Spirit of giving defines COVID-19 response

The generosity of staff, alumni and supporters has seen more than $400,000 raised in a little over a week for the new Matthew Flinders Scholarship Fund – a remarkable effort, especially with the Easter break in the mix.

The Scholarships are part of Flinders’ $12.5m support package for students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University has found $8.5 million for the core of the package, and fundraising is underway to generate the additional $4 million that’s needed to help students continue their studies.

It’s estimated 4000 of our domestic students and 3,500 of our international students are struggling as a result of the pandemic. They’re affected in different ways – many have lost part time work, some lack the IT access required to transition to online study or others may be feeling the stress of isolation and need extra support to continue their studies.

Executive Director of Alumni and Advancement Callista Thillou thanked donors for their spirit of giving.

“We’re heartened by the immediate strong response, which reflects the generosity and compassion of our staff, alumni, friends and supporters.”

Every dollar donated goes directly to students and is 100 per cent tax deductible.

Also, newly launched Staff Workplace Giving provides an option for Flinders University staff to make a regular donation to support our students. Set up via the payroll system, the pre-tax salary sacrifice deduction also has the effect of reducing your taxable income.

More information on the student support package can be found here, and information on the scholarship fund is available here.

COVID-19 comment and media coverage

Two Flinders University leaders in health, Professor Jonathan Craig and Professor Alison Kitson, went online to provide a live update on the status of the current pandemic. Their live Facebook address can now be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/FlindersUniversity/videos/663409441090631/
It represents a telling example of Flinders University sharing its knowledge with the broad community in a time of need, providing the clinical authority and expertise that will help promote factual understanding of the COVID-19 situation as it unfolds.

This Facebook Live event forms part of extensive media coverage that Flinders University experts have enjoyed through commenting on aspects of the COVID-19 situation. It includes child and adolescent nursing expert Dr Yvonne Parry, Strategic Professor of Reproductive Medicine Kelton Tremellen and Associate Professor Shane Pill from the Sport, Health and Physical Education Research Centre at the School of Education (whose stories are featured more expansively within this Flinders In Touch newsletter).

The University is also currently developing a research lecture series on COVID-19. Flinders will present a special online mini-series: COVID-19 – coping in a brave new world. Presentations will be 15 minutes and will include a virtual Q&A from the audience. The team behind this are currently looking for researchers to talk about historical pandemics and their resulting social, medical and cultural impacts.

Easter care packages boost spirits

To help spread a bit of cheer over Easter, baskets of Easter eggs were sent by Professor Jonathan Craig to 14 randomly selected CMPH students based in Adelaide. His simple message attached to the basket struck a chord with all who received the gifts: These recent weeks have been challenging for each of us, particularly students who have had to quickly adapt to studying online, and without the taken-for-granted interactions with peers and University staff. Throughout it, the University remains committed to providing the same high degree of support and care for each of our students. Personally, I have been overwhelmed by the camaraderie that this pandemic has evoked, and the novel ways that students and staff have been supporting each other. Of particular note, I have seen how random acts of kindness can mean so much. If ever we needed to look after our own and others’ wellbeing, it is now.”

Additionally, Catherine Nacey and Donna Fay from the Barossa Valley Parallel Rural Community Curriculum provided some COVID-19 care packages for students on placement in their region. Each pack contained fruit, biscuits, homemade soup, Easter eggs – and even a roll of toilet paper.

Catherine Nacey, PRCC Program Administrator, said, “It’s pretty simple: we care for our students. Making the soup, preparing the packs and delivering them also took our minds, temporarily, off the coronavirus, so that has helped with our overall wellbeing also.”

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