Bushfire and smoke conditions

YWCA Canberra is actively monitoring the bushfire threat and smoke that is impacting the ACT region. We will keep this page updated on any impacts to our services and what we’re doing to ensure the health and safety of our staff, children in our care, and the vulnerable people who use our services.

Current status

All YWCA Canberra services are open.

Updated 3 February 2020 at 11am

The ACT declared a state of emergency at noon on 31 January. We will be following advice from the ACT Emergency Services Agency, ACT Health and the ACT Education Directorate in determining what this means for our services.

Ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff, clients and the children in our services must always be our top priority. As such, we may need to cancel or change planned activities at short notice.

Additionally, external providers may decide to close. If this happens, we will keep the children in the service and run a different program.

We will contact families directly if we need to change or close a service.

We have contacted all of our housing clients to advise them to please follow their fire safety plan. If you are one of our housing clients, please remember that you’re able to attend an evacuation centre at any time you feel uncomfortable. You do not have to wait for an evacuation order. If you need support during this time please contact your nominated YWCA Canberra Housing Support Officer on the number you have been provided.    

What we are doing to manage the situation

YWCA Canberra management is actively monitoring advice from the ACT Emergency Services Agency, ACT Health and the ACT Education Directorate.

We have bushfire survival plans in place at all our workplaces.

Children’s services

If the ACT Emergency Services Agency advises that we enact the plan at any of our children’s services, we will close the service and contact parents directly asking that they collect their children immediately. This is to ensure children are safe with their families before conditions make it unsafe to drive near the service. You can access the bushfire survival plan at each our services for more information.

We understand that parents of children in our services are concerned about the health impacts on their children from the poor air quality impacting Canberra. We are taking all possible precautions to mitigate the impact of the smoke:

  • All Directors in our children’s services have installed the AirRater app on their phones and are only allowing outside play when the air quality is rated ‘very good’, ‘good’ or ‘fair’.
  • We have confirmed with the ACT Property Group (who own many of our buildings we operate from) that they have serviced and cleaned all air conditioning units this month, as have DFAT (which owns the building for our Currawong Service) and Winyu House.
  • In our other early childhood services, we are monitoring the air conditioning units and will get them inspected and cleaned whenever needed.
  • We are minimising smoky air coming into the buildings by reducing access points.

Communication

The unpredictable nature of the situation means that we cannot predict when closures might need to occur.

If we need to close a service or program, we will provide updates on this page, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. We will also email parents in our children’s services.

How to keep informed

For updates on the fire conditions, go to the ACT Emergency Services Agency website, the NSW Rural Fire Services website or listen to ABC Radio Canberra online or at 666 AM. You could also download the Fires near me app.

ACT Health provides information on Canberra air quality, as does Canberra Air. You could also download the AirRater app.

If you have further concerns:

  • parents can contact their child’s service
  • clients can call their contact staff member
  • our general office phone number is 02 6185 2000.