Bushfire response

As Australia deals with devastating bushfires, our hearts go out to the communities and ecosystems that have been affected. UNSW Sydney is united in supporting its students and staff, as well as the nation, during this unprecedented time.

Many in our UNSW community have been affected by these bushfires – as residents and property owners, holidaymakers, evacuees, or having loved ones in fire-stricken areas. We also have a number of students and staff members volunteering in various capacities from the Rural Fire Service to animal rescue organisations. We thank you all for your service in assisting those in need.

Support services available

As we return to campus, with no end in sight to this fire emergency nor any significant rain forecast, we acknowledge the distress faced by our community and to offer the support of UNSW to students and staff who have been affected by the fires.

Ongoing events of this magnitude can affect each of us in different ways and at different times. If you are feeling anxious or concerned, please speak with your fellow students, colleagues and/or manager. It is often a relief to just talk through concerns with a trusted friend or peer. 

If you are a student who would like to access support, you can contact our Student Support advisors. The Nucleus Student Hub will also be open for inquiries and the UNSW Health Centre is open from today.

If you are a staff member who requires support, UNSW offers a free, confidential counselling service through Benestar, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Details of the EAP are available at  http://www.wellbeing.unsw.edu.au/eap-benestar. Staff, in consultation with their manager, should feel supported if they need to work from home because of the current conditions.

Special leave

In response to the unprecedented situation we have increased the special leave arrangements to four weeks paid leave for those whose homes are directly affected or for those volunteering in support of the emergency services and in defence of communities across our region.

Advice for students

UNSW is currently operating as normal with all activities for Summer Term (January) and Term 1 2020 going ahead as planned. We will update students and staff via official university channels should plans change.

For students preparing to join us for Term 1, please be reassured that while the bushfires have affected regional communities throughout New South Wales and have captured the world’s attention, Sydney and the UNSW campus are located a safe distance from the fires. We look forward to welcoming you to our campus and community in the coming weeks.

While the bushfires are not an immediate threat to our campus, we continue to monitor conditions to ensure we are providing a safe environment for students, staff and visitors. We are advising students and staff to take precautions if they might be affected by poor air quality or suffer from respiratory problems including asthma. More information regarding health impacts of the bush fire haze can be found here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/particulate-matter.aspx

UNSW’s role in the climate emergency

UNSW, along with other Group of Eight universities, has been in communication with Federal and State governments to suggest immediate and longer term ways in which we can assist in addressing the impact of the fires on communities in Australia.

We will also continue our broader efforts as a global leader in research and education on climate science and our steps to ensure that UNSW becomes a carbon neutral university as rapidly as possible.

How to support communities and those fighting the fires

Many of you will have already contributed to fundraising efforts underway in support of the Rural Fire Service and communities directly impacted. For anyone still wishing to make a donation, you can do so via the following link: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/news-and-media/general-news/how-you-can-help