Support for students affected by bushfires

9 January 2020
Assistance and advice for students
The University of Sydney community has been deeply saddened by the effects of the devastating bushfires and offers support to those affected.

Many in our community have been affected by these fires, through safety concerns, loss of property, physical and mental health implications, and other unforeseen consequences. The University would like to support those affected by the bushfires through provision of resources for students in need.

Is the University safe?

The situation in Sydney is fundamentally safe. Our main campus in Camperdown/Darlington is located in the centre of Sydney and is not under any threat from the fires that are in rural and regional parts of the country.

All university classes will commence as planned and there are no interruptions to our semester dates. There is no need to delay any travel or seek alternative accommodation arrangements in Sydney.

If the bushfires or any other hazard affect any of our campuses, the University will communicate directly and post regular updates on the website.

Financial and academic support

Students affected by the bushfires who require financial support to help with immediate expenses can contact Financial Support Services. Eligible students experiencing financial hardship may be able to receive bursary assistance.

The Australian Government has established an assistance program for those adversely affected by a natural disaster.  The Disaster Recovery Payment (DRP) is administered through the Department of Human Services and Centrelink and should be contacted directly for any enquiries relating to this program. It is recommended that you contact the Department of Human Services on 1800 22 66 to lodge a claim.

If you have been affected by the bushfires, you may be eligible for special consideration and arrangements to support your coursework.

Health and wellbeing

Smoke haze from the fires has reached Sydney on some days and this has affected the air quality on those days.  If you have any pre-existing respiratory conditions, please take the usual care and precautions to look after yourself.

The University Health Service offers bulk-billed appointments to students, with GPs available 5 days a week. Appointments can be booked online.

If you need wellbeing support, you can contact Student Counselling Services on (02) 8627 8433 or call the after-hours University Crisis Line on 1300 474 065. 

Safety and emergency contacts

The links below provide important safety information for monitoring fires and air quality.

New South Wales – NSW Rural Fire Service

Victoria – Vic Emergency

South Australia – South Australian Country Fire Service

Northern Territory – NT Fire and Rescue Service

Queensland – Rural Fire Service

Tasmania – Tasmania Fire Service

ACT – ACT Fire and Rescue

Smoke from the bushfires has had wide-reaching effects. The NSW Government provides advice for monitoring air quality and health implications, as well as other practical advice for coping in bushfire emergencies.

How you can help

Below is a list of organisations coordinating support for firefighting efforts and disaster relief.

Bushfire Emergency Veterinary Appeal

Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery

Vinnies Bushfire Appeal

NSW Rural Fire Service – Support your local brigade

Fire relief fund for First Nations communities GoFundMe

Seed - Indigenous youth climate network

WIRES - Emergency fund for wildlife

Sustainability on campus

The University takes the climate emergency seriously.

In a message to students and staff, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence said, “Given the local and global impact of these bushfire events, and their link to the worldwide climate emergency, it is ever more urgent that we step up our efforts to implement a cohesive sustainability strategy that enables us to be equipped as an institution for the challenges that climate change presents to us, both now and in the future.”

More information about initiatives and how to get involved is in our sustainability policy, and Sustainability Strategy pages (requires UniKey to access).