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Victorian universities reach out to students affected by typhoon Haiyan

Meld Magazine

Wed Nov 13 2013


VICTORIAN universities have expressed their condolences to students affected by typhoon Haiyan, with information on what students can do if they require academic or personal assistance during the examination period. Grant Roberts reports.

U.S. Marines help displaced Philippine nationals from the back of a KC-130J Super Hercules at Vilamor Air Base, Manila, Republic of the Philippines Nov. 11. Super Typhoon Haiyan has impacted more than 4.2 million people across 36 provinces in the Philippines, according to the Philippine government's national disaster risk reduction and management council. Photo: Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover via Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Marines help displaced Philippine nationals on November 11. Photo: Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover via Wikimedia Commons

Universities have expressed their deepest condolences to anyone that might be affected by the disaster and have gotten in touch with international students from the Philippines outlining support options.

The International Student Services team at the University of Melbourne has contacted all 143 enrolled students from the Philippines, instructing them to approach their faculty student centre or graduate school for advice on academic or personal assistance appropriate to their circumstance during the exam period.

The university’s International Student Services has also spoken with the Filipino Students Association about several support groups and potential fund raising initiatives being organised.

RMIT’s Student Services Group has released a statement about the destruction caused by typhoon Haiyan on the Eastern Visayas islands of Samar and Leyte in the Philippines. They have instructed all Filipino staff and students to contact RMIT Student Wellbeing for support and are also holding a memorial service at the Spiritual Centre, Level 3, Building 11 on November 20 at 1pm.

Swinburne University’s director of communications Tom Hyland says the university has about 19 students from the Philippines but at this stage are not aware of any directly affected by the typhoon.

However, students have been informed by email of support services available, Mr Hyland said.

“Following the direct email mail out, they will also be advised of a meeting to get them together so we can gauge their needs, and for them to get to know and meet each other as a support group if they wish,” he said.

Likewise, Victoria University has been in touch with their students alerting them to student counselling if they are having any difficulties.

The university’s general manager of public affairs and media Christine White says students who have been directly affected would be eligible for special consideration in relation to exams and possibly financial assistance, but the university is “not aware as yet of any that have been personally affected”.

The university has also put a call out requesting donations to established appeals.

The most devastating typhoon to hit the Philippines has been described by one survivor as “like a movie”. Bodies lie on the streets, hang from trees and thousands remain missing under flattened buildings.

However, initial projections by the United Nations and Aid officials who feared there were up to 10,000 dead has since been reduced to 2,000. The aftermath leaves the majority of the country without electricity and has cut off water supplies, making the risk of disease increasingly high as thousands of people struggle without clean drinking water.

The weakened typhoon has now been downgraded to category one as it spreads across Vietnam, uprooting trees and flattening houses with 150km/h wind gusts. But the initial damage assessment for Vietnam is expecting the storm to dissipate rather quickly.

The Australian government has followed suit of the US and Great Britain, pledging $10 million in aid for the Philippines.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has commended the effort of Philippine authorities and says they remain open to sending more aid should it be required.

“Let me reiterate that Australia is a close friend to the Philippines and we are saddened by reports of the increasing loss of life and damage to property in the affected area. We continue to work closely with our Philippines friends on this response,” Ms Bishop said.

“Our $10 million package of assistance will include the deployment of an Australian medical team to provide emergency medical care to the injured,” she said.

The medical team leaves for the Philippines today.

The package comprises:

  • $1 million for the urgent deployment of an Australian medical assistance team;
  • $3 million to Australian non-government organisations for immediate life-saving assistance;
  • $4 million to the United Nations Flash Appeal;
  • $1 million for non-food items such as tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, water containers and health and hygiene kits, a proportion of which have already been released; and
  • $1 million to the Australian Red Cross to assist with their efforts.
Those in search of their missing loved ones may contact the following:
Department of Foreign Affairs (Philippines)
Tel. No. +632-834-4000
c/o Office of United Nations and Other International Organizations
Philippine Embassy in Canberra
Tel. No. +612-62732535