Dear Colleagues,

I understand this has been a difficult and stressful time for many in our communities with the recent bushfire crisis affecting townships, families and essential services. In response, UOW has undertaken measures to meet the challenge of this rapidly changing and unprecedented situation.

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 13 January, 2020.

Staff who are due to return to work at Bega, Batemans Bay, Shoalhaven and Southern Highland Campuses are asked to stay away from these campuses until 13 January and take all necessary steps to ensure their personal safety.

Those staff who were due to be at work or on duty and are unable to attend their work location or work from an alternative location will be considered to be on duty and be paid accordingly.

If you are a staff member impacted by the bushfires or a registered volunteer please contact the UOW Staff Bushfire Hotline on 02 4221 5902 or email employmentrelations@uow.edu.au as soon as you are safely able do so.

Other leave and support arrangements for impacted staff (including limited emergency financial assistance where the primary residence of a staff member has been impacted) will be determined according to individual circumstances. Enquiries should be directed as above.

The Batemans Bay and Bega campuses are currently being used as additional places of refuge, alongside the main community evacuation centres.

I’d like to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of staff at these campuses who have worked tirelessly to serve their communities despite their own homes being under threat or lost in the blazes. I also thank all those serving with the NSW Rural Fire Service and other emergency services and supporting organisations for your courage and selfless dedication during this time. Your commitment to community in the face of such a prolonged and large-scale crisis is inspiring and much appreciated.

Students and staff who were due to resume at affected campuses have been contacted directly and will be contacted if the re-opening date of closed campuses is deferred. This will continue to be monitored dependent on the fire situation.

Planning is underway to address any longer-term impacts and further information will be released as decisions are made. If you are contacted by current or future students who are seeking advice about campus closures or support, please direct them to call Student Central on 1300 275 869 or askuow@uow.edu.au

Wollongong, Southern Sydney (Loftus), South West Sydney (Liverpool) and Sydney CBD campuses and the Innovation Campus are currently unaffected.

At these locations, classes, research, school holiday activities and other campus operations will continue as scheduled.

The UOW Crisis Management Team is monitoring weather and bush fire reports to ensure any proactive actions can be taken at all UOW campuses. This includes reviewing the closure of the campuses to operational activities to ensure the safety of staff and students. The Team are also communicating with the Local Emergency Centres to ensure up to date information is received in terms of bushfire risk to all campuses.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

UOW provides free and confidential counselling services through the EAP. Employees and members of their immediate family in need of emotional support may wish to contact our EAP Lifeworks 24/7 service on 1300 361 008.

UOW’s Staff Bushfire Appeal

From now until Australia Day 2020 (January 26), staff can donate directly to the NSW Rural Fire Service through payroll AND your donation will be dollar-matched by UOW.

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 or a recurring donation between now and Australia Day 2020. For more information, contact Community Engagement via community@uow.edu.au

If you wish to open your home to those displaced by the bushfire crisis, you may like to consider services such as Findabed. Findabed can be contacted on 02 7202 6588.

The bush fire crisis is not over and may continue for some time yet. Updates about the University’s situation and response will be issued to staff and students via email, Universe, MyUOW and SafeZone apps, as well as UOW official social media channels.

Please visit these information channels on a regular basis.

Thank you for your understanding and I hope you all will stay safe.

Professor Paul Wellings CBE

Vice-Chancellor

 

Frequently Asked Questions are also available for staff and students here – https://universe.uow.edu.au/staff/nsw-bushfire-faqs-as-at-9-january/