ECEC sector meets with Tehan seeking more support to manage bushfire crisis

by Freya Lucas

January 16, 2020

Representatives from the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector met yesterday with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan seeking clearer guidelines on when to send children home during future bushfires, asking for emergency concessions to allow fire-affected children to continue to access childcare, The Sydney Morning Herald has reported

 

Chief Executive of the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA), Elizabeth Death, said there was an urgent need to improve national coordination and give services much clearer guidelines about when to close in the event of fire emergencies, saying ELACCA had developed inhouse advice for its centres, taking into account their location, accessibility, and the unique needs of children. 

 

ELACCA Co-Chair Jenni Hutchins likened the development of such guidelines in the midst of a crisis to “building a plane as you fly”, with services not knowing if they are taking the best and most valid measures to protect children in the absence of nationally consistent advice. 

 

Families, Ms Death told The Sydney Morning Herald, need emergency concessions applied to welfare payments and childcare subsidy as they navigate life during and after bushfire emergencies, describing the ECEC sector as “quite vocal” on the need to suspend any debt recovery operations and removing barriers to payments during crises.

 

Mr Tehan issued a statement following the meeting, outlining the meaningful ideas which had been raised by sector representatives during the meeting. 

 

“The federal government will work to fast track the support we can provide to the sector as a result of today’s meeting. We will work with the sector to harness the many good ideas that will make a difference to the education and mental well-being of children in bushfire affected areas,” he reportedly said.

 

To read the original coverage of this story, as produced by Fergus Hunter for The Sydney Morning Herald, please see here. 

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