Unlocking Fortress Australia: connecting with the world again

Unlocking Fortress Australia: connecting with the world again

UOW will host a virtual session with industry experts on the reopening of Australia

The term ‘Fortress Australia’ has been commonly used over the past 18 months to describe Australia closing its borders to the outside world.

The policy has had a significant impact on the Australian economy, migration levels have been impacted, the mental health and wellbeing of people has suffered, and loved ones have been kept apart. With many Australians considering themselves to be globetrotters and global citizens, the prolonged closing of borders due to the pandemic has significantly reshaped the way many Australians live their lives.

Closing the border did save many lives, but keeping the borders closed into the future would put the country in an unsustainable economic position.

After almost 600 days the international borders are gradually reopening, allowing Australia the opportunity to reconnect with the world.

University of Wollongong (UOW) in association with OzSAGE will host a virtual seminar on Monday 8 November on Unlocking Fortress Australia: Opportunities & Challenges. A panel of experts specialising in pandemic and epidemic infections, data modelling, business, economics, and indigenous health will discuss Australia's opportunities and challenges.

OzSage is a multi-disciplinary network of Australian experts from a broad range of sectors that was formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to offer well-researched and robustly debated independent expert advice. 

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson and Distinguished Laureate Professor Nick Talley at the University of Newcastle will moderate the discussion.

Professor Davidson said Australia was a nation with a global outlook built on the foundation of migration and multiculturalism.

“The last few months have been extremely difficult for loved ones that had to stay apart due to border closures and the lockdown has had a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people,” Professor Davidson said.

“The closure of borders saved many lives in Australia and the positive uptake of vaccinations has built confidence within the communities to live lives almost as freely as pre-COVID times.

“With the international borders gradually reopening it’s time to rethink the health, economic and migration models that would keep Australia competitive globally for many years to come.”

The panellists will address various topics centred on infectious diseases and identify how re-opening Australia’s borders will impact vulnerable populations, boost business and economic activities and improve health services and disease outcomes across the country.


  • Professor Margaret Hellard AM, Deputy Director at the Burnet Institute
  • Professor Lisa Pulver Jackson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Services at the University of Sydney
  • Professor Richard Holden, Professor of Economics at UNSW.
  • Dr Kalinda Griffiths, Scientia Lecturer at the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW, Deputy Editor of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.
  • Nigel Oakey, Managing Director of Be Our Guest Holdings, a diverse hospitality system comprising retail cafes, restaurants and boutique hotels with over 2000 employees.


When: Monday 8 November at 5pm AEST

Registration link: https://uow-au.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5_RjNZTZQKmtLRaQswxofA