Canberra and Goulburn
Union officers met with the Director, Ross Fox, and other staff of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Catholic Education (CE) on 21 January to discuss the support being provided to staff and school communities of the 12 schools affected by the recent bush fires. At least 20 staff and members of the school communities have lost houses and many more families will have been significantly impacted economically by the fires.
The IEU was pleased with the CE response in what is a very challenging situation. CE has been proactive in supporting staff, students and parents. CE has been focused on enabling the schools to return to normal to the extent possible as soon as possible.
The support provided includes:
• additional staffing to allow affected staff in schools additional leave and additional time off class if required
• additional counselling support for staff, students and families
• fee relief for parents for 2020 for any family who has been significantly affected by the fires, and
• a discretionary fund for each school principal to meet school needs arising from the bushfire. This may include school uniforms, school lunches for displaced families etc.
The union understands significant additional relief staffing has been allocated to the schools. CE is also prepared to make special pay arrangements for staff experiencing financial hardship because of the fires. Any staff requiring support should contact their principal in the first instance.
There has been much practical assistance offered by staff and members of the community to the affected schools. If you would like to offer practical support to the schools, CE is requesting that you contact them directly rather than the individual schools to assist in the coordination of these efforts.
The school community of All Saints Primary at Tumbarumba, in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga, was also severely impacted. The school is tiny (only 55 students) and at least 12 families experienced major losses. The diocese is providing counselling support for students and staff and fee relief for affected families and other extensive support.