- Charles Sturt is supporting staff, students and the wider community during the country’s bushfire emergency
- Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Germov, said Charles Sturt is committed to providing ongoing support across the University’s affected communities
- The University’s support during the bushfire emergency has included providing accommodation for evacuees and firefighters, providing support for injured animals, donating supplies, and establishing the Charles Sturt Bushfire Scholarship Fund
Charles Sturt University has announced it will continue to ramp up its efforts as needed to support staff, students and communities across its regional footprint during the country’s bushfire emergency.
Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Germov (pictured), said Charles Sturt is committed to providing ongoing support as communities continue to be impacted by the bushfires, and the University have put provisions in place to increase this support as it is needed.
“The bushfires are continuing to devastate and impact many communities across the University’s regional footprint,” Professor Germov said.
“The Mid North Coast, the Riverina, the Blue Mountains and the NSW and Victorian border region are just some of the areas across Charles Sturt University’s footprint the fires have impacted.
“I want Charles Sturt University’s staff, students and local communities to know that we are here to help and we will continue to provide a range of support, and increase our support, as it is needed during the bushfire emergency.”
Professor Germov said Charles Sturt is grateful for the efforts of emergency services and the help offered by staff and students in the Charles Sturt community this bushfire season.
“On behalf of the Charles Sturt University community, I would like to praise the tremendous efforts of firefighters and emergency service crews across the country,” he said.
“The University is also proud of our graduates who are providing support on the ground across a range of areas, including paramedics, police, vets, media presenters and psychologists. It is heartening to see the positive contributions our highly skilled graduates are having at a time of need in our regions.
“As the nation continues to face the effects of this unprecedented fire season, we will continue to work closely with a number of community organisations and follow the instructions of emergency services to ensure we continue to provide the necessary support.”
During the 2019-20 bushfires, Charles Sturt has provided accommodation for firefighters at its Port Macquarie campus, had beds in Bathurst on stand by and also currently has accommodation for bushfire evacuees on standby in Wagga Wagga and Albury-Wodonga.
“Before Christmas, we had approximately 600 rooms on standby in Bathurst and more rooms on standby in Orange for evacuees from the Blue Mountains region,” Professor Germov said.
“We currently have 280 beds in Wagga Wagga and 60 beds in Albury-Wodonga available for bushfire evacuees in these areas.
“We are working with the NSW Government’s Office of Emergency Management Disaster Assistance team to provide this on-campus accommodation to evacuees if it is needed. This is being managed through the official evacuation centres, so it is important that evacuees go to evacuation centres, and do not come to campus, and follow the advice of emergency services from the evacuation centres.”
Campuses across Charles Sturt’s footprint are continuing to provide different types of support based on the needs of their local community during the bushfire crisis.
- Throughout December the Charles Sturt campus in Port Macquarie provided accommodation and coordinated food and toiletries for approximately 200 firefighters battling blazes across the Mid North Coast.
- The Equine Centre at the Charles Sturt campus in Wagga Wagga is currently offering accommodation to domestic animals that have been evacuated, and tending to severely scorched horses. Staff and students in Wagga Wagga have also been working around a roster at the Showground to support evacuated animals.
- The University’s Wagga Wagga campus is working with the NSW Government to provide space for displaced small businesses to continue operations.
- The University has also partnered with Wagga Wagga’s Kooringal High School to donate 500 water bottles and 500 pens for the school’s ‘back to school’ packs for school students impacted by the bushfires.
- Late last year the University also established the Charles Sturt Bushfire Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships of up to $5,000 each to help continuing and prospective students impacted by the bushfires with their studies in 2020.
Charles Sturt will continue to communicate with staff and students to ensure they are aware of how to stay safe and are aware of how to access support services from the University.
The University encourages staff, students and members of the community to stay safe during this difficult time and to follow the advice of emergency services.
Support Services for Charles Sturt students
Fortunately, all Charles Sturt campuses and study centres remain open, safe and free from fire damage.
If students need support or information relating to the current bushfires, they are encouraged to visit the specific alert section in Charles Sturt’s online Student Portal. Students can also direct enquiries to the University’s Student Central team by calling 1800 275 278 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Sturt has informed students about how they can access support, including how to apply for extra time to complete assessments, apply for financial support and the options available to talk to a counsellor.
Support Services for Charles Sturt staff
For staff impacted by the bushfire emergencies, special leave can be accessed. Counselling can be accessed free of charge through Lifeworks (University EAP provider) by calling 1300 361 008, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Alternate work arrangements can also be made by staff contacting their supervisor.