Vacancy Care's February Newsletter

February 2020


Hello everyone, welcome to our February newsletter! As always, we are providing a preview of what is happening in our little community. This month we will focus on the coronavirus from an Australian perspective.

We made it through SARS, bird-flu and swine-flu, and despite the panic surrounding these illnesses, Australia was largely unaffected. So is the coronavirus something to worry about, what can you do to protect your family, and are we becoming caught up in mass hysteria?

We will touch on preventative measures and the coronavirus’s potential to cause harm in Australia.

Send us an email to let us know what you think of this newsletter. We would love to hear any suggestions, which articles you enjoyed, and what you would like to see more of!


Topic of the month - Coronavirus from an Australian perspective

What is the coronavirus

The coronavirus is around every year, but usually doesn’t affect humans. The current strain of coronavirus is called 2019-nCoV, which is short for "2019 novel coronavirus." It is just the third strain of coronavirus to cause severe symptoms in humans, with the two previous instances being MERS and SARS.

Where it originated

Coronaviruses originate in animals, such as camels, civets and bats, and are usually not transmissible to humans. But occasionally a strain of coronavirus mutates, allowing it to pass from animals to humans and then from human to human.

The first known cases of the current coronavirus strain have been traced to an animal market in Wuhan, China. It is said that, in December 2019, people became infected after coming in contact with live animals who carried the virus.



A mild case of the coronavirus causes fever, diarrhoea, body aches as well as respiratory symptoms: dry cough, difficulty breathing.

More severe cases, which are more common in older patients, can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and even death. 

How it spreads

Although this strain of coronavirus is considered highly infectious, it is thought to be less so than the one that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003. This belief is supported by the fact that most cases have been found in China, and so far international spread seems limited.

We are still developing an understanding of the current coronavirus, but health officials believe it can be passed from person to person via an exchange of fluids from the respiratory tract. This belief is based on the way multiple cases have occurred within families when family members spend prolonged time in close contact with an infected person. 

Furthermore, there is emerging evidence in Wuhan that the virus can spread from one person to another to another multiple times, much like the common cold. This belief is not confirmed, but global health officials are watching for in international cases in an attempt to confirm/deny it.


Coronavirus cases in Australia

As this is written, five people are being treated for the virus in Australia - four in New South Wales and one in Victoria. Six more people are being tested.

In Victoria, a man in his 50s is being treated at Monash Medical Centre while four of his family members are being quarantined at home. In NSW, a female 21-year-old, as well as three men aged 35, 43 and 53 are being treated in hospital for coronavirus.

The 21-year-old woman is Australia’s most recent coronavirus case in Australia. She recently travelled back to Sydney on a direct flight from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated.

What you can do to protect your family from the coronavirus

General coronavirus prevention tactics

As previously discussed, the coronavirus is spread via an exchange of fluids from the respiratory tract. So how do you protect ourselves and our families from coming into contact with this airborne disease?

The World Health Organisation is recommending that people take these simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the virus:

- Frequently wash your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing.

- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or a cough.

- Seek early medical help if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share your travel history with healthcare providers

- Avoid direct, unprotected contact with live animals, as well as surfaces that are in contact with animals, especially when visiting live markets in affected areas

- Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products and exercise care when handling raw meat, milk or animal organs to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods


Preventing the spread of coronavirus in Australian schools

Schools are notorious for the spread of illness. And with so many ‘snotty’ kids wiping their noses and coughing on each other, there is no wonder why this is the case. However, it is comforting to remember that the coronavirus is said to prefer older targets.

Healthy school children who travelled to China during the holidays would not be told to stay at home when classes return. An Australian chief health officer has explained that only children who have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have coronavirus will be asked to stay at home

On the other hand, some private schools in Sydney have demanded that students returning from China get a doctor's clearance before setting foot on campus.


Treating the Coronavirus

There is no approved vaccine or virus-specific treatments for the current coronavirus. As the illness is a virus rather than bacteria, antibiotics will not help. 

It is suggested that you seek expert medical assistance if you think you may have contracted the illness. Doctors will help your body fight the virus, while various medication will help you manage the symptoms. 

If you believe you may have caught the coronavirus, it is of paramount importance that you seek expert medical attention as soon as possible. If you do not seek help, you may become responsible for infecting the people closest to you.

Childcare development

0-12 month development

Forbidden Baby & Toddler Foods

Author: Brooklyn Presta

The transition from breast milk to hard food is an exciting time. You are granted the privilege of watching your little bundle of joy sample a variety of tasty treats for the very first time. While some foods will elicit a beaming smile, others will be spat out in disgust.

The major concern when introducing your child to solid food is choking. Infants and young children struggle to chew properly, making certain foods choking hazards until children reach the age of 4 years old. 

In general, you should cut larger foods into fingertip-sized pieces, avoid sucker sweets, and cook hard vegetables to make chewing easier. And for a detailed list of what foods to avoid, refer to the original article.


1-2 year development

Does your toddler need a sleep routine?

Article provided by Belly Belly Australia, an online publication. 

Some children fall asleep easily, barely able to keep their eyes open by the time bedtime arrives, making their lucky parents’ evening routines a dream. On the other hand, parents raising night-owls often find putting their child to bed one of the most frustrating parts of the day.

Children resist going to bed for a variety of reasons - they may suffer from separation anxiety once you leave the room, or even feel left out if they can hear the rest of the family socialising. 

No matter the reason for your child’s reluctance to go to bed, a bedtime/sleep routine is a fantastic tool that signals to babies and toddlers that it’s time to go to sleep. Besides making your evening routine more manageable, it also has health benefits for your child.

Refer to the full article to learn how to install a bedtime routine in your home.


2-3 year development

The Real Reason Why Kids Save Their Worst Behaviour For Parents

Author: Nicole Halton

Do you feel like your children save their bad behaviours for you? If so, you are probably right. We have heard countless stories of parents being told of their children are angelic at school, only to be greeted by demonic tantrums in the car on the way home.

Although it hurts to think that your children save their best behaviour for their grandparents, sports coaches and teachers, you should take this as a compliment. Your child simply feels safe around you and is, therefore, more comfortable letting out their frustrations in your company.

An added benefit of this tendency is that it gives you an opportunity to observe, correct or even love your child when they behave poorly.

Read on for a nuanced understanding of why your children often save their worst behaviour for their parents.


3-4 year development

How do I criticise three-year-olds without upsetting them?

Author: Meghan Leahy

Parenting requires a fair amount of correction, which is often received as criticism. At the end of the day, nobody likes being criticised or corrected. The difference is that you are not required to consistently correct your friends.

Luckily, you can adjust the way you criticise or correct your child to minimise their grievances. This will allow you to parent effectively and correct inappropriate behaviour without turning your child’s frown upside down. 

To start, refrain from interrupting your children’s stories with criticism. Imagine you are telling your friends a story, and as you are about to get to your punch line, someone tells you to sit up straight. I know that would infuriate me.

Read on here for an in-depth look at how to criticise effectively, without upsetting your children. The original article includes further tips and tricks.


4-5 year development

How To Talk to Your Kids About Addiction

Author: Caroline Bologna 

Your children are going to come into contact with addiction, whether it be through news consumption, or in a more direct manner such as a story about someone’s uncle who likes one too many beers.

By addressing the topic early, you are granted the opportunity to control you children's initial impressions of substances and addiction. Unfortunately, while parents want to address drugs and addiction with their kids, they often don’t know when or how to broach the subject.

Although there is a lot more to it, initial tips include keeping the conversation age-appropriate and establishing an open dialogue around the subject, therefore encouraging your children to come to you for further advice or with any follow-up questions. 

Refer to the original article for advice on how and when to discuss addiction with your children.


Development of boys

Do boys really have a testosterone spurt at age four?

Author: Kate Steinbeck

Myth busted - boys do not have a testosterone spurt at age four. Although this incorrect fact is often used to explain behavioural changes boys go through around the age of 4 years old, specialist researchers have explained that there is no evidence supporting it.

Although testosterone levels do increase during boys development, causing physical and behavioural changes, this does not occur around the age of 4 years old. 

Ultimately, your child’s continual development can explain these changes. Children’s understanding of themselves and the world around them changes rapidly, so your child is probably dealing with a new challenge. Maybe he/she is learning to regulate his/her emotions when interacting with others.

The complete article provides a more detailed explanation of how boys change around the age of 4 years old.


Development of girls

Learning through rough-and-tumble play

Emily Freeman

A personal favourite, the sock wrestle. Each player puts on just one sock. The aim of the game is to get your opponent's sock off their foot. Give it a try. It's simple, but a lot of fun!

Rough and tumble play has long been considered an important part of a boy’s development- forming bonds, improving social skills and even improving skills that reduce the risk of future injury.

However, this type of play also benefits girls, and this fact sometimes overlooked. 

Refer to the original article for further details.


Craft Corner: Special Sports Fun 

Magnet Painting

Magnet painting combines science and art in one colourful package. It’s a whole lot of fun and it’s a super simple set-up. We do advise supervising this craft at all times. Magnets and paint can become a rather messy business.

Read on for further instructions


Valentine Sculpture for Kids

With Valentine's Day approaching your children may want to share their appreciation for someone they care about. A small, red, hart sculpture may be the answer. Enjoy as your little one creates a cute gift for someone they care about.

Detailed instructions provided here


Water Bottle Wind Spirals

Make slick homemade yard ornaments using found or recycled materials. Using recycled materials gives you an opportunity to teach your children about waste in a fun environment. All you need are coloured markers, a pair of scissors and empty plastic bottles.


Follow the steps to create your very own turtle.


Paper Weaving

Most of us will have attempted this craft at some point and for good reason, it’s a great fine motor skills activity for younger children. Furthermore, it can also be a beautiful design and art project for older children.

Continue reading for exact directions.