I am writing with an update on staff issues related to the coronavirus and the new travel restrictions announced by the Australian Government this weekend.
We are developing a considered response to coronavirus with two priorities in mind: ensuring the welfare of our community and minimising disruption to the academic year.
Please note that there are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the ACT and no ANU staff or students have presented to us with symptoms for the virus.
The Australian Government has introduced new travel restrictions for people arriving from China. Full details of those restrictions can be found at the Home Affairs website and follow the link under news.
The new restrictions mean that:
- Australia will deny entry to anyone who has left or transited mainland China from 1 February, with the exception of Australian citizens, permanent residents, and, immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents including spouses, minor dependents and legal guardians.
- Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family (spouses, minor dependents or legal guardians only) returning from mainland China will be able to enter Australia and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the time they left mainland China.
This means that staff members who have returned from or transited China from 1 February will need to stay at home and not come to the campus. We have published the ACT Health advice on self-isolation at the coronavirus information page: https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/coronavirus-advice-0
If you are well, you may work from home for the 14-day period. If unwell, please seek urgent medical advice from a doctor or hospital emergency department and contact the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
Please let the University know if you are in self-isolation and contact your supervisor who will stay in contact with you during the isolation period. Staff unable to work from home should contact the Staff Helpline on anustaff.Helpline@anu.edu.au for assistance with accessing ex-gratia leave arrangements for the isolation period.
If you are a supervisor, please stay in regular contact with affected staff members during the self-isolation period to monitor their wellbeing, and if appropriate, approve and support working from home arrangements if the staff member is not suffering any symptoms and has the capability and resources to work from home.
The travel restrictions mean that ANU staff who do not hold citizenship or permanent residency and who have recently travelled through mainland China may be prevented from returning to Australia.
ANU staff who are unable to return to Australia, or who are in quarantine or isolation will continue to be paid salary and leave entitlements with no disruption.
We'll also provide support to staff who are non-Australian citizens or permanent residents, who are unable to return to Australia due to travel restrictions and whose families may be impacted. The University will provide support to staff who are unable to return to Australia, including assistance with accommodation and emergency travel arrangements that may be required during this time. Please call the ANU Helpline on +61 2 612 53346 (Option One) or email anustaff.Helpline@anu.edu.au for any support or assistance that you may require.
If fever and respiratory symptoms, including cough, sore throat and shortness of breath develop during the 14-day self-isolation period, please seek immediate medical advice, advising of recent travel history and symptoms. You can also call the national helpline on 1800 004 599, visit the Department of Health's specialist coronavirus website or contact ACT Health on 02 5124 9213.
Supervisors should immediately advise the Director, Human Resources of any suspected cases and provide information on any staff and students who may have been in contact with the ill staff member. The staff member can return to work after the isolation period once medical clearance is provided.
Information to assist in responding to any issues that our community may be experiencing are on our coronavirus information website. https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/coronavirus-advice-0
The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students remains our number one priority and the University will be generous and flexible to support all staff and students during this time. A staff helpline is available for further information and assistance and for supervisors to report/register arrangements - please call + 61 2 612 53346 (select Option One) or email anustaff.Helpline@anu.edu.au for assistance.
Staff that have not travelled but are concerned about the virus and are considered to be in an at risk group may request access to leave and/or to work from home and should contact their supervisor and the Work Environment Group on +61 2 612 55208 to discuss options.
At risk groups include:
- people with compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer;
- elderly people;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- those who are pregnant;
- people with respiratory issues;
- people with relevant diagnosed chronic medical conditions; and
- other staff who provide a medical certificate indicating a condition that places them at risk.
The Work Environment Group will work with supervisors to organise the necessary working from home arrangements. If working from home is not possible, the Director, Human Resources can approve ex-gratia leave to cover absences from the workplace.
If you have any questions resulting from the measures being put in place to ensure the safety and security of our staff, please call +61 2 612 53346 (Option One) to discuss options with a senior HR representative.
This has been an extremely challenging start to the year. Many of us have been impacted by recent events and I encourage everyone to make sure that you take some time to look after your own wellbeing. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You can access free support and counselling through the Employee Assistance program which can be reached on 1800 808 374.
It is important that we not only look out for ourselves, we look after each other. That's what we do at ANU.
As our Vice-Chancellor noted in his message to all staff and students yesterday, viruses don't discriminate and neither do we.
Thank you for your ongoing support and patience while we work through these challenging circumstances.
Dr Nadine White
Director, Human Resources