Our vision—one the whole community shares

My name is Rachel Hunter and I would like to introduce myself to you as the Chair of the Board of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority will be operational from 1 January 2012. Under the Education and Care Services National Law, it will guide the implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF).

I am delighted to be chairing the ACECQA Board and working with the Chief Executive Officer of ACECQA, Ms Karen Curtis, to lead the implementation of the National Quality Framework. The NQF will bring about a nationally integrated and consistent approach to ensure that all Australian children have access to high-quality education and care services.

ACECQA has a wide range of functions under the National Law. We will report to the Ministerial Council on tasks, including the collection of information on assessment, rating and regulation of education and care services; the publication of information on education and care services; publication of determinations on the highest level of rating for approved education and care services; and qualifications for educators and authorised officers.

We have a responsibility to work collaboratively with governments, families and the early childhood education and care sector.

ACECQA will maintain a strong focus on promoting continuous quality improvement by education and care services in order to achieve improved educational and developmental outcomes for children. We will also take a strong leadership role in educating and informing parents and the sector about the implementation of the NQF and its effect on outcomes for children. This will be supported by high-quality research and reliable data to inform policy development.

The National Law establishes a governing board for ACECQA. The ACECQA Board was announced by the Ministerial Council on 12 August 2011 and has 13 members in total. Eight of the board members are appointed from state and territory nominations; four members are appointed from Australian Government nominations; and I am the chair. It is important to note that although board members are nominated by different jurisdictions they act as a collective, and not in a representative capacity.

The board members bring a breadth and depth of skills and experience from their positions in the areas of early childhood development; education and care; research and academia; labour market and workforce participation; finance; governance and regulation.

The board held its first meeting on 31 August and 1 September 2011—a great achievement following so soon after the membership announcement. Our first board meeting represented a significant milestone in the Council of Australian Governments’ early childhood quality reform agenda.

It was a productive meeting and a wide range of governance and policy matters were decided. We developed key messages and agreed on a Statement of Intent for ACECQA that outlines the ACECQA vision, mission, sector, goals, values and key strategic priorities.

Our vision is one that we believe the whole community shares: Children have the best possible start in life for themselves and for the nation.

This statement and other material describing ACECQA and the NQF is now available on our website, and many other important resources will be added this year and into the future.

At the October meeting of the board, a number of policy matters were resolved. These include draft positions on the criteria for the assessment of early childhood education and care qualifications, the criteria for the excellent rating and the position on qualifications required by authorised officers in regulatory authorities. The board aims to finalise these positions at its November meeting.

Information on this work will be available through the ACECQA website in the near future.

On behalf of the board and the ACECQA CEO, I look forward to working with you to enhance the quality of early childhood education and care services across Australia.

For further information, please visit the ACECQA website, www.acecqa.gov.au.

Rachel Hunter