QTU advice for natural disasters
In the “Temporary Closure and Re-opening of State Schools in Disaster or Emergency Situations” Directive, the Chief Executive (Director-General) gives authority to principals to temporarily close their school or campus in a disaster or emergency situation, and to re-open it.
While re-opening schools is an important part of returning to normality, the Minister and the Union are agreed that the priority is staff and student safety, whether as a result of interruptions to water supply and electricity or damage and debris. The Minister has previously told the Union that she supports principals making this decision based on the need for student safety.
In closing the school and providing access to special leave, the principal may need to consider:
- available disaster or emergency information relevant to the locale and the advice of the regional director/regional response controller, where available
- if staff need to be released due to circumstances such as childcare closure, travelling home if there is flooding
- suspension of normal teaching related to the above circumstances.
Re-opening the school
The person responsible for deciding to re-open a school or campus following the end of a disaster is the principal.
In making the decision to re-open a school or campus, the principal must satisfy themselves that it is safe to re-open the school, taking into account:
- accessibility to and from the site
- the condition of the site and infrastructure
- the availability and impact of essential services, e.g. water supply and electricity
- available emergency information
- the advice of the regional director, where practicable.
Communicating the decision to temporarily close or re-open a school
The principal must make reasonable attempts to communicate the decision to close or re-open the school or campus to:
- the regional director
- the school community, including the Parents and Citizens’ executive
- all service providers using the site or campus, where applicable
- the DoE Emergency and Security Management Unit (ESMU), if the regional director is unavailable.
If members have concerns about their school opening, they should contact the QTU so that the issues can be raised with the department.
The Union will work closely with DoE on ensuring that schools and our members get the assistance they require as a consequence of natural disasters.
Leave arrangements following a cyclone, flood or other natural disaster
If your school is closed and it is not practical to attend another school/government office, the principal and school have the authority to approve up to five days’ discretionary leave (anything in excess of this can only be approved by the Director-General). This leave does not have to be taken as a block. A special leave form can be downloaded through OnePortal and the following link:
Detailed information can be found in the document titled Special Leave FAQ at the link below.
QTU Natural Disaster Fund
QTU members living in and around affected areas may suffer significant losses due to severe weather conditions brought on by the effects of the cyclone should it hit the Queensland coast.
QTU members who have lost possessions due to cyclone damage or water inundation to their principal place of residence can access a relief payment from the QTU Natural Disaster Fund, as long as they were financial members at the time of the natural disaster.
The fund was established, in accordance with QTU policy, to provide some relief and assistance to members affected by natural disasters such as floods, bushfires or cyclones. It is intended to help relieve members' hardship and distress, but it is not a substitute for insurance cover and cannot make good all losses that a member suffers in a natural disaster.
In order to provide some immediate relief, the QTU is able to make immediate natural disaster relief payments of up to $1,000 to eligible members, with each application being individually assessed prior to payment. Relief is not normally provided for damage incurred to vehicles such as cars, caravans or motorbikes, and will also not be available for the repair of fencing, garages, sheds or to repair damage to outside areas, including gardens or paths, as these are normally covered by insurance.
Applications for QTU Natural Disaster Relief can be made via the online form.
You can also apply by downloading a copy of the application form and sending it to the QTU, either by email email@example.com - Subject: Natural Disaster Relief, fax (07 3512 9050), or mail (PO Box 1750, Milton BC QLD 4064).
Members who have lost teaching resources at school can apply for compensation from DET under the Resource Replacement Scheme to help replace them. Information on how to access this payment will be available from your school principal. For more information go to the DoE resource replacement scheme page.