Learning Cottage Lismore

Throughout the flood crisis and ongoing recovery, the staff at Lismore’s Learning Cottage and their community have banded together through the clean-up, to provide emotional support

Image: Lismore's Learning Cottage

When the recent floods swept through the Northern Rivers, the 46-place long day care centre, the Learning Cottage at Lismore, was one of many services significantly impacted.

Learning Cottage owner and approved provider Isabel Russell said her staff and community members swiftly swung into action to help with the clean-up effort after the centre was inundated by water.

“We have an amazing team, and a number of our families came to help clean up the centre - everyone really banded together to help each other as much as possible,” she said.

"It’s a surreal thing to experience, but our focus has been to pull together and to support each other during this difficult time - so we can rebuild and move forward as a community.”

The Learning Cottage received an emergency waiver from the department within two days to allow some children to attend their second service, the Learning Cottage at Wollongbar.

“To receive the waiver was such a sense of relief for myself, my families and our staff - I knew it would assist some of our children to continue their learning with us and would provide a sense of routine for the families.”

“It has also enabled our Lismore staff to continue to work with the children at our Wollongbar service.”

The service is committed to re-opening their Lismore site as soon as possible, with their immediate focus on maintaining their connections with staff and families during the recovery phase.

“We’re working to support our staff as much as possible as it has been difficult to lose the connection with their workplace, the children and families during this time.”

“Our staff are staying connected by attending our regular meetings, taking up professional development opportunities and rotations working at the Wollongbar service,” she said.

Isabel shared that it would take between six to nine months to rebuild the centre, during which collaborative partnerships with the community will be further strengthened.

“We’ve spoken to every single one of our families and will stay connected during this time by continuing to check in with them and let them know about our recovery progress by sharing updates and images of the rebuild.”

“It’s going to take time and it will be a process for our staff to create and re-establish our home-like environment and the resources, that have been lost.”

“We have shared with our community already, that we will be back, and we’re committed to re-opening and to delivering early education to the community again,” she said.

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