A Message from the CEO/Head of College

Dear Members,

This has been a most extraordinary time for our Association.

Firstly, my deepest condolences are extended to our many Members across the world who have experienced the loss of family, friends and colleagues. We can only watch helplessly and with great sorrow and horror from this (so far, and hopefully we can continue to be) relatively lucky country.

My heart goes out to our amazing residents who have remained here in college by decree or by design. Each is a long way from their family and friends watching this pandemic reek its destruction in their respective home communities. Notwithstanding the sheer stress in this anxious time, as well as from new online and mobile learning platforms, cancelled courses and their high-level studies with exams, assignments and other deadlines, the Resident Member population has been incredibly supportive of the various measures that we have put in place at Graduate House to protect them, our staff and our community. Indeed, we are fortunate to have had the combined expertise of their various disciplines contributing to solution finding and implementation.

I am humbled constantly by those who have risen to this ‘occasion’, and particularly by my colleagues here on staff at Graduate House. With the introduction of lock-down restrictions, we closed our dining room and meeting and function services, and saw many residents leave quickly to return home before other lock-downs. With alacrity, professionalism and a collective, cheerful disposition, the staff supported each and every person through this complex and difficult period. They have also worked incredibly efficiently to change our operational model so that we could meet gathering and distancing restrictions that have affected every aspect of our college life. For example, we delivered breakfasts and dinners to the rooms of the residents who remain and who have joined us (the latter because they have learned that we have these measures in place, and they thus feel safer).​

Our Council and subcommittee members have demonstrated exemplary leadership and world class crisis management. We are most fortunate to have a governance team that is experienced, that cares deeply about this Association and that is prepared to dig in as this ‘going gets tough (and tougher)’.

Early April, we launched a COVID-19 financial relief campaign and asked Members, friends and supporters of our Association to consider supporting our residents and staff. It has been so very heartwarming to receive your many donations even during this most financially challenging time. On behalf of all staff and residents, I thank all our Members who have donated, and who have extended support in many other ways. It is this good will and generosity that will see us prevail through another difficult time.

For the time being we shall not be printing and posting out our newsletters and our Melbourne Graduate. As you might imagine, we need to be extremely prudent with cash flow. I do so apologise for this lack of communication by post but promise to send you these publications once we are back to normal here. We shall continue to produce, send and upload these publications in a digital format (see the Learn Here > Publications section on our website). Please note also that we have postponed the Annual General Meeting, which was to be held on the 28th of May. Later in the year we shall provide notice and the date for this meeting.

We are fortunate to be in this state and in this country. Our local, state and federal governments have done an extraordinary job, as have the people of Australia. Equally, our universities, our research institutes (particularly the Doherty Research Institute just across the park from us) and, of course, our hospital and public health system are all to be commended with distinction. It has been very encouraging to see sensible, rapid and evidence-based developments in public health measures, treatments and preventative therapeutics. Our sector – the university and research sector – is responsible for these incredible advances. How proud we all are to be thus involved and to support our colleagues in every country as they work tirelessly towards containing this pandemic, the much-needed vaccine and putting in longer term public health measures to ensure that the impact of the return of this virus in the future is minimised.

And then you, our Members and friends – thank you so very much for contributing to your own health and safety, and to that in our communities across Australia and the world. As discussed with many of you over the phone, by email, on a video link or through mobile forums, please do capture the vignettes of this time – the short, important ‘scenes’ of your experience. What did you do during this period? Have you or your loved ones been on the frontline treating patients, testing for the virus or contact tracing? Have you been volunteering in your local communities to supply food, housing and comfort to the many who have faced sudden unemployment or eviction? Have you had an exam and dealt with this additional stress? Are you facing financial difficulty? Are you at home without support? How have you been connecting with others and/or yourself? How have you dealt with the emotional roller coasters? Do you have photographs, poems, stories, jokes and videos that you could share with us so that we can share these with others?

Throughout March, April and May, Graduate House remained opened for existing and new residents. We provided (and, of course, continue to provide) comfort and a safe home, as well as a place that fosters study, research, the undertaking of placements and many other academic pursuits. We are well-practiced with deep cleaning, sanitising, physical distancing and the myriad of other measures that are necessary to preserve the health and safety of our community. We have extended these well-rehearsed procedures and stringent health and safety controls to our staged and careful reopening of the Dining Room and of our Meeting and Function Services – these meet the guidelines developed by the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services and Business Victoria.

We are certainly not out of the ‘woods’. Occupancy levels are low and will recover slowly. It will be some time before our dining room, and our meeting and function services, return to full capacity. We are thus very grateful for your continued support.

This might be in the form of a financial donation to support our staff and our residents – please see the online form below (or call us on +61 3 9347 3428 or email admingh@graduatehouse.com.au to donate via other means).

Please also help to promote our Graduate House as a safe place to:

  • stay for a short or a longer period while in Melbourne for classes, to teach, to research and to undertake placements
  • hold meetings and functions – we set up to meet capacity limits for different configurations (boardroom, u-shape, dining, theatre, class room)
  • meet friends and colleagues over a meal

 

We look forward, as always, to hearing from you and – when you feel comfortable – to welcoming you all back soon to Graduate House.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Kerry Bennett

 

COVID-19 Financial Relief Fund Form