ACECQA Newsletter Issue 4 2023
Every profession expects its members to commit to ongoing professional development and, in this rapidly changing and complex world, this expectation has become critical for effective, contemporary professional practice. We publish this newsletter each month to provide up to date information for anyone working in early childhood and outside school hours care services. This month, for example, we have an array of news and recently released resources to explain what is happening in the sector and to support your role as a provider, director, educational leader, teacher, educator or co-ordinator.
In this edition, we include changes to the National Law and Regulations; further discuss what has changed in the refreshed Approved Learning Frameworks with a focus on embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives; explore trends and common circumstances in which serious incidents occur; and highlight special events and celebrations coming up in the month of May. For example, National Family Day Care Week celebrates more than 85,000 children attending Family Day Care each year. It is a unique and important type of early childhood education delivered by 460 services to families who are looking for education in a home environment.
We are also pleased to announce that, in line with the objective of the National Quality Framework to reduce regulatory and administrative burden, from July applications to administer the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) will be submitted through the NQA IT System, allowing combined applications for the CCS and provider and service approval. As an initiative of the Australian Government, this single entry point will streamline applications processes, reduce duplication of effort and paperwork, and strengthen approval controls in the best interests of children and their families.
Please share our articles if you find them valuable for your professional knowledge and better practice.
In the interest of continuous improvement, reviews of the National Quality Framework are undertaken by the nine governments of Australia at regular intervals. This is to ensure the regulatory system remains current, achieves the objectives of the National Quality Framework, and supports approved services to provide high quality education and care to children and young people.
The 2019 review included consultation with the sector, families, higher education institutes and the wider community to identify what changes were needed to the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations, and how services could be better supported for children’s health, safety, wellbeing, education and development.
In 2022, Education Ministers agreed to certain changes and a summary of the proposals and final decisions are available on the 2019 NQF Review website at www.nqfreview.com.au.
The first round of approved regulatory changes, relating to regular transportation of children by centre-based services, came into effect on 1 March 2023.
The second round of approved regulatory changes, coming into effect for the majority of jurisdictions* from 1 July 2023, will:
- Assist in addressing workforce challenges by providing flexibility for services when replacing educators during short term absences and resignations.
- Improve oversight of providers by regulatory authorities by expanding the definition of ‘person with management or control’ of the service to better capture persons exercising significant influence over the operation of services, and closer alignment between the Education and Care Services National Law and the Family Assistance Law on matters relating to the ‘fitness and propriety’ of service providers.
- Amend documentation requirements for OSHC providers in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia* and Victoria who will now be required to keep ‘program level’ documentation about the educational program, rather than documentation at the ‘individual child level’.
- Provide flexibility to FDC services that have been operating for at least 12 months, by allowing some adjustments when calculating family day care coordinator to educator ratios. This change will assist in addressing workforce challenges within the FDC sector.
- Improve the provision of quality education and care by ensuring all FDC educators hold at least an approved certificate III level qualification prior to commencing their role. Existing educators will have a period of up to 12 months to complete their qualifications (not applicable in South Australia where this requirement is already in place).
- For the first time** since the introduction of the NQF in 2012, moderately increase several prescribed fees as well as introduce a new category to differentiate fees applied to ‘large’ and ‘very large’ services.
- Increase the incentive and reduce administrative burden for services applying for the Excellent Rating by extending the period of approval from three to five years.
- Implement a cut-off date for the original national Approved Learning Frameworks in early 2024, at which point services will be required*** to use the new versions of the national Approved Learning Frameworks.
A third and final round of regulatory and legislative changes will come into effect later in 2023.
The 2019 NQF Review website provides the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) and the comprehensive FAQs on all of the incoming changes to the National Law and Regulations.
We will also continue to provide information updates through our newsletters, website and social media channels as well as on the 2019 NQF Review website.
* Please note: the implementation of this round of regulatory changes will be delayed for services in Western Australia. Contact your Regulatory Authority for further information
**Except for annual consumer price index increases
***The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework will continue to remain an approved learning framework under the NQF
For children, high quality education and care is underpinned by qualified and experienced teachers and educators who have a consistent and close relationship with their children and families. These evidence-based prerequisites are enduring and remain the foundation for high quality children's education and care services in Australia.
When the National Quality Framework was developed more than a decade ago, certain transitional provisions were included with the intent that, over time, they would become redundant as the professional childnen's education and care workforce grew to meet demand.
However, while this aspiration has not changed, as explained in the National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy 2022-2031, multiple challenges including the COVID-19 global pandemic have not seen it achieved.
While governments, providers and sector stakeholders work to build a stronger and more sustainable professional workforce, Education Ministers have extended the following transitional provisions for 12 months to 31 December 2024:
- Regulation 239A – Regarding attendance of early childhood teachers at centre-based services in remote and very remote areas (NT, NSW, SA, Tas)
- Regulation 240 – Qualification requirements for educators working in centre-based services in remote and very remote areas (SA, Tas)
- Regulation 242 – Qualification requirements for people to be ‘taken to be an early childhood teacher’ (NT, ACT, NSW, SA, Tas). Note: Regulation 242 does not apply in Qld and Vic or if you are working in a centre-based service educating and caring for 30 or more children preschool age or under in NSW.
Note: WA will make corresponding regulations to extend the workforce transitional provisions for regulation 239A, 240 and 242 to 31 December 2024.
- Regulation 264 – General qualifications for educators in centre-based services (ACT)
All other workforce transitional provisions will continue to expire as planned. For more information, head to Workforce transitional provisions summary table on ACECQA website.
Regulation 137(3) provides the power for the ACECQA Board to determine the qualifications equivalent to an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT). Similar to the above transitional provisions, in developing the National Quality Framework this provision was seen as an essential way to provide time for the sector to meet ECT requirements, particularly in rural and remote areas, while maintaining a commitment to the importance of educational qualifications and experience in early childhood.
Recently, the ACECQA Board agreed to continue this provision in light of the severe global shortage of ECTs and while a national review of staffing and qualification requirements is being undertaken under the National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy 2022-2031.
Until 31 December 2024, a person is recognised as equivalent to an ECT if they hold all three of the following:
- a primary or secondary teaching qualification; and
- teacher registration/accreditation in Australia; and
- an ACECQA approved certificate III level or higher education and care qualification.
An updated version of the Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF) will be published on 1 July 2023 and further updates will be made throughout this calendar year to reflect the changes from the 2019 NQF Review.
The Guide is a central resource to help education and care providers, teachers, educators, service staff and authorised officers understand and effectively apply the requirements of the National Quality Framework. To this end, it provides information for every type of service in every state and territory.
In addition, we regularly develop and publish other free guides and resources to support the sector in understanding the National Quality Framework.
The following are recent additions for your information:
- Key changes for centre-based services from 2023
- Short term relief of educators at centre-based services
- Educators who are ‘actively working towards’ a qualification
- Legislative Requirements for family day care providers from 2023
- Legislative Requirements for family day care educators from 2023
- Documenting programs for school age services
- Identifying persons with management or control of a service from 1 July 2023 – Existing Providers
- Identifying persons with management or control of a service from 1 July 2023 – Prospective Providers
- Suspending or cancelling a provider approval under National Law from 1 July 2023
- Increases to fees and offence penalties
From July 2023, applications for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) will be submitted through our National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA IT System). Prospective providers, and approved providers seeking to add a new service, will be able to submit a combined application for approval under both the Family Assistance Law (to administer the CSS) and the Education and Care Services National Law, through the NQA IT System.
The NQA IT System will provide a single portal which will streamline the processes and simplify effort and paperwork.
Applicants may be asked to complete a multiple choice, online assessment demonstrating their understanding of the National Law and/or the Family Assistance Law. Assessment results will be considered along with other submitted documentation and evidence to determine the fitness and propriety of an applicant to operate a service in the best interests of children and their families.
Some applications will require a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account. A PRODA account enables your identity to be verified quickly and securely reducing the need to submit identity documents every time an application is made. For more information about PRODA please visit: PRODA (Provider Digital Access) - Services Australia.
Visit the Opening a new service page on our website for more information: a two minute video of the upcoming changes to the Provider and Service application process is provided.
National Sorry Day on 26 May marks the lead into National Reconciliation Week from 27 May to 3 June 2023. This provides an opportunity for education and care services to reflect on their journey of reconciliation, including how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories, languages, and knowledge systems are embedded in everyday practices.
At its heart, reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians
(Reconciliation Australia, 2023)
How do the approved learning frameworks support reconciliation?
Key changes to the refreshed approved learning frameworks (Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework in Australia [EYLF V2.0 2022] and My Time Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia [MTOP V2.0 2022] include:
- strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives throughout the frameworks including the vision, principles, practices and outcomes
- introducing a new principle of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives
- updating the principle of ‘cultural competence’ with ‘cultural responsiveness’.
These changes advance reconciliation and emphasise the importance of genuine and authentic approaches to embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in practice, philosophy and service operations.
Alongside the EYLF V2.0 2022 and/or MTOP V2.0 2022, the five dimensions of reconciliation provide a framework for reflection when considering how your service’s practices support cultural responsiveness.
The EYLF V2.0 2022 and MTOP V2.0 2022 describe cultural responsiveness as:
a contemporary way to think about culture and enables individuals and organisations to be respectful of everyone’s backgrounds, beliefs, values, customs, knowledges, lifestyles and social behaviours. Being culturally responsive includes a genuine commitment to take action against discrimination in any form, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in all aspects of the curriculum and working collaboratively with culturally and linguistically diverse children and families.
(EYLF V2.0 2022 and MTOP V2.0 2022)
Cultural responsiveness in education and care settings is dependent on service and community contexts and requires careful consideration on the implementation of genuine cultural practices. For example, service leaders and educators may consider how:
- they provide an intercultural space for children, which blends Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge systems with the western ways of teaching and learning
- their practice of acknowledging Country shows respect for the traditional custodians and the land and presents opportunities to share historical knowledge or provoke conversations and curiosities about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories.
Examples of practice
Services across Australia have evidenced their innovative ways of embedding First Nations culture into education and care practice, to ensure a culturally responsive, sensitive and respectful approach. Some examples that have been shared include:
Adamstown Community Early Learning and Preschool shows a strong commitment to reconciliation in their Connecting to Country Bush Program, aligning their risk-based philosophy to First Nations cultures on the lands of the Awabakal people at Glenrock National Park. Educators actively co-research the local histories, flora and fauna alongside children and National Parks Aboriginal rangers. The service’s Indigenous Perspectives Coordinator (previously known as the RAP Champion) guides cultural curriculum, professional practice and projects that encourages families to work with their children in building knowledge about languages and the lands in which they reside or visit.
Awabakal Preschool- Wickham respects, reflects, and celebrates culture and diversity, including place of origin and its inclusive partnerships with children and families. The service works inclusively with families to ensure cultural programs are authentically implemented. Their staffing team are primarily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators, ensuring traditional cultural practices are embraced and embedded and that children and families feel a sense of belonging.
Balnarring Preschool works collaboratively with their community partners, establishing an annual festival to honour and celebrate Australia’s First Peoples within the broader community. The annual festival, facilitated by the service in collaboration with local First Peoples, provides an opportunity for community members to continue their learning and understanding of the world’s oldest living culture. Local community members can experience First Peoples’ stalls and actively engage in entertainment and cultural workshops such as weaving, storytelling, bush tucker walks and boomerang wood burning.
Wagner Road Early Childhood Centre and Kindergarten has built a strong reciprocal partnership with a local Aboriginal Elder, engaging in several projects over many years with mutually beneficial outcomes to both the service and the local Aboriginal community. This included the service supporting the local Elder to publish his stories of culture, which were shared in the service and wider community.
Opportunities to reflect on and embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives
In the lead up to National Reconciliation Week, take the opportunity to reflect on your unique service contexts and innovative practice that embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.
As a start, think about opportunities to:
- learn about local places of significance (such as places of corroboree, trade, stone quarries) and what they are today
- show meaningful, purposeful and respectful acknowledgements to Country
- build connections to Aboriginal Land Councils and/or Local Elders
- support local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses
- become curious about First Nations history and act as co-researchers and learners alongside children to build knowledge and truth telling
- embed knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and history into everyday conversations with children. For example, when talking with children about sustainability, intentionally share information or engage children in research into First Nations ways of caring for the land and waterways.
Visit the Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education Resources:
This month family day care services will unite to celebrate National Family Day Care Week (1 to 7 May). This exciting annual celebration is a key feature on the family day care calendar as services, educators, families and children come together from across the country to celebrate the rich and unique benefits that family day care provides many children and their families.
Family day care is delivered in a home setting and services can be found in a wide range of communities often in regional and rural areas where a centre-based service may not be viable. In the home environment, a child is supported by an educator in a small group context.
This allows for flexibility and inclusion as routines, continuity and barriers are worked through as part of collaborative partnerships formed between the educator, family and coordination unit. Like other educational and outside school hours care services, building trusting relationships is the foundation for meaningful connections and children’s successful journey of belonging, being and becoming.
For family day care services, this week offers an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the valuable contribution of the family day care sector and its vital place in the early childhood education and care sector. It is also a chance for educators to get together, to strengthen their sense of connectedness and belonging, as well as engaging with and building relationships within the local community.
Celebrations for this year’s National Family Day Care week reflect the diversity of communities and include:
- Family Day Care Australia is hosting a fun morning of activities in Stirling WA
- Kentish Lifelong Learning and Care in the NT will be celebrating with a pizza and games
- Communities@Work Family Day Care and In Home Care in the ACT bring a wildlife focus to their celebrations
- Wynnum Family Day Care and Education Service in Queensland will be going on a bear hunt at their local community gardens.
Visit the Family Day Care Australia website to find out more about National Family Day Care Week. To learn about family day care quality in Australia, you may be interested to read the following reports:
The first and most important objective of the National Quality Framework is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children. Without that fundamental protection, it is not possible to achieve any other objective including enabling children’s educational and developmental growth.
In the interests of quality improvement and to help you in your role, we have developed a new information sheet on managing and responding to injury, trauma and illness incidents. The information sheet uses data from the National Quality Agenda IT System to identify trends in serious incidents that have been notified by approved providers. It highlights the common causes of injury, trauma or illness incidents, and the times and locations when they are more likely to happen. It also offers practical strategies to support educators in preventing and reducing such incidents.
Read more about managing and responding to injury, trauma and illness incidents on our website.
Information to share with families
An objective of the National Quality Framework is to improve public knowledge about, and access to, information about quality in early children and outside school hours care services.
Our free family focused website helps parents and carers to understand the importance of these experiences for their children and, as part of this, to choose the best service to meet their circumstances and needs. They can search for a service using the Find Child Care tool and view fees, vacancies and NQS quality ratings, and also calculate their out of pocket costs.
Share these useful StartingBlocks.gov.au resources with your families and communities:
- A brief guide to the Assessment and Rating process
- What does a quality early learning service for toddlers look like?
- Creating meaningful conversations with your child
Help families understand CCS Changes
Families can now use the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) Calculator on StartingBlocks.gov.au to see what their subsidy rates may be from 10 July 2023.
Most families will get more subsidy, and some families previously not eligible will be able to get it.
Services can make sure their families understand what the changes mean for them by:
- directing families to the CCS Calculator at StartingBlocks.gov.au
- printing and displaying a poster and factsheet at your service
- sharing social media with your families using this kit
- telling your families when the CCS changes will take effect with regard to your service’s billing practices.
The Department of Education has published updated information about what the changes mean for providers that administer CCS. For more information visit the Department of Education - Family eligibility and entitlement page.
Did you know that ACECQA’s functions include:
- promoting and fostering continuous quality improvement by education and care services
- educating and informing education and care services and the community about the NQF
- publishing guides and resources to support parents and the community in understanding the importance of quality early education and care
- publishing guides and resources to support education and care services in understanding the NQF?
Subscribing to our monthly ACECQA Newsletter is an effective way to keep your professional reading up to date. We provide contemporary resources and information, on behalf of the nine governments of Australia, as an efficient means of supporting you in your role within the National Quality Framework and highlighting topical issues for conversations with colleagues, networks and families.
To navigate our website and find what you need quickly, use our the ACECQA Resource Finder tool.