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2020 has been a record year for challenges: catastrophic bushfires, a brutal global pandemic, the shutdown of our cultural and creative sectors, unemployment shooting up the charts, and a massive fee hike for those wanting to study humanities, arts and social science courses at university.

The Australian Academy of the Humanities today expressed deep concern about the Government’s changes to university fee structures, which disproportionally affect the humanities and call into question the very role of the 21st-century university.

The first quarter of 2020 can best be summed up in one word – ‘unprecedented’. From severe drought, to calamitous bushfires, and now COVID-19, every element of our lives has been touched in some way. The Australian Academy of the Humanities offers its deepest sympathies to those experiencing loss, illness, isolation and financial strain at this extraordinary time. The Academy champions the contribution humanities, arts and culture make to our national life, and recognises the severe impact the current pandemic is having on all areas of society.

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

As we start a new decade, Australians have the opportunity to consider what makes our nation special, while at the same time, reflecting on where, and why, we might be losing our way. The tragedy of this summer’s bushfires, and the incredible collective response by volunteer firefighters, donors, neighbours and communities, has shone a light on some of our nation’s greatest strengths – our resilience, generosity of spirit, and compassion.

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.