Top up funding providing much needed relief for kindys

The IEUA-QNT has been informed that kindergartens across Queensland should now be receiving their one-off “top up” funding in addition to the Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme (QKFS).

The one-off payment was announced by the Queensland Department of Education on 12 April 2020 and is intended to provide some financial relief to kindys during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our union has had verbal advice from both C&K and Gowrie that, generally, kindergartens will receive about the same income from QKFS plus the support package as they would have received from QKFS and parent fees.

However, this is not the case for kindergartens that filled vacant spaces with younger aged children, as this cohort is not eligible for QKFS.

Overall, this is a good outcome for the early childhood education sector in Queensland and will greatly minimise any lost revenue from fees in Term 2.

This was the result of significant advocacy from our union to the Department of Education together with central governing bodies.

Your workplace health and safety rights during COVID-19

Under workplace health and safety laws, employers must ensure the health and safety of their employees, and others at the workplace, as far as is reasonably practicable.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has provided the following risk-mitigation strategies for employees in the early childhood education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • minimise children’s contact with others outside their group by separating cohorts, as well as staggering meal breaks and play time between different groups
  • exclude staff, children and visitors who are showing symptoms of illness
  • encourage regular hand washing, cough and sneeze covering and general hygiene best practice for children
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and frequently used objects
  • open windows to circulate fresh air or adjust air conditioning
  • encourage staff, children and visitors to abide by physical distancing recommendations.

IEUA-QNT Senior Industrial Officer John Spriggs said that where an employee has a reasonable concern that carrying out their work would expose them to a serious risk to their health or safety (emanating from exposure to a risk in the workplace), the employee can cease work or refuse to carry out the risky work.

“That is the employee’s right under workplace health and safety legislation,” John said. “In these circumstances, the employee must advise the employer, and be available to carry out suitable alternative work.”

In the instance of a reasonable health and safety risk, members should advise their employer of the risk.

If it is not addressed, members should contact our union immediately as they have the right to alternative safe work or to cease the work that involves the risk.

Professional development: Anxiety and young children

Over the past six months, Australian children have been affected by drought, bushfires, floods and now a pandemic. Teachers have also been significantly affected.

The IEU has worked with psychologist Helen Tsamoulos to create “Working with young children around anxiety and COVID-19”, a course specifically designed for teachers working with children 0-5 years old. This course covers:

  • recognising anxiety in young children
  • what we learn from trauma
  • how to talk with young children about COVID-19 – what they should know and how to use narrative effectively
  • games, strategies and activities to encourage resilience
  • engaging with parents to address ongoing worry
  • focusing on the positive to be gained and reflecting on opportunities to learn from adversity
  • self-care for teachers during times of stress.

More information

Early childhood after COVID-19

The Front Project, an independent national enterprise working to create positive change in Australia’s early childhood education system, is focused on developing new policy and funding recommendations so the early childhood education and care sector emerges stronger from the pandemic.

Together with sector leaders in its Apiary Fellowship, the Front Project is committed to working directly with children, parents, carers and early childhood teachers to ensure their perspectives inform the research. Over the coming months, the team will consult with the sector to:

  • clarify stress points within the system
  • understand policy and funding settings that obstruct equitable access to high quality early learning
  • produce scenario modelling that reveals what changes in the system are possible or likely as the impacts of COVID-19 are felt and understood
  • identify the key changes possible and necessary right now to improve quality and equity
  • provide a clear direction forward.

The aim is to establish what conditions and practices are necessary to deliver a sustainable and high quality early childhood education system, and the investment needed.

The research will prioritise the experiences and opportunities that should be available to all Australian children, and emphasise how a strong early childhood education system benefits all sections of society.

More information