On Monday 23 March 2020, a number of amendments to the Child Care Subsidy Minister’s Rules 2017 were passed as part of the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are now in force.
The new rules give effect to the amendments passed by Parliament on Monday to the Families Assistance Act and Family Assistance Administration Act, and aim to assist families and early childhood education and care services manage the impact of COVID-19.
In summary, the amendments:
Provide an increase in the number of allowable absence days a child can access from 42 to 62 for an exceptional event or circumstance, such as COVID-19.
It is important to note that, according to the Child Care Subsidy Amendment (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Minister’s Rules this provision commences 19 April 2020 and applies to the 2019-2020 financial year only. (Schedule1, Part 2)
Prescribe that additional absences (when allowable absences are exhausted) can be taken in relation to COVID-19 without the usual medical evidence required (Schedule 1, Part 1)
effective from now until 31 December 2020.
Exempt services from enforcing payment of gap fees from families where services have been instructed to close on public health direction (Schedule 1, Part 1) [Note: A legislative requirement is in place that providers must not increase fees during this period.]
Effective from now until 31 December 2020
However, as always, we urge all services to become familiar with the newly legislated amendments to ensure they remain compliant. To access the amended Minister’s Rules click here.
Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020
On Monday 23 March, the Australian Government introduced the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020 ("the Omnibus Bill") which is a legislative package that contains a number of bills to implement the Government’s economic response to the spread of the Coronavirus, which the Government announced between 12 and 22 March 2020.
There are a number of measures that may be relevant to either family day care educators, services and families. To view a full summary of these measures, please see our email bulletin that was sent to members on Monday.
Please note that the summary is not exhaustive and as such we would suggest that individuals review the further information available through the links provided in our bulletin.
COVID-19 infection control training
The Australian Government Department of Health has released a free, 30 minute online training module on COVID-19. Although the module is aimed at health care workers in all settings, it is open for anyone who wishes to register and complete, with useful information relevant to the early childhood education and care sector.
The training module covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19, including:
Be You: Supporting early learning communities through COVID-19
Be You has published resources to support early learning communities in dealing with the unique challenges they deal with throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. These resources offer practical tips on how educators can look after their own mental health, support the children they work with and work with families in this difficult time.
The National Children’s Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell, has advised that a multilingual resource library focused on COVID-19 has been created providing information in 18 languages from health authorities at Federal, State and Global levels. The hub page is being updated as new information is provided and translated.
This information, when used in conjunction with the information available at www.health.gov.au, may be useful to FDCA service members in communicating with educators and their families from diverse language backgrounds and are a source of current, reputable in-language information and advice. You can access the translated resources by clicking here.
More information about COVID-19
Child care services seeking health and situation information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Information is also available from the DESE here.