CELA, CCSA and Network team up to deliver Sector Support Flood Impact Program
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) peak body Community Early Learning Australia (CELA) has teamed up with Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA) and Network of Community Activities to deliver the Sector Support Flood Impact Program at the behest of the New South Wales Department of Education.
CELA CEO Michele Carnegie spoke recently with a representative from the Department to share more information about the work the partnership will be undertaking, and the experience CELA can offer in the space.
“Sector support is incredibly important for services to know their voices are heard where it counts,” she began.
“Our role is to identify issues faced by services, provide feedback to the Department on the key issues and potential solutions and help services navigate the complex problems they are facing, both after the disaster hits and throughout recovery.”
CELA is experienced in providing this support, having worked extensively with services through the 2019-20 bushfires in a similar capacity. The sheer resilience of the sector, Ms Carnegie said, “has never been more evident”.
“It takes incredible resilience and courage to reopen the doors of a service and staff do this as soon as humanly possible because they know that the most important thing after a crisis is stability and continuity for children.”
“Our community-based services carry a significant role in linking families, parents and carers with current support services and information.”
Far more than being just spaces where children are educated and cared for, ECEC services are “a safe place and an empathetic ear to listen to families’ harrowing stories, ensuring that the educational program is one that allows children to just play and be, which is an important part of their recovery, while at the same time dealing with many and varied personal impacts and loss.”
Whilst times of crisis are incredibly challenging, Ms Carnegie said that they also present learnings for all services, including those unaffected by the recent disasters.
As a way of sharing the learning from the experience of the services who have recently been impacted by the flooding she made the following recommendations:
- All services should have both physical and cloud-based copies of key operational documents so that when the internet is available, these can be quickly accessed to contact families and submit emergency applications.
- Ensure that you have a crisis management plan and that all staff are aware of what to expect if a crisis hits and what role they play if it is possible to do so.
- Services should have a mobile phone that can be used in a crisis and ensure that all contact details are updated with their Peaks and the Department, so as they can make contact with you.
- Inaccurate information is contagious! Access information from reliable sources such as Government Departments and Peaks. Peaks can help you do the heavy lifting on issues you may be facing, so ensure that you make contact and use their carefully considered resources and sector experts to help you through.
“Throughout the past couple of years, people have shown they are really more resilient than they ever thought possible,” she continued.
“There is a strength that is drawn from being connected to each other; while it is a varied experience, it is a shared experience.
“In times like this, everyone steps up and plays their role. This has happened in the floods; there is highly effective support from each other, peaks and government. Having the right mix of people and influence to lean on is incredibly important to sustain each other.”
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