Members of our community and their families have been affected by the Wambelong fire that damaged the Siding Spring Observatory and continues to burn near Coonabarabran. For many in our community, it brings back terrible memories of the 2003 fires that caused so much damage to Canberra and Mt Stromlo.
Along with the Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Matthew Colless, counselling and human resources staff, I met yesterday in Coonabarabran with affected ANU staff and their families, a number of whom have lost their homes.
The University’s priority at the moment is the wellbeing of our staff and the safety of the site. The Observatory will remain closed for the next two weeks.
The University has established a staff emergency relief fund to enable members of the ANU community to provide support for affected staff and their families. You can contribute to the fund from this link. University House, with the generous support of its suppliers, is hosting a Bushfire Appeal Dinner next Friday evening, 25 January. Details are posted on the University House website.
The University will also make a contribution of $25,000 to the Warrumbungle Shire Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal in recognition of the local community’s long and supportive relationship with the Observatory.
I know that the wishes and support of the ANU community are much appreciated by our colleagues and their families affected by the fires.