Professor Susan Dodds, Acting Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University
Tomorrow marks one year since the tragic death of our student Aiia Maasarwe. I acknowledge the impact that Aiia’s death continues to have on staff, students and members of the local community, and encourage you to take time to reflect on Aiia’s life.
For the duration of tomorrow, all digital screens will display one message in memory of Aiia. I encourage you to pause and reflect on Aiia, and the ways you might contribute to her legacy.
The Maasarwe family has expressed their wish for Aiia to be remembered for her positivity and energy, and hope that positive change can result from the tragic circumstances of her death. La Trobe University has honoured this wish by creating the Aiia Maasarwe Scholarship which has been funded in perpetuity by the Victorian Government and the University.
The selection process for the inaugural scholarship recipient is being finalised in discussions with the family, and we look forward to announcing the recipient shortly.
The University is also pleased that the Aiia Maasarwe Memorial Medical Fellowship has been established through Project Rozana, an organisation that seeks through health programs to build better understanding between Palestinians and Israelis. The inaugural fellowship was awarded to Dr Khadra Hasan Ali Salami, a paediatrician at the Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem, which treats Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank.
Students have previously asked whether a memorial will be established to honour Aiia. I understand that the Maasarwe family has held discussions with Darebin City Council about the establishment of a permanent memorial in Aiia’s memory. We will provide an update on the plans in due course.
I wish to assure you that the University is committed to providing a safe and welcoming campus environment for all students, staff and visitors. We have made improvements to our security over recent years, and accelerated the introduction of additional security measures including improved lighting around campus. We will continue to work in partnership with government, transport operators and other stakeholders to improve the safety of the public transport connections adjoining our campus. We will also collaborate with other universities to research and make recommendations regarding the safety of women and girls on public transport.