It is with great sadness that the National Youth Science Forum announces the cancellation of Session C of the 2020 NYSF Year 12 Program. This cancellation is unavoidable due to the impact of the current Australian Bushfires; NYSF must protect participant and volunteer safety above all else.
Australia is in the middle of a bushfire crisis, with widespread devastation and loss across many states.
As the health and wellbeing of participants and volunteers is our first priority, the National Youth Science Forum has no option but to cancel Session C of the 2020 NYSF Year 12 Program. This comes shortly after the unavoidable cancellation of Session A of the NYSF Year 12 Program, the evacuation of those 200+ program participants, and cancellation of the Canberra session of the National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS).
Canberra is still experiencing hazardous air quality with smoke from the Australian Bushfire Crisis continuing to be a health risk. A significant number of bushfires surrounding Canberra are still burning, and as such the potential for smoke and the threat of a fire reaching Canberra during the program cannot be ruled out.
This difficult decision has involved close consultation with our host university in Canberra, the Australian National University (ANU). Today, ANU has only permitted essential staff to return to the Acton Campus due to continuing issues with smoke levels and air quality. This has resulted in a number of buildings being closed indefinitely, including many of the laboratories where NYSF STEM Visits would normally occur. Due to fire damage of nearby electrical infrastructure, large institutions in Canberra are being required to reduce their power load, resulting in forced outages of essential services such as lighting and air-conditioning in ANU buildings. The severe smoke has also been continuing to trigger the smoke alarms at the residential college where NYSF houses our students, leading to regular evacuations forcing residents out into the hazardous smoke. The decision to reopen these facilities and services rests with the ACT Emergency Services and thus the issues are unlikely to resolve while smoke and fire risk continues.
We are deeply saddened to cancel the program, however safety and wellbeing of our NYSF participants, volunteers, providers and staff always comes first.
Given the conditions, we have been touched by the resilience and understanding we are seeing amongst our participants, parents and volunteers, and would like to thank them for their ongoing support and understanding during this difficult time. We would also like to thank our Partner Organisations for their tremendous support, understanding and assistance over this difficult period.
Once we have addressed the immediate impacts of this unique situation, the NYSF will begin to work through the complex implications of these cancellations. Rest assured, further information about next steps will be available once this initial period of bushfire emergency has passed and the NYSF is able to consider refund and insurance matters. We will be getting in touch with participants, parents, partners and supporters in the coming month to discuss future contingency options.
This cancellation only impacts Canberra NYSF Sessions. Brisbane NYSF Year 12 Program and Brisbane NSTSS will proceed as planned.
NYSF will organise your travel plan cancellations and we ask that you please monitor your emails for further updates.
Dr Melanie Bagg, CEO, and the NYSF Team
For further enquiries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 6125 2777.