Australian bushfire update - keeping international students safe and informed

You may have become aware that several regions of Australia are currently experiencing devastating bushfires. Australia is well organised and well-resourced to respond, but the scale and heart-breaking impact of these bushfires has never been seen before. Here is an update on the current situation and how international students can stay safe and informed.

15 Jan 2020

You may have become aware that several regions of Australia are currently experiencing devastating bushfires. Australia is well organised and well-resourced to respond, but the scale and heart-breaking impact of these bushfires has never been seen before.

The number one priority continues to be the emergency response to the bushfires and the safety of communities and tourists in affected areas.

If you are a new international student coming to Australia or a current international student already here, it is important that you stay informed and up-to-date.

Please read the information below and refer to the important web links:

I'm a new international student coming to Australia over the coming months, what should I do?

The industry is working together to ensure the safety and support of current and incoming international students.

We encourage you to seek the most up-to-date information before you arrive in Australia.

Due to the rapidly changing conditions, your university or institution is best placed to advise you on how fires may impact your studies and their operations. Contact your agent or your enrolment officer for this information. Many institutions will be communicating with their students through a range of channels about how the fires may affect the student experience, so please ensure you are following these channels.

The Australian Government’s Bureau of Meteorology provides overall weather updates for all parts of Australia, including the latest fire warnings: www.bom.gov.au.

Travellers are encouraged to visit Australia.com for up to date information on safety advice and alerts for travel to Australia.

Updated information for students and institutions will also be posted via Study Australia digital channels:

I’m a current student. How do I know if I am at risk?

If you feel distressed or anxious about the current bushfire situation, please reach out to your institution support services. You can also check up-to-date news by phoning the Bushfire Information Hotline on 1300 362 361.

In the event of an emergency, however, dial triple zero (000).

You can also stay alert and keep on top of the latest information on the fires. Please visit the website of the state and territory fire services where you live.

What are other steps I can take to stay safe in Australia during this time?

  • To avoid heat-related illness; drink plenty of water and keep an eye out for signs of heat stress in yourself and your colleagues.
  • If you’re in a bushfire affected area, take precautions to avoid health impacts from smoke, including staying indoors and avoiding physical activity - consider buying an appropriate mask.
  • Be aware of local business continuity and emergency plans.
  • If you're planning travel, research fire risks before you leave.
  • For other health and safety advice, please visit https://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/English/Live-in-Australia/Health-and-safety.

Is it safe to visit Australia during and after the bushfires?

Australia will continue to be a world-leading and safe tourism destination, whether in unaffected regions or those that will recover from these bushfires in the months and years to come. There are many regions within Australia that remain unaffected and will continue to offer tourists the incredible tourism experiences our country is known for.

We would encourage all travellers coming to Australia to seek the most up to date information prior to departure and remain informed about changing conditions whilst on the ground.

I want to help. What can I do?

One of the best ways you can help affected communities is by continuing to visit, study and do business with Australia. Across our vast country, there are still many wonderful experiences to be had in areas not directly affected by the fires and once it is safe and appropriate to do so, we will welcome visitors back into recovered communities.

If you wish to contribute financially, below are a list of reputable donation providers that you can support:

1. Donate directly to the heroes putting their lives at risks to save our land and homes, here is the list of state fire services:

NSW Rural Fire Service – This volunteer-based firefighting organisation is on the front line in NSW.

Country Fire Association of Victoria – The CFA is a Victorian volunteer and community-based firefighting organisation.

South Australia Country Fire Service – To help volunteer firefighters battle blazes in South Australia.

Tasmania Fire Service – This Tasmania-based fire service fights fires across the state.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services – Another firefighting organisation made up of volunteers and permanent firefighters.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (WA) – To support firefighters in WA.

2. Donate to charities, that are working hard to help people rebuild their life from the ground up:

Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief – This organisation supports people who have been evacuated from their homes and provides emergency assistance.

Salvation Army Disaster Appeal – The Salvation Army provides and meals support to bushfire victims.

St Vincent de Paul Society Bushfire Appeal – The St Vincent de Paul Society provides food, clothing and other items to bushfire victims.

3. With almost half a billion animals gone, we need to get behind groups like the below who are fighting hard to keep our unique species alive:

WIRES – This organisation rescues and looks after wildlife in NSW.

Wildlife Victoria – This organisation is raising money to distribute to shelters across Victoria.

WFF – This organisation works to conserve endangered species, protect endangered places.