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.

At this stage, all schools are planning to open for the first day of Term 1. The Department will be 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 expected to run as normal when your child goes back to school.

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

Help with school costs

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.

Getting Kids Back to School

If you have been affected by bushfires, you may be able to get support if your child goes to a government or non-government school in:

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

Eligibility for funding

You may be eligible for support if your family has been affected by:

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

If you have:

  • lost your home you can receive a support package of $1,200
  • been impacted by volunteering or loss of income you can receive a support package of $500.

Government schools

In partnership with us, State Schools' Relief will give a $2 million support package to eligible government school students.

Support will cover uniform items including school shoes, books and stationery, and other items that kids need to use at school.

If you're eligible for support, your child's school will give you information about the application process.

For more information, contact your school, or:

Non-government schools

If your child goes to a non-government school and meets the eligibility criteria, we will provide a $500,000 Bushfire Hardship Grant. This will help cover the cost of uniform items including school shoes, books and stationery, and other items that kids need to use at school.

Your child's school will help you decide where to allocate the funding.

For more information, contact:

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

Right now we kindly ask you to not donate goods to schools. 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.