In accordance with legislation, early childhood services concerned about any emergency hazard may decide to close their services to protect the health, safety and well-being of children, and advise the Department.
In addition, in accordance with the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (Vic) and under delegation from the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary ECS and the Executive Director QARD may close services where their continued operation poses, or is likely to pose, an immediate risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children.
The Delegates will only issue directions to close following consultation with appropriate emergency management agencies.
Check the emergency closures page to see if your service is closed.
The Quality Assurance and Regulation Division (QARD) will be in regular contact with all service managers regarding the safety of assessing your early childhood service. Contact your approved provider or service manager in the first instance.
If you are the approved provider and are unsure, contact QARD on 1300 307 415.
Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures:
Support for you
See the Emergency Vic website for relief and recovery services, including financial assistance.
Financial support for your service
Your service may be eligible for a Business Continuity Payment. This is administered by the Australian Government Department of Education. Call 1300 667 276 for more information.
Supporting children and their families
See mental health support after an emergency for guidance on how you can support children. It includes a guide to managing trauma.
The bushfire information for parents and carers page includes a list of counselling services you can refer children and their families to.
The VCAA's Bushfire Education website includes teaching resources and lesson plans on bushfires, including preparing for, responding to, and recovering from fires.
Early Childhood Australia's blog, The Spoke, examines how to support vulnerable children through traumatic experiences like bushfires.
Talking Matters has a range of resources with social story examples to help children understand the bushfire situation.
The Royal Children's Hospital has a blog and video to assist parents and carers with talking to children about the bushfires.
Families, children and staff in kindergarten services who have been affected by the ongoing bushfires will get additional support as they start kindergarten in 2020:
Bushfire kindergarten fees subsidy
$650,000 in kindergarten fee subsidies is available to help families access a free or low-cost Four-Year-Old Kindergarten program.
This will apply to families of children who are residents of or attending a funded kindergarten service in the areas of:
- East Gippsland
The Bushfire Kindergarten Fee Subsidy (Bushfire KFS) will support all children that live in those areas to access a free or low-cost funded kindergarten program for 15 hours per week in the year before school in 2020, based on a clear and targeted eligibility criteria.
This initiative also includes the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy- ratio supplement (an additional $260 per child) for eligible children.
Trauma recovery support
$3.8 million will go towards a Trauma Recovery Team. The team will provide trauma response support to affected schools and kindergarten services.
Functions will include:
- training and coaching for staff
- providing evidence-based resources
- developing bushfire and trauma curriculum
- establishing cross-sectoral communities of practice to facilitate ongoing support and training for professionals.
The trauma recovery team is currently supporting bushfire-affected ECEC services and schools in Alpine, East Gippsland and Towong.
Where need is identified in the remaining 12 local government areas (LGAs) on a per school basis, support will be provided based on clear and targeted eligibility criteria, for Term 1 and throughout 2020.
The 12 LGAs are:
- Golden Plains
- Northern Grampians
- Southern Grampians