It is great to see most of our workforce back on deck now after the summer holidays and the floods. I hope that many of you were able to enjoy a relaxing Christmas break before the full impact of the flood crisis hit.
While school-based staff officially returned to work for the student free days this week, I know that Principals, and many teaching and administration staff, returned from holidays prematurely to help prepare their schools - or others that had sustained flood damage - for the arrival of students on Monday.
Similarly, our TAFE institutes are progressively coming back online for the year, with staff going to great lengths to ensure that campus facilities are ready for students to commence or resume their training this year.
While many early childhood education and care services resumed early in the new year, some were impacted by the floods, forcing them to close temporarily, move to interim premises or operate at a reduced capacity. Wherever possible, these services ensured that children were able to be cared for in nearby services.
I extend a warm welcome back to staff and a big thank you to those who have gone above and beyond their normal call of duty to keep the wheels of this department in motion through the floods.
Students will be heading off to school on Monday. For a small number of schools that were badly damaged by the floods, alternative arrangements have been made to accommodate students over the short term. A list of those schools has been published online.
This year schools will continue their focus on improving the literacy and numeracy skills of students from Prep to Year 12. Under the Smarter Schools National Partnership, we will open our first Teacher Education Centres of Excellence later this year, providing Queensland teachers, and some of our most promising pre-service teachers, with professional development opportunities that will further develop teaching practices in our schools.
The start of the school year also heralds the state wide reintroduction of mandatory language studies for students in Years 6, 7 and 8. Schools have worked hard over the past 12 months to identify the language needs of their communities and prepare to teach these programs. Language studies present an exciting learning opportunity for students that will help broaden their perspectives of the world, multiculturalism and the processes of communication. Further information about mandatory language studies is available on the Education website.
It is shaping up to be a big year for the Queensland training sector as well. Responding to the flood crisis is now an immediate priority for the training system. There are significant and urgent skill demands that need to be addressed to help Queenslanders get their lives back on track and to strengthen the state's economy.
Skills Queensland will play an important role in leading the government's job and skills flood recovery response. Following the appointment of board members and a Chief Executive Officer late last year, Skills Queensland has set up office and established a dedicated Skills Queensland website . Please watch that space for further information and updates from the authority. The Skills Queensland board will meet for the first time soon, where I look forward to sitting down with our state's industry leaders to discuss our skills priorities.
Queensland had never before seen a natural disaster on the scale of this month's floods. It will take time for people to heal and rebuild their communities, and we all need to support our work colleagues and students through this difficult time. As the Premier said, the worst of Mother Nature can bring out the best in human nature. I see examples of this happening right across the department everywhere I turn.
Please remember that there is a free and confidential counselling service available for staff who would like to speak to someone about their experiences during the floods. Information about theEmployee Assistance Service is available on our website.
As you may be aware, Major General Mick Slater has been appointed to chair the Queensland Reconstruction Authority Board which will manage the enormous task of rebuilding and repairing more than 60 flood-affected communities across the state. This board will work closely with local governments and communities to ensure the unique characteristics of each community are factored into the rebuilding process.
Staff are now able to donate money to the Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal through payroll deduction, either as a fortnightly payment or a one-off donation. Details are available for staff on OnePortal and the Employee Portal (DETE employees only) under DET News.
We have endeavoured to keep staff informed about the flood crisis in a timely manner and will continue to do so throughout the recovery period.
If you have any queries regarding departmental initiatives, please send them to the Inquiries Mailbox.
This page was last reviewed on 24 Jan 2011