As attention turns to the recovery and rebuilding from last week’s devastating storms in the Northern Rivers region, Southern Cross University is proudly doing its part.
Since the first alarms were sounded last Thursday, the University’s conference and entertainment facility at the Lismore campus has been transformed into an Evacuation Centre. Hundreds of flooded-out local residents have utilised the campus facilities with many sleeping at the centre.
University Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker paid tribute to the small army of professionals and volunteers who made it all happen. In particular, he emphasised the University’s heartfelt thanks for the efforts of the Department of Family and Community Services, The Red Cross, The Salvation Army, St John’s Ambulance and Anglicare.
“We have accommodated an amazing range of requests, even establishing facilities for people with companion pets. Our security staff have worked double and triple shifts – it has been an incredible team effort all round. It is exactly what a regional university should do in a time of crisis,” Professor Shoemaker said.
Now that attention is turning to recovery and rebuilding, the University is embarking on a new phase of assistance. From today, Southern Cross will be throwing open its doors to local businesses who have been flooded, made homeless, or both.
The idea is to aid in small business recovery, by offering local enterprises free university working space and internet connections. This is an extension of the program called MySCU – which enables all Southern Cross University staff and students to benefit from some of the fastest broadband in Australia.
The University’s Executive Director responsible for property and information technology Mr Allan Morris said: “We have an array of IT labs and other enterprise facilities which we can make available to local business owners right away. Someone can register, arrive with their laptop, hook it up and use the University’s wireless systems and internet connectivity. If they don’t have a laptop we can set them up on a PC. That way their business can continue and they can get back on their feet more quickly.”
The key is cooperative recovery, in conjunction with organisations like the Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“This is a natural extension of the commitment which saw us host the Southern Cross Evacuation Centre in the first place,” Professor Shoemaker said. “Along with Lismore Base Hospital, we are one of the largest employers in the Lismore district. So it makes all the sense in the world to help rebuild the city and the larger region in this way.”