ACECQA Newsletter Issue 5 2022
Welcome to our May Newsletter and, this month, with a focus on continuous quality improvement, we have included articles on safety in services operating from multi-storey buildings, risk identification and management, and a story about a service achieving an Excellent rating through its dedicated response to the interests and needs of the service’s children and families.
We also share information about significant events occurring each month and, in May, we acknowledge both National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week. These events help us to think and learn more about our shared histories and cultures, and to explore how each of us as individuals, teams and services can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
We also look at children’s development and the underpinning knowledge that physical activity is critical to mental wellbeing and holistic development (social, emotional, language and cognitive skills). Physical activity is important for everyone’s wellbeing, of course, but it is particularly important for children and young people and, as such, a key component of play-based pedagogy and outdoor learning experiences. During COVID, many outdoor activities were restricted but we now have a wonderful opportunity to reassess how we can create outdoor experiences within our communities that will strengthen children’s immune systems, brain functioning, physical health and executive functioning. The article about Play Australia may give you some new ideas.
Our latest Snapshot report again validates your commitment to doing the best for children’s development and education. The National Quality Standard is world-recognised as a very high bar of achievement of quality and it remains a credit to providers, leaders, teachers and educators that quality ratings continue to improve despite the challenges of the last few years.
As always, in sharing these articles, stories, updates and resources, we hope to support and inspire you and your service leaders to continue the journey of improvement – our children and families deserve the best we all can be.
Our latest quarterly NQF Snapshot finds 87% of services are rated Meeting National Quality Standards (NQS) or above. The NQF Snapshot and interactive Online Snapshot summarise quality rating results and other information about education and care services operating under the National Quality Framework (NQF), including temporary service closures related to the impact of COVID-19.
The proportion of services rated by state and territory regulatory authorities as Meeting NQS or above has risen markedly since the NQF was introduced, from 57% in 2013, to 69% in 2016, to 87% today. More than two-thirds of services rated Working Towards NQS (67%) improved their overall quality rating at reassessment.
These results reflect the hard work of service providers, teachers and educators to improve their programs and practice and the quality of their services.
Outdoor play provides unique opportunities for learning and is positively linked to children’s wellbeing, health and development. However, despite these known benefits, evidence suggests that children’s opportunities to play outside have reduced in recent years. The rise of technology and the internet, lifestyle changes due to urbanisation and increases in higher density living, escalating concerns for children’s safety and changing norms around children’s independent mobility are among the multiple layers of influence on this decrease. Our lived experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, with mass-confinement directives and restrictions on the use of public outdoor spaces, has also notably limited opportunities for children to engage in outdoor play.
In an effort to combat the decrease in active play and growing levels of sedentary behaviour, Play Australia has launched ‘1000 Play Streets’, an initiative that aims to create one thousand play-friendly streets for children across Australia by 2025.
The initiative builds on the groundwork of various street projects both internationally and across Australia and encourages communities to reclaim their residential streets as places for neighbours of all ages to connect and play regularly, and to ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
Play Streets are temporarily closed to through traffic, usually for a period of 2-3 hours, to create a safe environment for children and families to gather, socialise and partake in unstructured play and physical activities.
First piloted in 2019, the 1000 Play Streets initiative has now been successfully trialled in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia.
As part of the initiative, Play Australia commissioned the Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI), from La Trobe University, to undertake a research review: ‘How Play Streets supports the development of physical literacy in children’. The review illustrates the physical literacy elements that Play Streets help to develop in children, including: physical, psychological social and cognitive gain. The report also explores evidence-based approaches that could further enhance physical literacy outcomes in children through Play Streets initiatives.
Play Australia is welcoming the public and local governments across Australia to join the 1000 Play Streets movement. Early childhood and school-age education and care services can play an important role in helping families and the wider community to understand and respond to children’s need and right to play.
Consider how, as education and care professionals, you might be able to use the 1000 Play Streets initiative to advocate and affirm the crucial role that play offers in creating and sustaining active lives for children in your community.
Positive, caring relationships in early life help children to connect with others, build positive friendships and support children to self-regulate their emotions and behaviours.
Warm, caring and responsive relationships between educators and children can help children to feel secure and have a sense of belonging, supporting them to explore, play and learn. Positive relationships also offer opportunities for children to learn how to respect others’ rights, be appropriately assertive and caring.
Children’s individual ability to connect with others and build relationships will vary greatly and is influenced by their experiences, skills, disposition, age and development.
Educators can develop strategies to assist children to form healthy attachments, relationships and friendships. It is important that management of any behavioural issues is practiced in a way that upholds the rights and dignity of the child. Observations and strategies should be discussed and shared with colleagues, families and children. As reflective practitioners, educators should also reflect on their own pedagogical decisions, particularly in relation to supporting children to regulate their own behaviour.
For information on behaviour regulation and relationships, you may be interested in our resources:
- Information sheet: Quality Area 5 - Supporting children to regulate their own behaviour
- Information sheet: Quality Area 5 – Relationships with children
Advocacy for children’s dignity and rights forms the foundation for the Belonging, Being and Becoming, the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF), My Time, Our Place, the Framework for School Age care in Australia (MTOP) and the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics.
The approved learning frameworks advocate that early childhood practitioners must uphold children’s rights to have their cultures, identities, abilities and strengths acknowledged and valued, and respond to the complexity of children’s and families’ lives.
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) published the preview of the NCC 2022 on 9 May 2022, following an extensive consultation process. This is the final version of the NCC 2022 and there are new deemed to satisfy provisions for early childhood centres in Volume One. Most of these are extra requirements to address the risks associated with evacuating young children from multi-storey buildings.
We have been working with Australian Government colleagues, Industry and State and Territory Regulatory Authorities to identify further safeguards for services located in multi-storey buildings. We would like to thank all involved and congratulate the ABCB for its work in finalising the preview.
The ABCB has organised seminars in every state or territory to explain the key changes for early childhood centres, prior to these being adopted by states and territories from September 2022.
National Sorry Day is a day to remember and acknowledge the mistreatment of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, now known as ‘The Stolen Generations’.
Held on 26 May, the day commemorates the parliamentary tabling of the Bringing Them Home report which resulted from a government inquiry into past policies that caused children to be removed from their families and communities.
To help start a conversation and inform group discussions, The Healing Foundation has created a Stolen Generations Resource Kit. This resource includes facts and first-hand stories from Stolen Generations survivors.
Reconciliation Week begins Friday 27 May, marking the successful 1967 referendum to make laws for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people and recognise them in the census.
The week runs until Friday 3 June 2022, which marks the 1992 Mabo decision which led to legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of lands.
This year’s theme is ‘Be Brave, Make Change’ and Reconciliation Australia has set out 2022: Actions to Make Change, encouraging Australians to make change in their daily lives.
To assist with education relating to National Reconciliation Week, you may find the following Narragunnawali resources helpful:
- Let’s talk about the theme for National Reconciliation Week (early learning)
- Children’s engagement with the Reconciliation Action Plan (early learning)
- Colours as cultural symbols (early learning)
The Narragunnawali website also includes Professional Development resources to build educator awareness and understanding, and support the implementation of reconciliation activities.
We were pleased to support the participation of two dedicated educators in the 2022 Early Childhood Australia Reconciliation Symposium held in Darwin early this month.
Trainee educator Colleen Frost is based in Western Australia and attended the symposium with the assistance of a travel scholarship sponsored by ACECQA.
‘I found it valuable by listening to others’ stories about reconciliation and the importance it has in early childhood education,’ Ms Frost said.
‘What I took away was the inspiration to be brave and make change in my community and role as a trainee educator.’
Family Day Care Coordinator Jennifer Foster also attended the symposium on our sponsored travel scholarship, travelling from Lismore, and said it had been inspiring to be in a room with other people passionate about early childhood and their role in furthering reconciliation.
‘The symposium deepened my understanding of the continuing challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I feel I have a greater understanding of the importance of Kinship, Community, and connection to Country,’ Ms Foster said.
‘We have an opportunity as Educators to support, guide, and raise awareness across our communities. We can provide both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children a culturally safe, inclusive learning environment where they can flourish and become the leaders and decision makers of tomorrow.
‘Our children are our collective future, it is up to us to be brave and champion Reconciliation, so our future generations grow up in a world where opportunity is truly equal.’
PICTURED ABOVE FROM LEFT: Jennifer Foster and Colleen Frost attended the symposium in early May.
For the team at Eagleby Kids Early Learning Centre, community and culture are central to providing quality children’s education and care.
We awarded the Excellent rating to the service last month: an outstanding achievement to have the highest rating under the National Quality Framework. The service runs an ongoing ‘Kindness project’ and has developed a Māori program to celebrate the local demographic of its community in Logan, Queensland.
Lead Educator Matua Kotene has the additional role of Poutoko Whakaara, meaning ‘Support and Uplift’ and leads the centre’s Māori program: Te Whare Tapa Whā.
‘The program was developed after we received positive feedback from families about children using Māori words at home, having heard them used by educators,’ Matua Kotene said.
‘It’s great to be able to honour Māori culture, language and way of life through the program.’
‘We also supply documents to families written in Te Reo Māori, and they’re able to show family who live in New Zealand that children are continuing to learn about their culture.’
Pedagogista Kylie Buckley said the service’s Kindness Project aimed to ‘spread kindness like confetti’ through the service and its community.
‘For example, as part of our recent school holiday program, children decorated pots and then delivered potted plants to a local nursing house where we got to spend time connecting with residents,’ Ms Buckley said.
‘Children also help with preparing our weekly donation of meals to local outreach service, Nightlight.
‘We’ve also developed a QR code and online form so that people can provide feedback when they receive a random act of kindness from the children and educators at our service, and hopefully be encouraged to pass on the kindness.’
These are exceptional examples of ways services can achieve Quality Area 6, Collaborative partnerships with families and communities – in particular:
- Element 6.2.2 The expertise, culture, values and beliefs of families are respected and families share in decision-making about their child’s learning and wellbeing
- Element 6.2.3 The service builds relationships and engages with its community.
If you are thinking about applying for the Excellent rating, we have a range of resources that you might find helpful.
Congratulations Eagleby Kids Early Learning Centre and thank you for sharing your exceptional work with us in this edition.
PICTURED ABOVE FROM LEFT: Eagleby Kids Early Learning Centre team members Matua Kotene, Kylie Buckley and Jamie Hopewell.
Effective hazard identification and management is key to ensuring the safety of children, staff and visitors at your service. It is important that all staff are trained in carrying out risk assessments and know how to record, communicate and manage risks within their service.
Our Risk Assessment and Management Tool will help providers, leaders, educators, teachers and staff to understand the importance of embedding risk assessment and management practices at their service. You may also find this quick reference guide to the risk management process helpful, as well as sample risk assessment forms and templates that can be used by or adapted for your service.
This tool and templates are intended as a starting point. You are encouraged to seek out state or territory-specific standards and requirements along with relevant workplace health and safety documents to support your service’s risk assessment and management practices.
StartingBlocks.gov.au, our family focused website, contains a range of useful factsheets, infographics and resources to share with your families and communities:
- Our Building strong links between home and education and care services factsheet provides families with tips on effective communication, and consistent routines and experiences.
- Our Nutrition in children's education and care services factsheet provides families with current information about nutrition, and explains the healthy eating policy set by all services.
If you’re looking for more information for the parents, carers and families at your service, visit StartingBlocks.gov.au’s Tips for parents’ section.
Service fees, vacancies and inclusions can be updated 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.
Keep your service information updated on the NQA IT System as usual.
For enquiries relating to StartingBlocks.gov.au, please contact us.
The Education and Care Services National Regulations set the fees for children’s education and care services under the National Quality Framework and these fees are indexed annually.
Fees are collected by state and territory regulatory authorities and help administer the NQF. They fall into two categories:
- the annual service fee, which applies to all approved services
- transaction fees, which are individual fees that apply to specific transactions.
Annual fee invoices for the 2022-23 financial year will be issued by email by 1 June.
Please use the National Quality Agenda IT System to check and update the contact email address that is recorded for your provider. The fee is payable in full for all service approvals held by the provider regardless of any subsequent transfers, suspensions or closures.
Please contact your regulatory authority.