UNSW Sydney Associate Professor Katharine Kemp has been named the best ‘emerging leader’ in the nation’s university sector at the 2023 Australian Financial Review (AFR) Higher Education Awards, for her transformational leadership in data privacy and protection. UNSW entries were also finalists in the Community Engagement and Employability categories.

The awards are designed to highlight the tremendous contribution that the higher education sector makes to Australian prosperity and quality of life.

A/Prof. Kemp said she is honoured to win the award and hopes it will raise awareness about unfair and unsafe data practices that are causing consumers to lose trust in businesses and governments handling their personal information.

“The question is not what will it take to make consumers trust organisations’ data practices, but what will it take to make those practices trustworthy,” she said.

A/Prof. Kemp is one of Australia’s foremost experts in competition, data privacy and consumer protection law. She has worked at UNSW’s Faculty of Law & Justice since 2015 and is Deputy Director of the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation.

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She’s passionate about eradicating data misuse to help people safeguard their personal information. She has conducted extensive, first-of-its-kind research into unscrupulous data practices, misleading anonymisation claims and unlawful data enrichment activities.

“Privacy and data protection are vital to human dignity and autonomy – whether someone will be tormented by identity crime, humiliated, manipulated, discriminated against, physically harmed, or excluded. These are the stakes,” she said.

Local and international governments and policymakers regularly seek A/Prof. Kemp’s advice to advance their knowledge on competition, consumer and privacy regulation. She has addressed bodies such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) National Consumer Congress, the Global Privacy Assembly and the US Federal Trade Commission. She was also cited in the once-in-a-generation Attorney General’s Privacy Act Review Report and the ACCC Digital Platform Services Inquiry Report on potential data rules for digital platforms.

A/Prof. Kemp shared the award with Dr Johanna Nalaum from Griffith University.

Tax Clinic credited for meaningful community engagement

The UNSW Tax & Business Advisory Clinic was named a finalist in the Awards’ Community Engagement category, for bringing together students and communities across NSW for significant mutual benefit.

The Clinic provides free tax and accounting advice to individuals and small businesses in serious financial hardship, as well as business coaching to small businesses in financial distress. Students from the School of Accounting, Auditing and Taxation in UNSW Business run the Clinic under the supervision of registered tax agents. The students gain real-life work experience while helping people who would otherwise not have access to this often life-changing tax and business advice.

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Associate Professor Ann Kayis-Kumar said the Clinic has helped around 300 individuals and microbusinesses and lodged over 1600 tax and BAS returns since it was founded in 2019. The team noticed there was still an enormous unmet need for its services, so A/Prof. Kayis-Kumar expanded the Clinic in 2022 with colleagues Professor Paul Andon, Professor Michael Walpole, Dr Jack Noone and Ms. Maree Withers.

“I am so proud of our team, which includes our students, our tax accountants, our interdisciplinary research collaborators, and I am grateful to have so much support from the University. The Clinic being named a finalist in the AFR Higher Education Awards sends such a strong and heartening message to empower our graduates – it shows our future business leaders the importance of supporting the most disadvantaged in our community.”

The Clinic also works with a variety of service providers in the community, such as counsellors, mental health services, domestic violence support and community legal centres, to identify and support clients needing help.

UNSW’s ‘Championing Employability’ strategy recognised

UNSW’s ‘Championing Employability’ strategy was selected as a finalist in the ‘Employability’ category for its success in boosting student employment outcomes. The five-year strategy (2021-2025), which applies the slogan ‘make work work for you’, is implemented across a range of initiatives to ensure every student reaches their unique potential.

“UNSW is committed to making employability everyone’s business,” said Associate Professor James Meade, the University’s head of employability.

“There is an unprecedented, institution-wide commitment to innovation, scale and quality in employability initiatives. We have worked hard on programs such as work-integrated learning, cross-border project opportunities and a personal and professional development scheme. We’ve also developed a clear roadmap to employability that provides a distinct path to employment for students at any stage in their university studies.

“The AFR Higher Education Awards are a wonderful recognition of the commitment and drive of our community of students, academic and professional staff, and alumni, and I am delighted that our collaborative efforts in ‘Championing Employability’ have been highlighted.”

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The success of the strategy has driven an increase in UNSW’s Graduate Outcomes Survey Overall Employment Rate from 89 per cent in 2020 to 91 per cent in 2022, which helped UNSW attain the number one ranking in Australia for employment outcomes in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Full coverage of the Awards can be found on the AFR website.