Staff encouraged to speak and meet face-to-face

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 13-9-2012

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



The University of Notre Dame Australia staff have been invited to trial a weekly "email free" period in order to address what the Vice Chancellor and senior leaders are sensing is an increasing reliance and dependence on electronic communication.

In her memo to all staff yesterday, Vice Chancellor Professor Celia Hammond acknowledged the benefits of email describing it as "an incredibly useful communication tool". However, she also acknowledged that "the ease of email use means that we are all tempted to use it without reflection or pausing for thought.

"We tend to respond quickly to emails, without spending the necessary time in discerning what it is we should be writing – if anything at all.

"Moreover, many people are finding their lives ruled by the email system, and feel stressed and under pressure by the sheer volume of emails and the implied pressure to respond quickly," said Professor Hammond.

Commencing next week, Notre Dame staff in WA, NSW and Victoria will be encouraged to switch off the email system for two and half hours every Wednesday. Though the initiative is voluntary, University leaders hope that the proposal will be embraced nationally.

"We recognise the need for good communication channels and have looked at some of the problems which arise when communications are misunderstood or not clear. While everyone agrees email is an incredibly useful tool, it isn't accompanied by eye contact, body language or facial communication – and has a higher likelihood of being misinterpreted," Professor Hammond said.

"My hope would be that, in due course, this "email free" time becomes an occasion which staff look forward to each week and that it reminds us all, more generally, that email is a communication tool that should not rule our lives and needs to be handled with care."

Notre Dame Australia will trial the "email free" period until the end of 2012.

Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138
Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093