Message from the VC: Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and Stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria

The continued outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria is unfortunate and distressing, and I want to reach out at this difficult time to make sure you know how the Stage 4 and Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions will impact you. I’m also aware that COVID-19 is having a significant impact on daily life for our students and staff, so I’d also like to remind you about the support that is available for all students at La Trobe. More information about support programs is provided below, but at the outset I’d like to remind you that the University has a free counselling service available to all students through our Wellbeing team.  

For those of you in metropolitan Melbourne, the current Victorian Government Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions will remain in place until 11:59pm on Sunday 13 September. I cannot stress enough the importance of strictly observing these restrictions, particularly having no visitors in your home, staying at home apart from going out for one of the four reasons outlined by the Government, observing the nightly curfew from 8.00pm to 5.00am (unless you are travelling for permitted work), and wearing a face mask or face covering wherever legally required. People who do not observe these new restrictions face severe financial penalties including on-the-spot fines of up to $5,000. 

For our students in regional Victoria, Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions are now in place. These include continuing to study from home where it is possible to do so, and wearing face masks/coverings when leaving your home. Please also ensure you wear a face mask if you are attending any of our regional campuses.  

Strictly observing the Stage 4 and Stage 3 restrictions is the best way to protect your health and stay safe. Please familiarise yourself with the COVID-19 symptoms and get tested if you have any symptoms. If you are unwell or have any COVID-19 symptoms, please call the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline 1800 675 398 and follow their advice.  

If you or your friends have been in contact with someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19, I ask that you make the University Health and Safety Manager Spomenka Krizmanic aware. We can then provide support and do contact tracing where required. La Trobe will continue to provide flexible special consideration to students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 in addition to our wellbeing support programs.  

Since the introduction of the Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne earlier this week, we have been working to make sure that arrangements at the University remain COVIDSafe and in line with the new Government guidelines. For now, we have paused face-to-face teaching activities at the Melbourne Campus in Bundoora, as we clarify what is allowed under Stage 4 restrictions and explore every option to deliver subjects. We want to ensure that as many students as possible can complete their subjects and progress in their studies as planned.  

Unfortunately, all of the COVIDSafe study spaces that have been available at the Melbourne Campus in Bundoora and our City Campus must now close as part of the Stage 4 restrictions. The Library is now closed at the Melbourne Campus, but all library services remain available online, and a Click and Send service is in place to borrow books from home. At our regional campuses, study spaces are still open to students, and you can find an updated list here. Our libraries at Albury-Wodonga, Shepparton and Mildura are still operating.  

If you are currently on a placement or have an upcoming placement, you will be contacted by the University or your placement organisation. If you are not contacted, please get in touch with your Placement Operations team for further information. The University will continue to do our best to ensure that students can undertake placements (even if they are delayed) and limit any delays to progression and graduation. 

I am also aware that many of you will continue to contribute to the workforce under Stage 4 restrictions, so I urge you to follow the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Permitted Worker Scheme guidelines. Penalties of up to $19,826 apply for those who breach these guidelines. 

Finally, the University recognises that the Stage 4 and Stage 3 restrictions may put further strain on you, especially regarding your employment and financial situation. If you require support, please contact ASK La Trobe or International Student Services online or by calling +61 3 9479 1199. These services can advise you about material and financial aid that may be available to you. 

I understand that this is a very difficult and frustrating time for many students. All of the University’s student support services are still available online to provide assistance to you.  

If you have any further questions, please consult our updated COVID-19 Student FAQs.  

Please stay safe and take care of yourselves.  

Professor John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor