Jenni Hutchins, co-chair of the body said: “We built some criteria for our organisations but there isn’t nationally consistent criteria right now to assist centres to make a decision on whether to open”.
“It is a bit like building the plane as you fly because you don’t actually know if these are the best and valid measures.”
Ms Death also called for emergency concessions to be applied to welfare payments and childcare subsidies. She said her sector was “quite vocal” on suspending any debt recovery operations and removing barriers to payments during crises.
“We don’t want children to face a barrier to services because their parent has had their workplace burnt down or something,” she said.
In a statement issued following the meeting, Mr Tehan said sector representatives had raised “meaningful ideas” on dealing with bushfires.
“The federal government will work to fast track the support we can provide to the sector as a result of today’s meeting. We will work with the sector to harness the many good ideas that will make a difference to the education and mental well-being of children in bushfire affected areas,” he said.
Andrew Pierpoint, president of the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association, said a range of issues were canvassed in the meeting.
“From my perspective, the mental health of our school communities is paramount. In the long term, assisting families and students to cope,” he said.
Caroline Perkins, executive director of the Regional Universities Network, said the education sector representatives had outlined the ways they had assisted during the crisis. She also raised concerns about the direct impact of the fires on university research projects.
She said research would inevitably be harmed, because ecosystems being analysed were located inside the millions of hectares of bush that had been
With millions of hectares burnt nationally, she said research into certain ecosystems would inevitably be harmed.
“When those things have been wiped out, those people may have to start from scratch,” she said, suggesting there be special considerations for researchers who had received scholarships and grants only to have important research areas affected.
Fergus Hunter is an education and communications reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.