14 August 2014

'And this is winter?'

My daughter’s first words on stepping outside at the Sydney airport form the title to this entry. It gets “cold” here, and there is even snow on the mountains, but what the average Australian considers cold would be an above-average summer day back home in the UK. I have lost count of my visits to Australia, but this is the first time my wife has been here, and I love to see old places through new eyes.

Two of my sons and another of my daughters have already been here, so my wife decided to see what all the fuss was about. In my view, part of the “fuss” is the unique combination of early morning frost in the suburbs of Sydney against the background of a deep blue sky that seems uniquely Australian. By midday, it’s officially warm—by UK standards—yet the locals are in coats and scarves, and, because I am mainly in shirtsleeves, I’m always being asked, “Aren’t you cold?”

View from my hotel.
University of Western Sydney
As mentioned in previous entries from Australia, I’ve been based at the University of Western Sydney (UWS). As the name suggests, the university serves the western side of Sydney but, in fact, it is not really in Sydney at all. It has campuses in Campbelltown, Paramatta and Hawkesbury, with an outpost in Liverpool, the Centre for Applied Nursing Research. During my recent two weeks in Sydney, I visited all the campuses where nursing is provided.

These visits often involve drives that would take you from one side of the UK to another. As with my sense of what is hot and cold here in terms of weather, I have to adjust my sense of distance in this vast country. I told someone I used to drive 60 miles to work and back, trying to instil a sense of horror at this daily feat. They looked at me with a “so what?” expression.

I was really pleased recently to notice that UWS had made the Times Higher Education list of the top 100 universities less than 50 years old (ranked 87th), alongside a very interesting list of younger universities across the world. While here, I have held scholar-in-residence consultations, given two seminars, and I had time to post online slide presentations about open access publishing and the uses and abuses of impact factorThis evening, in the presence of Rhonda Griffiths, dean of nursing and midwifery at the University of Western Sydney, and Scott Holmes, deputy vice chancellor for research and development at the school, I address a function at the university for senior people from local hospitals and health authorities. My topic is “The Francis Report: You simply could not make it up.”

Australia and onwards
This is the first of two visits to Australia this year. In October, I return to Canberra to speak at the 2014 Australian Capital Region Nursing and Midwifery Research Conference.

Aunt Jean, at age 90, the oldest member of the party,
meets the youngest, Rebecca, age 15.
In addition to the professional aspects of my trips here, the past few years of regular visits have enabled me to connect with my extended family of cousins and one remaining aunt. I was especially pleased that my wife and daughter (Rebecca) were able to meet my Aunt Jean, who turned 90 in February.

Tomorrow, we leave Australia for Hong Kong and, after two days, we return to the United Kingdom. August is relatively quiet, but September and October will be intensive with final scores and report writing for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, after which I must turn my attention to the slightly neglected Lancet Commission on UK Nursing.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be published.

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