Senior Residents (SRs) at Burton & Garran Hall (B&G) are protesting against an ‘unacceptable’ level of risk imposed on them to monitor and enforce COVID-19 restrictions at the residence. Today, SRs met with Woroni to discuss their concerns regarding the ANU, and the lack of support provided to ‘front-line workers’.
The main concerns include a lack of pastoral support from ANU staff, an ‘unacceptable level of personal risk’, potential breaches of ACT Health directives, and a lack of academic support.
SRs told Woroni that they raised these concerns on Friday and were informed that they were no longer obligated to undertake these duties. However, on Saturday the SRs were required to deliver food to residents again.
A major concern the SRs raised was the lack of systems in place at B&G should there be a COVID-19 outbreak at the ANU. According to one SR, the ANU had informed them that they had plans in place if the campus were to shut down, however SRs didn’t believe that the ANU’s procedure was sufficient.
In protest of the ‘inadequate’ treatment, some B&G SRs have refused to undertake their duty shifts, claiming that these shifts put them at a high risk. Despite coming into contact with numerous students and potential close contacts, SRs are denied proper PPE gear. One SR compared the duties they were being required to carry out to those of a frontline quarantine worker and stated that “even then, quarantine workers receive better protection and support”.
SRs also raised concerns that the duty shifts may be in direct violation of ACT Health directives. In response to these concerns, they were told that their work was held as permissible as they were acting as “good Samaritans”.
Many SRs expressed concern that they are receiving little to no academic support. Two SRs stated that they were unable to receive extensions on tests, despite working full-day shifts delivering meals to students.
The SRs plan to write an open letter to the ANU, demanding to be pulled from the front-line of COVID-19 enforcement.
In response to these concerns, an ANU Spokesperson stated that it is “extremely grateful to those SRs who provided immediate assistance and made sure that their fellow residents received these supplies”. You can find more about the ANU’s response here.