Know Your Rights: Education Quarterly, Issue 6 2023
Federation continues to engage with the Department on behalf of members’ health and safety at work. COVID-19 remains a priority, against a backdrop of almost no public health restrictions.
Federation meets fortnightly with officers from the Department’s newly constituted Crisis Response and Recovery Unit within the Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing Directorate. This unit was formerly named the COVID-19 and Crisis Taskforce with which Federation met twice weekly for a long period through the height of the pandemic.
Northern NSW and western NSW flooding
The Department’s “flood support and wellbeing page” lists current supports including:
- Education Hardship Fund and additional SASS relief for schools to support the implementation
- targeted mental health and wellbeing support
- emergency grant payments for staff. For more details please contact Professional Support section.
Federation continues to be concerned by the ongoing, steady number of cases of COVID-19 in NSW public schools, amid a backdrop of almost no public health restrictions.
Once mandatory isolation periods were removed by the former Perrottet government, Federation sought on behalf of members additional measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.
To minimise risk to themselves, colleagues, students, their communities and loved ones, Federation advises members:
- if unwell, seek a PCR test where possible in order to be linked into support from NSW Health especially for those who are immune compromised
- if COVID positive, report this through the Service NSW app as well as their school or workplace and to take at least five days of sick leave, and more if still unwell (the Department has confirmed that additional special sick leave is available on a case-by-case basis)
- wear a mask indoors
- contact the Department’s Asset Management Unit immediately if there are concerns about adequate ventilation in your workplace.
Federation has ensured that information on workers compensation is made available to staff, remembering that thanks to the efforts of unions, including Federation, there is a presumption under the Act that education workers have contracted a COVID-19 infection in their workplace.
Federation has also ensured that staff who are at greater risk of serious illness, including pregnant women, can access support from the Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing Directorate, including individual risk assessments in consultation with their treating medical practitioner or specialist.
Importantly, the Department’s Health, Safety and Staff Wellbeing Directorate COVID case management team continues to actively monitor case numbers and will advise schools on “circuit breaker” measures, including periods of learning from home, where required.