Vice-Chancellor's Message to the community

15 January 2020

Dear members of the ANU community,

Over the last few weeks an unprecedented bushfire emergency has affected much of the southeast coast of Australia, and these fires have continued to impact our community with smoke, intermittent power outages and closures to not just our campuses, but Canberra and surrounds.

I would like to thank the staff who have worked tirelessly since New Year's Day to keep essential ANU services online, and provide regular updates to our community. I know that disruptions have created challenges, and I ask for your continued patience as we work to return our campus to normal. We will continue to update you, and I encourage you to keep an eye on the key ANU communication channels including email and social media.

This week we are likely to receive the first significant rainfall in weeks, which will hopefully bring a much needed reprieve for our emergency services who continue to work on the frontlines of the bushfires, and in the communities affected. But despite this rainfall, we must not lose perspective that these fires have been among the most devastating in Australia's history, and we all have a part to play in keeping these issues front of mind. This is a linchpin moment in our history, and what we do now will not only define generations to come, it will set the course for how the world addresses climate change.

Already, ANU researchers have been working on community tools to provide support; as well working with the Government as to how the University's capabilities can be harnessed. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to look at the Community Trauma Toolkit, which provides a suite of resources to help support adults and children before, during, and after the bushfires.

During these times of uncertainty, I encourage you to reach out and seek support - for many, the current events have brought back memories of the Canberra bushfires in 2003, and the summer period has been marked with stress and anxiety. There would be few members of our community who have not been personally affected, or had friends, family or loved ones affected by the fires. We are all feeling the physical and mental health effects of the fires, smoke and heat and we must all care for one another. Please don't be afraid to seek support - we have dedicated services for both staff and students.

I will provide further updates, and I thank our community again for your resilience during a difficult summer.