ACECQA Newsletter Issue 4 2022

Child pours a bucket of water onto plants

 

CEO foreword 

Welcome to our fourth newsletter for 2022. April is packed with special days and events which we acknowledge as part of our cultural heritage and the role we all have in maximising children’s potential as engaged citizens locally, nationally and globally. We have information and updates to support your professional practice to build upon and extend children’s connection with, and contribution to, a safe, sustainable and socially just world.

This month, we focus on three important days – World Creativity and Innovation Day, Earth Day and ANZAC Day. 

Children and young people are, of course, receptive to a wide range of experiences and their drive to learn, develop and understand the world is unlimited. We provide some resources which may be helpful in stimulating conversations and sharing perspectives and ideas. We build on the fact that children and young people are intrinsically creative thinkers, concerned about environmental, technological, health, social, cultural and economic issues and how these are holistically managed for a sustainable future.

In this edition, we also highlight an Excellent rated service which understands the importance of Quality Area 4: the critical link between a stable and continuous workforce and the building of trusted relationships between teachers, educators, children and their families. Children’s and young people’s sense of belonging and wellbeing are contingent on the bonds they make with their teachers, educators and peers. High quality services understand this and plan for, and invest in, their staff.

Finally, we have included some useful updates for you and your families. If you find our articles helpful, please share with others.

Gabrielle Sinclair

ACECQA CEO


World Innovation and Creativity Day 

Child uses magnifying glass to inspect items

Today, Thursday 21 April, is World Creativity and Innovation Day.

The day aims to encourage people to use imagination productively, release new thinking and celebrate creative solutions to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. These were set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.

Goals include ending world poverty and hunger, clean water and quality education for all, fighting climate change and cleaning up our oceans – big challenges that require creative problem solving.

To help engage young minds in these important discussions, there is a dedicated Students Resources page on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals website featuring games, quizzes and activities, including: 

  • Climate Action Superheroes – an interactive webpage that invites children to accept various missions relating to recycling, learning about plants that grow in their area, and turning off lights when they are not need.

How will your service encourage and enable children and their families to take part in World Creativity & Innovation Day?


Building Disaster Resilience

Children sit outside with educators

Many children across Australia have recent lived experience of natural disasters such as floods and bushfires. Countless more children and families have been exposed to community trauma of these disasters through the media. Embedded in communities, education and care services can be critical supports for the mental health and wellbeing of children and families in these stressful times. Service programs, practices, routines and close relationships with educators are important for children’s sense of security and wellbeing – the foundation stones for their ongoing skills development, resilience, confidence and ability to make choices and have agency.

Disaster Resilience Education (DRE) provides children with knowledge, skills and understanding to help them take appropriate actions before, during and after an emergency or disaster (Commonwealth of Australia, 2021).

handbook prepared by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) outlines the principles, approaches and core elements of effective DRE. It provides guidance to service leadership teams, teachers and educators who want to engage children and young people in learning and action for disaster risk reduction and resilience. Through participation and education, children and young people can act as agents of change.

The handbook recognises the educator's role in scaffolding play as pivotal to creating a safe environment in which to explore disaster resilience and identifying climate change as an overarching stressor with global and local implications across hazards.

Key principles that underpin DRE are:

  • place the learner at the centre
  • reflect the local context
  • be inclusive
  • establish and strengthen partnerships
  • engage and challenge learners
  • focus on action
  • build capability.

Informed by the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, the handbook explains that design of DRE programs can include learning through play, inquiry-based learning, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), outdoor education, and community education. The handbook provides program examples and case studies on which services can build. The AIDR website provides links to support resources, such as the empowering Play School ‘Everyday Helpers’ series.

Be You and Emerging Minds have extensive resources to support children’s resilience, educator wellbeing and community disaster response. These focus on the process of developing and learning resilience; the important roles of positive and caring relationships, positive stress and agency; and provide links to evidence-based professional development. Be You has a searchable directory of mental health and wellbeing programs.


Approved Learning Frameworks Update

Educator reads book to children

The final stage of the 2021 Approved Learning Frameworks (ALFs) Update project is nearing completion. 

From January to March 2022, potential updates to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) and My Time Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (MTOP) were piloted in 16 early childhood education and care services across Australia.  

A national consortium led by a partnership between Macquarie University, Queensland University of Technology and Edith Cowan University was engaged by ACECQA, on behalf of all governments, to deliver the 2021 National Quality Framework (NQF) Approved Learning Frameworks (ALFs) Update project.  

Literature Review and Discussion Paper developed in Stages 1 and 2, and stakeholder feedback, highlighted the strengths of the current ALFs. They also identified 20 potential areas for update in the ALFs, including strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives throughout the frameworks with the vision, principles, practices and outcomes; and the addition of a new sustainability principle.

The six-week pilot involved the consortium gathering weekly feedback from all 16 pilot sites, in particular on the clarity, useability and efficacy of the potential updates.

The pilot sites covered a broad range of early childhood education and care services, including outside school hours care settings across all states and territories. Services in urban, regional, and remote areas took part in the pilot, with inclusion of services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and services that work with children with additional needs.

Thank you to the approved providers, service leaders, educational leaders, teachers, educators, families, children and young people at each of the 16 pilot sites for their participation and commitment throughout the pilot.

  1. AIS Caretaker's Cottage Child Care Centre, ACT
  2. Mia Mia Child and Family Study Centre, NSW
  3. Ross Circuit Preschool, NSW 
  4. Goodstart Early Learning Child Care Centre Narwee, NSW
  5. Yulara Child Care Centre, NT
  6. Wynnum Family Day Care & Education Service, QLD
  7. Coolum OSHC & Vacation Care, QLD
  8. Happy Valley OSHC, QLD
  9. Injilinji C&K preschool and Kindergarten, QLD
  10. Nido Early School Kensington Park, SA
  11. Central Metro Family Day Care Scheme, SA
  12. Austins Ferry Primary School, TAS
  13. Montagu Bay OSHC, TAS
  14. Isabel Henderson Kindergarten, VIC
  15. Leopold World of Learning, VIC
  16. Christ Church Grammar School, WA

A diverse range of service types contributed substantially over a six-week period. In particular, we acknowledge the efforts of those who remained so committed to this important work while managing the impact of ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, and for some, recent flooding events.

Findings and feedback from the pilot will inform recommendations for consideration by Education Ministers. It is expected this will occur in the second half of 2022. Advice about the commencement of any changes to the ALFs will be provided in advance, to allow adequate lead time to support successful implementation.  


Focus on NQS Quality Area 4

Clarendon Children's Centre Co-operative leaders

The aim of Quality Area 4 under the National Quality Standard is to ensure the provision of qualified and experienced educators, coordinators and nominated supervisors who are able to develop warm, respectful relationships with children, create safe and predictable environments and encourage children’s active engagement in the learning program.

Skilled service providers understand that investment in their staff through supportive working conditions, in-service professional development, and collaborative decision making, for example, is returned by continuity of service, professional practice and closer relationships with children and families. Staffing arrangements, as such, play a critical role in enabling services to deliver high quality education and care for children.

Excellent rated service, Clarendon Children’s Centre Co-operative, recognises the importance of highly-skilled and committed educators in delivering exceptional education and care for children. The South Melbourne service supports its employees to grow through both formalised study and in-service leadership opportunities.

Centre Co-ordinator Linda Davison said several ‘portfolio leadership’ positions had been developed by recognising the individual skills and interests of educators at the service.

‘We currently have a Sustainability Leader, Indigenous Perspective Leader, as well as leaders in Wellbeing, Food Education, Inclusion & Diversity, Outdoor Learning and the Garden,’ Ms Davison said.

‘It’s really interesting to see the different programs that educators develop on topics they’re passionate about and, as a team, we end up learning a lot from each other.’

Educators are encouraged to pitch ideas for portfolios they’d like to lead and develop programs on. The portfolio leadership positions are also recognised and supported with higher pay rates and provision of non-contact time. Increased pay rates are also applied when employees achieve higher qualifications, even when there is no change to their role.

The service actively encourages staff towards ongoing professional development, with training funds allocated annually for each employee. Several team members are being supported to achieve diplomas and degrees relevant to the children’s education and care sector, with several others having graduated over recent years.

PICTURED ABOVE FROM LEFT: Tommy Tan (Garden leader), Sam Newbury (Inclusion & Diversity Leader and Outdoor Learning Leader), Julie Lemmon (Food Education Leader), Amy Saunder (Indigenous Perspectives Leader), Jen Brown (Wellbeing Leader) and Natalie Collins (Quality Supervisor and OHS Leader)


Play Active program

Physical activity plays a critical role in children’s holist health, learning and skills development, however many Australian children are not getting the daily recommended amount of physical activity and energetic play.

 In line with the Australian Government’s 24-hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years, children aged one to five years should be getting at least three hours of physical activity per day, including one hour of energetic ‘huff and puff’ play for three to five year olds.

Early childhood and school-age education and care services play an important role in providing opportunities for children to be active and to set up good habits around physical activity.

 The Telethon Kids Institute has developed Play Active which includes a physical activity policy and support to help services turn their policy into action.

  • The policy provides clear guidance on the amount of physical activity and sedentary time children should have while attending education and care.
  • The training and resource supports help services to implement their policy — better equipping them to meet Quality Area 2 element 2.1.3: ‘Healthy eating and physical activity are promoted and appropriate for each child’

 To register your interest and find out more, visit the Play Active website.


Investing in our planet this Earth Day

Plants being grown in containers

Earth Day 2022 is on Friday 22 April, and there’s no shortage of ways to get involved.

The day will spark a global movement of clean ups, tree plantings and other activations.

The Earth Day website also lists another 52 ways to invest in our planet, including calculating your yearly plastic consumption.

For more information on Earth Day events and activities, visit the website.

 


ANZAC Day

An introduction to ANZAC Day for Early Childhood

ANZAC Day is an important opportunity for us all to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by the Australian and New Zealand service personnel in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Held on 25 April, the day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the first world war in 1915.

The passing down of stories and teaching of history to younger generations has become an important part of ANZAC Day tradition, as has the involvement of children in ceremonies and marches. However, topics such as war and conflict can be difficult to navigate.

The ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee website provides an introduction to ANZAC Day for early childhood. The webpage provides activities and suggested resources to assist with learning about defence forces, war and the ANZAC connection.


How to update service information on StartingBlocks.gov.au

StartingBlocks.gov.au landing page

Service fees, vacancies and inclusions
Services can update these details via the Provider Entry Point or their third-party software. Please see page 10 of the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact your third-party software provider.

Reminders
Keep your service information updated on the NQA IT System as usual. This online tool offers providers secure direct communication with regulatory authorities and aims to reduce paperwork and duplication for approvals. Registered users can update service and provider details, lodge applications and notifications, and pay invoices.

Please update your communication products with old phone numbers like the My Child Hotline and Child Care Access Hotline with links to StartingBlocks.gov.au.

For enquiries relating to StartingBlocks.gov.au, please contact us


Child painting with StartingBlocks.gov.au logo overlaid

Information to share with families at your service

Share these useful StartingBlocks.gov.au resources with your families and communities:

Starting at an early learning service

StartingBlocks.gov.au translated resources. Languages include Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi and Vietnamese.

 


Information from Services Australia: Child Care Subsidy payments

Balancing Child Care Subsidy graphic

At the end of each financial year, Services Australia reconciles Child Care Subsidy (CCS) payments to ensure families receive the correct amount of assistance for the year. Families are required to confirm their 2020-21 income by 30 June 2022 to allow Services Australia to complete balancing and to avoid losing CCS.

Any families yet to confirm 2019-20 income are required to do so by the 30 June 2022 deadline to avoid losing CCS eligibility and having to pay back subsidy received during this time. Families can confirm their income by lodging their tax return or by telling Services Australia that they don’t need to lodge a tax return.

You can help families by reminding them to confirm their income before the deadline. 

For more information, please visit the Services Australia website.