When disaster strikes.

If you have ever been through a natural disaster, you will no doubt have had the terrible time of checking off all the belonging you have lost in your mind. This tends to come some days after the actual event, and really is part of the natural grieving process. After loss of lives, the loss of personal belongings is probably the hardest thing to come to terms with, especially after a disaster like a bush fire taking your home.

bush fireThose of us living in the city tend not to concern ourselves with action plans necessary to survive natural disaster events, and when my house was burnt to the ground in 1999, I had never conceived of the need for an action plan. Australia is currently experiencing record-breaking heat waves, which always bring with the heat the chance of deadly and destructive bush fires.

What can you do to prepare? Each person and family will have different needs, depending on their particular situation, but here is a list I have come up with. Take note of the points that apply to you and your loved ones, as they could save your life and important belongings.

  • If you have pets, keep them inside and have carry cases ready. You will need to pack them and a little food and water for them. Letting them out of the house will only stress them out and you run the risk of them running away or being caught by the fire.
  • Have a battery operated or dynamo powered radio tuned in to the emergency broadcast station (in Australia, that is the ABC). You will receive news of evacuation plans, routes and assembly points. You will also get information on where the fire is, its heading and current safe zones.
  • Pack a change of clothes, water bottles, identification and medication for everyone in one backpack. Toiletries can be bought elsewhere when you have time to stop.
  • Make sure that any important documents are backed up, preferably digitally and on a small form hard drive. If you can, make this a flash drive/thumb drive/usb stick or a small external hard drive. While they may not be much help in replacing documents, they are at least some kind of proof that you are who you say you are.
  • Keep listening to the emergency broadcasts. If you get the notice to evacuate, move all young and invalid people into your car first, followed by pets and the gear then drive in a sensible and orderly fashion to your designated assembly zone. Make sure you have been accounted for, or the fire brigade will assume you are still in your place of residence.
  • If you have livestock, open all gates. They will instinctively run away from the fire to safety. You can always look for them once it is safe to return to the area.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, return to your home until you have been told it is safe to do so. Embers can reignite and start fires again. If you’re in doubt, contact the fire brigade or emergency teams in your team. When you do return, do a check of the property and surrounds as best as you can before unloading the vehicle.

This is not an exhaustive list. Everybody’s action list will be different and there are tips given by the authorities which have not been listed here. If you have anything you think should be added to the list, please add a comment below!

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The Search for the Holy Grail…

aka: information on how to apply for Honours.

Mortarboard and scrollLast year I completed my undergraduate degree in Internet Communications with Curtin university. It was a great achievement. For someone who attempted year twelve of high school twice, dropping out at the half way point each time, I never truly thought I would get this far, let alone consider a future in research or further education.

This month has seen me make some changes to my life so that I can enroll to do my Honours year on campus instead of the external online study I have been doing up until this point. It will be another first for me, as I have not attended a single class in a real life university (unless you count a day course in Old Kingdom Egyptian artifacts I did when I was 15).

Turns out, applying properly is not so easy when you haven’t already been studying on campus. Certainly not when there is no information online and no one on campus actually really understands how your degree is awarded or what is needed to get you where you need to be.

I spent the better part of a day last week finding out exactly how NOT to run applications for enrollment to an Honours program.

I drove to campus, parked my car and went to find my way to Student Central. On the way, I happened to chance upon a printed A4 piece of paper informing students that there was an information session being held for student on Honours program from 10-3pm. This was not posted online anywhere or publicised.

I thought this would be a better place to start my search for information, so I used the campus map app I had downloaded the evening prior to find my way. It wasn’t that far away, thank goodness. The temperature was already rising and I am very much NOT a summer person.

I sat through the questions asked of the coordinators by a few arts students and one journalism student, only to find none of them answered any of the questions I had hastily prepared myself on the way from the car park to the lecture room. I waited for the other students to leave then asked my questions, namely “what did I need to prepare” and “how can I find out more information on what the process is, as no one has been able to tell me everything?” Turns out that on campus students normally have lengthy talks with teachers who can offer the majority of information required for their enrollment paperwork: things like how to choose a topic and supervisor and what necessary paper work is required in order to successfully enroll.

I was then directed to Student central, which was where I was originally headed in the first place. I walked through the sweltering campus, heat radiating off the mostly brick and concrete buildings. I took my ticket and waited for my number to be called, despite being only one of two people to be waiting to be seen.

The first person who saw me was new and had no idea what to suggest, called someone else to help me. I took my seat and waited for them to come out. They too had no idea what to tell me, so had to go and check with yet another person and come back to the meeting room, only to inform me that I had to direct my queries to the humanities student services. The building for this was next to where I had been for the information session. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

It’s a good thing that I carry water with me everywhere I go. Once I had spoken to someone int he humanities building about what was required to actually submit my application (intent to graduate, application for enrollment, marks for completed units, and my thesis proposal) I walked to the library to print and fill out a form I had not been informed I would need.

I am still waiting for my final unit marks to be released by OUA (this should be happening sometime this week), and to complete my thesis proposal (which I have only just now found the information regarding the format for), return to the campus to have these join my application, then sit and wait for my offer. I know I exceed the minimum entry requirements and I know that no one else will be studying my topic, but the running around, waiting and more running around is soooooo going to be worth it when I walk across that stage either at the end of this year or early next year.

So, when looking to enrol into the Humanities Honours program at Curtin university, what do you need to prepare? As with any other academic or bureaucratic system, it is always best to double-check information given with the necessary department, as they are subject to change without notice. Here is a check list for those considering it:

  • statement of final grades from your university or record of results (if you are a OUA student, this is your statement of attainment, found here and here, respectively)
  • application form (this can be found here)
  • credit for recognised learning form (necessary if you have studied at more than one university, found here)
  • notice of intention to graduate (yes, despite what OUA might tell you, you still need to fill this out, found here)
  • ID (this can be your student card, driver’s license, proof of age card, etc etc etc)
  • thesis proposal (guidelines for writing this can be found here)

For more information, or contact details, head to Curtin University’s website for more details.