Finally, after more faffing about, I managed to submit my Ethics application in January this year. The topic is now The Future of Australian University Management. That's it, no more changes. The research question is: what will define fit for purpose university management in 2035? All good. And the ethics process was amazingly painless. That may be because I've done it once before for my scoping study in 2012/13. So after responding to some good and some inane feedback, approval has come through, as has approval from the two professional associations I need to gather participants for the research.
My only obstacle now seems to be an email with details of my access to a university survey system that just never appears. Once I have that, data collection will be officially underway. The family things that caused me to take leave of absence last year are still there, but I'm managing them in different ways. This is a PhD whose time has come.