What role do academics play in Orientation and my transition to uni?

Academics are your teachers. Their role is to provide detailed information about the requirements of the course and introduce systems and programs that you will need to become familiar with. They're also there to address the social, emotional and academic needs of you and all students in their course.

What's the difference between an academic and a school teacher?

The answer to this and many other differences between school and uni are available on the Differences between school and uni page.