Staff thanked for their efforts in midst of 2020 events

6 June 2020

Members of the ANU executive have held their first virtual social thank you event for staff via Zoom.

The event was held to recognise staff who have ensured ANU continues to operate over the past five months during smoke, hail and covid-19 restrictions.

Despite the pandemic being front and centre of the focus for the community since March, Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt reminded attendees that 2020 started off a challenging one right after New Year.

"The bushfires were the most severe this country has seen," Professor Schmidt said.

"And the smoke haze over Canberra gave us the title of the "world's worst air quality" for weeks on end."

Because of this, some staff started their year earlier than they normally would.

"To then deal with the aftermath of the hailstorm and the impact of COVID-19, has been one of the biggest challenges for ANU in our 74-year history," Professor Schmidt said.

"The response of our community to the challenges of this year have left me feeling very proud to lead this University."

Many of the University's services teams, including Facilities and Services and the IT Services divisions, worked tirelessly around the clock through each of the issues to ensure the campus worked its way back to being safe and operational.

Staff who have helped ANU navigate through the year's series of events will receive a certificate when they return to work.

The University's Chief Operating Officer Paul Duldig told the group that in the nine months since he started at ANU, he has been struck by the true sense of community.

"Challenges like the ones we have faced with this year can certainly make or break organisations," he said.

"And I think it is our people that will ensure ANU continues to be a great institution."

During his speech, Paul quoted an excerpt from The Plague by Albert Camus.

"I have been reflecting on how it relates to the response we have seen this year," he said, before reading the passage:

"But I have to tell you this: this whole thing is not about heroism. It's about decency. It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency."

"And that's how we've responded this year - with care for our community at the heart of it all."