G21 CEO honours Prof Jane den Hollander


This is an edited version of a speech given by G21 CEO Elaine Carbines at a Deakin University dinner (23 June 2019) in honour of the soon-to-be departing Vice Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander.


It is indeed a great honour to thank Professor den Hollander tonight in front of this esteemed audience for all that she has achieved for Geelong and our region in her role as Vice Chancellor of Deakin University.

There are so many examples on which to draw to demonstrate the wide-ranging collaboration between Deakin University and our region’s businesses and wider community under her exemplary leadership.

As you are all aware, our city and region has undergone significant economic transition over the last 10 years and Deakin University, with Professor den Hollander as Vice Chancellor, has been at the forefront of that transition.

The growth of Deakin University and its increasingly global standing during the Vice Chancellor’s term, is a testament to both her vision and to her commitment to higher education.

University City - Geelong

Our community has benefitted enormously and in so many ways from Professor Den Hollander’s hard work and highly visible profile to position Geelong as a University City.

She has led Deakin’s investment in advanced manufacturing, including the development of its world-class carbon fibre research facility, Carbon Nexus.

This strategic investment led to the commercialisation of Deakin’s ground breaking research and now, the highly successful international reach of Carbon Revolution.

It also led to the development of Manufutures, a commercially based advanced manufacturing innovation hub at the Waurn Ponds campus.

Advanced manufacturing, through Deakin’s investment is now providing employment opportunities for both many of our displaced workers and securing a future for our young people.

Assisted greatly by Deakin’s investment in health education and medical research, the health sector has become our region’s major employer.

World Standard Medical & Health Sciences

Deakin’s Medical School took just eight years to enter the top 150 Medical Schools in the World — a quite remarkable achievement.

The recently announced ERA results reflect Deakin’s great success in health research.

Of the medical and health disciplines, 11 out of 12 achieved the top rating as ‘well above’ world standard with Psychology also rating ‘well above’ world standard across all its assessed research fields.

Deakin’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences was ranked first in the world in 2017 and 2018 — just beaten out of first place last year by two Norwegian universities.

It’s interesting to also examine the growth in the health disciplines. In 2010, there were 419 students graduating in health courses from Deakin University whereas last year there were over 10,000!

And the School of Medicine graduations back in 2010 numbered just four, whereas last year there were over 1600.

And the great thing is that 25% of Deakin’s medical students come from regional Victoria and that 40% of their medical graduates now practise in regional areas!

We have also seen the development of considerable regional health infrastructure at the Waurn Ponds Campus creating jobs for our people including:

• the new Epworth Geelong private teaching hospital linked to Deakin’s health precinct
• the REACH regional health hub, housing the key sports science and allied health disciplines adjacent to the medical school and sports precinct
• and the Anam Cara hospice under development.

Economy Building

G21, the organisation I lead, was pleased to partner with Deakin University and the City of Greater Geelong to produce the very first private sector investment prospectus for the G21 region — Geelong Economic Futures.

Released in 2017, this economic prospectus identified five areas of our region’s comparative economic advantage and has already led to over $50m worth of international private sector investment.

We look forward to further significant private sector investment in our region arising from the Geelong Economic Futures prospectus.

Deakin, under Professor den Hollander’s leadership, has contributed substantially to the diversity of our city and region, becoming the academic home to many overseas students.

Revitalising the CBD

And a particular goal of G21 has been to revitalise the CBD of Geelong in order to attract both businesses and residents to our city.

Professor den Hollander ensured that Deakin University played an active role in this revitalisation, with the relocation of courses previously housed at Deakin’s Waurn Pond campus to the Waterfront campus, thereby situating thousands of students daily in Geelong’s CBD.

To further strengthen this objective, she oversaw the construction of new student accommodation in the Geelong CBD, bringing more investment, facilities and vitality to our city.

Our region has also benefitted from the strategic positioning of Geelong as the headquarters of Deakin University. All of Deakin’s graduations now take place at this splendid Waterfront Campus, bringing thousands of students and their families to Geelong several times a year.

We have been able to showcase our city in this way and it has been of great economic benefit to our hospitality businesses as families celebrate each graduation.

Professor den Hollander’s involvement in our region’s cultural and social life has been significant.

Creative Community

Deakin partnered with the City Of Greater Geelong to successfully apply for Geelong to achieve a UNESCO designation as a City of Design.

We now are one of 31 global cities fostering and celebrating an innovative design culture cementing our community’s vision to become renowned as a clever and creative city.

As Deputy Chair of the GPAC Trust, Professor den Hollander helped guide the current redevelopment of the outdated GPAC facility to meet the needs of our growing regional population.

She complemented this work by authorising Deakin’s sponsorship of GPAC’s theatre season, thus ensuring our regional community has been able to experience acclaimed, high-quality performances.

Deakin also helped establish - and has been a major sponsor of - the annual Word for Word Non-Fiction Festival, providing our community  with the opportunity to engage with nationally acclaimed writers, researchers, historians, biographers and thought leaders.

The Deakin Cats Community Centre has become a much utilised multipurpose facility which community groups and schools can use without charge, courtesy of the Deakin University sponsorship.

This is a testament to Professor den Hollander’s vision to activate engagement opportunities for all sections of our community.

Under the partnership arrangement she steered, the Geelong Football Club also utilises the state-of-the-art training facilities at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds Campus.

Of particular note also is Deakin’s sponsorship of the new Geelong AFL Women’s Team, which commenced in the fast-growing national competition this year.

Addressing Disadvantage

We have appreciated Professor den Hollander’s work to address disadvantage in our region and in particular her focus on improving educational attainment by finding creative and meaningful ways to support young people to remain at school.

In partnership with The Gordon, Deakin has led the innovative ‘Skilling the Bay’ project aimed at ensuring training courses match the skills demanded by our region’s employers thereby vastly improving the job outcomes for our young people.

Deakin’s support for GROW (G21 Region Opportunities for Work) since its inception has been pivotal to its adoption by so many other local institutions with clearly demonstrated training and employment outcomes.

Role Model

There are so many tangible achievements I can point to as evidence of Professor den Hollander’s time as Vice Chancellor of Deakin University but over the last nine years she has also become an inspiring and courageous role model for so many of our region’s women and men.

She has been a great supporter and friend to the Waddawurung people, recently hosting the Victorian Treaty Commissioner, Jill Gallagher, at a forum in Geelong.

She spoke out widely in support of same- sex marriage when many of our leaders were silent.

She has been a vocal supporter of women’s rights such as gender equity and a fierce advocate of the need to address violence against women and children.

She has given her time frequently to help and mentor others, especially young women.

She has been a great friend to me and I will miss her enormously.

Spontaneous Standing Ovation

Last year she was a key speaker at our annual G21 Forum of over 300 of the region’s business and civic leaders. As she concluded her address, she received a spontaneous standing ovation from our audience — a touching and fitting testament to the very high and warm regard in which our Vice Chancellor is held by our community.

In conclusion, it is difficult to pay tribute to all of Professor den Hollander’s achievements over the last nine years as Vice Chancellor of this university — indeed her contribution to the economic and social development of Geelong and the wider region is unparalleled.

Our city and region have been the fortunate beneficiaries of Professor den Hollander’s leadership of Deakin University — a legacy that will endure well into the future.

On behalf of our community, I say thank you very much Jane.

Photo: Professor Jane den Hollander addresses the 2018 G21 Stakeholder Forum, at which she received a standing ovation.