We face unprecedented change as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and we are writing today to share an update on what is happening across Aurora’s programs. Our response places the health and wellbeing of Aurora Education Foundation’s students, supporters and employees as our highest priority. This has informed the following decisions about our immediate operations.
The actions we are putting in place will ensure our students, interns and scholars continue to be supported in the current environment. They are our highest priority and continuing to provide our programs and support in an online capacity is our primary focus at this time.
While our program delivery will look different in the coming months, we are committed to continue our mission to support Indigenous students to realise their full academic potential.
On Tuesday 17 March, we asked staff to work from home for the foreseeable future. As an organisation, we are progressing well in relocating our staff and re-aligning our program activities in response to COVID-19.
Below is a summary of our response for each of our programs.
THE HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM IN NSW, WA AND VIC
Our academic enrichment camps in NSW and WA for April 2020 have been cancelled. To continue our support for Indigenous high school students, we are working through strategies to stay connected and provide activities and lessons from these camps online. We are engaging with students and their families to address technology needs, including laptops and internet to ensure each student can engage with our Elders and Mentors online. This is a challenging time for many students and families, and ensuring we continue to support them on their education journey is paramount.
Aurora had intended to engage in person with Victorian schools and other stakeholders about introducing our High School Program in 2021. We will continue to consult with relevant groups; however, our format will be changed from face to face meetings to video conference.
Many of our Outreach Program events take place in high schools and, following advice from schools and government, we have postponed all immediate Outreach events. We are working to implement online engagement options to continue to host our events and connect Indigenous Role Models to high school students. We are also postponing our Outreach Summit in Melbourne and the related reception that was scheduled for 20-21 April 2020.
We continue to support our scholars who are on scholarships in the UK and the US. We have been in touch with all our scholars and are following advice from local, national and world health organisations. In addition, we have consulted with other international scholarship bodies, including Cambridge Trust, Chevening, Fulbright, Monash and Rhodes to ensure we are following best practice in supporting our scholars. Those scholars wishing to come home to Australia have been encouraged and supported to do so. Many other scholars feel safe in their environment and have decided to continue remain overseas and continue with their study. We will continue to check in on them to see whether they would prefer to return home as circumstances change.
Our current interns are being supported by both Aurora and their Host organisations. We are in regular contact with both our interns and their Hosts, and are being guided by local health authorities and the Host. Where appropriate, our interns are continuing their internships by working from home and actively contributing to the work of their Hosts. Some Hosts are not able to continue with internships at this time and we are supporting our interns to either postpone their current internship or identify an alternative internship for later in the year. We are currently accepting applications for our winter round of internships. We are continuing to monitor developments to ensure we are ready to make further decisions in relation to the winter round if necessary.
STUDY TOURS AND BURSARIES
We will continue to accept applications for our International Study Tour and Executive Education Bursaries as these are scheduled for later in 2020. We are continuing to monitor developments to ensure we are ready to make further decisions in relation to these two program areas if necessary.
These changes will not impact Aurora’s commitment to our students or our valued supporters. We will continue to keep you updated on our programs with periodic messages like this one today.
For now, take care of yourselves at this time. If there is any support Aurora can provide, please reach out to us.