Department program

Bushfires 2020

This page includes updates on the 2020 bushfires.

As the impact on services is known, we will update this page. Check emergency closures to see if your local service is affected.

If you're a school principal or teacher, see our dedicated bushfire information for schools.

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

Department hotline

For information on affected schools, call the Department hotline:

Emergency information

For the most up to date emergency information, visit Emergency Vic.

Emergency Vic has information on:

You can also find information on:

Air quality and water supply advice

As a result of the ongoing bushfires, there are community health concerns that schools and early childhood centres need to be aware of.

For information about how to respond to poor air quality, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) have developed a guide for schools and early childhood services:

More information

Funding available

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

  • $650,000 for the Bushfire Kindergarten Fee Subsidy
  • $5 million to extend the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund to all eligible primary and secondary school students
  • $4 million to boost mental health support for government and non-government schools, including additional psychologists and social workers
  • $3.8 million to establish a Trauma Recovery Team to provide the trauma response support to affected schools and kindergarten services
  • $2 million for State Schools' Relief Getting Kids Back to School fund
  • $500,000 to provide grants to bushfire affected schools.

Resources for...

Parents and carers

Schools, principals and teachers

Early childhood services and staff

Service closures

In accordance with legislation, early childhood services concerned about any emergency hazard may decide to close their services to protect the health, safety and well-being of children, and advise the Department.

In addition, in accordance with the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (Vic) and under delegation from the Secretary, the Deputy Secretary ECS and the Executive Director QARD may close services where their continued operation poses, or is likely to pose, an immediate risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children.

The Delegates will only issue directions to close following consultation with appropriate emergency management agencies.

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

The Quality Assurance and Regulation Division (QARD) will be in regular contact with all service managers regarding the safety of assessing your early childhood service. Contact your approved provider or service manager in the first instance.

If you are the approved provider and are unsure, contact QARD on 1300 307 415.

Emergency procedures

Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures:

Support for you

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

Financial support for your service

Your service may be eligible for a Business Continuity Payment. This is administered by the Australian Government Department of Education. Call 1300 667 276 for more information.

Supporting children and their families

See mental health support after an emergency for guidance on how you can support children. It includes a guide to managing trauma.

The bushfire information for parents and carers page includes a list of counselling services you can refer children 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.

Families, children and staff in kindergarten services who have been affected by the ongoing bushfires will get additional support as they start kindergarten in 2020:

Bushfire kindergarten fees subsidy

$650,000 in kindergarten fee subsidies is available to help families access a free or low-cost Four-Year-Old Kindergarten program.

This will apply to families of children who are residents of or attending a funded kindergarten service in the areas of:

  • Alpine
  • East Gippsland
  • Towong.

The Bushfire Kindergarten Fee Subsidy (Bushfire KFS) will support all children that live in those areas to access a free or low-cost funded kindergarten program for 15 hours per week in the year before school in 2020, based on a clear and targeted eligibility criteria.

This initiative also includes the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy- ratio supplement (an additional $260 per child) for eligible children.

Trauma recovery support

$3.8 million will go towards 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
  • developing bushfire and trauma curriculum
  • establishing cross-sectoral communities of practice to facilitate ongoing support and training for professionals.

The trauma recovery team is currently supporting bushfire-affected ECEC services and schools in Alpine, East Gippsland and Towong.

Where need is identified in the remaining 12 local goverment areas (LGAs) on a per school basis, support will be provided based on 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.

TAFEs and Learn Locals

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

Contact your TAFE or Learn Local directly for information on operations.

Further information for training services will be added to this page as it becomes available.

Donations to affected areas

Right now we kindly ask you to not donate goods. Relief centres in the area are overwhelmed with goods donations and this is affecting critical tasks.

The best way you can help is by donating money. Donate through the Bushfire Disaster Appeal, or through any Bendigo Bank.

At this stage, offers from volunteers are not required. As affected areas work through their needs, more information on opportunities will become available.