This week has been really hard for many of our community. We have seen how fluid the COVID-19 situation is across Greater Sydney, and now with Victoria going into another snap lockdown. While we have been fortunate here in the ACT to not have had any community transmission for just over a year, many of our staff and students are impacted by these latest outbreaks. I also acknowledge the extreme hardship our students and staff overseas continue to endure.
ACT Health requested that we pause the arrival of our residential students currently in affected NSW areas. We are doing everything we can to provide an avenue for our students locked down interstate to use Davey Lodge on campus as a quarantine facility on arrival. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student and University Experience) Professor Ian Anderson and his team are working with ACT Health - if you are impacted by the NSW or Victorian lockdown, please keep an eye out for updates from Ian, including one this afternoon.
To summarise the state-of-play as of 12pm Friday 16 July: for non-residential students and staff who are in an affected NSW hotspot, you may apply for an exemption through ACT Health to travel to the ACT. They will make their decision based on risk. Please do reconsider whether your travel is really necessary, including our staff and students affected in Victoria. If you are unsure if you are currently in an affected area in NSW, please read ACT Health's website here.
If you are transiting through an area under 'stay-at-home' or 'watch and assess' requirements and entering the ACT, transiting through the ACT, or if you are an ACT border resident, a standing exemption may apply. For more information, please visit the standing exemptions page.
I know this is also very disappointing for our international students as this will likely put the NSW international student return program on the backburner again. The good news is that, after a very slow start, Australia has a path to rapid vaccination for the rest of the year, and that provides the possibility of borders opening up for our students in the new year. We will continue to do all that we can to work with the Federal Government and ACT Health on avenues for our international students to return safely to Australia. You are missed here on campus.
Our campus alert status remains at blue at our ACT campuses so we will continue to operate as we have been. Of course, we still need to be prepared in the event the ACT does go into a lockdown and things need to move to remote working and learning. If we get any active cases in the ACT, the territory will most likely go into a snap lockdown.
For semester two, we are still planning to use classrooms as close to normal as possible, but continue to deliver teaching and learning in hybrid mode for affected students- as we did for semester one. In-person classes will be made available to support students here on campus and digital options will support our students who are affected by travel restrictions or are in quarantine. I also wanted to thank our teaching staff for their efforts in making this work for our students. For our academic staff - I encourage you to keep refining how you teach in these challenging times- please contact your local college teaching support team or access the Centre for Learning and Teaching support website and see how they can help you.
I would like to congratulate our July 2021 cohort who are officially ANU graduates today! I know it really sucks that we are not able to hold our in-person graduation today in Llewellyn Hall. Remember this is still an important milestone and you should be so proud of everything you have achieved. I hope you can still celebrate in a way that is meaningful to you and your family. We still have plans for a Grand Graduation celebration later in December and all of our July grads will be invited to attend. We wish you all the best in using what you have gained in your time at ANU to go out and make a difference on your terms.
This week the Global Institute for Women's Leadership (GIWL) hosted an excellent two day workshop on Parliament as a gendered workplace. Current and former politicians and staff came together with academic experts from ANU and across the world to talk about what needs to be done to make Parliament a safe workplace for all. It was great to participate in a number of sessions and I am looking forward to seeing the model code of conduct that is developed out of the workshop as a submission to the Independent Inquiry into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces being led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. This is another way for ANU to take our research expertise, alongside working with others from the community, and bring it together to help make a real and positive change.
Finally, I would like to congratulate our Emeritus Professor Peter Bellwood who has received the 2021 International Cosmos Prize! He joins an illustrious group of recipients which includes Sir David Attenborough and Dr Jane Goodall. Peter's work has changed the way we think about early human life - with his lifelong commitment to archaeology starting in the 1960s. He is also the first Australian to be awarded the prize in its 28-year history. Peter's top honour award is well and truly deserved.
Take care of each other and please reach out if you need support. I am getting my second dose of AstraZeneca the week after next, and I encourage everyone to get an appropriate vaccine as soon as it is available. The end of COVID19 lockdowns is coming - but we have to get through the next few months to the point where most of us are immunized. Until then, stay safe!