Department program

Bushfire 2020: information for schools

This page includes information for Victorian schools, principals and teachers about the 2020 bushfires.

Information for early childhood centres and TAFE is on our bushfires 2020 page.

If you're a parent or carer, see our dedicated bushfire information for parents.

School closures

Check the emergency closures page to see if your school is closed.

The regional office will be in regular contact with school principals in affected areas to ensure schools are safe and accessible.

Please note that some schools have been in use as official fire refuges or to support emergency service operations.

School bus route closures

Most school bus services in bushfire affected communities are running as normal.

Visit the emergency closures page for more information.

Emergency procedures

If you're a principal and have concerns about your emergency procedures, contact your regional emergency management staff as listed in your emergency management plan.

Familiarise yourself with relevant emergency policies and procedures:

Water supplies

If your school is without water supply or safe drinking water, contact emergency.management@edumail.vic.gov.au

Schools in areas not affected by bushfires are advised that smoke taint is unlikely to be a health concern. If you have any concerns, you can contact Make Safe on 1300 133 486.

Support and counselling for you

Resources are available for you, your family and staff affected by the bushfires.

Employee assistance program, including manager assist

All Department staff have access to 24 hour counselling through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

The service is also available to your immediate family members who are 18 years or older.

Manager Assist is a dedicated telephone advisory service available to support principals, school leaders and managers. It gives you advice and coaching on how to support staff at risk.

To access the Employee Assistance Program or Manager Assist phone 1300 361 008.

Early intervention program

The Early Intervention Program gives confidential support to all principal class officers.  It helps identify emerging and existing health and wellbeing issues and prevents them from becoming more serious.

To access the service contact:

Self-care and wellbeing 

Find self-care tips and suggestions for those working in a school community impacted by bushfire.

Other resources

See the Emergency Vic website for relief and recovery services, including financial assistance.

Supporting students and their families

Support is available to help make the costs of education more affordable for families.

For information see:

For families affected by the bushfires in Outer Gippsland, see


For guidance on how you can support students, including a guide to managing trauma, explore:

The bushfire information for parents and carers page includes a list of counselling services you can refer students and their families to.

The VCAA's Bushfire Education website includes teaching resources and lesson plans on bushfires, including preparing for, responding to, and recovering from fires.

Funding to help schools and families

The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments jointly announced $15.95 million in funding to help families and schools affected by the bushfires.

Getting kids back to school after the bushfires

Schools should advise families about the financial support available for students through State Schools’ Relief 

The Victorian and Commonwealth governments have announced a one-off commitment of $2 million to help families impacted by bushfires with returning to school costs for Term 1, 2020.

Support will be available for eligible families with students in government and non-government schools from the 15 Local Government Areas of:

  • Ararat
  • Alpine
  • Ballarat
  • East Gippsland
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Towong
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga.

Every student whose family has been financially impacted during the current bushfire season can request assistance with the cost of uniforms and items including: 

  • school shoes 
  • books and stationery 
  • other essential items for school. 

How to apply

Schools are asked to notify families of the bushfire relief package and invite families who consider they have been impacted to request a support package. 

Use the template letter to parents to notify families of the bushfire relief package.

Include the below support request forms with your letter to families and ask them to return completed forms to your school for further processing: 

The Getting Kids Back to School information document has further advice on eligibility for financial support and the process schools and families need to follow. 

This support is being delivered via State Schools’ Relief, which has been providing assistance with uniforms to government school students since 1931. 

For more information about State Schools’ Relief call: 03 8769 8400 or email: contact@ssr.net.au

Non-government schools

The Department will provide $500,000 of Bushfire Hardship Grants to eligible non-government school students to go towards the cost of uniform items including school shoes, books, stationery and other items that kids need to use at school. Schools will help parents decide on the allocation of funding provided.

To determine eligibility, schools will be asked to:

  • confirm change of address details, or
  • sight verification of status as CFA volunteer, or
  • sight and endorse families’ claims for loss of livelihood / income.

The process is:

  1. The Department emails schools with the information pack
  2. Schools send information to all families inviting those impacted to apply for support
  3. Families return the form to the school
  4. Schools confirm eligibility of applications
  5. Schools forwards this information to the Department
  6. The Department provides grants to schools, who will allocate the funding to directly benefit the eligible student to contribute to the cost of back to school items. Schools will support parents to decide on the allocation of funding provided.

Students who are eligible for this support and the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF) will receive both.

For more information, contact:

Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund - bushfire affected areas payment

$5 million in funding will be used to extend the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF) to all eligible primary and secondary government and non-government school students living in one of the three most-affected local government areas - Alpine, East Gippsland or Towong. The funding will provide $375 to all students in these areas.

Support will be available without means-test criteria.

Access for the 12 local government areas (LGAs) below will be based on clear and targeted eligibility criteria.

The 12 LGA's are:

  • Ararat
  • Ballarat
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga.

Eligibility criteria for the 12 local government areas

Families with students attending schools in these 12 areas will be eligible for support if they meet the following criteria:

  • loss of family home, and/or
  • loss of income through volunteering to fight bushfires, and/ or
  • loss of livelihood/ income caused by bushfires.


Funding will given directly to the school to allocate against costs for eligible students.

Trauma recovery support

$3.8 million will go towards creating a Trauma Recovery Team. The team will provide trauma response support to affected schools and kindergarten services.

Functions will include:

  • training and coaching for staff
  • providing evidence-based resources
  • establishing ongoing support and training for professionals.

The trauma recovery team is currently supporting bushfire affected early childhood education centres and schools in Alpine, East Gippsland and Towong, and will become a standing function to support communities impacted by disasters over time.

Where need is identified in the remaining 12 local government areas (LGAs) on a per school basis, support will be provided based on a clear and targeted eligibility criteria, for Term 1 and throughout 2020.

The 12 LGAs are:

  • Ararat
  • Ballarat
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga.

Mental health support

$4 million will provide additional allied health services staff, such as psychologists and social workers, to support impacted areas.  They will support immediate and ongoing mental health recovery of school communities in the bushfire impacted local government areas of:

  • Outer Gippsland
  • Ovens Murray.

How funding is used will be based on local needs and other services on the ground, for example, mental health practitioners, additional Student Support Service staff, or partnerships with mental health services.

Where need is identified in the remaining 12 LGAs on a per school basis, support should be provided based on a clear and targeted eligibility criteria and interaction with the Trauma recovery support initiative.

The 12 LGAs are:

  • Ararat
  • Ballarat
  • Glenelg
  • Golden Plains
  • Indigo
  • Mansfield
  • Northern Grampians
  • Pyrenees
  • Southern Grampians
  • Wangaratta
  • Wellington
  • Wodonga.


Financial hardship

Families may ask for support with school costs due to financial hardship. Familiarise yourself with the relevant procedures: