We stand together with those affected by the devastating bushfires across Australia. The effects of this ongoing crisis will be felt long term and many individuals will experience a difficult road to recovery – well after the fire season is over. If you are affected by the bushfires, there are practical ways we can support you.

Please read on to see the services available.

If you are not directly impacted by the bushfires, but want to help those who are, there are also practical ways you can assist.

Helicopter drops water over massive bushfires

Bairnsdale, in Victoria’s East Gippsland region. Source: Victorian Government

VU support services for students, staff & the community

If you are a student and are affected by the bushfire crisis, support is available.

Our professionally trained counsellors provide free, confidential counselling sessions for students.

VU offers counselling services to staff and their families through the VU Employee Assistance Program.

VU’s Psychology Clinic is open to the community, with treatment provided by provisional psychologists under supervision of clinical psychologists.

Our Chaplaincy is a multi-faith – or no-faith – facility offering support, reflection centres and wellbeing programs.

If you’d like to talk to someone, we encourage you to visit your doctor, see a counsellor or access free resources including Beyondblue and Lifeline.

Various types of leave are available for employees who have been impacted, including community service leave and other leave arrangements depending on your circumstances.

Support is available for our students, staff and the wider community.

Special consideration for students

VU offers special consideration for assessments in several instances including medical or compassionate grounds. You may apply for special consideration if you experienced unexpected circumstances which had an adverse impact on your performance, or from attending scheduled exams.

If you or your family have experienced financial loss through the bushfires, support is available. We provide free and confidential support to help students manage time, money and personal issues.

Assistance includes help with:

  • finding accommodation
  • applying for student loans
  • managing your study and living-related costs
  • taxes
  • free legal advice
  • and more.

How to help others: look out for friends, family and colleagues

VU Clinical Psychologist Alana Howells was assistant manager of an Emergency Recovery Team providing psychological first aid after disasters, including the Black Saturday bushfires. She says:

“Immediately during and after such a disaster, people need to take care of their basic needs, such as trying to get enough rest and eating well. Social support is also important, as it is easy for many people to withdraw and become disconnected, but sometimes practical support is the most important way to show someone that you care.”

Take the time to check on the wellbeing of your friends, family, colleagues and children, who may have been affected by these traumatic events. For some great tips on how to approach sensitive conversions, and loads of resources visit the RU OK? website.

 

VU Clinical Psychologist Alana Howells offers counselling to the community via the VU Psychology Clinic.

Ways you can contribute

The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews suggests monetary donations are now the most appropriate way to support fire brigades, animal rescue and those impacted by the bushfires. Donations of goods are currently not being requested. If you are able to donate, here are some of the reputable agencies we recommend (please be wary of potential scammers) and ways you can contribute:

Stay safe with fire authorities' apps

Please heed safety warnings and stay away from fire-affected areas, following CFA bushfire safety advice. Download your following relevant official fire authorities’ app/s, so you can safely avoid potential disaster zones:

Get in touch

VU has a dedicated bushfire crisis email address for you to:

  • ask any relevant questions
  • get in touch for support
  • share your stories.

Email: [email protected]