Bushfires 2020: Information for parents and carers

Hotline for parents

For information on affected schools, call the Department hotline:

Emergency information

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

Emergency Vic also has information on:

School, child care and kindergarten closures

Check our emergency closures page to see if your school, child care or kindergarten is closed.

The Department is in regular contact with your school's principal about the safety of the school. You can contact your principal for more information.

For early childhood services (including child care and kindergartens), our regulators will be in regular contact with the service. They will assess whether the service is safe to open. Contact your early childhood service directly for more information.

School bus route closures

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

We recommend you check the emergency closures page regularly as it will be updated with the status of school bus routes in impacted communities.

Government funding

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.

Schools have a responsibility to support parents who are facing hardship. Learn more about help with school costs and fees.

You may be eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy if your child misses child care due to the bushfires. This is arranged through the Australian Government. For more information about the subsidy phone 1800 112 812.

General financial help

If you live in the council areas of East Gippsland or Towong, you can access emergency payments. See Emergency Vic: Financial assistance for details.

You can also visit a relief centre to discuss what options are available to you.

Counselling

If at any time you are worried about your mental health or the mental health of a loved one, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

You can also contact:

Supporting your child

Some actions you may wish to consider to assist your child include:

  • Provide a stable, predictable routine or explain what will happen next where routines need to change.
  • Plan pleasurable activities, play in preferred areas or with favourite toys. Find opportunities to connect with family and peers.
  • Protect them from exposure to media coverage and adult conversations about the emergency.
  • Allow children to ask questions and use developmentally appropriate explanations. The Birdie’s Tree recovery suite is specifically designed for children aged 0 to 5.
  • If children choose to recount an event through talking or play, listen to their experience away from others who may be affected. 
  • If you are concerned, seek support through local health care and relief services in your area.

The Emerging Minds Community Trauma Toolkit includes tips for helping children through a disaster or traumatic event.

Donations to affected schools

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.

Donated goods and services

The Victorian government, through Bushfire Recovery Victoria, has partnered with not-for-profit organisation GIVIT, connecting those who have goods and services to offer with those who need them, in a private and safe way.

The GIVIT virtual warehouse connects donors with charities and other organisations supporting bushfire affected communities and individuals. The GIVIT platform is free to use and makes giving easy by allowing you to see exactly what is required by bushfire affected communities.

Registering goods and services

GIVIT manages a virtual warehouse through which donors can register and list items they are wanting to donate, and schools can register and search through what is being offered and secure the items or services directly with the donor.

Register a service for donation or register items to donate.

Otherwise contact the Bushfire Recovery Coordination Group via the email address bushfire.support@edumail.vic.gov.au providing your agreement to share your contact details with the GIVIT team, who will contact you directly.

For more information, explore a comprehensive set of GIVIT frequently asked questions.