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Australian University student numbers are continuing to rise each year, heightening the complexity of the ability for security managers and law enforcers to effectively maintain a secure and safe environment for students. With the task to manage a whole range of environments and situations, from the physical security of the campus to monitoring the welfare and mental stability of student’s themselves, exchanging ideas and information is critical to ensure that best practice can be shared and implemented throughout Australasia.
The 6th Annual Campus and Student Security Conference, which took place on 23-24 June in Melbourne, offered the opportunity for just this, bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to exchange their ideas, initiatives and opinions around optimising student security.
The issue of Risk and Threat Management was the opening theme of the conference. Based on the principle that different sectors bring to light different perspectives and ways of thinking about a specific problem, this session welcomed speakers from outside of the Campus and Student security sector. Jeff Corkill, whose expertise lies predominantly within Security and Intelligence highlighted the importance of having a good intelligence team to achieve optimal security outcomes, whilst Anatoly Kirievsky of Bank of America Merrill Lynch highlighted the importance of a flexible risk management framework when dealing with security, and the importance of having senior management which appreciate the core fundamentals of risk. Another area highlighted of importance was effectively managing the delicate balance of privacy with risk assessment.
The issue of managing the welfare of international students evidently continues to be a priority for Security Managers, having been raised as an ongoing challenge in a number of the conferences’ case studies and interactive discussions. A panel discussion around Campus Multiculturalism raised concerns around the vulnerability of international students and emphasised the importance of effective communication and real engagement as a key way to help overcome such concerns.
Engaging top-end management and buy-in was a prevalent issue that seemed to wind its way into multiple discussions over the two days. There was widespread agreement that it is important to recruit academics into threat management and security teams. The value of a coordinated approach to security was highlighted effectively within the joint presentation from The Australian National University, led by their Pro-Vice Chancellor of Student Experience, Security Manager and Women’s Officer, whose jointly-led approach had led to a number of innovative initiatives. Likewise the University of Western Sydney highlighted their use of a ‘whole of university coordinated approach’ to security, moving towards the idiom of safety being the responsibility of everyone and with campuses having multiple reporting mechanisms (as opposed to reporting solely from security teams). Looking forward to the 2015 conference, it will be interesting to bring in some of these executives to get their views on where responsibility for security lies and whether this coordinated approach is feasible.
The fact that security encompasses a wide number of elements was highlighted particularly well in the ‘brain-storming session’ prompted by Kostas Kyrifidis, a Senior Consultant at Kangan Institute. With the audience having to write down what security means to their business, an extremely wide range of answers were offered (including for example community wellbeing/integrity/business continuity/crisis management/ growth and academic performance). Evidently campus and student security it is not an area that is easily managed (as security rarely is) but the event also highlighted that proactive initiatives and ideas are being implemented and creating success stories. The ability to transfer such knowledge and learnings was indispensable and so we look forward to the forthcoming year, and the new successes this will bring.
Huge thanks are extended towards our excellent speaker faculty who put together a really exciting program this year, and for our active audience who challenged and debated the key issues throughout. We look forward to welcoming you in 2015!
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