COVID-19 Update – 19 March 2020

19 March 2020

Hello everyone 

The Australian Government continues to announce measures in response to COVID-19. I want our community to know that the most up-to-date information is on our ANU website, which links to the official Government advice. I strongly encourage everyone to familiarise yourself, and regularly check in on this page. We constantly update it and we're currently giving it a comprehensive rebuild to make it easier to use. 

This email covers: 


I want to start this message by talking about mental health and the immense toll this year has taken on everyone. This year has been the biggest challenge I have faced as Vice-Chancellor, and it's been stressful for me, and like everyone in our community, I don't have all the answers yet and that is unsettling. Those who work around me will know that I talk openly about my own mental state when I come under stress, and I very much value the support I receive from my colleagues, and from some of our experts on campus. Looking after our own mental health and the mental health of members of our community is something everyone can do, so if you see someone having a hard day, be kind, reach out and offer support.  

We've also collated of lot of useful information about self-care onto the website. I encourage everyone to have a read, and then do something to support your own mental health - we have a long road in front of us and looking after ourselves is the only way we will get through this together.  


There's a lot of uncertainty during these challenging times and we're all doing our best to adapt to the evolving situation. The University has implemented arrangements until the end of semester one 2020, to support our casual and sessional staff. If you are unable to work for reasons including building or campus closures, having returned from overseas on University travel and needing to self-isolate, or being diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be paid for the hours you were due to work. There is more detail about support and payments here.  


We are all conscious that our health systems are under a lot of pressure around the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. Canberra Health Services (CHS) works closely with ANU and they have reached out to ask for our help from staff and students to undertake casual employment. 

This is a great opportunity to give back to the community during this time of need. This call is for employment to boost capacity of their workforce rather than volunteering as some may have done previously, and Canberra Health Services will provide onboarding and employment arrangements. 

More information here.  


Yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) upgraded travel advice for every country to Level 4 'do not travel' until further notice.  

The advice of Government is clear: Australians should not leave Australia, and those currently overseas should make plans to return home.  

We have already recalled all our staff and students who are overseas for university business or study programs, and we will assist those returning to self-isolate.  Returning exchange students should contact or +61 2 6125 7857. There is a 24 hour a day service available to you by contacting the Community Wellbeing team at, or phoning +61 2 6125 3346 (option 1) during business hours, or ANU Security outside of business hours. 

The University has also suspended all future international travel until further notice.  

Please also reconsider all domestic travel to help prevent the spread of the virus. Earlier today, Tasmania announced travel restrictions coming into effect from midnight on Friday 20 March. If you have travel planned, please speak with your supervisor and contact the Community Wellbeing team.   

You can read more about the travel restrictions here.  


Yesterday I announced that ANU is pausing all coursework teaching for a week from Monday 23 March. I want everyone to use the pause productively to plan for the coming weeks and months. For staff, this means planning how you individually, and your team will work in the changing environment to adjust to the new normal. Consider non-essential activities that you can set aside next week to create the space to undertake this planning. You know the business and operations of your area best and we are developing toolkits to guide your decision making. Also be conscious that many staff are working entirely on planning the whole of university response and minimise requests to these colleagues.  Please check the website for guidance on the support we will provide you in your planning. 

For students, the pause is to try and minimise disruption to your future studies at ANU and make sure you will continue to receive the excellent education you expect from us. Next week may be a break from teaching but is not a break from learning. The libraries will remain open with appropriate social distancing and the usual services will be running on campus. We are going through some unpredictable times, but be assured, we are coming together to do our best for the whole ANU community. 


Social distancing

What to do if you are feeling unwell 

Additional support 

Finally, there is a lot of misinformation out in the broader Australian community. I encourage everyone to take responsibility for making sure the information you are sharing is up-to-date, factual and from reliable sources.   

Spread knowledge, not fear.