The below is a transcription from our “COVD-19: Early Childhood and OSHC Q&A”. If you would prefer to watch the video, please scroll to the end of this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article and video are those of the authors. Please use the World Health Organisation or Department of Health to stay up to date on the COVID-19 pandemic. Please also note that with the changing nature of this situation, some of what was communicated may only be relevant during the time it was stated.

What are the current work opportunities for casual staff? Are there any early learning, that anzuk send educators to, still open? Are centre giving the chance for casual employees to have some shifts? 

Right now, there is very little work for casual staff. This is because the number of children attending early childhood and OSHC services is very low. Services are reporting substantial drops in child attendance. Although the government are considering ECE an essential service, with more parents working at home, parents are choosing to keep their children out of these settings also  

In lots of cases services have stood down many of their permanent staff and in some cases all of them. We are speaking with our clients daily, and many services are struggling to find enough hours for their permanent staff members. This, unfortunately, is then reflected in the volume of work available to casual educators. 

 

How likely is work in ECE during June/July? 

We are hoping that by July the coronavirus situation will have improved enough that people will start returning to work and child numbers will start returning to services.  

July is also the start of our busiest period and there is a chance that services could be caught out by this and there will be a lot of workaround. That is why at anzuk we are doing our best to keep our consultants working and recruiting through this period. If you are a centre manager and you have stood down or even had to lay staff off there is no guarantee that those staffs are then going to be immediately available to work when the child numbers start to improve. 

 

What happens when our first-aid certificate runs out as mine does in April are we guaranteed work until we are able to compete? 

Good question! We have had this one a couple of times. The continued provision of first aid courses is, like most other things at the moment, changing frequently. There are still providers running first aid courses during this period. However, we understand it may be difficult to find one, or you may have your own feelings about attending a course at this time. 

What we do know though, is that whilst many of our services WANT all of their educators to have all first aid qualifications up to date, it is not actually a requirement for all educators on-site to hold up to date quals. 

Regulation 161 states that at all times there must be ‘at least one staff member’ which the first aid, asthma and anaphylaxis training. 

We will be continuing to speak with our clients, and will manage their expectations of lapsed certificates as and when these scenarios come about. 

But in short, no – I do not think it will have a dramatic effect on the volume of work available to you at this time. However, I would recommend all educators ensuring these qualification are up to date as soon as possible to put you in the best position to care for any child’s needs. 

 

Am I entitled to get job keeper payment that is recently announced by the government? 

Very good question. The federal government announced the $130 billion dollar “job keeper” support package. We are currently working through the details of this initiative with both our accounting firm and the Recruiting and Consulting Services Association (RCSA) to ensure our response and understanding of the new legislation is accurate. As soon as we are clear on the details surrounding these payments, we will immediately contact you to let you know how we proceed forward. 

Our experience with the New Zealand wage subsidy was that they announced it and then made several changes to the details in the week or so after the announcement. As this has the potential to affect thousands of our casual workers we need to be sure of these details before we can provide any further information on this. 

 

What is going to happen with our pay? Am I eligible for job keeper or job seeker? Do I need to look for a more permanent position? 

Whether you are eligible for JobSeeker payments will depend on your individual circumstance. Best to contact Centrelink via the MyGov app. 

You will not be able to claim both JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments. If you have already accessed or are in the process of applying for JobSeeker and you then start receiving JobKeeper payments you need to let Centrelink know. If you don’t and you receive both payments, you may then need to pay money back. 

With regards to permanent positions a lot of full-time staff hours are being cut back, due to the number of children at each centre. Therefore, there isn’t a lot of full-time roles happening at the moment. A lot of centres have put on a hiring freeze until everything picks up again. This being said, educators are still happy to speak with me about what they are seeking in terms of their ideal role. As when centres are looking to rehire staff and they don’t have a hiring freeze I will be able to present these educators to the services I’m working with. 

 

If schools don’t return in term 2, are we eligible for the $1500 job keeper payment? 

The JobKeeper initiative is quite complex and we are awaiting advice from the government, the RCSA and our accountants with regards to this.  

We are anticipating that schools will be open for children that have parents working in essential services but most children will be doing distance education. Child number in schools will likely be very low as with Early Childhood and OSHC services. We don’t yet know exactly how this will impact demand for casual relief school teachers which is a large part of anzuk’s business. 

 

When will there be a need for permanent staff as there is not much casual work at the moment? What advice would you give on looking for a permanent job? 

At this time a lot of roles have been put on hold and there are hiring freezes. This is due in part to parents taking their children out of services as they work from home and services wishing to retain their current staff and giving them hours instead of any new starters. Things are changing daily and it’s difficult for us to predict when this will pick up. However, when it does pick up the best way for you to put yourself in a good situation is to work on your resume and make sure that reads well and also to look at interview techniques and the best way to answer typical EC related questions. If people are interested we would be happy to do a webinar around both these things if that’s something our educators think would be of benefit to them.   

 

I need to be close to the children during taking care of them especially the babies how I protect my self? 

Firstly, I would like to say that the health and wellbeing of our educators is our primary concern. 

Yes, you cannot remain 1.5 meters from a baby or toddler while looking after them effectively. However, despite the volume of cases increasing across Australia we have not yet had a situation where a case of COVID-19 has been transmitted to an educator from a child. Where the government has made a decision to keep schools, childcare centres and kindergartens open and they have advised that the risk of transmission to educators is relatively low. 

However, you would still follow the department of health’s recommendations where it was possible to do so. 

These include things like: 

  • Practising good hygiene such as washing your hands regularly 
  • Social distancing 

All of our services should be taking the necessary precautions as advised by the government. Be vigilant and report and early signs of sickness to the director or to the agency to follow up with.  

Centres are taking all the necessary precautions and our consultants are speaking with each centre daily. If you have any specific requirements regarding protection we encourage you to speak with your consultant.   

 

Who is eligible for the financial subsidy ? 

We have covered this in previous sections but what I will add is it depends on what subsidy you are referring to. The Jobseeker and COVID-19 subsidies are means tested so you will need to speak with Services Australia about your individual situation. 

The fact sheet regarding the JobKeeper subsidy provides some information. Unfortunately, there is a lack of information currently available about how this is to be implemented for on-hire workers of agency staff. This is our main focus at the moment and we will let you know. The criteria at this stage are as follows: 

  • Anzuk as a company needs to sign up to this. We will certainly do this if it is possible. Some of the details around whether this is possible for us is not clear. 
  • You need to have worked for anzuk for a period of 12 months or more 
  • You need to be an Australian citizen, New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident 

We have planned to meet with the department of education on Thursday to discuss other options including those workers that are not Australian citizen, New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident. 

 

What happens after when a person is isolated for 14 days, is he no longer contagious and not a threat to anyone? 

This is the information I’ve gathered from the department of health website, due to me not being a health care worker or an expert on the COVID – 19 websites. 

Self-isolation means you must stay at home for 14 days. You must self-isolate if you have COVID-19, or you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020. 

Call your doctor for an urgent assessment if you develop symptoms within 14 days 

If you have completed your 14-day self-isolation period without developing symptoms you may leave your home for essential activities such as shopping and work. If you can work from home, you should. 

You must continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene to protect others in your community. 

If you become unwell and experience coronavirus symptoms return home and contact your doctor. 

 

How can we help schools keep children with special needs safe? Especially when they may not want to wash hands or understand why 

Our school’s team have dedicated Special Needs consultants who may be able to answer this question better. I am not an expert on working with children with special needs. I suggest you speak to the people at the school or early childhood service who are dealing with these specific circumstances on a day to day basis 

 

The uncertainty of term 2 and how CRT/casual educators are affected. What can we do to support the system & also find work? 

Keep in touch, keep your availability up to date even if you have not had work for many weeks.  

 

What will our “new normal” look like after school holidays finish and schools “resume”? 

At this point in time, schools are set to re-open after school holidays. If this is the case we anticipate there will be more demand for staff in kindergartens, LDC and OSHC, as parents start putting their children back in schools and other ECE settings.  

If this is the case we anticipate an increase in available shifts for casual educators and educators seeking permanent employment. This is however uncertain, with the federal government announcing new restrictions to social gatherings day today, and also due to the choice’s parents make for their own families. 

 

Will we need to get up early every day and register ready to work? 

At this point in time with the low volume of work available, we would not ask everybody to be up and ready2work at 6.30 in the morning, due to the unlikelihood of shifts becoming available. However, if you are up and awake, we would recommend you continuing to use the ready2work app to allow consultants to know you are free in the eventuality work did become available. 

 

WATCH THE WEBINAR HERE