Statement on COVID-19

With Australia’s bushfire recovery efforts only just underway, our collective attention has now turned to the broad and deep impacts of COVID-19.

The Council and Secretariat of the Academy extend our thoughts and good wishes to our friends and colleagues across Australia and around the world, and we offer our deepest sympathies to those experiencing loss, illness, isolation and financial strain at this extraordinary time.

Around the globe, people are seeking answers – to the treatments and cures to halt the virus; its likely duration and impact on work and personal life; how to cope in the face of such uncertainty, worry and loneliness; and trying to imagine life post-COVID-19. Our lives, our communities, our world will be transformed in unforeseen ways.

As the national body for the humanities in Australia, we stand ready to play our part in providing answers to these questions – so many of which are about human experience, behaviour and aspirations. Our purpose is to ensure the humanities in Australia thrive and excel, because we believe a better future for all humanity depends on ethical, historical, creative and cultural knowledge and expertise. This is now as important as ever.

We are currently collating a list of expertise of researchers working in areas related to this current crisis – including (but not limited to) lessons from past experiences of epidemics, pandemics and quarantine; community responses to the COVID-19 crisis; social distancing challenges for Indigenous communities and other cultural impacts; access and equity to essential services, including digital communications and technologies; ethical decision-making; translation and analysis of information for multilingual populations; and the role of arts and culture in community building recovery and resilience.

We are in contact with our international colleagues to build a global exchange of work in the humanities that may help inform responses to this pandemic and its impacts, as well as preparing for the significant challenges ahead in the recovery phase. Such international collaborations will be vital as we rebuild relationships with our global neighbours post-COVID-19.

We realise that it cannot be ‘business as usual’ at this time, as we all deal with the disruptions to work and personal life. We sincerely thank the many Fellows and others who volunteer their time and expertise to support the Academy’s work and for their continued patience as we navigate this challenging time.

If you are a humanities researcher working in an area which could inform responses to COVID-19 or its aftermath, we’d love to hear from you.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.