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In the climate of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus and the Australian Government's implementation of the Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan, we are very much aware that our members are concerned about the impact of Coronavirus/Covid-19 on their staff and business more broadly.

It is our goal to provide the right advice at the right time - based on fact, not conjecture.

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We acknowledge your concerns – our board is comprised of owner/operators who are running their own ECEC services right now and facing the same issues as our members.

We are committed to working on these issues and providing accurate and practical answers as the situation develops.

We are ensuring that we are abreast of all issues surrounding the situation, including industrial relations, insurance, rent, mortgages, health and business continuity.

We are advocating to government and the relevant departments, and we are involved in ongoing consultation in order to provide information which will help support our members, in the event that a pandemic occurs.

However, it is too early at this stage to provide clear advice on these issues.

We can share that the Prime Minister has announced that a stimulus package is being developed to assist the economy and businesses affected by this situation. We will share the details of this package, if any of it relates to the early learning sector, as soon as this information is made available.

Please be assured that we will continue to provide updates via email as any significant updates come to hand.

Right now, the most important thing to do is to review your policies around infectious disease and hygiene. Additionally, it may be prudent to review your policies around fees in the event that you have children absent due to quarantine or exclusion.

We recommend that you share these policies with your families to strengthen their confidence in your actions and responses.

Finally, it may sound obvious, but following good hygiene practices is vital - hand washing regularly and particularly before eating is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infection.

We encourage you to review your handwashing policy and practices with your children and their families, encouraging them to wash hands upon arrival and upon departure.

You can access the latest guidance on preventing the risk of spreading the coronavirus provided by the Federal Department of Education here. We have also summarised it below. Please note that people who have recently travelled to Iran are also included in the self-isolation guidelines.

Latest advice from the Federal Department of Education website (last updated 29 February 2020)

Children or staff can not attend school or an early childcare centre if they have:

  • left, or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days from leaving mainland China)
  • left, or transited through Iran on or after 1 March (they must isolate themselves until 14 days after leaving Iran)
  • been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).

The relevant school or childcare centre should be notified.

The isolation period, provided the person remains well, is a maximum of 14 days.

The Federal Department of Health has also produced fact sheets for employers in the context of minimising the risk for staff, available here.

We appreciate the genuine concern from our members about this unfolding situation, and we are continuing to engage with the relevant stakeholders on this matter in response to member queries.

We will keep you informed as further updates come to hand.

We thank you for your patience and support in relation to this matter.

PUBLISHED: 4 MARCH 2020