08/06/2020 - 13:44

Spirit of cooperation crucial as we move on from COVID-19

08/06/2020 - 13:44


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Spirit of cooperation crucial as we move on from COVID-19

It is quintessentially Australian that during a crisis we come together in the spirit of mateship and do what needs to be done.

This is exactly what we have seen in action in Western Australia and across the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so quickly changed nearly every facet of our daily lives – the way we work, do business, socialise and interact with each other. It has tested our resolve but it has also brought out the very best in our community.

We have witnessed, for example, a new era of political bipartisanship as State and Federal Government leaders have put aside party politics to do what is in the national interest.

It has been encouraging to see the Prime Minister and Premiers work together in a newly formed National Cabinet to give the community hope and confidence in uncertain times. Australians have responded favourably to this unified approach and will want to see more of it as we move to the next stage of economic recovery. 

We have also seen our communities come together to support each other, accepting disruption to their lives in service of the greater good – often at significant personal and economic cost.

Many have asked “what can I do to help?” and this assistance has taken many forms – from checking in on a neighbour, donating to food banks, hand-stitching masks or simply by maintaining strict social distancing to protect the elderly and unwell. 

We have all played an important part in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

At Murdoch University, we take pride in our role as a community institution, established almost 50 years ago to be a force for good and transformation.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have initiated new research to help understand how the virus affects people differently; funded an $8.5 million support package for our most at-risk students, rapidly rolled out online learning to protect students and staff and maintain continuity of learning, and provided free parking on our campus for Fiona Stanley Hospital health staff.

With the State Government announcing a roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions - including the reopening of business and premises subject to health and safety guidelines - the time is right to consider how universities will play their role in the social and economic recovery for our common good. 

Universities are big employers of local people. In Western Australia, Murdoch University alone employs around 3,000 people on our campuses and through our students we create many jobs for our communities.

At this critical time, new partnerships will need to be forged to further support the community. Murdoch is, for example, building new partnerships with the TAFE sector to develop new opportunities for retraining or upskilling of workers displaced by COVID-19. 

We are committed to progressing a number of major capital projects which will support the state’s economic recovery and create thousands of local jobs.

These projects include the New Academic Building on our South St campus, a vertical city campus in Perth CBD, Renewable Energy Project and the Knowledge and Health Precinct next to Fiona Stanley Hospital to create a major new research and industry innovation hub in Perth’s south.

Our determination to progress these major projects demonstrates our confidence in Western Australia as a highly attractive destination for world-class research, as well as domestic and international students for the quality of learning and teaching. 

Of course, the loss of international students to Western Australia is one of the most challenging outcomes of COVID-19 for universities, with substantial economic and social impacts.

We need to begin to think about ways to bring international students back to Western Australia safely as they bring a great richness and diversity to campus life and will play an important part in the State’s economic recovery.

At this challenging time, there has never been a greater need for collaboration and the Australian spirit of “coming together”.

Universities will continue to play a key role in shaping our future. We invite you to join us in building a prosperous future for us all.


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