We stand together with those affected by the devastating bushfire crisis 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.

Our Bushfire Response Working Group has been monitoring the impact of bushfires on our students, staff and the wider community. We have been considering the best way that we can support our local community, as well as the wider Victorian and Australian communities. Given the impacts of the ongoing bushfires are still emerging, our focus is on the key role that we can play in recovery efforts.

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 practical ways you can assist.

Victoria’s East Gippsland region. Source: Country Fire Authority

VU’s contribution

VU has allocated $100,000 funding for bushfire recovery in 2020 to support students, staff and members of the VU community affected by bushfires. Part of these funds will be used to support current or incoming VU students who have been affected by bushfires, with assistance grants of up to $2000 per student for study materials and support services, accommodation and other financial aid required (see below 'Financial, legal & housing support' for more information).

In addition to this funding, we will be offering our expertise in research, policy development and community engagement to support recovery efforts. Together, we can mobilise our expertise and resources to help communities address complex local challenges.

VU support services for students, staff & the community

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

Mental health and wellbeing services

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.

Financial, legal & housing support

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, tax help, free legal advice and more.

Assistance grants of up to $2000 are available per bushfire-affected student for study materials and support services, accommodation and other financial aid required.

To discuss your application, email [email protected]

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 that had an adverse impact on your performance, or prevented you from attending scheduled exams.

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

How to help others

Look out for friends, family & 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.

Business for Bushfire Recovery program

VU has made a pledge to the State Government, Business for Bushfire Recovery program to hold meetings, events or conferences in regional areas. The initiative was announced on 6 Jan by the Premier and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Sport. Planning business events and holidays in regional areas are important to ensure the continued economic viability of our regional areas affected by bushfires.

Donations to support recovery efforts

Monetary donations are the most appropriate way to support those impacted by the bushfires. Donations of goods are currently not being requested. If you are able to donate, please be wary of potential scammers and support charities with a focus on recovery such as:

Wall of Thanks & Support

A Wall of Thanks & Support is now up on each of our campuses. Staff and students are invited to use this space to leave messages of support to all those impacted by bushfires and thank those individuals, groups and organisations who are leading the response.

You can leave your message of support at the following locations:

  • Footscray Park – M126-M127 (Glass walls)
  • Footscray Nicholson – Building T – T131 (Side entrance of VUHQ)
  • Sunshine –– Building C (Entrance to Trades woodwork area)
  • St Albans– 4N 141 (Glass wall outside VUHQ)
  • Werribee – 1B101 (Glass wall inside VUHQ)
  • City Queen – Learning Hub, Level 2, 295 Queen Street 
  • City Flinders – Student Lounge, Level 9, 300 Flinders Street
  • City King – Level 2 2.009 (VUHQ Glass Front).

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

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]