Learning Cottage Lismore speaks out about surviving the recent floods

Learning Cottage Lismore speaks out about surviving the recent floods

by Freya Lucas

April 13, 2022

The Learning Cottage at Lismore, a 46-place long day care service, was one of the more severely impacted early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings when the recent floods swept through the Northern Rivers. 

 

Isabel Russell, owner and approved provider, recently spoke with the New South Wales Department of Education, crediting her staff and the broader community for their speedy support and assistance with the clean up effort. 

 

“We have an amazing team, and a number of our families came to help clean up the centre – everyone really banded together to help each other as much as possible,” she said.

 

“It’s a surreal thing to experience, but our focus has been to pull together and to support each other during this difficult time – so we can rebuild and move forward as a community.”

 

To support continuity of care, the Learning Cottage worked with sister service the Learning Cottage at Wollongbar to provide care for some families after an emergency waiver was received from the Department, something Ms Russell said was “an enormous relief”.

 

“It has also enabled our Lismore staff to continue to work with the children at our Wollongbar service,” she added.

 

The Lismore site hopes to reopen as soon as possible, and is focusing on maintaining connection and supporting the community in the interim. 

 

“We’re working to support our staff as much as possible as it has been difficult to lose the connection with their workplace, the children and families during this time.”

 

“Our staff are staying connected by attending our regular meetings, taking up professional development opportunities and rotations working at the Wollongbar service,” she said.

 

Ms Russell believes it will be six to nine months before the centre is able to be reopened. 

 

“We’ve spoken to every single one of our families and will stay connected during this time by continuing to check in with them and let them know about our recovery progress by sharing updates and images of the rebuild,” she said.

 

“It’s going to take time and it will be a process for our staff to create and re-establish our home-like environment and the resources that have been lost.”

 

Despite the challenges Ms Russell is determined to get back to normal as soon as possible, sharing the message with the community that “we will be back, and we’re committed to re-opening and delivering early education again.” 

 

For more information about the Learning Cottage please see here. A Go Fund Me page has been established to support Northern Rivers ECEC services affected by the flooding, which can be accessed here

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