Verity Firth is the Executive Director, Social Justice at UTS and leads the newly established Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion at the University of Technology, Sydney. She is currently spearheading the University’s Social Impact Framework, a first of its kind in the Australian university sector.
The Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion exists to maximize the capacity of UTS to deliver public benefit through catalyzing and rewarding activities with social impact, connecting partners around social justice initiatives, fostering a diverse and inclusive culture at UTS, delivering strategic and collaborative programs across the university and leading and evaluating whole of institution strategies and systems.
The Centre acts as a gateway for UTS to respond to community need, building connections for community groups, not-for-profits and government agencies to access the university’s resources and collaborate on social justice issues, including the Centre’s Social Impact Lab.
The Centre manages the UTS Shopfront Community Program, which has operated for over 20 years supporting community engaged research and student coursework, alongside the SOUL student volunteering program.
The Centre houses the Equity and Diversity Unit of the university. It delivers the university’s Widening Participation Strategy, involving extensive pre-access and aspiration building programs for low SES students, along with educational access schemes and training programs. The Centre supports a range of staff and student focused inclusion strategies an activities in areas including cultural diversity, disability, gender and sexual orientation and is responsible for the university’s Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy, and operates a grievance handling service for staff and students reporting cases of discrimination and harassment.
Verity Firth has over fifteen years’ experience at the very highest levels of government and the not for profit sector in Australia. Over the last ten years, she has been working in the Australian education sector, first as Minister for Education and Training in New South Wales (2008-2011) and then as the Chief Executive of the Public Education Foundation. As Minister for Education and Training she focussed on equity in education, and how to best address educational disadvantage in low socio economic communities, including rural and remote indigenous communities.
As NSW Minister for Women (2007-2009) Ms Firth implemented sector wide strategies to improve women’s recruitment, development and employment in the NSW public sector. As Chief Executive of the Public Education Foundation (2011-2014), Ms Firth led the Foundation's transformation from a fledgling organisation into a major provider of scholarships and support to public education. She also helped the sector negotiate $5 million in seed funding for a new charity for disadvantaged schools. Ms Firth was the Member for the state seat of Balmain from 2007 - 2011. Before her parliamentary career, Ms Firth worked as a lawyer and was Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney.