Our case studies

Our capability is highlighted through the following case studies.

In-house training at Grampians Prisons

FEDUNI TRAINING: Customised workplace training developed by FedUni for Corrections Victoria.

In-house training at Grampians prisons

When Corrections Victoria expanded the employment programs at their Grampians prisons, they continued their 20-year training partnership with Federation University Australia.

The modern Hopkins Correctional Centre and H.M. Prison Langi Kal Kal are industrious hubs of manufacturing and agriculture. All able prisoners on the sites are encouraged to engage in full-time work. FedUni programs are delivered directly into the industries within the prisons, supporting learners and improving industrial outcomes. Training is delivered in a range of areas, including industry-specific skill-sets, occupational health and safety, IT, and numeracy and literacy support programs. These programs are specifically tailored to promote a safe and productive work environment whilst incarcerated, and to embed transferable skills and knowledge for the prisoners post-release.

H. M. Prison Langi Kal Kal is a large working prison. Set on approximately 2800 acres, agricultural farming is the prison’s key industry, producing poultry, cattle and sheep products. Plants are tended in the onsite nursery. Metal, wood, textile, and polymer concrete products are also fabricated at the prison in addition to various smaller services that support the prison itself.

Hopkins Correctional Centre is a modern prison supporting a range of industries including metal fabrication, wood product manufacture, and number plate production. The prison also operates a number of internal services such as the commercial-grade kitchen that caters for the entire prisoner population.

Getting the right balance of custodial practice, community protection, and preparation of prisoners for release, is supported through on-the-job learning. FedUni programs are tailored to the industry requirements of each prison, and are designed to complement prisoners’ work practices. Course materials are often customised to suit the environment. FedUni instructors deliver much of the training on the factory floor or within the farm environment, ensuring the students’ new skills are relevant and immediately applicable.

In addition to keeping prisoners active and interested, workplace training offers the opportunity to acquire the valuable, transferable skills required to undertake short-term and seasonal work or long-term employment.

More than 40 FedUni trainers regularly share their industry knowledge and substantial experience with participants at these two prisons alone. This training augments the existing qualifications of some prisoners, bringing them up-to-date with new skills and current work practices. Other participants can exit the system with recognised ‘job tickets’ allowing them to operate specialist equipment, manage traffic, or gain a construction induction ‘White Card’.

A substantial focus of FedUni training is to embed literacy and numeracy education into prison-based courses. Critical English and math skills, designed for the prison industries, are delivered from the Foundation Skills Package. This learning is integrated into the participants’ hands-on training — keeping it accessible, engaging and reducing the overall study workload.

The FedUni approach, highlighting numeracy and literacy skills, reduces OHS risk and improves productivity — substantial benefits for any industry. Individuals experience increased confidence, a sense of achievement, and are better able to undertake their daily work. These are positive outcomes borne of engaged participation, hard work, and a very successful long-term partnership.

Hawthorn Football Club. Striving. Always

FEDUNI TRAINING: FedUni prepares Hawthorn Football Club players for future projects

Hawthorn Football Club. Striving. Always

Even as the Hawthorn Football Club recruits new talent, they never take their eyes off the ball for established players — preparing these elite athletes for life after football. FedUni is supporting this aim by delivering the Diploma of Project Management to Hawks players at their home stadium, Waverley Park.

The Diploma equips players with powerful skills to embark on a new career, or start their own enterprise, having run through their last AFL banner. On completion, players will be able to plan, manage and complete projects — from the first bounce to the final siren.

The class of 2016 includes nine senior Hawk’s players. Cyril Rioli, Jack Gunston, James Frawley, James Sicily, Dallas Willsmore, Jonathon O’Rourke, Taylor Duryea and Liam Shiels — sought after names for anyone’s footy-card collection — are among the participants.

Following an initial meeting with the AFL Players' Association, FedUni’s Damian Larkin approached the Hawthorn Football Club to offer an alternative learning approach. “Management programs had been delivered to AFL clubs before, but in many cases players didn’t get much out of it,” reports Damian. “By contrast, we customised the FedUni Diploma of Project Management around the Club, selecting suitable units and arranging flexible delivery.”

To accommodate the players’ hectic schedules, FedUni delivers the training on a weekly basis, with flexible times and days, at the team’s home ground. Some participants have also taken advantage of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) opportunities.

“The diploma will arm our guys with some really important skills,” explains Cam Matthews, Hawthorn Player Development Manager. “We encourage all our players to have an interest outside of footy and it’s great to see so many of our guys participating in the Diploma of Project Management.”

The diploma consists of 12 units, delivering project management skills that are transferrable across a plethora of industries. Participants are empowered to lead people, manage risk and oversee the scope, cost and quality of a project. They learn to manage time, information and procurement, and how to ensure a safe workplace.

Elite sports-people recognise that the road to reward is paved with effort and dedication. The FedUni team are also committed to the success and prosperity of their students — whether they are young bloods new to the arena or seasoned players preparing for life off the field.

* Australian Football League  (AFL)

Finding the training sweet spot

FEDUNI TRAINING: FedUni training aligns Mars induction process to a formal qualification

Finding the training sweet spot

MARS Australia, one of the world’s largest confectioners, called upon Federation University Australia (FedUni) to introduce a fresh cohort of personnel to food processing best-practice within its unique production landscape.

The introduction of new shift patterns and the retirement of key personnel at MARS Australia’s operations lead to the recruitment of more than 30 new ‘associates’, an in-house term for members of the confectionery manufacturer’s workforce.

Tim Knight, MARS training co-ordinator, sought to augment the established five-day MARS induction process with a formal qualification for the newcomers. “The new associates were not all familiar with FMCG — Fast Moving Consumer Goods — within the food industry, so we approached FedUni to customise the Certificate III in Food Processing to suit MARS criteria.”

The certificate incorporates food quality and safety, sustainable work practices, interpersonal skills, and improvement processes across interrelated production operations. “We’ve tailored the training to the participants’ job-specific role,” remarks Damian Larkin, a Business Development Consultant at FedUni. For example, associates working on packaging lines undertake a unit specific to this process. Designed to bring the new associates up to speed in a short time, the competency-based training also allows for identification of any skills gaps and provides the opportunity to address them.

Although not compulsory, 30 of the new associates are participating in the course. Students work at their own pace over an 18-month period, with some participants aiming to complete their modules sooner.

The diverse student group undertakes all their training on site at MARS. For every module, associates initially attend an informal workshop in a ‘classroom’ setting. They then each apply this learning to their daily work in the plant, where they are observed and assessed by FedUni staff. “Most participants say it’s been fantastic, finding it both challenging and interesting,” notes Tim.

The nature of shift work rendered a challenge to training delivery. “FedUni have been fantastic,” explains Tim. “We have site inducted the FedUni trainers so they can visit as required and provide training and assessment across our seven shift patterns.”

MARS Australia’s commitment to the ongoing professional development of its associates — existing and new — is evidenced by their excellent work-force retention rates. Incorporating training from Federation University Australia into the traditional induction process will provide these participants with a formal qualification for life.

Engineering workforce consistency

FEDUNI TRAINING: Customised workplace training developed by FedUni for Staley Automation

Engineering workforce consistency

When Federation University Australia (FedUni) approached Staley Automation with a strategy to enhance their company culture and diversify services, owner Mick Staley seized the opportunity. 

Staley Automation is a regionally based electrical engineering company supplying state-of-the art automation solutions to clients throughout Australia. The Staley team are each highly educated and skilled within their roles, so Mick was looking for training that would align organisational culture and deliver a consistent approach across his workforce. "Accredited training is the kind of mechanism people use to further themselves as individuals, be we're employing it as a platform to improve our business," Mick explains.

For Mick the training is about drawing his workforce together — "so we're all working along the same lines, and heading in the same direction" — facilitating the cross-pollination of good ideas and best practice processes. "We want to provide our people with a tool-box of common approaches in order to provide Staley customers with a consistent experience," notes Mick.

Geraldine Lewis, Business Development Manager at FedUni, met regularly with Mick to customise training opportunities for his staff, and identify potential funding sources. "FedUni allowed me to align the training to our strategic plan, selecting modules and moving things around to suit the business," says Mick, "while still meeting the diploma criteria."

Geraldine concurs. "At FedUni, we contextualise training and provide appropriate support in response to each organisation's particular requirements," she explains. "We also access every opportunity to ensure training is affordable".

One such opportunity is the Commonwealth government's Industry Skills Fund (ISF) that was created to enable businesses to increase workforce capability and leverage opportunities for growth. The good news for successful grant recipients such as Staley Automation is that the ISF will reimburse the lion's share of the training expenditure — providing strong motivation for small to medium enterprises to initiate professional development.

Several Staley team members have accessed accredited units from FedUni's Diploma of Engineering (Technical), and another four will be awarded either the Advanced Diploma of Management or the Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management, according to work role suitability. Specialty educators deliver training on site at Staley's and participants also access the high-end equipment available at FedUni's SMB campus in Ballarat — allowing for valuable knowledge exchange.

The bespoke programs developed by Geraldine and the FedUni team have enabled Staley Automation to adopt a 'whole team' approach to training. In turn, the Staley workforce is better positioned to maximise the productivity and efficiency of its wide-ranging customer base. According to Mick, "It has been a really good experience."

Accessible eHealth in the interactive age

FEDUNI RESEARCH: Centre for Biopsychosocial and eHealth Research and Innovation (CBeRI)

Accessible eHealth in the interactive age

The progression of ehealth solutions has long been stifled by the lack of affordable and accessible IT infrastructure that would assist researchers and healthcare professionals to develop, deliver and evaluate their own ehealth programs. The team at the Centre for Biopsychosocial and eHealth Research and Innovation (CBeRI) have responded by developing practical and cost effective ehealth solutions.

Current ehealth researchers can often re-invent the wheel for minor variations within their field of research and unnecessarily stretch deadlines and budgets. In response, Professor Britt Klein,

CBeRI director and trailblazer in the ehealth field, aims to unify fragmented ICT infrastructures to generate integrated platforms accessible to health professionals, patients and researchers alike.

CBeRI are developing an interactive ehealth platform that augments mobile technologies (including smartphones and tablets) and portable biometric devices (such as a FitBit®) in order to empower consumers and clinicians to monitor and manage wellbeing.

"Ultimately, our aim is to provide treatment and wellbeing programs that include 24/7 real time monitoring and which acknowledge the complex interactions of a person's life," Professor Klein discloses. "We need to get better at taking into account what is happening biologically, psychologically and environmentally, in real time and over time, and the inclusion of biometric data with self-report data can help us to better achieve this."

In 2015 a CBeRI study gathered over 60,000 hours of biometric data (including heart rate, physical activity levels, skin temperature, and sleep activity) that was aligned to over 5000 mood surveys completed via an App, five times a day. Key psychological-biological-neurological markers taken from mental health questionnaires, blood, saliva and neuro-cognitive tests were also measured before and after the trial. Using this information to build complex algorithms, FedUni are building a platform that blends connectivity, accessibility and flexibility to allow real-time, adaptive responses to people — wherever and whenever their symptoms take hold.

The user's biometric information is measured by a FitBit-style device and transferred securely to the ehealth platform alongside information reported by the user. When the analysed data predicts a pattern of decline in the user's wellbeing, the system will send them a friendly message offering appropriate suggestions or interventions. "The combination of biometric and self-report wellbeing data can provide considerably greater insight than we've been able to provide people with before. It should allow the person to make more informed decisions around their own health," Professor Klein reports.

"We will be adding the biometric device option to some of our current programs such as LIFE FLeX in a few months time."

CBeRI's LIFE FleX web and mobile program for depression and anxiety will soon demonstrate the innovative incorporation of a biometric device to support traditional methods. The current LIFE FLeX program focuses on building core psychological and biological 'life skills', combining standard cognitive behavioural therapy with newer, evidence-based intervention techniques that are biologically focused — for example lifestyle-based interventions such as increasing physical activity — to provide a more comprehensive and integrated treatment.

"Preliminary LIFE FLeX data illustrates that our treatment effects are higher, and the dropout rates considerably lower, than evaluations of previous fully automated programs. We are also noticing a larger uptake by men and members of socially diverse populations. The initial results are very encouraging, so we expect even greater results once the biometric feature is added," notes Professor Klein.

Through additional funding, philanthropy, and commercial partnerships, Professor Klein foresees extraordinary possibilities facilitated by CBeRI 's work. "We plan to provide health professionals and researchers access to the platform so they can use it within their own professional practice or for research. We envisage a small, annual licensing fee arrangement to cover software maintenance and improvement."

In addition to anxiety and depression, the predictive analysis and 'real-time' response of the CBeRI approach is applicable to a range of conditions such as chronic pain or insomnia. It could also be used to assist in identifying triggers to certain behaviours in dementia patients, or offset the build-up of aggression experienced by people with violent tendencies.

The collegial-minded decision to make the FedUni platform accessible to others will allow clinicians and researchers to spend less time and money developing practice and research specific software, and more time formulating solutions. True to the Centre's aims, CBeRI is creating engaging eHealth technologies that are customisable and scalable, with far-reaching scope and global possibilities.

Battle hardened commerce security

FEDUNI RESEARCH: Internet Commerce Security Laboratory (ICSL)

 Battle hardened commerce security

As the battle for the security of our commercial and financial transactions wages, it is comforting to know that there are quiet warriors, invisible to most of us, fighting cyber-criminals with every keystroke.

One such group is the Internet Commerce Security Laboratory (ICSL) at FedUni. Renowned for their advanced analytic techniques, the Lab team focus on commercially relevant research into fraudulent online activity.

Many IT security companies, driven by profitability, provide generic approaches to cyber-security problems. The ICSL, however, offer a significant point of difference. As ICSL Director, Associate Professor Iqbal Gondal, explains, "We deliver customised, targeted responses designed to address the specific needs of our internet-commerce clients." In other words, ICSL are positioned to fill the gaps — the vulnerabilities — left open by standard security measures.

ICSL identify threats and develop industry-based techniques to deliver new tools and algorithms, as well as useable intelligence. Working with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Assoc. Prof. Gondal reveals, "Our intention has been to enable early detection of criminal activity and reduce the policing time it takes to analyse data." This approach translates to other stakeholders, including founding partners IBM® and Westpac.

As with any battle, offense is as important as defence. The ICSL have developed pioneering algorithms to mine 'big data', identify malware and phishing incursions, and extract the characteristics of an attack in order to profile the attacker. "In this instance we seek to identify the attackers, often distinguishable by their approach, and then we go after them," asserts Assoc. Prof. Gondal.

Interconnected and overlapping areas of research within ICSL also include forensics, fraud and identity theft detection, and infrastructure security. ICSL researchers work to automate laborious and time-consuming forensic examinations of compromised computers and networks. They seek out weaknesses within client systems and processes that could be exploited by criminals. They trawl the vast expanses of the digital realm — detecting, recognising, classifying and monitoring the 'needles in the haystack' of 'big data'.

Two key models are available for industry engagement with ICSL: projects and partnerships. Within the project-based model, ICSL and the client identify an area of common interest where ICSL might develop customised technology. ICSL demonstrates its capability and produces a short business case, including budget expectation. Further discussion and refinement results in an expanded business case or submission of a formal proposal to the client.

The second model is partnership based. Together, ICSL and partner, develop an idea to 'proof of concept' stage prior to seeking appropriate funding and undertaking the project.

A centre of excellence within FedUni's Faculty of Science and Technology, ICSL's dedicated professionals can also access specialist academic expertise from the wider University community. "ICSL develops the tech that enables our clients to do business in a far more secure manner, " notes Assoc. Prof. Gondal. "We have a proven record of delivering high-calibre cyber-security solutions with confidence and trust."

Evaluating prevention and change strategies

FEDUNI RESEARCH: Gippsland Prevention of Men's Violence Against Women (PMVAW)

Evaluating prevention and change strategies

The three-year Gippsland Prevention of Men's Violence Against Women (PMVAW) strategy coordinates a range of projects for preventing men's violence against women. The participating organisations aren't the usual vanguard working to address men's violence but they are well positioned to lay the groundwork for cultural change.

Government organisations, community and sporting groups have been encouraged to identify and respond to issues of gender-based disrespect and inequality that lead to the de-valuation of women and their roles. These strategic partners have developed initiatives across Gippsland to promote respectful relationships between genders, aimed at prompting changes in both action and environment.

Rather than applying a postscript evaluation to the strategy implementation, Gippsland Women's Health enlisted FedUni to develop a 'built in' model — a dynamic, developmental evaluation framework — for the Prevention of Men's Violence Against Women project, which is funded by the Department of Justice and Regulation.

Dr Karen Crinall, Associate Dean Research, notes that the assessment loop created by integrating the evaluation process within the broader initiative enables immediate feedback and responsive project changes. "We have been actively engaged in informing the process along the way," reveals Dr Crinall. "Ongoing evaluation also keeps participating groups accountable and on track, leading to greater commitment from partners."

While the evaluation process is responsive to evolving project requirements, the academic rigour is unassailable. "We have identified the project as a Living Systems inquiry model," explains Dr Crinall. "This model allows for the complexity of ongoing and challenging problems, such as men's violence against women."

Dr Crinall encourages researcher engagement at all levels of the evaluation process, collaborating with the partnership network. The research team designed a range of tools to gather data, including indexes for measuring the partnership development process and gender equity, narrative methods, survey and data analysis, as well as conducting interviews and focus groups.

To date, a number of examples demonstrate how behaviours can be successfully modified and action prompted. Via its social media platform, the 'Make the Link' campaign encourages people to consider the 'everyday things' that support men's violence against women, questioning particular actions, such as sexist jokes and other examples of gender inequality.

Local governments are 'Paving the Way' to raise awareness amongst management of language and behaviour that might de-value or discriminate against women in the workplace.

Sporting organisations are raising awareness of women's participation and representation, altering the perception that women's activity is an adjunct to the 'main event' of senior men's sport. Efforts to value women's and men's involvement in sport equally can be as simple as ensuring trophies for men and women, boys and girls, are equal in size.

Now in its final year, the project evaluation is focused on identifying which elements of each initiative indicate the 'Most Significant Change' and the degree of partnership development and strengthening. The outcomes will strengthen further projects, inform ongoing research, and help determine how funding is directed into the future at local, regional and state levels. Influencing 'ground-level' change within workplace, sporting, and community cultures is crucial in preventing men's violence against women. FedUni is proud of its contribution to this important research, and is engaged to become an accredited White Ribbon organisation.

Coalmine fire - initial impact of health and wellbeing

The Hazelwood coalmine fire in February and March 2014 affected nearby Morwell and surrounding communities for 6 weeks with smoke, ash and raised carbon monoxide levels. Health professionals anecdotally reported that residents presented to them not only with respiratory effects but also more general health and well being concerns related to the fire.

FedUni is investigating the initial impact on health and well being from the coalmine fire to susceptible sub-groups, such as pregnant women, infants and children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing lung and heart disease.

This project will create a narrative evidence base of the initial perceived impact of the Hazelwood coalmine fire on health and well being (concerns and responses) in Morwell and surrounding communities.

The study will bring together researchers from across Monash University, Federation University Australia, the University of Tasmania, CSIRO and the University of Adelaide. The project will involve the development of an Advisory Committee with representation from local community members as well as close connections with local health professionals to ensure the study outcomes are communicated locally and taken up into policy and practice.

This project will precede and complement a separate 10-year study to be funded by the Victorian Department of Health to identify any long-term health impacts from the fire.

Formal partnership with Chinese university

The University has received formal notification from the Ministry of Education in China for the joint delivery of the Bachelor of Environmental Science with Hebei University of Science and Technology (HUST). This is the first FedUni joint delivery program officially approved by the Chinese central government and, accordingly, is a significant milestone in terms of the University's China engagement strategy. Apart from other benefits, the approval will endorse our position in China as a well-regarded international university that has capacity to deliver an existing program in partnership with a high-ranking Chinese university. It is expected that 100 students will be recruited for this four-year bachelor program which will commence in September 2015.

Agreement with Tristar Aviation

Federation University Australia will provide training and support to Tristar Aviation following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations this week.

"The University is delighted that we will now be collaborating with Tristar to provide education and training services relevant to the aviation industry," Jason Giri, Head of the School of Engineering and Information Technology, said.

"The online learning programs we will provide can be taken in conjunction with overall pilot training.

"Pilots will be able to study for a business, engineering or information technology degree to complement their training.

"This joint venture is sure to be of great benefit to trainees."

By undertaking a FedUni program alongside their training, prospective pilots will be able to increase their chances of finding their ideal aviation career.

Tristar Aviation said it welcomed the MOU with Federation University Australia.

"The carefully considered pathways and flexible delivery options will allow a greater diversity of skilled personnel into the aviation industry," Adrianne Fleming, Operations Manager, said.

A ceremony to sign the Memorandum of Understanding was held at the Mt Helen Campus.

FedUni contributes to energy efficiency program

Federation University Australia has been selected to provide important research services to the Glenelg SAVES program, a grant recipient of the Commonwealth Government's Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP).

"The aim of this project is to enable carers and their clients to increase energy efficiency in their own homes, reduce energy bills and also improve home comfort," David Lynch, Chief Investigator, Federation University Australia, said.

"Glenelg SAVES has already provided over 20 Home and Community Care (HACC) staff with home energy assessment training that they have used to improve the energy efficiency of both their own homes and that of their clients.

"The response to Glenelg SAVES has been very encouraging with over 300 HACC clients deciding to join the program."

LIEEP has been set up to test and evaluate many different approaches in various locations across Australia designed to help low income households become more energy efficient.

The program has also been designed to capture and analyse data and information to inform energy efficiency policy and future program approaches.

Glenelg SAVES was launched in February 2014 and is being co-ordinated through the Glenelg Shire Council's HACC department.

The Glenelg SAVES project includes a formal consortium, consisting of the Glenelg Shire Council, Federation University Australia and the Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership (Western District Health Service).

Glenelg SAVES is targeted at the Glenelg Shire Council's HACC staff and clients.

As part of the Glenelg SAVES consortium, with Southern Grampians Glenelg Primary Care Partnership (Western District Health Service) and the Glenelg Shire Council, Federation University Australia is the program's research partner.

Federation University Australia's main role is to evaluate the program's effectiveness and better understand the influence of such energy efficiency programs on energy use behaviour.

Research services have been delivered by staff from our Centre for Regional Innovation and Competitiveness (CRIC), National Centre for Sustainability (NCS) and Centre for Informatics and Applied Optimization (CIAO).

"Overall project management has been provided by the Western District Health Service with support from the Glenelg Shire," David Lynch said.

"Final reporting will be completed by March 2016, and all participants will be able to access the information that comes from the project.

"This activity received funding from the Australian Government."

For further information about this study please contact David Lynch on 03 5327 9487 or atd.lynch@federation.edu.au

The views expressed herein are not necessarily the views of the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Commonwealth does not accept responsibility for any information or advice contained herein.

On the rise

Federation University Australia's (FedUni) Food Processing programs team are clearly passionate about the importance of bringing successful personal relationships to industry training collaborations. As practitioners, FedUni understands the need to learn about each individual company's environment and culture before expecting them to accept FedUni as their registered training organisation. Listening to an organisation's needs, customising the content of materials, and being flexible and patient in delivery.

It is this commitment that formed part of the attraction to FedUni training for Australia's largest flour producer. Although operating as Allied Mills since 2002, the company's history stretches over more than 100 years, with fourteen locations across the country providing flours and premixes for domestic and international markets. It is a big operation.

HR Manager, David Ainger, explains why Allied Mills chose to provide competency based training for its employees. 'We wanted to increase the capabilities of our employees, with an emphasis on multi-skilling, to allow staff rotation through various roles. We wanted comprehensive, structure training that was accredited and provided staff with a well-earned qualification'. Mill employees are currently undertaking the Certificate III in Food Processing.

FedUni and Allied Mills worked together to develop a range of responsive and flexible learning pathways. 'We spent a fair bit of time in the planning stages' says David, 'Feduni brought valuable knowledge to the table'. The whole program was customised to sensitively mesh with employee's regular work patterns and without disruption to mill operations.

There was some reluctance in returning to study for a handful of staff, but they were supported and encourage by both FedUni facilitators and Allied Mills management, becoming more and more enthusiastic as the benefits became apparent. It is important to have the flexibility to adapt training approaches to everyday workload. The successful program delivered at the Ballarat mill, is being rolled out to other Allied Mills sites, with Kensington next in line.

There have been unexpected benefits also. 'The training has opened ideas for updating current mill processes', says David 'and has acted as a catalyst for developing procedures for the Ballarat mill's new packing line'.

Just as the magical alchemy of flour, water and yeast generates on of the world's most staple foods, creative exchange between organisations and their training providers can produce practical, fulfilling outcomes.

Phish and silicon chips

If you think 'phishing' involves a rod and reel, or that a 'spoof' is a lampooning movie genre, then you are at risk of falling victim to the dark work of cyber-criminals. A new research laboratory at Federation University Australia aims to shift the power, enabling FedUni researchers to analyse and profile the realms of e-crime.

In an effort to stem the growing tide of e-commerce fraud and online identity theft, Federation University Australia's "Internet Commerce Security Laboratory' (ICSL) has been developed in collaboration with the Westpac Banking Corporation, IBM Australia and the Victorian State Government. All four partners have undertaken a significant financial commitment exceeding $3.8 million to fund the Laboratory's first five years.

The incidence of web users unwittingly sharing private information with defrauders is on the rise. Varying sources estimate the annual cost world-wide in terms of billions of dollars, while wider implications are reduced consumer confidence and the personal impact of identity theft upon individuals. Solitary, square-eyed, 'hackers' are no longer the prime suspects. Criminal organisations account for the majority of scams today, including 'phishing' (spam emails that trick people into disclosing personal data), 'spoofing' (hoax websites that 'shadow' legitimate business websites), and the distribution of 'malware' (malicious software such as viruses and Trojan horses) that can silently steal identifying information.

The ICSL was launched late last year by the Minister for Information and Communication Technology, the Honourable Theo Theophanous MP. "The University's strengths in information security and data mining, together with the finance sector's recognition that this is a growing field of concern, have spear-headed the movement towards the ICSL" says ICSL Director, Professor John Yearwood.

Commercially relevant issues will be identified and channelled to the ICSL via the Westpac Banking Corporation. Discoveries within the Laboratory will inform banks and crime authorities who may then provide both technical and social solutions to the finance sector. "This Laboratory will provide a pipeline of real problems for ICSL researchers and industry practitioners to find solutions to', explains John "with substantial benefits for financial institutions. The value it provides to Westpac and other member banks will allow the ICSL to become commercially sustainable in the long term". The establishment of the ICSL further cements Ballarat's position as an ICT hub, and will provide a stream of industry-ready and doctoral graduates to the internet security sector, ready for the challenge of unmasking e-villains and helping the good guys stay one step ahead.

Generating sustainable communities

There are clear economic and social advantages to be gleaned by communities that are prepared to move forward in a sustainable way. The National Centre for Sustainability (NCS), houses within Federation University Australia, continues to foster widespread understanding of the benefits of sustainability.

The City of Ballarat has taken a 'ground up' approach to sustainability training, with all staff undertaking NCS workshops. In targeting its own environmental footprint, the 500-strong team of Council employees will also create a 'sphere of influence' that promotes sustainable behaviours to the wider Ballarat community. "Participants have been surprised that the training has provided them with a much broader awareness of sustainable behaviours than they expected, applicable to both the workplace and their own households', says Ian Rossiter, Director, Sustainability at the City of Ballarat.

Participants, including administrative staff, operational employees and councillors, were 'mixed up' into small groups for the training delivery, encouraging cross-organisational interaction and lively engagement. Many participants followed the initial short course with a home auit of water, energy, transport and waste.

Ian recognises the benefits of a not-for-profit alternative such as the NCS, particularly one with excellent credibility. "The NCS and its key staff have a longstanding relationship with the City," says Ian. "The next stage is to harness the training of our 'champions' group to work through the City's business units, examining sustainable behaviours in relation to the services each deliver".

Grains of truth

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a giant of the world's grain corporations, with a mission to invest in innovation for the greatest benefits of its primary stakeholders – grain growers – and the Australian Government. Australia's grain industry is worth billions of dollars annually, and the GRDC invest heavily in research, development and extension aimed at delivering improvements in production, profitability and sustainability for Australian agriculturalists, from the Top End to the toe of Tasmania.

With a repository of final reports dating back to the early 1990s, the GRDC identified a pressing need to evaluate, convert and collate them into a consistent and accessible format. "The various research bodies, contractors and individuals undertaking research for the GRDC have, until recently, supplied their findings in very diverse media and styles", explains Helen Thompson, Director of the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) "Some pull together a range 'attachments', others are housed on floppy disc, and so dissemination of the content becomes problematic."

CeRDI will utilise a selection of their content management products to create a Final Reports Publishing System (FRPS) for GRDC. Starting from the present and working backward, this workflow system will allow GRDC team members to evaluate and approve all research to date according to its currency of knowledge, privacy and intellectual property issues, or other possible restrictions. "The system will be a web based tool with different levels of access", conveys Helen. "It will provide GRDC with the checks and balances they require to populate their internal and external websites".

"We envisage this system will enhance knowledge sharing to the benefit of farmers, with flow-on benefits to researchers and advisors". Says Tom McCue, Manager Extension and Grower Programs with GRDC.

The Publishing System presents myriad benefits. It will be searchable, and browseable via a range of classification systems such as by region, by crop, or by topic, and even has the potential to one day be linked to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). "Once the information is put into this format, lots of things become possible", explains Helen. Incorporating some of the features of CeRDI's Docbook Manager, the FRPS will enable the auto-generation of reports in PDF and hard-copy formats, as well as online.

"CeRDI have a long standing relationship with, and commitment to, rural and regional enterprises", asserts Helen. "This project exposes CeRDI's excellent capabilities to a national audience'.