Support resources available for services affected by the bushfires

The following is a collection of useful information for early learning services providers affected by the recent bushfires.


Australian (Federal) Government support for early learning service providers
In view of the number of emergency and natural disaster situations being experienced across Australia, and the potential for continued disruption over the summer period, the Department of Education (DET) has launched a new webpage which contains links to useful information about the resources available to early learning services affected by the fires or other emergencies.

The DET website includes information on the following: 

  • For the purposes of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) - What is a local emergency?
  • What if the service I operate is in or near an emergency declared area?
  • Assistance for service providers
  • Reporting requirements and additional absences
  • Service closures, and
  • Assistance for families.

The new webpage is available at education.gov.au/emergency-and-natural-disaster-assistance.


Meanwhile the Department of Human Services has also produced a webpage which provides useful links to the state government support available to each state/territory. The webpage is available at humanservices.gov.au/individuals/help-emergency/bushfires.


Additionally the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is offering support to those businesses and services affected by the bushfires. Visit their webpage here for more information.


Victorian Government Support

The Victorian Government has announced that a new permanent and dedicated agency - Bushfire Recovery Victoria - will work directly with local communities. A Victorian Bushfire Recovery Taskforce has also been established to coordinate response and recovery efforts across all Government departments and agencies.


Dealing with staff who may need to take leave for volunteer emergency activities

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman webpage about the bushfires, all employees, including casuals, are entitled to take community service leave for certain voluntary emergency management activities, if what they are doing fits the definition of a voluntary emergency management activity.


This leave applies to the activity and reasonable travel and rest time. The leave is unpaid. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take. The employee is entitled to the time off work for as long as the absence is reasonable in all the circumstances.


For more information about leave entitlements (community service leave, sick and carer's leave) workplace health and safety relating to the bushfires, employee entitlements during service closure due to the fires and support for small businesses, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman webpage about the bushfires here


Support for educators and families

Families affected by the current bushfires may be eligible to receive additional support with the cost of child care through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship). Families must apply directly to Centrelink and can be directed to this webpage for further information.


There are also a range of resources available from various sources to support educators and families to work through worries and concerns about the fires with the children in their care.


These include:


  • resource kit produced by Be You for educators, families and childen directly and indirectly affected by the bushfires.


  • A range of resources developed by the Red Cross to support children before, during and after a natural disaster, for both parents and educators available here

  • Maggie Dent video - HOW PARENTS CAN HELP KIDS FEEL SAFE DURING BUSHFIRES
    Maggie Dent speaks directly to parents about how they can talk with their kids to reduce anxiety when bushfires occur.

  • Modules produced by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority specifically for children aged between three and five years of age, which are aligned with the Victorian Early Years Learning Framework. Covering four topics – learning about bushfires, preparing for bushfires, responding to bushfires and recovering from bushfires – the modules are available here

  • 5 steps to help children cope through bushfires - recent article in The Conversation available here

  • A guide on talking to children about bushfires, produced by Victoria’s Better Health Channel, available here.  

  • A guide to support parents in speaking with their children about the fires developed by Talking Mattersavailable here.

  • A story about bushfires for children developed by the Queensland Government in many community languages, including English, Arabic, Burmese, Mandarin and Samoan, available here. It tells the story of Birdie, a small bird who is forced to flee when a bushfire sweeps through her neighbourhood. With colourful illustrations and a compassionate but truthful explanation of living through fire, it is part of a series of books written with the support of mental health experts to support children to cope with natural disasters and other big life events. 

Donations to help the community - do your homework & beware of scams!
Whilst it is a wonderful gesture to donate goods or money to assist people in need at this difficult time for Australia, often the logistics of accepting and storing donations of goods can be too difficult for already-stretched organisations.


Additionally the bushfires have created a golden opportunity for scammers to take advantage of our community generosity, with common scams reported to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) including:

  • People impersonating relatives of victims and requesting money via text messages or phone calls
  • Calls or websites impersonating charities and crowdfunding pages impersonating charities
  • People doorknocking, saying they or loved ones have been impacted by the bushfires

If your service is organising a fund-raiser and donating to an established charity or not-for-profit organisation, make sure you do your homework to ensure the funds go where you would like them to, that the organisation is a registered charity and that you are on its official website by searching the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register


You may wish to donate to your state fire authority (VIC CFA DONATE, NSW RFS donate, SA CFS DONATE, QLD RFBAQ DONATE) or another alternative.


Need assistance? Let us know! 
ACA is already in discussions with the Australian Government about how DET and DHS can further assist early learning service providers and families affected by the bushfires, and we will continue to engage with DET and DHS on this matter.


If your service has been affected, please get in touch with us to keep us updated and let us know if there is any way we can assist in getting you the assistance you need. 


Finally, if you've come across any particular resources that are worth sharing with ACA members, please let us know by sending us a quick email to admin@childcarealliance.org.au



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