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.

Watch the webinar here

 

Will teaching assistants be able to work until this COVID-19 problem resolves?  

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. 

 

Use of PPE for educators

The department of education at this stage is of the view that educators do not need to wear masks. Other PPE such as gloves should be available in services for your use during nappy changing and any other times where you would typically use gloves. Centres are being advised to be even more vigilant of cleaning practices. The best recommendation is to encourage good hygiene such as coughing into your elbow, hand washing and using hand sanitiser where possible. 

 

Job Keeper Payments

 The federal government announced the $130 billion “job keeper” support package. We are currently working through the details of this initiative with both our accounting firm (Moore Stephens) 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. 

The legislation has not actually been passed and parliament is meeting today to pass this legislation. As a result, we have not been able to obtain the detail around this that we need. 

 

I didn’t get work from almost 1 and 1/2 months while I am available 3 days in a week 

There is significantly less casual work available right now compared to the same time last year. But as with the previous question, we cannot be sure what will happen. Some people are of the view that demand will increase as long as early childhood services are open. As the situation continues to progress this could change weekly  

 

Support payments

So there are several support payments that have been provided by the federal government. These include: 

  • First economic support payment – $750 payment to concession cardholders 
  • 2nd economic support payment and coronavirus supplement – Which is either an additional $750 payment or $550 per fortnight on top of normal JobSeeker 

 

Due to the government announcing free childcare this week, do you think in the coming weeks that childcare services will get busier?  

Same as aboveThis was great news for our sector. The centres are required to meet the certain qualification and ratio requirement under the National Quality Framework and the specific department requirements for each state. If parents decide to take up the option of returning their children to childcare and kindergarten this could result in an increase. We need to be aware that full-time staff at these services will be utilized first. Increased work could be in many different forms and qualification and a mixture of working hours and travel. I would urge everyone to keep this in mind,  

 

Should we be screening children on entry, should we be wearing masks, as we can get it even if they are carriers?

The health and safety of our educators, children and families is the priority.  At this stage educators and services are closely monitoring children for symptoms of the virus such as fever. If a child does display symptoms they will be sent home. The department of education has not advised that educators should be wearing masks. Quote – Most people will not benefit from wearing a surgical mask. Masks are of benefit to people who are sick so they don’t cough on others and health care workers who have frequent, close contact with sick people.   

https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/coronavirus-covid–information-on-the-use-of-surgical-masks-coronavirus-covid-19-information-on-the-use-of-surgical-masks_0.pdf 

 

Would like to know more about kindergartens and if there will be much work this term?

Childcare centres, Kindergartens, Preschools and schools have as a whole seen a drop in attendance of children. At the same time, there is also less staff that are available. Right now we are filling fewer shifts than we normally would at this time of year but as this is unprecedented we cannot be certain on the demand for casual educators in the short to medium term 

Given the government’s investment into the ECE sector, this could increase quicker than expected but we are not in a position to guarantee this. We are seeing bookings in kinder quicker than in LDC, Sessional Kinder is still getting their normal funding  

 

Can you please update “job keeper” information?

 In the last webinar, I said that it would be about a week before we had further information around this. Unfortunately, the legislation has not yet been passed so there is a lack of detail and debate still around how it will apply to casual workers.  

 

Can we put on masks during work as we will work with children of working parents and as children can be a carrier of the virus?

At this stage, the department of education has not advised that educators should be wearing masks. Quote – Most people will not benefit from wearing a surgical mask. Masks are of benefit to people who are sick so they don’t cough on others and health care workers who have frequent, close contact with sick people.  As stated previously be vigilant and report and early signs of sickness to the director or to the agency to follow up with. 

 

Do we not have many shifts these days? 

There have no been shifts in the past few weeks as different stages of lockdown have been introduced across the country. LDC has remained open for essential workers children but this has seen a dramatic decrease in occupancy which results in staff being stood down and further no casual work is available. Australia is showing positive signs which we hope continue to increase in beating the COVID-19 outbreak but this is something that will change daily, we cannot guarantee that there will be work in the short term.  

 

How anzuk supports if the decrease of work hours or workdays or might be in some situations not getting work? 

So anzuk, like other recruitment agencies, provide a service to both its educators and the service they provide by finding work for its educators and finding staff for the centres. However, when it comes to the casual on hire model we invoice our customers based on the work that you complete. So if you do not work, we do not get paid. And unlike other sectors, so far we are not eligible for any government assistance. So this is a particularly challenging time for anzuk as a business and many providers of on hire recruitment services. Even things like the state government payroll tax concession don’t apply to companies like anzuk because they are based on total turnover. We turnover allot of money but most of it gets paid to our workers, insurance, work cover, payroll tax etc. 

We have been in consultation with different areas of government and we are hoping that some assistance could be provided to enable us to better support our educators, particularly those that are not eligible for government assistanceBut as yet nothing is forthcoming. 

 

Online Tutoring

We are looking to make the most of the time our Educators have at home by providing online learning we feel will support your development. Each week we have been providing different modules through our Learning Management System. If you visit the Training and Events page on anzuk’s website you can sign up to these free, live sessions.  

We have a session tomorrow at 12 – 1: “Resilience & Stress Management for Educators.” If you are unable to attend these sessions we will release the recorded versions so you can access them in your own time.   

We are also working as a national group to create and provide specific webinars tailored to what you specifically feel is relevant and beneficial. A recent post has been put onto our Facebook page requesting you our educators provide us with topics you would like us to focus on. We will then get to work on creating webinars to release to our national educator base.  

 Please speak with your consultant if you have some ideas or specific suggestions.  

 

Will sessional kindergartens open post-school holidays? Any updates? 

Sessional kindergartens are opening as normal. Some have opted to close and we are finding that most of these are attached or part of independent schools. This again depends on the number of children returning to kinder and the ratio’s that the service is required to meet daily. We are also finding that a lot of parents have not cancelled their childcare and children are not returning on the day so this initially was causing some confusion for services, but we feel over the holidays this will have been minimized. In Victoria, sessional kindergartens are running as normal but with lower occupancy which results in less casual opportunities at this moment in time.