New England’s Brigid Heywood ‘in assault case’

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A union has called for the leader of an Australian university to stand aside after it was reported that she faces assault charges following an incident at a club earlier this year.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said it was “shocked” by reports that University of New England (UNE) vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood was facing criminal charges.

“Professor Heywood is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” said the NTEU’s New South Wales (NSW) secretary, Damien Cahill. “Nevertheless, the seriousness of the allegations requires an appropriate response.

“In the present circumstances the only appropriate and responsible course is for Professor Heywood to step aside with immediate effect pending the outcome of matters before the courts. If Professor Heywood does not voluntarily step aside then the university must act to stand her down.

“Australians must have confidence that those entrusted with overseeing our public institutions are honest, have integrity and conduct themselves in a proper manner.”

The university and Professor Heywood have declined to comment. 

NSW Police confirmed that charges had been laid over an incident in March, when a 16-year-old girl was allegedly assaulted at an event at a club in Armidale, where UNE is based. The girl was “not physically injured”, police said.

“Following extensive inquiries, officers attached to New England Police District issued a 65-year-old woman a future court attendance notice for common assault and behav[ing] in [an] offensive manner in/near [a] public place/school,” a spokeswoman said. “She is due to appear at Armidale Local Court on Monday 26 September 2022.”

john.ross@timeshighereducation.com



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