time to read the questions and answer. I just want to thank the panel for their time and this amazing discussion. I wish we had more time. One hour is not definitely enough for these kinds of things and I had to skip lots of cooler stuff. And I just want to also thank Trish Mundy, the head of the law school at UOW and UOW Law Alumni Organisers Meg Gibson, Kelly Salmon, Marion Finlay, who who'd been helping organising this session and behind the scenes have been doing things and doing all the communications. Thank you, everyone, and have a great evening.

 

Speaker 3 [00:57:42] Thank you.

 

Speaker 4 [00:57:43] Bye bye.

Be Brave. Make Change. Exploring the UOW Reconciliation Action Plan

March 2022 saw the official launch of the University of Wollongong’s new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a plan that sees the University’s reconciliation journey moving from “safe to courageous.” The Reconciliation Action Plan is explored through this panel discussion featuring Tammy Small (host), Professor Bronwyn Carlson, Professor David Currow, Layne Brown and Ash Johnstone. The discussion concludes with a musical performance from UOW students, Jiah King and Keina Brewer.

Speaker 1 [00:00:04] We know that country for Aboriginal peoples is an interconnected set of ancient and sophisticated relationships. The University of Wollongong spreads across many interrelated Aboriginal Countries that are bound by this sacred landscape, and intimate relationship with that landscape since creation. From Sydney to the Southern Highlands to the south coast. Freshwater to bitter water to salt. From City to urban to rural.

Speaker 2 [00:01:12] The University of Wollongong acknowledges the custodianship of the Aboriginal peoples of this place and space that has kept alive the relationships between all living things.

Speaker 1 [00:01:24] The university

Speaker 3 [00:01:25] Aacknowledges the devastating impact of colonisation.

Speaker 1 [00:01:28] on our campus footprint and commit ourselves to truth-telling,

Speaker 1 [00:01:34] healing and education.

Speaker 3 [00:01:53] Welcome to you all. I would like to welcome UOW alumni, staff, students, community. And we've got people zooming in here from all around New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. So thank you, firstly, thank you for making time to come to our Zoom session today and listen to our journey thus far at UOW. I'd like to start by acknowledging country, following that beautiful video that we've just released here at UOW. So I am on Yuin and Dharawal Country. And I'd like to acknowledge that I am a woman of country first and foremost. And I feel honoured and blessed to be living on this country. And never have I ever lived anywhere where I'm guided by country every day in my everyday life. So I feel really lucky and blessed to be living here in the Wollongong area. I'd like to acknowledge our elders of the past, present and emerging. I'm sure we have people in our audience today who are on the rise up and leading in their places and spaces. So I'd like to acknowledge that contribution as well. I'd also like to acknowledge that we are the most written about people in this world and not by ourselves, but by the voices of others. So I'm very excited to be surrounded by other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today that we're going to be talking about and sharing our experiences of reconciliation with you. I'd also like you to copy in the chat, if you want to shout out on whichever country you're zooming in from, which country or nation you're zooming in from. And I'd also like to just throw this out to Layne, one of our panel members, to see if you might want to add anything to an acknowledgement. We want to discuss the importance of personalising your acknowledgement and making it feel like your own.

Speaker 4 [00:03:49] Thanks, Tammy. Yeah. Evening, everyone. I just began dinner at my house so you could possibly hear, you might hear a 12 year old kid. But who will say what we can do? So, yeah, I'd also like to acknowledge country and thank you, Tammy, for giving me the opportunity to acknowledge your country as well. I'd like to acknowledge that we stand on land that has never been ceded, that has a deeper meaning and a deeper layer of knowledge that unfortunately for many, well, many people I know, don't get the privilege and access to any more. And I'm what I'm talking about is the privilege of knowing your culture and your language and the knowledge of the language of the land and particularly on the south east corner. I always say now that I speak from a south east New South Wales perspective. I'm very mindful that the country that I live and grow up on is very unique and very different to other people's countries. So, I'd like to acknowledge the elders past and the elders of the present and the struggles and that, you know, the overlay of what we're, what we're currently sitting on is, is always, always was and always has been Aboriginal land.

We need to acknowledge that these buildings and these beautiful phone and these cars is just an overlay. It sits on top of what's already here, it's already sits on top of what's already been here and has always been. As part of this acknowledgement, I'd like to encourage you to learn more about the language and the people and the mob and build relationships to where you are so you can have your own personal acknowledgement to the country every day. And some people already have that. They watch the sunrise every day, that's connecting the country on your beautiful, beautiful area in which you live, because we're all part of this land now together. That needs to be a big part that we're going to talk about reconciliation tonight. And these white fellas aren't going anywhere, and neither are these black fellas. So, I acknowledge you all, as well and it's nice to see some familiar faces here.

Speaker 3 [00:06:01] Thank you so much. That was just beautiful. And I think I just imagine what our ancestors would have thought 235 years ago. Would they think that we would be sitting here, leading a platform and having as many participants as we do now? And I just to imagine how proud they would be of us having voices and, you know, being one of the oldest living cultures in the world and still living, living that culture every day. So thank you for that, Layne. I'd just like to introduce our panel members for you today as well this evening. So I've got Professor Bronwyn Carlson. Professor Bronwyn Carson is an Aboriginal woman who was born on and lives on Dharawal country in New South Wales. She's the head of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. An Alumna of UOW, Professor Carlson also taught at UOW for five, five and a half years. Her research interests include Indigenous engagement on digital platforms, Indigenous Identities and Indigenous Futurisms. Welcome. Thank you so much for being here, Professor Carlson.

Speaker 2 [00:07:04] Thanks, Tammy. It's lovely to be here this evening.

Speaker 3 [00:07:06] Thank you. We also have Ash Johnstone. Ash Johnstone is a First Nations Dunghutti woman currently living on sovereign Dharawal country. She's an academic teaching and researching in the Indigenous space and an advocate for Indigenous survivors of domestic family and sexual violence. Ash has worked on diverse projects involving advocacy, environmental sustainability, education, media, racism, language performance, social media, domestic violence, and COVID-19. She's currently completing a PhD with the University of Wollongong. Welcome Ash.

Thanks, Tammy.

We have the lovely last, Professor David Currow. Professor David Currow is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Health and Sustainable Futures) here at UOW. He's a former Chief Cancer Officer New South Wales, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Institute, New South Wales, the State Cancer Control Agency. David is the co-chair of our Reconciliation Action Plan Steering Committee as well. And David, we cannot thank you enough as well for giving your time to us here this evening.

Speaker 5 [00:08:18] Great to be here. Thanks, Tammy.

Speaker 3 [00:08:20] We also have with us, you would have met briefly, is Layne Brown. So Layne Brown is a proud Yuin man currently working as Aboriginal Engagement Officer with Transport New South Wales. He is a UOW alumnus and Layne has previously worked at UOW as a researcher with the Australian Health Service Research Institute and as partner with UOW in his roles with AIME and the Illawarra Koori Mens Support Group. So thank you so much for being here with us, Layne.

And I'll tell you a bit about myself. My name is Tammy Small, a family name Gordon. I’m a Wiradjuri woman, as I mentioned. And I'm the Manager of Projects (Indigenous Advancement) here at UOW.

We've just launched our RAP. If you had the pleasure of being there with us, you would have seen that it was it was done our way and it was done very different. And we had the support of Layne and his dance group in order to make that happen for us. So thank you. Thank you, everyone.

And I just want to let you all the participants know and everyone who's Zooming in this evening, that we do have some interactive activities. You'll see some Slidos coming up and we will get you to interact with them as we move through. If you also if you have any questions, please feel free to put them in our Q&A. We will try and answer as many questions as we can, but we assure you that we will get to some of the questions at a later date if we are unable to answer them all today.

In the Slido, you'll be asked for a passcode as well and you'll see there's that information on the slide when we when we get to that point. So I think I think everyone's waiting, I think they're waiting for us to get started and ask these questions.

So, I'm going to ask my first question to all our panellists, and I'll say your name in accordance to who's on my screen. But this is for everyone, all panel members. And so my first question is what does reconciliation, what does reconciliation mean to you? And what are your hopes for this new Reconciliation Action Plan at UOW? So, I can see. Prof. Carlson If I can get you potentially,

Speaker 2 [00:10:33] Of course you can, Tammy.

Speaker 2 [00:10:35] I was Like, hmm, how do we answer this question? So, I feel like for a long time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been a bit disappointed with this concept of reconciliation. I feel it's something that even people who have come before us have strived for and we've seen little outcomes that benefit us, this generation and of course the younger panel members, members here today and this next generation. So, for me, reconciliation would actually mean something that is done and it's not done by us. And I think it's got to be a commitment from institutions to make institutional change and that we don't often see. So, there are beautiful documents. This is one of them as well. And I see the effort that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make into these documents and into building reconciliation action plans. And they do that with hope for the future. They do that with a hope for something better for the next generation. And as somebody who started at Wollongong University back in oh goodness me, 1999, when it used to be the Aboriginal Education Centre there supporting Indigenous students. And I started with Aunty Rita. We were both kind of mature, well she really was a bit more mature than me, but we're both very mature age people. We went to university and it looked a lot different then to what it looks like now. But I can see that same struggle has just been generational. So for me, I'd like to see a lot of actions put beside, that there is somebody accountable to it, that it's measurable, and that community actually gets to hear how that that has been achieved. Because I'm yet to, in all my long years and feeling very old on this cold winter night here on beautiful Dharawal country, to see an institution make such a commitment and then respond to the community and how they've met it. So, for me, that's what reconciliation is. It's actions by institutions that are held accountable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whose country in which they are built on and who make real change for the future. So that's kind of like what I think reconciliation ought to be, should be. And that is my hope that some doing things come from this reconciliation action plan, and I'd like to be able to see that and know that's occurring.

 

Speaker 3 [00:13:09] Thank you so much for the perfect answer. Of course, it's everybody's business, and let's hope that we do see some, some great change with our new RAP. Professor Currow, can I get you to answer this question as well? So what does it mean to you and what are our hopes for our new RAP?

 

Speaker 5 [00:13:26] Well, that's, that's pretty tough Tammy, after Bronwyn has answered it perfectly. What can you say? I think there's you know, at a macro level, we want to see institutional change. And as we all realise, whether that's about reconciliation or any other number of things that institutions should be doing far better than they are. It takes real time and commitment from everyone within the institution. And so, at a micro level, this is about relationships and it's about building really genuine, trusting, respectful relationships between people. Because when we do that, then we can start to, to really go down a path of genuine reconciliation that will see change and will see that change sustained and gain momentum. But it, it is about relationships, not just between institutions, but between people. And you and I can, can build that bridge. I think one of the things that I took from the launch of the Reconciliation Action Plan, which is incredibly obvious, but, you know, to which we don't give voice often enough, is this is not the responsibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to do the heavy lifting. Everyone needs to, to take responsibility for that. And you know, we've got some great Aboriginal communities in the region around our campuses, not only in south east New South Wales, but that further afield. This is not their problem and we need to make sure that every person in this university and in the communities in which they live is committed to real change. And that's through developing relationships.

Speaker 3 [00:15:32] Thank you so much.

Speaker 1 [00:15:34] Ash.

Speaker 3 [00:15:35] What are your thoughts? I mean, what else is left to say after both of those answers? But I'll have to go. So first, just also acknowledging the sovereignty of the Dharawal people whose lands I'm on here in the beautiful Illawarra. I think, you know, exactly as has been said, reconciliation truly is just about non-Indigenous people and organisations listening to Indigenous people who are the experts on what we need and then following that up with authentic action. It's just about that genuine commitment to action to challenge those systems and frameworks because they do just continue to disproportionately affect Indigenous people in negative ways and just holding each other accountable as well to these promises. You know, it's really easy to say that you want to, to make things better. It's really easy to say that you, you know, you are a champion of equality or whatever it might be. But it's about actually that accountability to those actions. And, and as you know, Bronwyn was saying as well, like just looking back at those promises and goals and saying, you know, asking the community, have we actually achieved those things? So, I think my hope for the new RAP is that room is made and significant resources allocated to those actions that have been outlined. You know, I've read the RAP and there are some really important goals that have been set out in it. And I think, you know, if we can actually resource those and commit to doing them, we could actually see change happen in a really positive way. But it will take people across every level of the university to do so. You know, there's, there's just not enough Indigenous people to be able to make this happen. So, we need to see every single level, you know, entry level all the way up committed to these actions. I think that's probably my hope for it.

  1. And Layne, if you wanted to, to add anything. But I just think it's really important to reiterate what everyone's saying. It's about coming together for Country, for the importance of caring about Country.
  2. They’re still coming. We've got connection, joy, overdue, together. Nervous about getting it right. Look, there is a whole ‘when in doubt, leave it out’ situation. But I think sometimes that's why we might be in the positions that we are today. Especially in the in the classrooms. I think there's a lot of ‘when in doubt, leave it out’ and then we see the impact coming here when we have our students. Accountability. Action. Relief. Finally.

Speaker 4 [00:17:48] Yeah, there's a few questions there to unpack, but later on. I don't want to get into that because some of my feelings sit in there. But  you know, Dave was at the Reconciliation Action Plan launch the other day and he would have been privy to my little talk. I spoke for about 10-15 minutes about what I, what I thought. And I'll summarise it here. I’m going to touch on what Bronwyn spoke about, is our people have been fighting for this for a long time now. I'm going to try not to get emotional here. You know, our Elders have passed away. Our young ones are fighting. And it feels, you know, they’re 20, 30 years old, it feels like they've been fighting for the rights of their grandparents and of their people. They carry the weight and the burden and we're all getting tired. And no offence to non-Indigenous people who are chipping in, that's great. You’re not the majority. At the moment, we go to these forums and it's led by Aboriginal people. It's run by Aboriginal people and it's really tiring. Everything that's got to do of Aboriginal people is led by Aboriginal people and we're really it was sick of the one-way dialogue and, and I say ‘we’ because there's a collective ‘we’, but this is my opinion. We need to work together. Otherwise what's the point? We can't even hunt traditionally or live traditionally. We have, we're forced to live in this other world, which in the Australian colony and government, and we have to play nice and we have to play by their rules. And it would be nice to get those worlds to meet a bit more so we can have true reconciliation. Yeah, or we get rid of the word altogether. Maybe, but Bronwyn can write a paper about it.

Speaker 3 [00:19:45] Well, thank you so much. What a great way to start off this panel discussion. So, next what we're going to do, is a Slido. We've got a one question for you on Slido.

And I just want to thank everybody who's sung out on which countries they are from.

So you'll see in the chat and we've got our screen shared at the moment. We have our Slido for you. And the question is, what words would you use to describe your feelings on reconciliation?

We just thought we'd gather some responses here today, and we understand the variances that we might receive as well. And I'd just like to thank the Alumni Team for all their help in putting this together with myself and the Indigenous Strategy Unit to make this possible for you tonight.

So just use a passcode and get in. And chuck in a word or a couple of words. For reconciliation, it could be ‘excited’. It could be.. anyone else from the panel, want to chuck out some words as well? It could be ‘contentious’. It could be ‘change’. Hope for what else? What else can we think of that people might, might think for the words they feel about reconciliation. What have we got? We've got excited, support, daunting. It is a daunting experience. So much work to be done. Much has been achieved since the birth of the formal process of reconciliation in 1991. But we still have such a long way to go. You know, there's so much work overdue. Optimistic, communication, transformative relationship, deep understanding, loving this! Overdue, unity, hard work, and exhausting for black people. Yes, definitely.

As Layne has mentioned before, we've been leading these conversations and our ancestors worked hard to their plight for social and political equality for us to even be in these spaces today.

Speaker 3 [00:22:20] Excellent. Knowledge seeking. Lovely. Well, thank you so much for contributing to that. And I will move into the next round of questions and Ash, I have a question for you.

The State of Reconciliation report in 2021 discusses the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and it discusses the institutions coming together and organisations and building businesses really using these within their areas. So, I have a question for you around, you know, a significant part of our reconciliation journey here at UOW, and for many, is truth telling. How does this relate to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and what could this mean for our university? It’s a hard one, Ash.

You know, I think this is something I could probably speak about for hours, but I'll try and keep it brief and just give me a signal if I need to wrap it up. But look, I think truth telling is, is one of those really key parts of reconciliation. And it's not just for Australia on that national level of reconciliation, but for anyone who wants to be a part of that process of achieving equality and justice. You know, I'm a lecturer here at the Uni as well, and one of the things that students always bring up throughout the semester is this kind of sadness and anger that they didn't know about, this history. That they've gone through 12 years of education, have come into a university course and, and now as young adults are starting to learn about this stuff.

So it's you know, it's something that people, people want this. They want to know what the history is. They want to know what has happened. And so, the Uluru Statement, it calls for Makarrata, which is the coming together after a struggle, and it asks for a commission to kind of supervise this process of either agreement making between governments and First Nations people, but also that truth telling about our history. It's, you can't have agreements made, you can't have justice and equality and all of those things without also having truth telling. And one of the things within the statement that that they speak to, it's almost like this this prophecy, they call to it that's filled with hope, that says we seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country, because this is our country and we need to be able to take our place in this country. It says, when we have power, when we have power over our destiny, our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to the country. So, we have this history, we have this knowledge, and that is such a beautiful, powerful gift that we are here and ready to, to share with the rest of Australia. So, I think, you know, for me this process of truth telling is just so vital. If we are ever going to reach that point, if we are ever going to be able to come together and heal, and if we don't talk openly and honestly about the history of this country, but also the contemporary situation that we find ourselves in now, we just damn ourselves essentially to stay in this really uncomfortable place of inaction and inequality.

And so I think if you apply that that call to action of truth telling to a university setting, I think that it can mean asking everybody here at the uni in whatever position you're in to just hold space open for us so that we can speak for ourselves, to never speak for us, and instead just have that strength to take brave action which will make people uncomfortable.

But it's important, you know, you have to be able to take those, those really brave, strong actions to see real change. And I know that like these conversations about reconciliation and sovereignty, you know, they make a lot of people feel very overwhelmed about where do you even start? But I just want to always remind everyone and I say this to students all the time and to everyone here tonight, you know, every single person actually has that power to be a true ally. And it's not just about your own attitudes, but also in your advocacy and your support for Indigenous peoples. You know, look around yourselves. If your organisation doesn't engage with Indigenous people, you can just ask why not? If your project doesn't have Indigenous people informing it and guiding you, you have the responsibility to ask why not. If your service doesn't have Indigenous employees, not just in that entry level position, but also way up at the top and in the boardroom. It's actually your responsibility and your privilege to demand, you know, why not? And so, we have these words around collaboration, community led reconciliation, sovereignty. And these aren’t just token words to be brought at once a year during Reconciliation Week. They're actually those fundamental cornerstones for achieving equality and justice. You know, First Nations people are ready to tell our truth. We have been speaking this truth for a long time. Reconciliation and truth telling essentially asks the rest of Australia, “Are you ready to listen? And if you are, are you ready to act as well?” So, I think, you know, it's that power to act by knowing the truth and then acting upon it.

Thank you so much for that, Ash. I'm sure our participants can, can take a bit away from that as well, which leads us into the theme, doesn't it, for this year's National Reconciliation Week, which is Be Brave and Make Change. And we are hosting this the week before, so we're very much cognizant of that and cognizant of that here at UOW.

But you've mentioned something really beautiful, which I'm going to pass on, and I'm going to ask Professor Bronwyn Carson a question around something that you've, you've mentioned as well, Ash.

So, our inaugural RAP noted that although the university offers a range of Aboriginal based subjects and courses, students can complete their courses and degrees without encountering any content perspective. What could we do to address this?

Speaker 2 [00:28:50] It's a really good question, Tammy, and it does follow on a lot from what Ash has just explained. So, reconciliation action plans are about accountability, right? It's the university is accountable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community in which they get the pleasure of having their buildings on and working on and benefit significantly from. And so that accountability actually has some elements to it that are required. So, we have to ask ourselves. An institution such as UOW, main priority is educating the future. Educating young people to go forth and be decent, and humans who want a different world to live in, one that's better. I mean, we should always be striving for something, like striving for something that is better. And so, institutions have the obligation to educate the future. How is it that you have a RAP yet somebody can be educated at your institution and walk away with no knowledge of anything to do with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. And so, this is also about investment, right? So just a little bit from when I was there and I know things may have changed and I'm really hopeful that they have. But when I was there, institution committed to funding from things like the Ramsay Centre, whilst Indigenous Studies as a discipline was in demise. How does that happen?

Speaker 2 [00:30:24] So Indigenous studies is a is a proper discipline that has a disciplinary focus, that's spends a great deal of time educating non-Indigenous people. So, where's the investment from institutions into Indigenous Studies. And that would require Indigenous scholars, who then produce scholarship that educates the masses. Where’s that investment?  So, for me, that's how institutions do it. So, you can't possibly think that students could come to your institution no matter what discipline they choose to study and have no Indigenous content. So, there's been a lot of talk for a lot of time around embedding Indigenous perspectives into the curriculum and all this kind of stuff. And there's been no real investment in doing that beyond the level of cultural awareness training. So, it sticks at this level, right? So how is it actually privileging Indigenous knowledges and educating people on an alternate way to view the world or to challenge their own worldview in which they hold? So, it doesn't do that.

Cultural awareness training says be nice to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that you might encounter and don't be openly racist. And so Indigenous people are then charged with teaching them what an Acknowledgement to Country is, what a Welcome to Country is, and what are the colours of the flag. And they go forth and have no changed behaviour. So, there really needs to be a great deal of work around anti-racism training for people.

Because I can tell you right now, people who know the colour of the flag and how to do an acknowledgement of the country doesn't necessarily mean they don't hold racist views. And so, if they do not, as part of the education spectrum, learn anything about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, other than viewing us as some sort of problem, some sort of something that they can fix, then there is a real issue. And so, institutions really need to think about how are they ensuring that they have a good, solid number of Indigenous scholars along with the support staff, that they are focused on Indigenous students. And where's the commitment to local areas? Like I remember when I was there, I suggested that we have a local unit or a local subject that we teach that is embedded in Dhawaral and Wodi Wodi people’s knowledges and systems. So that would be a unit of study that would be developed by local people. Where is that commitment? That is something institutions could do.

And so, I'm not talking about cultural awareness training. I think for how many years now is cultural awareness training being around and made absolutely no difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I would be very surprised to hear if either Layne or Ash or yourselves had no experiences of racism or discrimination in the institution. I would be really surprised to hear that you floated through those institutions without ever having to think to yourself, “Holy shit, that was racist. Holy shit, why am I putting up with that? I reckon that you'd be greatly challenged to say this has all been roses for me. So these things need to happen and they need to change pretty quickly. We need to move beyond cultural awareness. We need to hold institutions accountable. There's no way you should be able to complete a degree with no Indigenous content. That is ludicrous in this country where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the first peoples of this place who are the knowledge holders of this place, yet have no input into the curriculum that's taught to people. So, people walk out of there and it has real world implications, right? I had the student who once said to me, “Oh, I feel really embarrassed. I've been in charge of this employment office where I sort out who gets offered what jobs, and I've always determined who is Aboriginal based on whether they've come from some sort of community outside of urban settings. And after doing Indigenous studies I realised how racist that was.” So at every single level and that person was in business, every single discipline, people need to have a better understanding or at least some understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, cultures and the histories of this country. Because it's not being taught. You cannot rely on settlers to teach it. Indigenous scholars need to be employed, they need to be supported, they need to be able to conduct research and to provide scholarship. And nobody should get out of those doors without having done some Indigenous content. And that's not to say that people will leave and be suddenly anti-racist. I'm not that much of a utopian thinker, but it certainly is a start.

Speaker 3 [00:34:51] Well, thank you so much for that answer. And we do have some points and actions and deliverables in our new RAP that may help us overcome. And we're very hopeful, hopeful of that. But we'll be working very hard in order, as a collective, I assure you, in order to make that happen.

David,  Professor David Currow, I've got a question for you. So, what are the big goals in our new RAP? Well, what are some of our big goals in our new RAP that inspire you in your leadership role here at UOW?

Speaker 5 [00:35:25] Thanks, Tammy. In following on from Bronwyn’s really important thoughts, I think the RAP is a great roadmap for us as an institution to actually change. And I know that challenge was put out there right at the beginning by Bronwyn and I couldn't agree more strongly. Institutions need to change, but they will only change if we can work with the people in them. They are not amorphous structures that are anything more than driven by the people and the values of those people within the organisation. I want to put out a very bold challenge this evening. I think one of our real challenges as we think about scholarship particularly, and I love Bronwyn highlighting the issue of scholarship there, is to ensure that we have a critical mass. And I wonder and this is the bold challenge whether that critical mass actually needs to be focused in a few places of higher education to really consolidate it, in order to then populate all of higher education. And I think there is a challenge in trying to grow this in every institution atm, at every step and at every level of academic, professional and student life.

To that end, I really would like to work with the community to make the University of Wollongong a genuine place that is the preferred provider to, to many people from around the country to create that critical mass that that can then really help institutions where this has not been taken up.

And I absolutely take Bronwyn's point, but I think the university is working to, to change. And I see some fellow institutions where that's probably happening a little more slowly and with a little less focus. So, how do we create that momentum and ensure that that momentum is actually generated in every place of higher education? And we think of that in terms of universities. I also put out the challenge that we need to think about technical and further education in exactly the same way that Bronwyn has outlined. How can people have any sort of post-school education without that, that opportunity?

Speaker 3 [00:38:23] Thank you. Thanks so much for those challenges as well. And you're right, we are working incredibly hard here at UOW and we have a lot of momentum. So it's about keeping that that continuing discussion and that traction that we're receiving at the moment. I'm now going to throw over to Layne. Layne, if UOW is successful on our reconciliation journey, what would this look like for our communities within our campus’s foorprints?

Speaker 4 [00:38:54] Yeah, I think. It looks like access. You know, these campuses are beautiful and in beautiful places and quite unique. You go to Nowra and you get, oh, you know, this is a small little university campus, but there's not much like that in Nowra. The campus itself, you know. Our community need access to the land. They need access to those rooms. They need access to the employment. They need a connection. At the moment, there's not a true connection. So, if there's a Reconciliation Action Plan that is authentic, it's got to demonstrate that. It’s got to walk the talk. It's got to talk the walk. And if it's not talking or not walking, it's got to be moving towards that. You know, I've got to come back to access every time. When we talk, when we say university, our mob, Aboriginal people shouldn’t go ‘Woah, that’s a weird, strange word and a funny place. And why would you go there?’ You know, access could be really easy. And, you know, if you want to run an event at the university and I've been going to the university since I started in 2005. I went there as a year 12 student to apply to go into it, into the alternative admissions programme. So, I've been walking the halls there since 2005 and every year new people come into that university. Aboriginal people. The majority of those Aboriginal people are not from this community. They're not from here. Our local people aren't accessing. I'm not talking about traditional owners. I'm talking about kids that finish school. They don't see the university as a place that they can go to. It needs to be a place that they can go to. And it starts off with one, stepping foot on this on this campus. On these campuses all along the coast. And it's as simple as this. I said, let's do a community day or a NAIDOC Day. We'll pick a significant event, we’ll shut down the campus, free parking for all the mob. There's no excuse. We'll get them free bus ticket. We'll get them a free train ticket. Whatever we need to do to get them in and access, and say ‘Hey, this is a place for you.’ Because the more people you get in the door. I was going to look up the stat before this meeting, but I thought maybe I'll just stick a little bit clear. But the stats of non-Indigenous people going to university is so disproportionate. So, the average punter that goes to university used to be about a third of people went to tertiary education after they finished school. Maybe just over, something like 30 to 40%, whether it was TAFE or university, something, they went to tertiary. Aboriginal people, I didn't look it up because I didn't want to see how sad it is. But that's, that's the stuff. There have got to be jobs. I walked around the campus the other day and I saw a young girl that I've known her family for years and she was a gardener. And it just made my heart smile. And that needs to be everywhere I go on campus. We need that access. That is our, that is our community's place. It's not the university, that was our mob space, that was our land, and that was taken. So by having access you're acknowledging that. By having Aboriginal people work there, play there, study there. It's got to be the way. Let them into the gym for free, for crying out loud. Has anyone looked at how much a gym membership is? We’ve had that gym for so long. There's so many ways we could access that place. Yeah.

Speaker 3 [00:42:37] Fantastic ideas. Love the enthusiasm, as always, Layne. Would anyone else like to, to add to that? I wasn't going to open it up, but I thought it's a really good question, you know, and if we are successful, what would it look like for our communities? But I'm happy if anyone else on our panel wants to add.

Speaker 2 [00:42:56] No, I really like that response because it is about material benefit, right? So how are these institutions and I am talking about the people in them, David, most definitely. How is it that they're focused on material benefit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this place in which they benefit from so greatly? I mean, I really resonate with that story. I, I was doing family research stuff when Glen Williams was there as a Student Support Officer and said, Oh, what did you come on campus to have a look through the old photos? And I was, I'd never been to a university in my life. Nobody in my family had been to university. I don't even think I ever said university as a word in my life. So going there made all the difference. Coming on campus and, and feeling like you're part of that community was, you know, a wonderful experience. And, you know, you get results when you invest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, without a doubt. When I think about the alumni that I know from UOW, you've got a range of people, you know who are working in community, who are working in organisations, who are now professors or scholars. You know, that's all just lost knowledge to UOW when they leave. It is lost, you know. So, I think doing a little bit better about keeping people and growing your own is a really good strategy. I mean, you've got a young scholar like Ash, what's, you know, what's the plan? I don't know Ash, I'm just throwing her under the bus right here. What is the plan to ensure a future for this young scholar to complete their PhD, to go on and be an awesome researcher and provide brilliant scholarship to the community? Where's the investment in that? I'm, I'm pretty sure I'd be safe to say there probably isn't any. I look at the demise of Indigenous Studies in many places around the country, not just the UOW, and think, well, that's a great loss. I mean, I mean, they used to be I don't know if you even remember this, Layne, or even Ash. Universities used to offer block programmes to community for, you know, to develop skills. And that often led to doing degrees at the institution and it led to a relationship and connection with the institution. I remember Indigenous health that UOW used to offer those kind of block programmes to bring communities and right from right across western New South Wales and further afar. And a lot of those people went on to do medical degrees etc. So yeah, it's really is about investment, it's about a material benefit for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Reconciliation Action Plans, I’m like really cautiously optimistic that they might produce that. But I haven't seen any evidence yet to see that. I've seen various reconciliation plans get revamped and I think what's this one coming under the idea of courageous? Is that courageous for us to keep up, the people keep going? Was that courageous for settler folk to do something? I'm not sure what the courageous bit is about, but, you know, for me it is all about material benefit. It is seeing Indigenous people employed, it is seeing that their lives change, having the opportunity to be educated without feeling like they don't really meet the grade. I mean, that's why places like, you know, Woolyungah, the old Aboriginal Education Centre, all of those kind of ways that place has transformed is terribly important. I think each and every one of us had come through and being supported by such support centres, so they're really beneficial as well. But yeah, a material benefit, that's definitely the bottom line for it all.

Speaker 3 [00:46:22] Thank you. And I can assure you that we are working very hard on staff pipelines. And Jaymee Beveridge, who heads our Indigenous Strategy Unit, it’s at the forefront of her mind and there are set RAP deliverables that discuss direct appointments for our HDR students into academic contracts. So we're very much, very much, you know, looking at the pipeline. But I completely agree with that.

Speaker 2 [00:46:45] I’d like to see a few more professors actually, because it's the leadership that's lacking in that higher space. I know I've worked at institutions where there's a lack of Indigenous professors who actually can speak at that kind of level, particularly around developing strategies and making change and institutions. And as much as we'd love to think that they're listening to Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people, they listen to people with titles. And so, I think it's really important for us mob to be sitting at those tables.

Speaker 3 [00:47:12] Could not agree with you more. Be sure, make sure you shout out and ask any questions that you might have. I can say a few coming through which are fantastic and we'll be sure to get to them at the end of the session if we can or like I said earlier, we'll definitely answer these questions for you following this session. We've got a couple more a few more questions to go. I'd like to throw this out to a couple of people, and this is an alumni question. So how can alumni support the reconciliation journey at UOW and beyond? Layne, can I get your thoughts as an alumni of UOW first?

Speaker 4 [00:47:52] Yeah. I think you need to first and foremost be mindful and present in terms of what reconciliation is and what I mean by that. I’m sorry, puppy’s having a fair go here.  And what I mean by that is, what I mean by that is why, first of all, whenever you go to a space, an organisation as an alumni go, “Where's the mob? Who's the mob? Where are they at? Who’s my local elder? Who's my community groups? Are you involved? Do we work with them? Do we have an existing relationship?” And yeah, you might work at a distribution company, right? In sales and you night go, “Well, how does that, how does that relate to me in terms of reconciliation”. Or have you got really low skilled labour that Aboriginal people could be doing and easy access for it, that they don't need a degree? There's good employment opportunities there. And then maybe later on they might go on. But we're talking about, when we're talking about breaking down low SES issues in this country, that's what true reconciliation is about. I've got some really, really good men my age, Aboriginal men. And they got trades nice and early and that changed the trajectory of their lives, having meaningful employment. So you can look around and say, Oh, wait, hold up. We actually work with the community, but we don't know any of the Aboriginal community that we live with or are we just call up Uncle such and such. But outside of Uncle Such and Such coming in at NAIDOC time, when else do you talk to him? Does he drop in? Is it a place that he's comfortable? You know, all that sorts of things is that, yeah, that meaningful relationship. So that would be my starting point really for alumni is if you're actually interested in changing this country for the better, we're talking about changing all the time now, that people are talking about changing and they’ve got to make this vote on it on the weekend. But if you want true change, you can it comes in your own collective action and the people around you. And it's got to be on people to go, “Hold on a second, this isn't right, that's not right. You know, with the Aboriginal people, where's the mob? We need to get them involved.” We can't make you do that. Like I said at the start, Aboriginal people are tired. We can't come to you and go, “Oh, have you heard about the Dharawal people that live in the Wollongong area.” It's not on us anymore, it's on you guys. So yeah, I'll leave it at that.

Speaker 3 [00:50:38] Thanks, Layne. And Ash, you touched on this a little bit earlier with, you know, everybody has a part to play. Is there anything you wanted to add about how can alumni support this journey, support the reconciliation journey?

Yeah, I think, you know, just echoing what Layne was saying there, like if you have if you're in an organisation where you, you only interact with Indigenous people during that, you know, NAIDOC Week or Reconciliation Week and the rest of the year, there's no involvement, that's a really good indication that you're not actually doing much. That's like a really good indication that you're not actually an ally for reconciliation. You need to be having consultation with Indigenous people throughout the year and it does not matter what your organisation does, it does not matter what job you do. There is not a single industry or employer or organisation in this country that is immune to needing to understand things for Indigenous Australians because we also live here. So we access everything. We access transport, health, education, we buy bath bombs and we get our hair cut. Like there is not a single thing that we don't participate in in this country. So, no matter what it is that you do, you know, as an alumni, you have the ability to actually implement consultation with Indigenous people and make your space open and inviting. And I think also as alumni, you know, you have a really powerful voice as a network. If you see the university doing things that you think it should do differently. You can actually use that collective voice as alumni to send that feedback back to the university as well. There's a really strong tie between UOW alumni and the university. You know, events like this,  events throughout the year. So as a collective as well, you actually hold quite a lot of power to feed back into the university and to advocate for those things that Indigenous communities are calling for as well.

Thank you so much. Professor Carlson, would you like to add anything about how alumni can support the journey? I just thought I'd chuck it out to our alumni.

Speaker 2 [00:52:41] I've always got something to say, Tammy. Look, I don't think institutions in Australia have really maintained networks of their alumni very well for a long time. Well, particularly not us mob anyway. So I think that that's something institutions can do better because like I said before, you have you bring people through the doors, they go through this, you know, spend years, you know, in these institutions connecting with people. And then you're out in the world and you work in professions. You're a generally well-educated person so you're working in the, you know, making a, decision-making professions, etc.. And so bringing all that knowledge back into and, you know, and treating alumni as this kind of bank of valued knowledge holders, I think is really wonderful. But to Layne’s point as well, a lot of institutions now have Elders in Residence, which are paid positions for Elders to advise on significant issues around strategies and stuff. And these things are really wonderful. And I think about some of the local mob here who, who would just value add so much. But yeah, having a network. So,  what does it mean to be alumni of, of Wollongong. You know I was, it is about relationships for me because you know, Jaymee asked me and so I went to uni with Jaymee, and so that's how it operates. But what about people who are outside of our own personal kind of networks, who went through these institutions before me, after me, beyond me and all the rest of it? Where are those people?

And so yeah, really, I'm spending a lot of time and institutions have done this sort of in an ad hoc way and building up their alumni network, but they're really undervalued because people bring back to the institutions they care about. So why? This is a question that UOW needs to ask themselves: “Why would our alumni care about us? Why should they?” And so, when you can answer that to me, to Ash, to Layne, to the community, then that's when you've got your answer. So why would we care about this place? Obviously, you know, for lots of people it's on country. And whilst, you know, my family originates from South Australia, I was born here, I have connection to this place and care for it and people here. So yeah, why, why should we give our time and energy to an institution? What is it that the institution's doing to make us proud? Why do I want to wear a UOW shirt? Why would I do that? That's what they need to ask themselves. So, you know, what is it that they've done for the alumni to keep alumni connected, to build capacity in this place?

Speaker 3 [00:55:20] And what a mighty challenge, you've given our alumni team, and I'm sure they'll be typing some notes now, and they'll get back to me straight away following this and saying, Tammy, I assure you we are doing this. Can you please pass this on? So, we have a pretty solid Indigenous alumni here and you know, as you might know, we've got a dinner tomorrow night as well with our Indigenous alumni coming from another university, not from this one. I don't have any connections, as an alumnus of my old uni and I see some things happening in these space and I get really excited about it. But I think you're right. There's many questions still to be answered.

David, can I just ask you a question on how can philanthropic support assist in terms of, if we're talking about alumni support, in terms of a philanthropic avenue.

Speaker 5 [00:56:10] Money always welcome, Tammy. Look, there are lots of philanthropists who have a particular interest in really supporting people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. I think to take Bronwyn’s point, if we're going to grow the core of scholars, then we need investment to break cycles first and family to university is absolutely critical. And that doesn't just happen. I think the other aspect of that is, you know, the transition particularly to master's or doctoral studies and then to postdocs, anything that is going to provide greater certainty in those pathways is absolutely critical to the future. And, you know, part of our team's efforts in working with philanthropists is ensuring that they're thinking broadly about how they invest their money. I think the other aspect is that philanthropists themselves have changed in progressively over the last half century in Australia. They now want far more than ever before, I think relationship with the investment that they're making, it's not a grant. They, they actually want to see the benefits that are accruing because they've put their money on the table. I honestly believe that we can grow that area of giving in ways that can really help to accelerate rapidly the graduation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics that really can take their place right across Australia and ensure that as people come to universities they are that they are going to predictably experience gaining knowledge that they otherwise would not have had.

Speaker 3 [00:58:29] Thank you so much. And yeah, valuable opportunities to be to be had for everyone there. I think we're going to go through with another slide. So, we've got another poll, another open poll. And here we want to hear from you, our participants here. How could the university support you on your reconciliation journey? Yeah. And what would you like to support with potentially in your workplace or. Yeah, just what would you, what would you like us to help you with whilst you're on your journey. Could be at work. It could be at home in your everyday lives. We got transparency. Okay. That's a great point. Yeah. So we've got a UOW staff member who would love to commit to anti-racism training. Thanks, Prof. Carlson. We'll have to get on to that one, won't we? We do have a school program that we have purchased for staff and will be rolling out to students throughout the next year or so. But I don't believe it has a whole great deal on anti-racism or anything really local at that. More education. Intentional action. Someone has mentioned would like to attend events, workshops and webinars about Indigenous histories and cultures.

Speaker 1 [00:59:56] Traditional workshops.

Speaker 3 [00:59:59] So just general, more training and more education in this space. I want to learn about the local history and culture. I mean, wouldn't that be fantastic if we had a book written about our campus and what was occurring here prior to all the buildings and around these traditional areas? Education and accountability. Sharing. Build Indigenous Studies. Cultural humility training. Agree. And we're very much working on this and we are adding local perspectives, strengthening existing relationships. What about, “Is there anything in terms of cultural cooking classes?” Yes. You know, things that we might be able to as well support with. And it could be things in terms of cultural safety resources. And I guess that kind of the cultural humility training as well. Ethics of passing on information in our workplaces. More open dialogue like tonight's event. Wow. Thank you so much. We've still got three participants, five participants typing. So, I'll wait a few seconds. Fund Indigenous Studies so that we can become a centre of Indigenous research and excellence. Email Ash to talk more. Ash. Love that. Yes. Reach out.

Really, really interested in that and be sure to reach out. Empathy. Pathways to connection. Visible Indigenous language around campus. Love this idea. I think it's fantastic. And I was only talking to Facilities Management Division about this last week, but we need to do it the right way and not just add things. And for the sake of adding. With money. Not just words. Completely agree. And I believe that was discussed quite a bit in in some of our questions that we've had. Well, they were they were fantastic. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. And our alumni team will gather all that information and see what we may already have to support you in your reconciliation journey or some of the new things that we'll be developing through our RAP and how we might be able to share those resources with alumni as well. So, I have a question I'm going to check out. I'm going to have another question for you, Professor David Currow.

Speaker 1 [01:02:08]

Speaker 3 [01:02:09] Just on that poll, for example. We had the poll. Is there anything else that you can think of how that UOW is able to do to support alumni on their journey?

Speaker 5 [01:02:22] So if we look at the poll, I think there's both education and experiences that that people have highlighted really incredibly and the things that can help them to better understand Indigenous culture. The focus on local is critical in that we need to amplify rapidly the opportunity for experiences. Excuse the dog! Experiences across a range of opportunities for staff, for students. And, and excuse me for one second. Thank you. Across staff and students throughout their time at the university and their formal opportunities. But we've got to create more informal opportunities to where people really can gain experiences that they otherwise wouldn't have. That I think, you know, one of the great things of universities is to offer people opportunities that they otherwise would not have. And they can be encounters with cultural elders who are prepared to sit down and provide education to the most uneducated people who have not encountered this in their life before coming to university. And let's face it, despite lots of policies that are trying to drive universities in the opposite direction, education is not about the letters you have after your name. It is actually about the skills, insights and ethos that you take into the world and continue across your life to develop and refine.

Speaker 3 [01:04:15] Lovely. Thank you so much for that. And speaking of cultural cooking classes, one of our Indigenous students just dropped me off a cooking feed that they just got back from their class today and made. So, we're training them well already. They're already feeding me, which is good. So, thank you so much. I cannot thank you all enough for the time that you have given us this evening to discuss this further. There are a couple of questions, a few, actually, and I think we'll ask the couple and get to get to others at a later at a later stage. David, there's one thing he specifically for you. Would you like to answer that at this time?

Speaker 5 [01:04:54] Of course I would.  

Speaker 3 [01:04:56] Lovely. So this person said, I'd specifically like to know Professor David, Professor Currow, his thoughts on this. If we can mandate student students to complete online courses such as Start Smart, surely at the very least similar could be done could be introduced to ensure all students are educated on Indigenous history matters beyond cultural competency.

Speaker 5 [01:05:21] Yeah. Look, Tammy, I think there are a number of areas where the university needs to think about graduate competencies, graduate knowledge, that transcend individual programmes. And that's obviously more difficult in in the vocationally directed programmes. But again, I think there has to be a commitment by the university to educate and that's not just about what people want to study, it's about what people should have by way of exposure. So, I think there's a real opportunity here and we have talked about graduate attributes in many of the discussions since I've been at the university. And I think revisiting that with the lens that we have tonight is a critical part of thinking about that future. You know, do we offer a, a relatively standard programme across part of first year, for example, for everyone who comes to this university no matter what they want to study? And if so, how will that help not only the university, but the community in which we live and the community which we serve to accelerate reconciliation?

Speaker 2 [01:06:45] Can I just add that that should come through Indigenous Studies as a discipline because we all know that student numbers creates the cash that's required to hire people. And so having all these little outside courses and things that people go off to or putting the obligation on the community does not build capacity for Indigenous staff in Indigenous Studies, and that's where the investment needs to go. So yes, people should be obliged to and should not be able to leave the university without coming through an Indigenous Studies department. That way you'd be able to build the Department of Indigenous Studies from the woeful amount of staff that it actually currently has into a proper department. It used to actually have some teeth to it. It used to have five or six staff members. And now you have, what, a couple? Three. But one of those, I might add, is on a contract. And so not full time permanent or invested into. And not turn these individuals into teaching, you know, hacks that you actually invest in their future as scholars. And so, the more money that comes in by students with bums on seats would actually produce that. And I'm very, very much in support of, you know, having the knowledge of local folk come in, particularly Elders and knowledge holders. But that is in paid positions. It's a Wollongong University is an institution who doesn't say to people in law, oh well we won't pay you some old people to come in and talk to you, but we'll get them because they know a lot. So, it's just this kind of stuff just perpetuates it. So, if you bring in Elders, it has to be in paid positions to, you know, to share their expertise. But that shouldn't be at the cost of the investment in Indigenous studies at all.

Speaker 3 [01:08:27] Thank you. Thank you so much for that. We've got time for one more question. So, we've got Adam Gowan and sorry, that quick question before we just had like sorry, I can't see the name now. It's on another screen, but I'll let you know who asked that question, David. So, this question I can answer, and it's regarding the inaugural RAP UOW announced in 2019. Can we get an update on how UOW went achieving the targets within the document and how the new aims in these 2022-2024 document was devised? Thank you so much for that question. When I started here at UOW at the middle of last year, I'll say I actually had a look at the RAP and we worked through whether things were achieved or not achieved. I worked closely with Jaymee Beveridge and my predecessor Jo Goulding on this, and we as a collective decided that we actually hadn't achieved as much as we'd like to. So, we held ourselves back and remained on an Innovate RAP. So it's our second Innovate RAP, and you'll notice if you have a copy of the 2019-2021 RAP, you'll see a lot of the deliverables and actions have been transitioned across because we made a commitment to that, those actions and deliverables at that time. We felt like we needed to ensure that we moved forward and actioned those. So, we did transfer them across to our new current 2022-2024 RAP. So I hope that has answered your question and please reach out if you have any other questions on consultation or look at Reconciliation Action Plan and how we devised and developed that. So, I want to thank all the guests and  everyone for taking the time out here to meet with us this evening. And we will be sure to try and include another event before the end of the year, a couple more events and keep your eye on this space, because we do have a whole weeklong of activities coming up for Reconciliation Week, and there are definitely opportunities for alumni and students, staff and community to get in on.

Particularly there's a discussion, an extension of an allyship panel discussion led by Summer May Finlay. So, we're very lucky today to have some entertainment.

We've got a traditionally inspired by country performance, so I'll get all our panelists. Thank you so much to our panelists and I'll get you to turn off your cameras and I'll just stay on for a second while I introduce Jiah King and Keina Brewer. So. It's traditionally inspired by country. Here we go.

There's Jiah and Keina.  Jiah is proud Waanyi and Pitta Pitta man who grew up on the South Coast. Jiah is a second-year student, currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Management. He was taught to play the didgeridoo by his father, Mark, who runs Didgeridoo Academy, an organisation created to teach others how to play the didgeridoo and to help First Nations boys and men become more confident, connected and empowered. Mark is a very well renowned digeridoo performer who had the honour of playing for Nelson Mandela in 2000. Jiah has been performing since a very young age and loves what his performances bring to others.

So welcome and thanks. Thanks, Jiah. We've got Keina Brewer. Keina is a proud Wiradjuri women who grew up in Shellharbour. Keina is a second-year student, currently studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts majoring in Music. She is a singer song writer and attended Oak Flats High before coming to UOW. So thank you so much. I will leave you with this beautiful performance that's been traditionally inspired by country.

Speaker 1 [01:12:30] G’day everyone, Jiah here. So I'm going to start off by playing a bit of didge for you guys. Quickly, a bit of context. This didge, I may have made some of it, but me and my dad worked on this when I was very, very young about a toddler. And I've been playing it ever since. I've been playing since about a very, very young age on stage, since before that. And I love playing for you guys so I’ll play a bit for you now.

And now can I am going to sing a song for you guys. This is Tennessee Whisky. This is first time we've sang together. Working together on this. Yeah, it's been good fun.

Speaker 3 [01:15:22] Yeah, this is Tennessee Whisky and it's a duet, so I hope you enjoy it.

Speaker 3 [01:19:16] Thank you so much. That was absolutely fantastic. And I for I don't believe you only know for a second that you've only just met and this is the first time. That was just solid. So thank you. And thanks again to everyone and the wonderful panel that we had here. And I can see some of the comments coming through. And we appreciate you. We appreciate your feedback. And please reach out to us if you have any questions or if you'd like to discuss our reconciliation journey here at UOW any further. Thank you. Good night.

Careers in Computer Sciences

A degree in Computer Sciences can result in many different paths. Hear from Mike Fuller from Atlassian and Henri Seymour from Easy Agile, two Computer Sciences alumni who have forged a unique path post-graduation, as they share their own stories and highlight the steps that have supercharged their careers.

Speaker 1 [00:00:40] Today's event is a great opportunity to talk about where a degree in computer sciences can take you. We're really lucky to have Mike and Henri be able to share their stories with us this evening. But it's important to keep in mind that in addition to these stories and these paths, there's always so many other paths to go down as well, which is really, really exciting. So, I guess my first question, I think I'll start with you, Mike, if that's okay, is to talk a little bit about how you figured out what you wanted to do. So, before we dive into what happened after graduation, I wanted to know what were the factors that influenced your decisions and helped you decide what you wanted to do when you graduated, and where did you want to work.

Speaker 2 [00:01:22] Yeah. So, I think like prior to university, I think I was always destined to get into technology. I was the kid that always pulled everything apart and, you know, was always on the family computer, consuming every minute of it. Once I hit UOW, I joined the IEEE Computer Lab. I don't even know that's still a thing anymore, but I met a whole pile of likeminded fellow students and I think from that, that lab, because we were running and sort of maintaining the computers ourselves as students of the lab, it sort of got a keen interest in system administration. And I think that sort of set the path for me on figuring out sort of that was the type of role that I wanted to do post-grad.

Speaker 1 [00:02:09] Yeah, that's great. So, you sort of always knew that you had, you know, that interest. But then once you got to uni, you were able to solidify that even more by the sense of it.

Speaker 2 [00:02:17] Find a particular interest area in that in that field.

Speaker 1 [00:02:20] Yeah, yeah. That's fantastic. Was it a similar experience for yourself, Henri? Or how did you figure out what you wanted to do?

Speaker 3 [00:02:27] I, I certainly I didn't know what I wanted to do. I had some skills, mostly in Maths sort of direction back in high school, but I knew that I might be able to do something with. My dad comes from a sort of engineering background and like he brought up the option of engineering as a degree. I think before that he was like nudging me towards law school, you know, “ here’s also a good option”  and I almost ended up in computer science by mistake at that point. It was one of the interviews I did for Early Entry at UOW and they were like, “Oh, you could also come join us here.” Why not do both? It was only a couple of years into doing that double degree that I was like, no I think I'd rather do programming than electrical engineering. It's, there's this loop of between you making the thing and the thing existing that's a lot shorter in programming than it was ever going to be in electrical engineering. And now that I am in the field I am still figuring out where I going.

Speaker 1 [00:03:33] I think that's really interesting, right. You've raised a couple of points that I think are worth reflecting on there. One being that sometimes we do have a push from external factors, whether it's our parents or from other people. And sometimes that works really well and gets us to consider things that we haven't really considered before. But then sometimes it's not always for you. So, maybe law school isn't necessarily the way that you wanted to go. I had a very similar thing from, from my parents. They wanted me to get into business and business alone, which is definitely an excellent degree. But I always knew maybe wasn't always the path for me. So sometimes those nudges are helpful, but sometimes, yeah, it's about figuring it out for yourself too. And it's interesting to hear that sort of as you went along, you kind of also started studying and then was able to refine, you know, which parts so that perhaps computer sciences were more your vocation rather than the engineering side of things. So that's really, really interesting. So, what about your journeys after graduating? Mike, can you tell us a little bit about what was it like for you when you first left university and how did you get that first job after graduation?

Speaker 2 [00:04:39] Yeah. So, I think my, I had a little bit of an overlap. So just before graduation and final year, I was able to pick up a local job in Wollongong with a tech company that did, small business I.T. Consulting. So, I did have that sort of part time job that I was in as I was graduating, which then obviously made me feel a little bit confident that I knew that I was on a path out, of out of uni and into work. And I this was, you know, 18, 19 years ago now. So, it's I can’t remember if SEEK was the place that I went or something like that. But, and so yeah, I was a local IT company and I feel, you know, always thankful for that job to sort of get me started in the industry.

Speaker 1 [00:05:26] Yeah, yeah. Fantastic. What about for you, Henri? You're a bit more of a recent graduate than Mike. Did you have a similar sort of experience in finding work, or how did that happen to you?

Speaker 3 [00:05:37] Oddly enough, yes actually. I’m surprised to hear that Mike has a story that is very similar to mine. I ended up with about an 18-month overlap so that was a fair bit of a very gradual transition. I got an internship that I was seeking out about the summer of 2018. I didn't find it on SEEK. I was applying for a bunch of different roles at all sorts of places that were offering internships, you know, mostly big corporations. And I found the internship through Siligong Valley instead. So again, like a smaller local company, and that kind of transitioned out of the full-time study through part-time back to full0time work. It made it a lot smoother and I think I consider myself very lucky that I ended up with that.

Speaker 1 [00:06:27] Yeah. Fantastic. So, tell us a little bit more there. So, you mentioned that you were you were applying for different places, but then it was actually through Siligong Valley. So, through sort of not necessarily work, but sort of work adjacent networking. And so how did that conversation happen or how did you meet the people that were to offer you the internship and then subsequently your role?

Speaker 3 [00:06:52] There's a friend of mine who encouraged me to go to Siligong Valley meet up. The topic was infrastructure or Infra-coders which wasn't specifically my area and continues to not be my area. But my friend encouraged me to turn up. I turned up, he was half an hour late, so I was just standing there awkwardly trying to make the best of being in a stranger's office. But it's, it was that sort of, the conversations that happened after that meetup, but, you know, a couple of presentations. But then it's mostly just kind of networking, which means eating pizza and drinking whatever you can find in the office fridge. I was just going out of my way to have a couple conversations with the people who were there. Easy Agile happened to be hosting it, not that I quite realized it at the time. So those were the people that I was, some of the people who were really open to having a chat with the strangers who’d showed up.  And it turned out that they were considering having an intern for the following summer. So, we didn't have that sort of conversation at the time. I just mentioned that I was a student, this was the sort of path I was looking for, and they didn't offer me anything on the spot or anything, but they suggested I connect with them on the Siligong Valley Slack channel. So, it was kind of forming connections after the event. Just make sure that you're still on people's radar and they can still contact you.

Speaker 1 [00:08:26] Yeah. Look, that's really interesting. And I might actually sort of jump forward to some of the questions that I had, because I think we've hit on something really interesting here about networking and the connections that can happen and with where sort of things can lead for yourself. Mike, have you had any similar experiences? Like has networking been a big thing for you in your career or whether it's sort of that those formal kind of programs or more informally, you know, as Henri has alluded to, has that been something that's helped you?

Speaker 2 [00:08:57] Yeah, definitely. Over the last five years of my career, I think there was a point roughly 2015-ish, where I decided that I would get into public speaking, and that was a really different environment for myself at the time. And so, I started sort of talking about the stuff, the work that I was doing at Atlassian on a public stage, which leads to those conversations, post talk and found that the connections that I made after those sorts of events led to the next thing and then that led to the next thing. And so that sort of chaining different events together with the communication of different networks you create. And then, you know, you mentioned that I wrote a book at the beginning that, that would have never happened without those networking events and meeting the people I met along that journey. And so, I think that almost it becomes so fun to network with other likeminded and similar industry people.

Speaker 1 [00:10:01] Yeah. It's really interesting that you say that, because I think a lot of us sometimes think about networking and can see it as a thing that, you know, you hate doing. That's really intimidating, really uncomfortable. But you're right. When you're connecting with people that actually have really similar interests, then, you know, really fantastic things can happen. And it's interesting, both of you, sort of the key seems to be first and foremost, putting yourself out there, whether it's going to engage in public speaking or I'm going to go to this this meet up or I'm going to putting yourself out there in some way. Secondly, following up those nice, you know, posts, talk, you know, discussions or following up on the Slack channel or whatever it is, connecting online, connecting on LinkedIn, that kind of thing, and then continuing that follow up. So like you said, way leads on to way and sort of going on, onto the next thing. That's really interesting. What about, sort of in terms of networking, what about mentoring? Has that been something that either of you have, found that to be beneficial or helped you find either a further work opportunities or even sort of just helped you figure out, you know, other opportunities or things that you're interested in. Henri, has that been something that has been of interest to you at all?

Speaker 3 [00:11:19] I did end up in a mentoring program for a couple of months back that run by the university. The person I ended up being paired with was the co-founder of one of the other companies within Siligong Valley. It's actually somebody I had met before that. All right. It's really, there's this real sense of that like you do all of these networking things and you never know which one is going to be the one that provides that next step in your career. It was good to get that perspective from somebody who was already working in the field, and that was a connection that turned out to provide a lot of context later on when I went into work. I feel like that was a known figure in the community and like that company is still a big part of Siligong Valley. I'm not sure it gave me a specific leap, but I, especially for a little while there, I think I ended up on the radar of a good deal of people in Siligong Valley, at least those who were keeping an eye out for students and young people. I was starting to know the landscape of the culture I was working in.

Speaker 1 [00:12:39] And that can be really helpful, right? So sometimes I guess, you know, you're looking for networking or mentoring so you can get that foot in the door or make the next step or whatnot. But sometimes, yeah, you're right. Particularly with mentoring, it can just be around building your knowledge, building your awareness, knowing who's who, knowing the names of different companies, different peoples, that kind of thing. What about for yourself, Mike? Have you been a mentor or a mentee and how has that been for you?

Speaker 2 [00:13:04] Yeah, my mentoring is a little bit different I guess, because it's coming later in my career and it's been less about an individual and more like teams. And so, I've done a lot of mentoring of other teams and other companies about like them setting up similar sorts of processes and technology sort of especially around the finance cloud financial management space that I work within. Being able to sort of talk to them and unlock sort of some of their thinking, which that led to, to the work I do now at the foundation in sort of connecting large groups of people trying to figure out their pathways and sort of mentoring was less about an individual and more about a collective group of, of, of the industry.

Speaker 1 [00:13:47] Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. That's really interesting. Thank you. So sorry to jump ahead, but I just felt like we were on a, on a really interesting point there in terms of the networking and the mentoring side of things. And we probably will we'll come back to that again. And I just wanted to ask you both, you know, I've already got some questions coming in, which is great. So, everyone else, please continue to add your questions in the Q&A and I'll get to them very soon. But if you could both tell me, so I might start with yourself, Mike, if you can tell me a little bit about what's your day to day role sort of entail at the moment? And is there anything about what you're doing now that really sort of surprised you? You know, is it very different to what you thought when you were a student your work life would be?

Speaker 2 [00:14:32] Yeah, definitely. So, when my first-year university I took, because computer science is quite a universal class and you can actually take classes from all over the university, which is really cool. And so, I took a first semester in accounting and after the first semester decided that it wasn't really for me. I don't really want to be dealing with money. And then all these years later, after doing lots of sys-admin work following me to the Cloud Centre of Excellence at Atlassian, I ended up starting doing the cloud cost management stuff and aligning heavily with the finance teams and realised that actually this is where I'm really good at. And so now in the day of life, so all the stuff around Fin Ops is really around, you know, understanding of costs, working with our teams about building efficiencies. And so there's a lot around the technology of cloud, but a large portion of what I do today is still driven around dollars, which is something that I didn't think that I would get into after the first semester of university.

Speaker 1 [00:15:36] Yeah, that's so interesting. And it's sort of just going back to what you said before, Henri. Sometimes when you say, engage in mentoring, you don't know where it will go, you don't know if it'll help you out in the future. Same with networking, and it's probably the same with sometimes subjects that you study. You think, “Oh, I may or may not use this, that maybe this isn't relevant for me”. But sometimes everything comes back around again and things are quite useful. How about for you, Henri? Did you the work life that you have now, is it sort of what you anticipated it would be like when you were studying? Or how is it different?

Speaker 3 [00:16:13] It’s, I mean, it is still a desk job. I'm actually, this is the desk I walk from in my home generally. I've been working remotely for a while now, but it's even despite working in remote, it's a bit more collaborative than I expected, spending more time as we all are at this point on Zoom calls, on little audio calls to sync up with what other people are doing, like getting, getting tasks done on a technical level, it was a lot more collaborative than I expected it to be, and there's kind of a system to it of you aren't the only person responsible for your work if you do a task and then other people review it and they are also partially responsible for it before it goes anywhere, and especially somebody who still kind of learning a lot of the technical skills. Even while I'm doing that, I'm still like, “Hey, is there a better way to do this? I’m stuck on this point? Is there some context for this that I need to know?” It's a lot more collaborative than I expected, and I also spend a lot more time than I expected reading other people's code, and that turned out to be fairly useful. There's a lot that I've learnt that I wouldn't have thought to do myself, but I've seen it in other people's code and that's been a big part of how I've learnt a lot over the last several years.

Speaker 1 [00:17:38] Right. That's really interesting. So, are you saying to me that given that you weren't expecting things to be so collaborative that those dreaded group assignments that a lot of our students are currently doing, has some of that, some of what you've learnt there about collaboration, has that actually been paying off?

Speaker 3 [00:17:57] Collaboration in the work context is very different from a group project and that may be a relief to most people who are currently doing group projects. In companies that are already established and it probably doesn't apply as much at the Start-Up level. I joined Easy Agile about two years into its existence, once it already had a pattern of work and wasn't just kind of smashing things out to make it happen. There is a system to it, like code reviews is out of the work and that's accounted for when you're planning how much time it's going to take. And also everybody's actually got specific set hours for it instead of when everyone's got a different timetable and also maybe a part time job. There's a lot more structure to it, and that really does help. And also, there’s other people who know more than you do and they really it makes it a lot more, a lot easier to do. There’s a system for it in a way that there isn't a lot of group projects.

Speaker 1 [00:19:02] So, that's really interesting there as well because I guess, you know what I'm hearing there is that in terms of, if you're working for a more established company or if you're working for a startup in it's very, very early stages or even a few years in, your experience will be very, very different. So, it's probably helpful, I guess, for our current students and also our recent graduates as well to think about, you know, how they feel that they might work best and then sort of, you know, target their search from there. We've had two questions come in, so I'll just jump into those before I jump back into mine. So, our first one is from a current postgraduate student. They're coming into computer science, they've got a bachelor degree in finance and over ten years of work experience in management. So, a really fantastic, diverse background and would like to ask more about what kind of opportunities are available in tech that capitalise on those other backgrounds other than just the technical skills of computer science. Would it be possible to leap into those positions with actual I.T. experience? So that's a really good question. Mike, I might throw this one to you first.

Speaker 2 [00:20:08] Yeah, I kind of feel like this question was written for me to answer. Like with a background in finance, I can just kind of selfishly sad that cloud financial management is begging for you to join. There's lots of companies trying to figure out how to do I.T. financial management. Outside of the cloud, you can look at the ITSM on the SAM protocols which are on the TBMs and other ones. So these are sort of like key words of industry terms that are around doing IT financial management. So the more your data standard driven stuff, so having that knowledge of how a business does financial controls and financial management and then taking the I.T. skills and I.T. knowledge, you learn from a university degree, you sort of combining the two and having that perfect mix for someone looking for cloud financial management, that's basically to many extent, I had just that little tiny bit of financial knowledge from, you know, from a bit of UOW stuff and then some of the stuff I did with small businesses over the years, and I used that with IT knowledge to be able to flesh out a career. So, someone who's got lots of financial history should be able to easily find that space.

Speaker 1 [00:21:23] Yeah, fantastic. Well, hopefully you can expect a job application from this person very soon. We've also had another question just come in as well from someone who said that they're actually looking at a reverse move from a career perspective. So, coming out of years in finance and looking to move into IT. How hard do you think it is for a mature-age person to start out in the industry? I might go to your first, Mike, and then over to you, Henri.

Speaker 2 [00:21:54] Oh, I think there's, I think the age should not be a problem. Like you need to be able to emphasise the skills you've learnt over the years in your previous career. And like, I feel like a lot of people think the career changes means you throw out all the skills from previous life and then start fresh. But I think there's a lot more connection, like you've worked in business and business needs a lot of skills. I think when I look at some of the interactions happening inside of enterprises today, you're sort of moving the dev term would be like the ‘full stack’, you know, engineer. I think that we're getting the ‘full stack’ business people that understand how business leaders think, how financial people think in order to get, you know, that sort of ‘you build it, you run it’ services management that understands the business around running services. So, just make sure that you're really emphasising the things, the skills you've learnt in the career you've got so far.

Speaker 1 [00:22:55] Yeah, I think that that's really, really great advice. Henri, what do you have to add? How do you see people from, I guess all different ages and backgrounds working in successfully in your organisation as well?

Speaker 3 [00:23:06] Yes, we've had a lot of sideways moves like that internally as well, which has been fascinating to watch. But with, I don't think we've seen anyone from finance specifically. We've actually had a psychologist doing a career change into computer science. Coding is a little less emotionally weighted than counselling and that was the change he was looking for. So.,he's come in with about the same level of technical knowledge that I had, but he is in his mid-thirties I think. That was the change that he wanted in life and because he sought it out that's where he ended up. And he's had no less value for that background and it's for him like having more of a sense of how people work has been helpful in that collaborative sort of context. And I think there's similar methods for that kind of if what you're working on as a team, if that's going to delve into any sort of financial context, knowing what that is like from the other side is always going to be useful. You don't just need to know how to program. If I'm making a product, well, who are my users and what's their perspective on it? Where are they coming from? And if you've been on the other side of that, that gives you a lot of leverage.

Speaker 1 [00:24:36] Yeah, that's really interesting. And you know, when you just sharing that example of your your colleague who's got a background in psychology, I don’t even work in computer sciences, but I was thinking that they would be great for, you know, user experience and design and that sort of thing because it really is about looking at things for, you know, how will my client or customer base use this so that that's really interesting. We actually have had another question come in. I'm doing my Masters in I.T at the moment and trying to do AWS certifications side by side, but not sure about my path afterwards. Any suggestions on which companies I can apply for if I'm mainly focussing on cloud computing or what certifications I can do before applying for jobs as I don't really have any experience in the field. I might go to you, Mike, first this one.

Speaker 2 [00:25:28] Cloud computing is a big field, growing very, very fast. I I’ve watched Gartner’s forecast on how much dollars are going to be spent on cloud computing for the last five years and every year they increase the forecast. I think the last I saw was something around $1,000,000,000,000 by 2025, 2026. So pretty much every company, definitely not just technology companies, like banks. Like if you look at NAB, they've got a huge cloud footprint now. You know, your traditional SaaS companies, obviously, you know, all got cloud. And I think that you find that there's a lot of companies, technology and not, that are looking for cloud experts. The reality is clouds, you know, while on a timeline, it's probably 14 years old. The reality is it’s been huge take up in the last six or seven years. So, that means that there's a huge vacuum of engineering power that needs to be trained and educated. And so, I think that you'll find that having that, you know, whether it's AWS or the other big vendors, that sort of knowledge and getting into those sort of, you know, grad roles or the, the sort of junior roles in a company that's going cloud. You'll be fine.

Speaker 1 [00:26:49] Yeah. Thank you. And Henri, what are your thoughts on that? Have you I guess, in addition to having a degree, what other certifications have been useful for you or do you want to attain or would recommend someone obtaining.

Speaker 3 [00:27:04] And I have only barely used my degree so far. Given that I started without one. In fact, they never even asked for a transcript, which was unusual in all of the applications that I was doing at the time. They just kind of took my word for it that I was currently a student.

Speaker 1 [00:27:20] You have a very trustworthy face.

Speaker 3 [00:27:22] Yeah, I think the people I was talking to would have noticed if I was lying. But the qualifications, I think I've only done one formal qualification after uni. I've done a few different bits of training here and there. The only one I've done was field specific, which was scaled agile. Scaled Agile framework. It's called SAFE. And that was, I think again, for the context of being on the other side, the one of the major products that we're making of the company is to support other organisations doing that scaled agile transformation. So, it's not so much that I need to do Scaled Agile, it's that the people that I'm building for are doing Scaled Agile. So that's a certification that I'm not personally using. But again, it’s that context about it. It's not that I need to have this piece of paper and go, “Yes, I'm qualified to do this”, but the learning has given me context. A lot of my learning has been less formal than certificates, but still fairly well respected at my workplace.

Speaker 1 [00:28:35] Yeah, definitely. And I think that's really interesting. It's, good to know that, I guess, the learning, even when you graduate continues and it comes in many, many different forms. How has that been for you, Mike? Have you focussed a lot, particularly on different certifications or have you looked for other sorts of opportunities for learning or training or on the job kind of development?

Speaker 2 [00:28:58] Yeah, I think that like any good career should have an element of, of training progression. You, you know, the IT industry reinvents itself a lot and likes to change and also likes to go in circles, you know. And so, I'm waiting for the day that we go back to mainframes or something like that. But I think that, you know, always finding the sort of like, what's the next thing I could learn? You know, Henri mentioned before about having the other smart people around you, like taking advantage of them in in the informal training context. But then also just looking at, you know, we call our like résumé building or maybe LinkedIn building and just figuring out like, what's the next thing that you should be adding to your LinkedIn page? And, you know, whether or not it's about getting the next job is really irrelevant. It's just that feeling that you're able to take that extra bit of skill that you've learnt from some training or some certification program and try and apply it back into your day job.

Speaker 1 [00:30:01] Yeah, that that's really great advice. And I think, you know, for our current students and for our recent alumni that are tuning in, one good way to also find out if you are sure of sort of what's out there is, you know, you know, as we've heard speaking to other people and talking to them about what they would recommend. But you can also do a little bit of professional stalking on LinkedIn and have a look at some of the profiles of people that you admire, that have the jobs that you might want to have in a few years time and see what they've done, what their background is, what qualifications they have, certifications they have, and that can be a really great jumping off point to say, oh, you know, you might even notice some, you know, consistencies with everyone seems to be qualified in X or everyone's got a certification in Y and that can also sort of help direct and focus study a little bit as well. So, Henri, I'll jump over to you now in terms of advice, so what advice would you give to students and to our recent graduates on making a successful transition from university into work?

Speaker 3 [00:31:08] I think. I mean, getting the job is probably the hardest job like that, but first job is what's going to build the rest of it. I like the experience that I've got it Easy Agile is probably the key thing that I would use to get my next job when eventually I'm forced to leave the company. I guess I'm hoping it's not anytime soon. Making that leap for me, I think, was mostly less about specific technical skill.

Even now, I'm a bit lightweight on that. It's more breadth. Like you may have heard the whole thing about like a T-shaped engineer. Like you’re deep on one thing, but you've got that breadth in other things. Like you've got a background in finance, you've got experience in psychology, you’ve got interests outside of work that don't really apply to your specific role but turn out to be kind of relevant anyway. It's that sort of breadth, I think is how I ended up with the work I have. You know, for me it was stuff like communications and writing. Now, most communication is done by writing. So that's been really handy for me. But there's, there's a whole transition phase of work as a different. It's a different process. It's a different culture, which is hard to really embody when you're working remotely. But there is, there's a different pace to it instead of this, deadline, schedule your own stuff, like struggling to interact with other people. There is a process for it. Like you might not always have the 9 – 5, especially like remote and flexible working is more common. But the 8 hours a day is not 8 hours of solid focus a day. There's the meetings in there, there’s the just chatting with people for seemingly no reason is hard to do remotely, but it is worth doing anyway. Like at the office, it's just I make a cup of tea and I'm having a snack in the kitchen and so are four other people. And now we've been having a chat for half an hour and this may or may not be related to work, but it's part of the work. There's a different pacing to it which for someone like me who likes that structure of ‘When am I doing stuff?’ and ‘How fast can I expected to do this again?’ Yes, it really helps.

Speaker 1 [00:33:41] Yeah, I think that's really good advice. It's important for us to keep in mind that it'll be a little bit different. Like transitioning from studying into working is different, different environment, different culture, different expectations for ourselves. So, allowing a bit of flexibility as well. Mike, what about for you in terms of, I guess, qualities or attributes that you think are necessary to succeed in your profession or for people to do well? What would you say is important there?

Speaker 2 [00:34:13] Yeah, I think Henri's point there around that soft skill set being like, you know, Henri's already mentioned a few times. A lot more of a job is around, you know, not just sitting in front of the computer programming in isolation. There's a whole lot of team collaboration, alignment with thinking, you know, planning. There's a lot of planning that happens with releases. And, you know, if you move into the sort of agile world, you've got the things like spring planning and stuff like that. And so a lot of the soft skills there are around being able to get everyone onside with an idea or being able to drive forward one sort of commonality and thinking. And if you're just focussed on the fact that you're, you know, able to code 7000 lines a minute, it doesn't really matter if you're unable to actually work in amongst that team that's around. You really, really think that that it's probably undersold in a lot of times for people looking for their first job is worrying about the soft skills that they bring.

Speaker 1 [00:35:15] Right. Okay. So, in terms of what organisations are looking for when they're recruiting, what are some of those key things? It sounds like it is things like communication and collaboration. Are there other sort of key things that you think you know or buzzwords that you see in someone's resume or application and you see and you think, ‘Oh, that sounds really good.’ What stands out to you?

Speaker 2 [00:35:37] For me, I think, like, especially for, you know, a grad sort of position or, you know, a junior position, I'd be looking for the willingness to learn. So, you know, usually comes out pretty quick in in the resumé about the things you've done, the engagement you've had, like the types of doodling you've done at home on the computer, the projects side projects you've done. And I guess that to me, you know, communicate why is a job and it's important to you like you've chosen this career path but your résumé should tell you tell me as someone reading it that like this is a path for you because you're telling me your story. You know, I think that if you look at the people around you, that they're all going to have a degree from you or what makes you different than everyone else is graduated is your story of why you picked that degree and the things that you've done around the degree that that you've done at UOW.

Speaker 1 [00:36:41] And so do you think that that narrative and that story is important for both the technical skills and the non-technical skills. So, we've had a question come in here, which is relating really strongly to what we're discussing about what kind of expectations do companies have for entry level programs in terms of both technical skills and non-technical ones? Henri, what are your thoughts on that? Do you think that it's important for an applicant to explain sort of not only what their skills, hard and soft skills are, but those motivations? And will I have developed X, Y, Z because I'm passionate about blah? What's your advice there?

Speaker 3 [00:37:23] I think one of the things of tapping into that like what story does your résumé tell? Like the story that I end up telling about of that period of like, you know, I switched from a double degree into programming because this is what drew me to it. It is that thing of what, not just what skills do you have, but what are you interested in personally? A good company, when they're trying to recruit isn't like trying to fill chairs. It's are your interests as a potential employee going to align with the companies interests. They don't need to be the same, but like if that company needs to improve their infrastructure, are you a person who's interested in infrastructure? If you're in that role, are you going to go out of your way in a sense, but be like looking into how this can get better? Are you going to be actively interested in what's going on here? I think it's less about like what exactly you’ve got, but also why you've got those skills and qualifications. What are you interested in and are your interests going to be relevant? And also, are you interested in things? If you're not interested in anything, that is a struggle. The one thing I'm not going to do is use the word passion about things. I have never been passionate about my job. I find it interesting. I find it satisfying to create a thing. It's. That’s the part that I enjoy about this job and I think Easy Agile has got the sense of like, you know, we need somebody who's going to make things. That's why I'm not over in the infrastructure department because they know I'm not interested in that. But we have people who are and I'm very glad they are.

Speaker 1 [00:39:19] Yeah, I think that's really important. That interest and that curiosity for, you know, if you can demonstrate that in an application, that's really going to be helpful. Mike, what are your thoughts in terms of, you know, for, say, entry level program or if you were recruiting someone for that sort of role, what kind of technical skills would you expect to see demonstrated on that application?

Speaker 2 [00:39:42] I think this answer is going to change depending on the type of company and the type of role you going for. You know, it's kind of like there's a middle. I think there's like a hard edges and a soft middle in the industry here. You've got the start ups who really just need people will get in and do it. They don't have the time to train you because they're really trying to get off the ground, you know. Once it's flying they got that width and that sort of ability to look for someone who has the need for those around you to bring you up in the knowledge. And when you get into that soft middle, you're really sort of showing that that ability to learn that, you know, you should be able to demonstrate some skills in this area. But it's sort of a common understanding that you are hiring a junior position, that junior will come up with the other seniors. And then I think as you get up to the other end, you've got these large enterprises and especially the ones that are hyper scaling that don't they sort of start to return to that once again, don't have the time to bring juniors along. And so you're really looking for those enterprises that have grad programs that they're going to be a lot more willing to train because they're actually doing intern and grad programs and understand what that means or definitely don't be going for the second day start up that's really just looking for five seniors to kick this thing off the ground. You're looking at the companies in the middle that, you know, understand what it means for a junior to join. We talk a lot at Atlassian like the progression from a sort of junior sort of into a senior is that mastering the craft? And so you can't expect juniors to join and be masters of the craft, being able to write, you know, all the code without any other feedback. And as Henri has already pointed out, like there's a lot to learn just by looking at other Seniors code. And then over time you start writing code in similar ways. So yeah, I think there's also, I guess, a layer of imposter syndrome that can really quickly kick in for early grad, you know, thinking, am I enough for this company? But I think just there's a certain level of having to have faith that you're bringing something to this company and looking at yourself in that light.

Speaker 1 [00:41:59] Yeah, definitely. And like you say, you know, particularly if there are, you know, internship or graduate roles or it's sort of more entry level positions, they are designed for people that are sort of a little bit fresher. And so, you're not necessarily going to be expected to know absolutely everything. There will be, you know, some support there, which is which is really great. Henri, another question that's come in, in terms of I believe from someone who's currently studying and they would like to know how critical do you think your major in your degree or subject selection is in getting that first job? Is that something that's been important to you or that you've seen being important there?

Speaker 3 [00:42:42] I think there is a way in which it could be useful, which is that why did you do it? Like does this demonstrate a specific interest in your field? Like if you'd if you've done a major in cybersecurity, you're not just a student who has done CompSci. You are actively interested in this field. So, if you are applying for cybersecurity roles, you go, I, I have already been working towards this. I want to continue working towards this with you as an employer. Having said that, follow your interests, because that demonstrating interest is how it is useful. I did no major at all and in fact dropped my major in order to finish university sooner. I think I cut a couple of required subjects out of my degree because I was ready to move out of university. Likewise there are people in my organisation who've done, like I mean I come from a CompSci background, I've got a colleague at the same level as me who followed a similar path to me from a mechatronic engineering,  colleagues from boot camps, from switching careers, using like a little bit of a boot camp sort of thing like that. And even the most technical co-founder of my company has no degree at all. Your major is useful if you're interested in it, because it demonstrates that you're interested in it, but it's not required. It doesn't have to be critical, but you can make it useful.

Speaker 1 [00:44:20] Yeah, I think it's really important is to, you know, make it work for you as much as possible and like you say, can help you. But it also doesn't necessarily have to limit you either. Would you agree with that, Mike? What are your thoughts on about, you know, when you've been looking for your colleagues to join your team and what not? Has the major that they've done or particular subjects been something that's been really crucial there or has there been flexibility?

Speaker 2 [00:44:43] Yeah, I don't think so. Like I mean, if I look at my degree, I did software development, security systems, and I don't do either of them today. So, you know, I can talk about like why those subject areas were interesting to me at UOW and why once I picked a pathway out of uni, it didn't matter that I wasn't going down the pathway of those two particular specialty areas. I think as Henri has mentioned, it's really about the story behind your choice of those things. If it was just because you thought it looked good on the résumé, it doesn't really show the passion for getting into the field. Cyber security is a great example of that. Like you, you can use pretty much every software developer has a hat of security. It's hidden in their back pocket. They can't be developing software without thinking about security. And, you know, a lot of companies, including Atlassian, will put security as tier zero - the first thing we think about. Because that's the thing. So, it doesn't mean that you have to go into cybersecurity just because you did a cyber security specialty, but you can use it in telling your story and why it was super important for you.

Speaker 1 [00:45:56] Yeah, yeah. Fantastic. That's great advice. And so mwe've just had a question come in as well from someone who says that they're a mechatronics engineer and they’re interested that what skill certifications should they go for after doing a Masters? We'll start with you, Mike, and then we'll jump over to Henri.

Speaker 2 [00:46:16] This one. And I've been watching this question come up and wondering what I'm going to say to this. So I'm going to try and dodge the bullet and throw Henri under the bus because he just mentioned that one of his colleagues did mechatronics. So maybe he has something to say.

Speaker 1 [00:46:38] Yes, I heard you say mechatronics, Henri and I was like “Right!”. So, what are your thoughts?

Speaker 3 [00:46:43] I'm reasonably sure that colleague comes out of mechatronics or computer engineering, but they're very adjacent at UOW at least for the first three years.  I'm not sure about the certifications specifically because again, it's like having the pieces of paper are useful sometimes but this isn't a heavily regulated field like engineering is where you have to check a box in order to be an engineer and you can only be employed as an engineer when you've got that certification. It's very much like, does your certification come from an interest in it and demonstrate an interest in it. Somebody in the chat was talking about doing AWS certs. If you're a person who's interested in AWS and to the point where you are getting formal training on it, then if you're applying for a role in say infrastructure, that's going to demonstrate that you were a better fit for that role than somebody who's not done any specific looking into any sort of infrastructure. You don't need to check a lot of boxes in this industry. It's not that you need them, but how can you make them useful? And I think what Mike mentioned about what story you're telling is a similar sort of basis.

Speaker 1 [00:48:05] Yeah. So it would perhaps, you know, a possible advice for this person to be about, you know, the certifications and degrees. Obviously useful of course, but other options could also be some volunteering or some interning or some other joining a professional association or network and sort of building experience in that way might be might potentially might be an option. But what some other advice that we have about how our audience can increase their employability generally within the industry. Henri, what what are your thoughts?

Speaker 3 [00:48:39] I do think that experience has a good deal of it. And if you're not at employment sort of yet, I didn't have a lot of experience in this field and very little before I actually joined. But some of the it's kind of like make your own experiences. If you found a technology that you've got super interested in, like, oh, it's just, you know, something that's caught your eye off like, Oh, I wonder how this works. Can I make something with it? Or I want to make this thing, what tools can I use? Those sorts of side projects to build your own experience method which a person who has difficulty with big projects. Sometimes that hasn't been great for me, but we've had people applying if I think are currently out grads live and go, Oh, you know, I've got the specific interests and this is just the example that's come up. And today, like I've got a specific interest in that. I've tried splitting up this sort of thing with it in order to do this, even if it didn't work, if I tried this and I can see why this wasn't the right tool for it or, you know, this is a project I tried like I did it for like two weeks and then abandoned it because it but like once I'd done it, it wasn't interesting to go back to anymore. It's like I've tried a thing. I've learnt a bit more about how that works. I can see how I would use it in this context or it's yeah, build your own experience. Is that the available path? I think and the networking is kind of how you say, Hey, I've got this experience. Do you happen to know anyone who's also interested in this experience?

Speaker 1 [00:50:21] Sure. And so what do you think? Build your experience. How does someone demonstrate that, though? Do they create their own website and sort of post about it on their device? Like, how would you share that, that so that there's evidence that they could take forward in that application?

Speaker 3 [00:50:38] It's I need the if you've got your own website, I guess I feel like there's some sort of expectation of working this field to have your own website. I do not yet. I think I'd like tried it and it looks horrible. So I've told you where it is. If. But like, not even just a website or even just a hosted blog or LinkedIn posting something like, Hey, it's the thing I did. And that also demonstrates the like soft skills of can you present what you've done back to either your stakeholders or people with no technical background for people who do have a technical background. Different audiences for different writing. That's I'm interested in this thing. Let me tell you about it. Networking or on LinkedIn or in a blog post. I did this thing. Let me show you how it works of drawing a diagram of what works or actually show you the thing if you can. Not everything is going to be like that from a technical background. Like a website's easy to tell, like, hey, look how cool my website is. Look how cool my machine learning thing is. It's something that I've seen in videos. I think a colleague did want to like identify different types of cockroaches for some reason, which was weird but interesting. Yeah, we have been interesting. It's a good it's a bit of a feature in this sort of build. It's yeah. Really like. This is the thing I do. Let me tell you about it.

Speaker 1 [00:52:06] Yeah, well, I guess it just goes back to what we're talking about there in terms of it demonstrates the interest or the passion or the curiosity. So that's really interesting. What do you think, Matt, and do you have a website and I ask you that question?

Speaker 2 [00:52:21] No, I don't know. Like, I think websites are like business sites that if they're not updated often they kind of detract from the story. Yeah, I think if you if you rewind time, Steve Wozniak took his, you know crazy home built thing to a local networking event and started off. I feel like that's really all we're talking about you know 40 years later is go do stuff. I would say if you're struggling to think of the next idea, then don't come up with a new idea. Go look on open source projects. There are so many open source projects that would love the skills you've already gained from UOW to come and help them. Whether it's, you know, with some UI, whether it's some coding, whether it's even just answering some of the bug fix problems that they've got in their, you know, their issues backlog. And that stuff is it's easy to show that you've done stuff in an open source community for your potential employer, you know, so there's a whole pile of skills you gain from picking up an open source project, learning the card, figuring out how it all works, and then contributing something useful to it.

Speaker 1 [00:53:26] Yeah. Yeah. Look, that's fantastic advice. And I think, you know, it's really important, like you say, just to sort of get started and then widely later to way just not going to jump back in. That will start out because I guess it's a little bit about, you know, that demonstrating what we've done and a little bit in terms of networking. Have either of you used to use LinkedIn a lot or other sort of online networking platforms or how is that being used? Is LinkedIn something that you engage with and how can it be useful for connecting with people in your industry?

Speaker 2 [00:54:00] Yeah, I think LinkedIn is a really useful resource, especially once you start attending networking events or meeting other people, you be able to just connect and stay connected with them and then you start to become sort of aware of the events they're going to, which might cross over an interest area of your own, I find, yeah. Like almost as far as a professional sense. My LinkedIn is, is my, you know, public profile effectively. There's no way I'm Facebook friending you.

Speaker 1 [00:54:34] Yeah and it's not the right platform. What about you, Henri? Do you  use LinkedIn and have you found it useful in terms of that online networking space and for a follow up as well?

Speaker 3 [00:54:45] Yeah, it has been it's like the professional Facebook in my experience. Like if I go to a social event like, hey, I know you told me your name at the beginning of this direction, but I've already forgotten it. Can you search for yourself on Facebook? On my phone? It's the professional version. Like you keep those lives completely separate to go, like, Hey, we met at this event. So that is like either lost to the void of I have a really bad facial recognition like can we connect on this and the sort of look even later on trying to find those people. Like I definitely met somebody who worked for this company and was interested in this and they might be a good fit for like this question I have. Or I'd like to form a panel about this topic just a bit to a major event that I'd like to work with, like we don't interact in a. And as that sort of like every day or friend level, but that connection stay there even if you aren't interacting much. And it kind of helps you locate you at the people with a specific interests. Oh, they've got them written down on LinkedIn. If I remember who this person is, they're face in the name of their they're working for the it's kind of keep the log of that so you don't have to remember all of those. And I hope it's doing the same for appearing for other people. I usually appear on my company's socials only when people over in the marketing department remember to do that, they're on top of it. I just turn up sometimes and they take them like cook.

Speaker 1 [00:56:29] But I think that's the thing, right, is that you can connect with people and forge those connections there, which is really helpful and you can draw on that straight away if you need to. Or it might be, you know, six months, a year, or a couple of years into the future. And you guys have got that connection and you can sort of follow them and see what they're doing. But it also means that once you've made that connection and you share, “Hey, I did this thing”, you know, I've been working on this great project. I've connected with this colleague. They're amazing. And you give them a shout out or whatever it is that you're posting on there. You are also staying on the radar of people that might be future colleagues, future employees, people that have those, you know, same interests and are like minded as well. Yeah. It's interesting. I'm pleased to hear that you're both sort of on there and enjoying that platform. Thank you so much to Mike. Thank you so much to Henri. So absolute pleasure to have you as part of our amazing alumni community and really appreciate your time for joining us as well. So, thank you all. Have a good night. Take care. And we'll see you at our next event. Thank you.

Mini-masterclass with Heba Abusedou

In 'Part 1: Presenting like a pro', Heba Abusedou, Founder of iSimplify Presentations, shares her tips and tricks for an amazing presentation and highlights the importance of competence over confidence.

Speaker 1 [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to the alumni anthology webinar series, where we explore the passion projects, skills and expertise of our amazing alumni community. The presentation today is brought to you from Heber. ABC drew an incredible alumnus who graduated from the UAW Dubai campus in 2018 with a master of Information Technology Management. Heba is now based in Toronto, where she works as an IT manager and systems analyst for the Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries. He was also the founder of Ice Simplify Presentations, where she works with people to help them build their personal brand, tell meaningful stories and share their passions with the world. She is a mentor, a music junkie, a coach, a bookworm and presentations pro. Recently, he delivered a live virtual event for alumni across the world, and she was generous enough to allow us to record the discussion, and I am thrilled to bring you part one, which focuses on confidence, competence and techniques for an amazing presentation.

Speaker 2 [00:01:16] My name is Heba Abasi, though I live in Toronto. I am a I'm an alumni of the University of Wollongong Dubai campus. Most advice, I think when we think about confidence, which is like a huge a huge word when it comes to presentations, they fall short, in my opinion. So people tell you, you control, you control your thoughts. You can control how you feel. And my favourite, my favourite, fake it till you make it or you. All you have to do is decide to be confident. They all sound like those self-help books that tell you you have unlimited capacity for love and unlimited capacity for competence. And then you can be supermen and superwomen if you think if you practise confidence enough. But there's a problem with confidence. Confidence should not be a goal. It's hollow, really. It's your goal should not be to look confident. They tell you if you have certain posture, if you pace back and forth on the stage, if you speak really loud, if you use your arms all the time, you will look confident. You will. People will feel that you are confident. The truth is, and this is something that I learnt recently, is that competence is more important than confidence. Because people are here. Whatever the setup is, whatever it is that you're presenting, whether it's formal at work or telling a story to friends or you're at the bar sitting across the table from a friend telling us, telling them about your day or if you're a doctor telling a patient about something they really don't care much about your confidence or you looking confident. We want people to be confident, but we do not want that to be the goal when they think of presentations. A lot of people here, I'm sure, are introverts they identify as introverts, so to them, it doesn't really it doesn't really help them to say you need to present in a certain way. So I think of it as an athlete for Mo Farah is a long distance runner, and he didn't wake up one day and say, I'm going to focus on looking confident or being confident so I can finish a marathon. Instead, what more fair did? He went on long runs. He did speed training. He focussed on nutrition. He did strength training. And he was wearing the right footwear. And and to me, sports is the is the best metaphor for how you do things and how you live your life. Because that means that more, farai, I did not think about being confident. Instead, he trained very well so he can be confident or feel confident enough that he can actually finish the race. He can win the race. So attempting to focus on confidence might actually self-sabotage, because if that's all you think about when you present, you might end up feeling bad about yourself and then it's a cycle. You will never accept your speaking style. You will never accept that you, you speak a certain way. You're soft spoken or you loud or you just very self-reflective or you connect with your audience instead. I think attempts to improve your import performance and your expertise and your competence can genuinely boost your confidence because success your success can breed confidence in your competence can also build confidence. OK, so now the question is how do I, you know, that's all great. I want to stand up on the stage I want to present, and I want to feel confident, whether that's fake or not fake. I really want to do that, right? So what I want to tell you is that confidence is a by-product of something else. It comes hand-in-hand with competence. I want to change people's minds about the stereotypical image of what a confidence speaker looks like. We've seen that in Hollywood. We've seen that in all of these extroverted speakers. I'm an extrovert myself, but I don't really associate with how everybody is presented like a sales person image. I think what is more valuable is focussing on the actual message that you're delivering, because that's what people are here for. And the second thing is that I don't think self-confidence is the problem. I think a lot of people do not understand their strengths and limitations and do not accept them. So a friend of mine is an and he identifies as an introvert. So he's not very loud. He's really soft spoken, but he delivers amazing presentations. And that is because he connects really well with his audience, and he listens, he observes. And then he's very reflective. He gives people the chance to speak, to express themselves. So and he accepts his own speaking style. He knows that he cannot speak out loud in front of people, and that's OK with him. He accepts that, and that gives him the confidence in front of other people, and he's presenting. OK, so let's move to some practical tips. The recipe for confidence, like I said, is growing your competence. But most importantly, is learning to communicate and share your expertise. It's not enough that you have the competence I got to tell you you can. You can be the most expert in the world. And we all know that a lot of people have amazing expertise, but they don't know how to deliver it. And then what, after you after you've learnt to communicate your expertise, which is a huge part of the deal, honestly, after you've build your expertise, you need to learn how to connect with your audience, understand the context and communicate your message, so understand the context of your message. Your context might be different for different audience. So you have to learn about that. And what does that look like? Is, for example, if you are telling your friend across the table from you a story about your day, it's going to be completely different from you, from when you were standing in front of a panel or executives or pitching. That's all different. You can't care. It's it's the same skillset, but you have to tailor it together. You are presenting to you and then focus on delivering a value message. I'm going to start with the first one, and that is really, really famous. I love it. I applied everywhere. It's called the rule of three I have. I honestly have the memory of the goldfish. So if you stand in front of me with a wall of text, text and then you present for 15 minutes, my brain goes, la la la la la la. Like, it's just all over the place. You lose me. I'm like, Oh my phone checking Instagram. So I like to have structure when I look at a presentation, whether it's slide or it's just somebody speaking right? What is the role of rule of streaming? It means you. Let's let's say you're you're really presenting about rocket science. OK. It's like really complex. Pick the three top topics that you want to talk about and focus on those. OK? And then organise all of your content in your presentation or your story under these three main categories. The second technique that I like, it's something that one of my favourite YouTubers has told me about because I was really scared of recording myself on video and putting the video on Instagram for like Instagram Reels. He said The technique, I don't know the name I call it, tell them. So what he said you should do is tell people what you're going to tell them or what we call the bottom line on top. So start with the main idea and what you want to share with people and they say, say, tell them what you're going to tell them and then tell them and then tell them what you told them. It's like it's really simple. But once you get used to it, you'll find it very useful. It's very handy when you're like having having to prepare for a presentation in the next 15 minutes and you're like, What the hell do we do now? I don't know what to put in this presentation. Just focus on these three points. And the last technique, which is also one of my favourites. It's called structuring your presentation if you're presenting a problem or a solution. I also use that for one of the videos I prepared to explain something on social media. Start with the bottom line on top, whatever it is that you want to present, then talk about the pain points. Use words like what most people struggle with is or what is stopping people from doing something else. And then you get people's attention because. If you are presenting a solution, people, you want people to connect with the pain point that you're presenting, otherwise you've lost them. They're like, I don't know. You know, I don't I don't relate to this. So I'm not, I'm not going to discontinue listening to you. And then after that, tell people why it matters. I suggest I tell people that they should explicitly and say exactly why it matters, because it really matters that you tell people why it matters. That's no pun intended. And then tell people how you're addressing these pain points and then summarise key points. So let's say I want to explain to you what it is that confidence versus competence. So the bottom line on top is competence is much more important than confidence. What most people struggle with when they think of presentations is that they think is confidence is the problem. Why you should care is because you can have control over your competence, which eventually builds your confidence. How can you solve that problem? One. You can work on your competence, too. You can find ways to communicate your message and then you will grow your confidence. In in brief, competence is better than confidence or more important. It's people. It's something that most people struggle with. And what you can do is follow the rule of three or structure your presentation or follow the technique that I call tell them. So that's just an example. So it's not a secret anymore, though. When I put the slides, it was a secret. Improvement breeds confidence. The competence also breeds confidence and success breeds confidence. What's more important is that you take action and then you work on your confidence instead of sitting and sulking in that feeling. I'm really shy, can't stand in front of people and all of that.

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Previous webinars

Mini-masterclass with Heba Abusedou. Part 1: Presenting like a pro

Heba shares her tips and tricks for an amazing presentation and highlights the importance of competence over confidence.

About Heba Abusedou: Heba is the Founder of iSimplify Presentations where she works with people to help them build their personal brand, tell meaningful stories and share their passions with the world. She is a mentor, music-junkie, coach, bookworm and presentation pro.

Watch 'Presenting like a pro' (YouTube)


Mini-masterclass with Heba Abusedou. Part 2: Personal branding

Heba focuses on personal branding and offers advice for developing self-awareness and self-acceptance, so that we can ‘plant our flag’ and share our passions with the world.

About Heba Abusedou: Heba is the Founder of iSimplify Presentations where she works with people to help them build their personal brand, tell meaningful stories and share their passions with the world. She is a mentor, music-junkie, coach, bookworm and presentation pro.

Watch 'Personal branding' (YouTube)


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A live panel discussion featuring Luke Zadkovich, Aiden Lerch and Lucy Noble from international law firm Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich. Luke, Aiden and Lucy share their valuable insights on career development, networking, and forging the professional life you really want.

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