Today the Prime Minister announced a three stage plan to reopen Australia in a COVID-safe way. It is clear there is now significant activity at the State and Federal level focussed on mapping the pathway forward – good news as we are certainly all well over the joy of Zooming. This also means we are now planning the University’s recovery route – it seems, in retrospect, to have been easier to close the campus than it is to open it up again given our shared global experience of this virus.
This week university staff and students in Australia and New Zealand marked the seventh annual University Mental Health Day. It’s hard to deny, this year especially, that mental health is top of mind for the majority of people following the myriad of impacts from COVID-19. But what does this mean for university students and staff, and their circumstances?
Today is University Mental Health Day in Australia and New Zealand. So much has happened in 2020, what with bushfires, pandemics and the state of the economy, it can be hard to focus on our mental health and wellbeing, but now more than ever it’s important to practice a little self-care. There is support available to you through these challenging times, so please reach out if you need to.
As you all know, Universities Australia has been in discussions with the National Tertiary Education Industry Union (NTEU) at the national level about how we can collectively protect jobs in the current COVID-19 crisis.
On Saturday morning, at daybreak, we were wakened by a lone trumpeter on our street – we listened from our balcony – a sublime moment in time for reflection – no people, just the rising sun and the beautiful sound. It was a most beautiful celebration of remembrance and reminded me that there is something to be said for a simpler approach to the things that really matter in our communities.
Thank you for the many messages and thoughtful responses on how we can best deal with the challenges currently facing us. I appreciate your engagement and interest in ensuring the future of our workplace. Please continue emailing me – I want to hear from you as it informs my thinking and enables better decisions.
It’s back into full swing, as students return from the mid semester break – it’s always a bit dreary when they are not around. It’s also good to know that our attrition appears to be less severe than the sector as a whole so we got a few things right this far but we are not out of the woods by any stretch and more on that later.
As we prepare to experience a very different Easter break, at home, mostly not at the beach, not down south and definitely not with lots of friends or family, I am reminded that our adaptability and endurance to get to this point has enabled us to keep our campuses operating. Alongside this we have seen the number of new COVID-19 cases across Australia falling as social distancing measures have taken effect, and I am hopeful this trend will continue.
We’ve made it to the tuition free week, mostly intact, but now knowing that over 1 million people have contracted the virus and many of these will lose the battle. My 95 year old mum likens it to the depth of despair during the London bombings in terms of its capacity to terrify and dishearten. So today we send our thoughts to everyone who has experienced the devastation caused by war or displacement and is now experiencing it again.
Thank you to everyone who sent through feedback in response to my emails yesterday. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to do so. Thank you also for your questions and suggestions: we are now working through the finer details and will be in touch.
These last few days we have all been glued to news bulletins and social media checking the progress of COVID-19, now affecting every city, every village, every snow field and every beach around the world. It is truly a global phenomenon, fiercely infectious and macabre in its ferocity. It is the stuff of a Sci-Fi book or movie — remember Outbreak and Contagion — only worse because we’re living it.
This is the second email today: The email this morning was so important it seemed sensible to give it the respect it required. This has meant a second email with information more generally of relevance to the current situation.
As Chancellor of the University of Western Australia I have been kept up to date with the University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, continuing its teaching and research missions and taking initiatives related to the fight against the virus.