General Questions

How safe is each campus? Are they at risk of fire?

The Wollongong, Innovation, South Western Sydney (Liverpool), Southern Sydney (Loftus) and Sydney CBD campuses are currently unaffected by the fires. At these locations, classes, research and other campus operations are continuing as scheduled.

The University’s Bega, Batemans Bay, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands campuses have not been damaged by fires however, normal operations have been suspended until Monday 20 January, 2020.

A bushfire hazard assessment report for the Wollongong and Shoalhaven campuses was commissioned in 2019. All mitigation measures recommended by that assessment were implemented prior to this current bushfire season. This included ensuring the asset protection zones around each campus were properly maintained.

Which campuses are closed?

After assessing the remaining fire threat and community disruptions, the University has extended the suspension of normal campus operations in force at its Bega, Batemans Bay, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands campuses for a further week, until Monday 20 January, 2020.

Having provided places of refuge for students, staff and community members over the last two weeks, staff at the Bega and Batemans Bay campuses have been busy preparing to provide further support to the community as fires continue burning between Batemans Bay and the Victorian border, at the same time as relief and recovery operations get underway. Stocks of bottled water, breathing masks and other vital supplies are being renewed in anticipation of very high fire danger days and volatile weather ahead. Staff and both campuses will be facilitating access as far as they are able, while also defending their own homes and attending to the safety of their own loved ones.

While the Bega and Batemans Bay campuses will be open to support bushfire relief, the Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands campuses will remain closed. Arrangements are in place for students and staff affected by these closures.

The situation across all campuses will be continually monitored and re-assessed throughout the coming week. If conditions allow for normal campus operations to resume prior to 20 January, announcements will be made and students, staff and business tenants will be contacted.

How long are they closed for?

At this time, these campuses are closed until Monday 20 January. The fire threat is being constantly assessed and updates will be provided to staff as conditions change.

UOW’s Wollongong campus is very leafy and surrounded by vegetation. How safe is it? What bushfire mitigation have you done?

A bushfire hazard assessment report for the Wollongong and Shoalhaven Campuses was commissioned in 2019. All mitigation measures recommended by that assessment were implemented prior to this current bushfire season. This included ensuring the asset protection zones around each campus were properly maintained.

 

Questions for staff

What do I do if I work at the Bega, Batemans Bay, Shoalhaven or Southern Highlands campus?

Staff who are due to return to work are asked to stay away from these campuses until 20 January and take all necessary steps to ensure their personal safety.

Depending on your role, circumstances and IT access, affected staff may be able to work remotely or from an unaffected campus.

Other leave and support arrangements for affected employees will be determined according to individual circumstances.

To determine the best course of action and working arrangements for you, please contact your manager.

What about staff at the other campuses?

Wollongong, Innovation, Southern Highlands, Southern Sydney (Loftus), South West Sydney (Liverpool) and Sydney CBD campuses are currently unaffected. At these locations, classes, research, school holiday activities and other campus operations will continue as scheduled.

All staff should return to work at these campuses as planned following any approved leave arrangements. We will continue to keep staff updated on developments at all campuses.

How will the University keep staff informed?

Staff will be kept informed via all available channels, including the Universe staff news website and e-newsletters, the MyUOW app, SafeZone, All staff emails as needed and information provided by your manager or supervisor.

Information will also be posted on the University’s website and via its official social media channels.

How can I help the firefighters – Does the University have an appeal?

Yes, staff can support the firefighting effort through the Vice-Chancellor’s Bushfire Appeal. The Appeal is being run through the UOW Cares Workplace Giving Program.

From now until Australia Day 2020 (26 January), all donations made by staff via payroll deduction to the NSW Rural Fire Service will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the University.

As with all causes under UOW Cares, your full donation goes directly to those who need it, without any administrative fees. The donation is made pre-tax and will reduce your taxable income. You can do a one-off donation, a recurring donation between now and Australia Day 2020, or a recurring donation beyond this date.

Log in to Webkiosk to set up your donation. For more information about the Appeal, contact UOW Community Engagement via community@uow.edu.au

Where can I go for additional information about the fires?

Staff can stay up to date via the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Fires Near Me website and app, as well as via RFS social media. Access all these channels from the RFS website.

What support is available to people affected by the fires?

A snapshot of NSW Government support can be found here.

A summary of a range of government, corporate and charitable assistance can be found here.

Salvation Army information is here.

Information about additional support for UOW students is in the section below.

 

Questions for students

What does this mean for students at affected campuses?

Students who were due to resume studies at affected campuses have been contacted directly.

These students will be contacted again if the re-opening date of closed campuses is deferred to later than 20 January 2020. This will continue to be monitored dependent on the fire situation.

Planning is underway to address any longer-term impacts as soon as further information and decisions can be communicated.

Will the campus be open for Session One (Autumn)?

Planning is underway to address any longer-term impacts and further information will be released as decisions are made. The fires are likely to be a long-term challenge for the community, so we will continue to listen to the advice of the RFS and other experts as we make these decisions.

I am due to start my course at a campus that is closed? What do I do?

Planning is underway to address any longer-term impacts from the bushfires and further information will be released as decisions are made. Students holding offers at affected campuses are likely to receive information about their offer in the next ten days.

What if I am not impacted but want to continue my studies at an affected campus?

Please contact your subject coordinator for information regarding the delivery of content for your subject.

How will the University keep staff and students updated?

Students are being kept informed through all available student communications channels including SOLS emails, the MyUOW App and phone calls.

Information will also be posted on the University’s website and via its official social media channels.

Where can students get help?

Academic consideration may be available for affected students according to individual circumstances.

Students who are due to return to study at these campuses and have been impacted by the bushfires can seek support from UOW’s student support services.

Will there be any assistance for students who have been impacted?

UOW will assist students—regardless of which campus they attend—who have been impacted through an inability to return or to commence classes, or because of any personal or family trauma experienced due to these fires. Current UOW students can contact a Student Support Advisor for details on support for their specific circumstances.

The University has released additional funding for scholarships and financial assistance available to students. Applications for scholarships and financial assistance will be assessed based on individual circumstances and against eligibility criteria.

New applications for equity scholarships or amendments to existing applications can be made through the Universities Admission Centre (UAC) at no charge to applicants. New students for the Bega, Batemans Bay, Southern Highlands or Shoalhaven campus may also be eligible for the Destination Australia scholarship.

What other assistance is available?

The Federal Government also has disaster relief packages available and these should be considered by affected students.

A snapshot of NSW Government support can be found here.

A summary of a range of government, corporate and charitable assistance can be found here.

Salvation Army information is here.

Students seeking assistance or information should contact their Student Support Adviser.

What happens if I travel to Wollongong campus from Sydney and then the roads/railway lines are closed and I can’t return home?

The University has contingency plans in place to provide a broad range of assistance in emergency situations in which transport options to and from campus are closed due to fires.

I am a student living in UOW accommodation. What should I do if I am worried about bushfires?

UOW’s Wollongong Campus and the UOW Wollongong residences are not under any immediate threat.  The University is closely monitoring conditions and is receiving direct advice from NSW Rural Fire Services. We have a comprehensive plan in place to respond to a direct fire threat, which includes options for precautionary relocation and alternative accommodation if required.

If you have any concerns, please contact a staff member at your residence for information about support services that are available and how to access these.

Should you need to arrive at your residence earlier than previously advised, please contact your residence directly.  A member of the residence staff team will provide you with assistance and advice regarding early arrival.

What counselling support is available to me?

University of Wollongong provides students with free and confidential counselling and a range of support services. You can also contact the UOW After Hours Crisis Support Line or emergency support in times of immediate need. For more information about counselling services visit: https://www.uow.edu.au/student/support-services/counselling/