ACECQA Newsletter Issue 3 2023
While we write the first of our three autumn editions, we are experiencing extreme weather conditions in most areas of Australia so our focus this month on environmental, social and economic sustainability is timely.
Sustainability is not a new concept for our children: it is a universal issue encompassing problems such as climate change, pollution, poverty, injustice and the use of limited natural resources. Although there may be different definitions of “sustainability”, we face these universal issues every day of our lives and how do we aim to lead all children to take actions towards sustainable ways of caring for people and the world … requiring new norms, beliefs, values, and attitudes about the sustainability issues (Kim and Dreamson 2020; UNESCO 2019).
Of course, the question is how to effectively empower and enable children and young people to be powerful agents for change in the context of their families, cultures and communities?
The refreshed Approved Learning Frameworks highlight this role and we share some stories about how services and children actively participate in a culturally diverse world to make it a fairer, more equitable, inclusive and safer place to live. Davis’ capture of a child’s voice is a great start.
Also in this edition, we consider our obligations to act according to the guiding principles of the National Quality Framework and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 when we welcome all children into our services.
We share some key dates that you may wish to reference in your programs and planning: encouraging and supporting children and young people to be knowledgeable about, and active in, the events of their local, national and international communities.
If there are articles you find interesting, please share with your colleagues and families.
Sustainability: Earth Hour - Saturday 25 March
Earth Hour on 25 March provides an opportunity to think and talk about our environmental footprints and the sustainability of our world.
Environmental sustainability is a familiar term for our sector. Quality Area 3 of the National Quality Standard (NQS) promotes thinking about how services demonstrate care for the environment and support children to be environmentally responsible (Element 3.2.3). More broadly, research by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) identified three dimensions of sustainability - environmental, social, and economic. These dimensions are intertwined and are reflected in a new principle in the refreshed national approved learning frameworks: Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF V2.0 2022) and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (MTOP V2.0 2022).
Social sustainability refers to global citizenship: living peacefully and respectfully amongst fellow citizens. The inclusion of social sustainability in the refreshed frameworks promotes children’s agency as you support them to play an active role in global change. Additionally, the broader definition of sustainability encompasses the principles of fairness, social justice and equity, and highlights children as capable problem solvers and voices of enacting positive change (Elliot, et al. 2020).
Economic sustainability puts emphasis on supporting economic development without negative impacts and encourages us to consider conservation, usage and waste. Services also embed this dimension when they recognise the conservation of the lands for which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have cared over tens of thousands of years and the historical knowledge that our First Nations people bring to sustainable practices.
Research by Davis (2015) captures a young child’s voice defining sustainability as “enough for all, forever” which reflects these three dimensions and demonstrates children’s interests in, and capabilities to contribute to, a fair and sustainable future as active citizens.
We hear from a diverse range of children’s education and care services about their children’s relationships and interactions with local communities to support and build environmental sustainability, and how services are increasingly embedding social and economic sustainability.
One example, from a Family Day Care Educator in a regional area, demonstrates how these dimensions are interconnected and how services can authentically contextualise this broader view of sustainability in their programs and practices. The children and Educator have helped an elderly neighbour by picking her crop of plums, since the neighbour is no longer able to do so. They make jam and return the filled jars back to the neighbour. They have done this for many years and a special caring relationship has been formed. The Educator empowered children to build an important social connection in their community and they are all demonstrating how environmental, social and economic wellbeing is achieved.
Another story from a service in Victoria is included in our We Hear You Blog in this edition.
Your next team meeting might be an opportunity to consider the interests and skills of your children and young people, and the needs of the local community to explore strategies to embed the new principle of sustainability.
Davis, J. (2015). What is early childhood education for sustainability and why does it matter? In Davis, J. (Ed.), Young children and the environment early education for sustainability (2nd ed.) (pp. 7-27). Cambridge University Press.
Elliott, S., Ärlemalm-Hagsér, E., Okjong, J., Wang, W., & Mackey, G. (2020). An update on countries previously represented in the first volume (Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, plus China). In S. Elliott, E. Ärlemalm-Hagsér, & Davis, J. (Ed.), Researching early childhood education for sustainability: Challenging assumptions and orthodoxies (pp. 53 - 68). Routledge.
Soyoung, K. and Dreamson, N. (2020) Culturally inclusive early childhood education for sustainability: a comparative document analysis between Australian and Korean curricula, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 2020, Vol 28, No 5, pp. 712-730.
World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day
World Autism Awareness/Acceptance Day is held annually on 2 April. It is a time to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of autism, and celebrate and support inclusion for people on the autism spectrum.
There are a number of resources to build understanding and awareness of Autism including:
- The Autism Awareness Australia website Educational Resources for educators and families.
- Autism Association of Western Australia’s Inclusion in Early Childhood Settings, which includes a set of videos designed for educators and teachers in early childhood settings.
In addition, we have free resources to support service teams to build understanding of their obligations and responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and deliver high quality programs consistent with the six guiding principles of the National Quality Framework:
(a) that the rights and best interests of the child are paramount;
(b) that children are successful, competent and capable learners;
(c) that the principles of equity, inclusion and diversity underlie this Law;
(d) that Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued;
(e) that the role of parents and families is respected and supported; and
(f) that best practice is expected in the provision of education and care services
Access the posters, fact sheets and information sheets at Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) resources.
Research - Play and games ideas for children
The Centre on the Developing Child (Harvard University), with support from the LEGO Foundation, has published a set of resources in the new handout series: Brain-Building Through Play: Activities for Infants, Toddlers and Children.
The series includes a host of age-appropriate activities that are easy to do at home, indoors or outside.
Activities for children over 2 years of age allow adults to step back, enabling children’s independence to blossom as they transition to playing more often with peers and independently. There are also fact sheets for children aged 6, 9, 12 and 18 months.
Approved learning frameworks printed hardcopies are available for purchase
There have been 2 national approved learning frameworks in operation under the NQF since 2012, which outline principles, practices and learning outcomes that guide educational leaders and educators in their curriculum decision-making, and assist them in planning, delivering and evaluating quality programs in early childhood and school age settings.
Following a process to refresh the national frameworks, updated versions of both national approved learning frameworks were released in early 2023 as free downloads from our website, and if you wish to purchase printed hardcopies this option is also available now. The sale price of $30 +GST per copy includes delivery to any address across Australia.
Approved providers and their services are now encouraged to begin familiarising themselves with the updated learning frameworks and adjusting relevant aspects of their educational program and practice where needed to reflect new or amended aspects of the frameworks.
The original national learning frameworks will remain in operation alongside the updated Frameworks, until early 2024, to enable approved providers and their services time to transition to the updated learning frameworks.
We Hear You Blog:
Children and Educators: Out and About and Creating a Sustainable Future
Capel Sounds Educational Child Care Centre was awarded the Excellent rating in February. The Mornington Peninsula based service, the first service to be awarded the rating in 2023, demonstrated exceptional practices that align with the refreshed Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Framework for Australia (EYLF).
The refreshed Framework recognises that Educators and children have important and active roles to play in creating and promoting sustainable communities. Broadly defined, sustainability spans environmental, social, and economic dimensions which are intertwined. (EYLF page 17).
Read our full article about the service’s collaborative partnerships and project work focused on education, conservation and economic sustainability, social connections and care for Country on the We Hear You blog.
Updated Guide to the NQF includes new requirements for centre-based services offering regular transportation
The Guide to the NQF helps providers, educators and authorised officers understand and apply the requirements of the NQF. The digital version of the Guide makes it easy to search for relevant content.
The updated March 2023 Guide to the NQF includes information about new requirements for regular transportation, and operational process changes to the quality assessment and rating process. The Guide will continue to be updated throughout 2023 to reflect other agreed changes from the 2019 NQF Review.
The new national requirements to enhance the safety, health and wellbeing of all children during regular transportation to and from centre-based education and care services started on 1 March 2023. We have published new guidance information and resources on the ACECQA website to support implementation of these new requirements:
- Information sheet – Changes to regular transportation of children
- Information sheet – Minimising the risk of children left in vehicles
- Information sheet - Guidance for adequate supervision during transportation
- Safe Transportation of Children Safety Checklist and regular transportation record form
Notifying regular transportation provision through the NQA IT System
Amendments to the National Regulations came into effect on 1 March 2023 to enhance the safety and wellbeing of children during regular transportation provided or arranged by centre-based services. Approved providers of centre-based services must notify their regulatory authority when starting or ceasing to provide regular transport. Correspondingly, approved providers of family day care services will no longer be expected to notify their regulatory authority regarding transportation.
The NQA IT System has been updated to enable approved providers to notify their regulatory authority that their service(s) provides or arranges regular transportation. A user guide is available on our website to assist providers of centre-based services with navigating the changes within the system.
StartingBlocks.gov.au is the national government one-stop-shop for families. Parents are able to shortlist early childhood education and care services, view fees and quality ratings, and estimate their out of pocket costs and Child Care Subsidy (CCS) entitlements.
Helping families find a children’s education and care service to suit their needs
Our recent article published in Mamamia provides advice on how families can take the confusion out of choosing the right early childhood education and care service to suit their child’s needs. Read the article on Mamamia
How to update service information on StartingBlocks.gov.au
Service fees, vacancies and inclusions
Services can update these details via the Provider Entry Point or their third-party software. Please see the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact your third-party software provider.
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.
Please update your communication products with links to the former Child Care Finder with links to StartingBlocks.gov.au.
The Child Care Subsidy Calculator is now available at StartingBlocks.gov.au/child-care-subsidy-calculator and will be updated to share the increased CCS rates taking effect from July 2023.
If services, providers or families have enquiries relating to StartingBlocks.gov.au, please contact us.
Significant days in April
Children belong to, and are active agents in, their communities and our democratic society. April has an abundance of occasions that provide opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate events that link children and their families to our wide and diverse culture.
Here are some links you may find helpful:
- 2 April - International children's book day
- 6 to 16 April - Nature Play Week
- 7 April - World Health Day
- 15 to 21 April - World Creativity & Innovation Week
- 18 April - World Heritage Day