ECA WebWatch

The best of early childhood news!

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National news

Doorstop interview—Prime Minister Tony Abbott discusses paid parental leave

Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has committed to working on a better targeted parental leave scheme over the summer. The savings found in the restructured parental leave scheme will be invested into childcare. ‘It’s very important that we do have a proper paid parental leave scheme based on a woman’s real wage,’ The Prime Minister said. ‘I think the families of Australia, they want a better parental leave scheme and they also want better childcare and that’s what they’re going to get from this Government.’ Read the full transcript here.

Increase to fees for long day care not reflected in wages

New research by early childhood union, United Voice, suggests that fees for long day care have increased dramatically over the past 12 months. The 2014 Childcare Fee Survey reveals that childcare fees increased at a substantially faster rate than educator wages. Between October 2013 and October 2014 fees increased across the nation by an average of 5 per cent—more than double the 2.3 per cent CPI over the same period. The highest fee increases were 9.7 per cent in the ACT and 6.7 per cent in Tasmania. Click here for more information.

Young Aboriginal fathers, stayin’ on track

The University of Newcastle, in partnership with the Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre, is working to develop a resource to support young Aboriginal fathers. Stayin’ on track is designed to transition young Aboriginal men to fatherhood, it will also use the smartphone app, Mood Tracker. Young Aboriginal fathers have been asked to collaborate in building the website. The project is also modelling the importance of mentors. Stayin’ on Track will be launched at the University of Newcastle’s Callaghan Campus on Thursday, 4 December, 2014 at 12.30 pm. Click here to find out more.

Safety Bill comes to Parliament

The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014 has been introduced in the Commonwealth Parliament—a big step towards Australian children being better protected against cyberbullying and safer when they go online. The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014 includes a range of measures to provide a safer online environment for children, including the appointment of a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner (the Commissioner). If a large social media service repeatedly fails to respond to a notice from the Commissioner, then it has a legal duty to remove cyberbullying material and faces substantial fines if it does not. A Bill for an Act to enhance online safety for children, and for other purposes can be read here.

Every child deserves a happy holiday

According to the Human Rights Commission, the commitment to release all asylum seeker children and their families from detention before Christmas marks an important moment in acknowledging that detaining children is not a necessary measure in ‘stopping the boats’. For some of these children, this will be their first experience with the world outside detention centres. The Commission has called for this release to be extended to the 167 children who continue to be detained on Nauru, so that no child is suffering as a consequence of Australia’s asylum-seeker policies. Click here for more details.

Launch of the 2014 Children’s Rights Report

The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, officially launched the Children’s Rights Report 2014 at the Australian Human Rights Commission in Sydney, on 8 December. The report outlines the Commissioner’s activities for the year, provides an update on child rights initiatives in Australia and presents the findings of the examination into intentional self-harm and suicidal behaviour in children and young people. The report also makes recommendations about action that should be taken to prevent and better respond to intentional self-harm, with or without suicidal intent, among children and young people. Click here to read the full report.

State and territory news

South Australia signs on to Universal Access

The South Australian Government has agreed to the Federal Government’s funding offer for the Universal Access to Early Childhood Education program. Minister for Education, Jennifer Rankine said the agreement would ensure that parents are able to access 15 hours of preschool in 2015. ‘We could only sign up to this agreement once we had a clear answer from the Federal Government on what funding they were offering and the criteria we would need to meet,’ Ms Rankine said. ‘I would urge Sussan Ley to start talking to all states and territories now about funding arrangements beyond next year, so we can avoid ongoing uncertainty for South Australian parents and preschool operators.’ Read the media release here.

Advocate for Children and Young People in NSW

The appointment of Mr Andrew Johnson as the first Advocate for Children and Young People in NSW is an important step in ensuring children and young people are given a say in decisions that affect them according to the Council of Social Services of NSW (NCOSS) and Youth Action NSW. Mr Johnson’s appointment delivers on a recommendation in the Strengthening advocacy for children and young people in NSW report. This recommendation has come straight from children and young people themselves as a request to facilitate better engagement with government. For more information, click here.

The growing, silent horror of our time

A new study released by Ipsos Reid and World Vision suggests that Australians believe child violence is a common, growing and under-reported problem. The report, Fearing wrong: why what doesn’t scare us should, also reveals that the majority (62 per cent) of people globally believe that children are most likely to be at risk in public places, and raises concerns that these misunderstandings may be putting children at risk. Read the report here.


Legislative changes to FDC operations—fact sheet

Family day care is a vital part of the early childhood education and care sector, enabling flexibility and choice for parents and carers. New regulations aimed at reducing fraud risks in the family day care sector have sparked much conversation throughout the sector. While most people are supportive of the intention of increased compliance, there have been concerns about whether the government has adequately assessed the impact these changes will have on quality family day care educators. The Department of Education has released a fact sheet outlining the legislative changes to ensure that family day care services and authorised persons are fully aware of their obligations under the family assistance law. Click here to read the facts.


Trajectories of task attentiveness activate in the early years

A study led by the University of Adelaide shows that improving children’s attentiveness in the early years could be rewarded with better literacy and maths abilities by ages six to seven years. Researchers investigated task attentiveness and the ability to regulate emotions, using data from more than 3400 children who participated in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children when they were aged two to three, then four to five, and again at six to seven years. The results show that children who have greater improvements in their ability to attend to and persist with tasks during their early years have better academic achievement by ages six to seven. Read the research report here.

The strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family life

Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) has written a paper that explores the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parenting. The paper was written in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies in collaboration with communities around the country. The evidence provided in the paper shines a light on the many advantages of growing up in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and family. Click here to read the full publication.

The Spoke

Latest discussions on the Spoke

The Spoke is Early Childhood Australia’s blog, publishing articles by Australia’s leading policy makers, academics, experts and leaders and early childhood practitioners.

In the past fortnight there have been posts on the Prime Minister’s proposed changes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme, Christmas debates, gendered marketing of toys and computing skills for young children. Click here to view these posts and more.

ECA Learning Hub

‘Outdoor learning’—get out there and learn!

Do you need to be persuaded of the benefits of outdoor learning? Or maybe you need to persuade others. If so, take a look at our ‘Outdoor learning’ module—an invigorating exploration of the joys, benefits and practicalities of outdoor play and learning. Through videos and text, we’ll show you how to plan and use outdoor spaces with children, and address some of the fears about risky play.

And remember—if you’d like to purchase five or more modules in one transaction, contact us first to arrange your bulk discount: or 1800 356 900 (free call in Australia).

Resources in 2015

We have a great range of resources in production at the moment, being edited, written or quality-assured. Plan your professional learning around these topics, due for release in January–June 2015:

  • Partnerships with families
  • Developing and maintaining a QIP
  • Using critical reflection
  • Partnerships with communities
  • Joining children’s inquiry
  • Positive approaches to challenging behaviours
  • Transition to school and OSHC
  • Digital technologies in early childhood.


KidsMatter Early Childhood update

Four new KidsMatter Early Childhood Professional Learning topics are available online

These latest topics relate to creating a sense of community, including how to do it and why it is so important to mental health and wellbeing.

Designed for educators in early childhood settings, each topic incorporates videos, group discussions and activities, as well as opportunities for personal reflection and additional resources. Topics cater for a variety of people, taking into account different levels of qualification, early childhood knowledge and experience.

How you engage with these topics is flexible. What you plan as a group, plus any resulting actions you carry out, will influence the time spent on each topic. You will be the best judge of what to spend more or less time on based on your knowledge of the needs and interests of your team.

If you are just beginning to think about children’s mental health and wellbeing, KidsMatter Early Childhood Professional Learning is a great place to start. However, it also offers opportunities for your team to take their learning further and reflect more deeply on practices, policies and assumptions.


Digital Business Kit

This week’s news: Digital Business Kit official launch; Computer Science Education Week; and, computing skills called as ‘essential as maths, reading and writing’

Even young children need to learn how technology works and how to create it, not simply how to use it. This is the message in Computer Science Education Week (8–14 December), the same week that the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, officially launches ECA’s Digital Business Kit at Wee Care Kindergarten in Sydney.

Children in primary school and much younger can benefit from exposure to coding and ‘pre-coding’ skills development. Understanding code seems to have intrinsic value. It is not simply to feed a hungry technology workforce, and it’s never too early to start. Some brain development theorists believe learning computing skills helps the brain as much as language learning boosts cognitive skills.

Other events this week include an ‘Hour of Code’ held around the world to promote coding and computational thinking, for children from four to 104 while the University of Adelaide launches its second Digital Technologies MOOC (massive open online course) for educators. The course will assist Australian primary school educators to understand and teach the basics of code and computational thinking. Read more at Digichild or follow us on twitter for updates as the week unfolds.

Reconciliation Action 

Early Childhood Australia Reconciliation Symposium—‘Advancing reconciliation in early childhood education and care’

As part of our commitment to advancing reconciliation in the early years, ECA will be hosting a national symposium to explore reconciliation within the sector. The highly interactive symposium will be held over 8–9 May, 2015, at the Stamford Grand, Adelaide.

This will be a unique opportunity for leaders (organisational, operational and pedagogical) within the sector to:

  • explore the nature of reconciliation in the early childhood context
  • understand how educators can implement good practice in their daily interactions with children and families
  • contribute to the broader discussion about how we all actively demonstrate our appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Delegates will be on a journey together, contributing to shared knowledge and dialogue throughout the event. Click here to register today.

SNAICC National Conference call for papers is open

The 2015 SNAICC National Conference call for papers is now open. The Conference, For Our Children, community voices: sharing knowledge & practice will be held at the Perth Convention Centre over 15–17 September, 2015. The conference provides the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, policy makers, researchers, government representatives, non-government organisations and various industry representatives to gather and make renewed commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. To find out more, or to submit your abstract visit the Conference website. Abstract submissions close Friday 27 February 2015, 5.00 pm WST.

Every Child Subscription

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For practical, effective approaches from early childhood experts and practitioners …

The Research in Practice Series provides practical, easy-to-read resources for those involved in the early childhood field.

The books are designed to assist with those challenging issues which arise in the care and education of young children, by offering effective, new approaches.

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Latest edition: Intentional teaching: Acting thoughtfully, deliberately and purposefully

The concept of intentional teaching raises our expectations for all educators and has the same positive effect as holding high expectations for every child. However, educators are sometimes unsure about the meaning of ‘intentionality’ and ‘intentional teaching’. This publication contains practical advice and reflections on what being intentional means for educators, children, families and communities.

Click here to purchase your copy.


Tender and grant opportunities

Click here to view an extended list of current tender and grant opportunities.

Conferences and dates

Pathways for Vulnerable Children Vic. 17–18 March 2015
ECA Reconciliation Symposium SA 8–9 May 2015
C&K Early Childhood conference Qld 23–24 May 2015
Together We Grow Vic. 29–30 May 2015
Community Voices: Sharing Knowledge & Practice WA 15–17 Dec. 2015

Click here to view the full calendar of conferences and events on the ECA website.

Early Childhood Australia disclaimer
The opinions expressed in the articles and external links are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Early Childhood Australia.

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ECA WebWatch—Issue 202, December 2014. © Early Childhood Australia.

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