CEO report

Our recent market research survey of ECA members revealed some interesting insights and is helping us to better understand our members’ needs. One key message that emerged from the survey is that ECA is well regarded and respected for its advocacy work on behalf of young children.

Another key message is that early childhood educators and services are under substantial pressure and often lack the time to engage with our projects or make full use of our resources. This has us thinking about how we design, develop and promote our publications, online learning, events and other services to our members.

As we look ahead and finalise our next Strategic Plan (2017–2020), we will be focusing on how you can maximise the practical value of your ECA membership and get the most from our products and services. There is also a very practical emphasis in our second Reconciliation Action Plan which is currently with Reconciliation Australia.

The recent launch of our ECA Leadership Program and Ethics in Action (the practical guide to implementing the Code of Ethics) are significant achievements. Thank you to everyone involved in these two important projects. We are currently discussing with ECA branches how we can facilitate local events around both of these projects, so look out for more information soon.

We will also be getting around the country with the Live Wires Forum (Melbourne, November 2017), AJEC Symposium (Brisbane, February 2018) and the Reconciliation Symposium (Fremantle, May 2018).

Our annual National Council meeting and AGM are coming up in September and I look forward to this gathering of the ECA ‘tribe’. I am also looking forward to the National Conference in Sydney next year—Be the difference for children and families—which I think will be our biggest gathering yet.

Policy and research

There has been a significant focus on behind-the-scenes work over the past few months as ECA and other sector representatives have liaised with the Government about the implementation of the new child care subsidy scheme that will commence in July 2018. The Government has facilitated a number of working groups on which ECA is represented, focusing on how the new child care subsidy legislation will work in detail, what the IT interface will look like for providers and for families, and how they will communicate the changes to providers and families.

ECA remains concerned that many families do not yet understand the new eligibility requirements and entitlement changes of the new subsidy, which are quite complex—particularly for families in which one or both parents are in variable or irregular employment. We would encourage families to review their circumstances for 2018 using the Government’s Online Estimator while being aware that the exact details of how the entitlements will be measured have not yet been finalised.

Meanwhile, the future of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education and Care (preschool/kindergarten) is up for discussion at COAG later in the year. ECA will be engaging with the Commonwealth and state/territory governments on this matter and to promote the importance of quality, play-based preschool for all children, and in particular children experiencing disadvantage.

Communications and media

We hope you like the ‘new look’ ECA Members email template that is much more visually attractive and hopefully easier to read!

The Marketing and Communications team was busy over the cold winter months, including promoting the new ECA Leadership Program, a strengths-based, self-directed, short-term program that contains the sector’s only leadership framework designed by early childhood experts.
We also provided members with ECA’s End of Financial Year Sale with 15% off bestsellers and $10 specials with free shipping. We moved into July celebrating NAIDOC week with 15% discounts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources, as well as promoting ECA’s newly updated First Year at School publication guide—that for the first time contains bonus digital resources.

ECA was mentioned in over 80 media stories that reached 58 million people, with key stories including: Kidsmatter, the Tasmanian’s government decision with the sector in not lowering the starting age for primary school children, the release of the latest OECD Starting Strong report showcasing Australia lagging behind the rest of the OECD on access to early learning particularly with three year olds. Other stories included ECA WA Branch call for a state-wide Play Strategy to ensure children’s right to play based preschool settings.

The ECA Online Shop also celebrated National Science Week and National Children’s Book Week with special discounts and promotions, and ECA also attended the ACEL Early Childhood Conference in Brisbane. Stay tuned for the soon to be published Code of Ethics Implementation Guide, due back from the printers in October. ECA was mentioned in over 80 media stories that reached 58 million people, with key stories including: KidsMatter, the Tasmanian government’s decision in not lowering the starting age for primary school children, and the release of the latest OECD Starting Strong report showing Australia lagging behind the rest of the OECD on access to early learning, particularly with three-year-olds. Other stories included the ECA WA Branch call for a state-wide Play Strategy to ensure children’s right to play-based preschool settings.

Our social media team continues to look for engaging content especially with blogs and video so please let us know if you have any ideas or content you wish to share with us. We would also like to remind members to submit their AJEC papers by 29 September if they wish to present at the AJEC Symposium in February 2018, and to also keep watch as the Live Wires Forum program will be announced shortly on the ECA website. This Live Wires Forum is back in 2017 by popular demand. Delegates who attended this professional development event two years ago found it very informative and practical. Please see below for some of the delegate’s comments:
‘So informative, I learnt so much about technology and the importance of balance and not using digital tools passively, but embedding technology interactively in your curriculum.’
‘I enjoyed looking at technology as a discovery tool, for example using iPads on excursions to google more information about an insect that a child discovers.’
‘It gave me confidence to talk about screen time with parents and looking at different age groups with technology.’

ECA looks forward to seeing you at the 2017 Livewires Forum!

Publications and the ECA Studio

The ECA Studio and Publishing team is excited to have finalised the publication Ethics in Action: A practical guide to implementing the ECA Code of Ethics which will be available from October. We are also pleased to receive so much positive feedback for the ECA Leadership Program.

We are currently working on the next issues of each of our subscription publications, which are available to ECA members at a discounted price. These titles include:

Sign up for a one, two or three-year subscription today to receive titles that cover a range of topics, including children’s rights, exploring science in early childhood, STEM in early childhood education, helping children with difficult things, and Reconciliation. Many of our current subscribers have built a valuable library of quality-assured resources.

The publication First year at school, produced in collaboration with the Australian Primary Principals Association, has had a major revision and now includes supplementary electronic articles for families. Schools and early childhood services interested in providing this to parents who have a child starting school in 2018 are encouraged to contact us for a review copy.

KidsMatter Early Childhood

KidsMatter Early Childhood continues to provide evidence-based mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention strategies and support. This assists early learning educators and settings to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young children and undertake professional learning that is all about growing healthy minds.

Key highlights since the last update:

  • KidsMatter completed significant scoping and review activities that are proving instrumental in guiding how the initiative moves forward. Feedback from educators, facilitators and families provides a clear indication that the KidsMatter Early Childhood initiative is meeting the aims and outcomes of enhancing development and wellbeing, setting the foundation for future learning, improved social competence and reduced emotional and behavioural difficulties in children. Furthermore, educators have reported that the KidsMatter Early Childhood initiative assists them in meeting their requirements under the National Quality Framework. More information will be available on the KidsMatter website in the near future.
  • The KidsMatter team continues to maintain a focus on respectfully and authentically bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives to KidsMatter Early Childhood. The notion of embedding different ways of knowing, being and doing is a priority for the KidsMatter team and this is evident in all communications with early learning educators and settings and the professional learning opportunities we provide.
  • There are now more than 25 800 organically generated likes on the KidsMatter Early Childhood Facebook page. Social media is a significant channel for connecting the online collaborative learning community with KidsMatter resources and key messages.

As winter draws to a close the KidsMatter team are set to support more early childhood educators and their teams. Are you ready to learn all about growing healthy minds? Start the experience today.

ECA Learning Hub/Early Years Connect

The ECA Learning Hub continues to grow in terms of the range of content available and the number of people accessing it. We now have:

  • over 19 900 registered users
  • more than 41 000 newsletter subscribers
  • more than 50 products encompassing online learning modules and webinars
  • NSW Education Standards Authority endorsement to provide registered professional development.

Visit the ECA Learning Hub website to find out more.

A major achievement for this quarter was finalising the ECA Leadership Program which includes seven online learning modules, the Leadership Capabilities Framework, a how-to guide and a range of other resources. This program has already created an online community of early childhood leaders, and we will continue to expand the resources available.

The team was also busy finalising the Early Years Connect project, which was developed in partnership with C&K, Autism Qld and content experts, and comprises a suite of products on inclusion for the Qld Department of Education. These resources are now being transitioned to the Department’s Learning Management System.

There is substantial work being done now to progress the Statement on young children and digital technology, as well as rebranding Live Wires content for inclusion on the Learning Hub.

Early Learning: Everyone Benefits

The campaign’s first parent survey was distributed to our 20 partner, sponsor and supporter organisations. We received more than 2800 responses—a fantastic result. These responses are being analysed now and will be reported in September, so stay tuned to ECA WebWatch and the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits Facebook page and website.

The State of Early Learning in Australia Report 2017, which was released on 11 September.

We are investigating children’s experience of early learning by running Children’s Voice focus groups in 10 early childhood education centres in NSW, Canberra and Melbourne. We have also scheduled a new survey requesting parents to ask their children about what they enjoy or would like more of at their early learning centre.

We are looking for early childhood educators who would like to write for our blog and share their experiences of developing engaging play-based learning activities, managing the varied and rewarding challenges of teaching young children and generally sharing what ‘a day in the life of an early childhood educator’ is like. Email us at everyonebenefits@earlychildhood.org.au to find out more.

To stay updated and get involved in the campaign, you can sign up here.

And don’t forget to like our Facebook page.

Events and conference

The 2017 Live Wires Forum will be held in Melbourne on 24–25 November 2017. This two-day professional development event connects the latest thinking in early childhood theory, practice and pedagogy in digital technologies with hands-on practical sessions. It’s a great opportunity to connect with other educators and experts. The forum will cover areas of challenges and concerns, current and future directions. Register now.

The AJEC Research Symposium 2018 will be held in Brisbane on 16–17 February 2018 in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Due to the popularity of the event and its importance as one of the main platforms for early childhood practitioners, the AJEC Symposium has grown from being part of the ECA National Conference into a stand-alone two-day event. For more information, click here.

Save the date! The ECA National Conference will be held from 19–22 September 2018 at the Sydney International Convention Centre. Join more than 2000 early childhood education and care professionals to hear from leaders within our sector. For more information, click here.

Customer Service team

It’s been a busy few months for the Customer Service team. We ended the financial year strong with ECA Leadership Program orders, plus a general end-of-year tidy-up and stocktake. We look forward to the coming months with more online orders to process, 2017  Live Wires Forum bookings, and further development of CUBE—our in-house customer service application.

State Branch updates

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Branch would like to thank Adam and Carmel from Wiradjuri Preschool and Child Care Centre for hosting 30 of our members for a Cultural Commitment Ceremony. Some amazing commitments were shared and this is a partnership we look forward to progressing.

We were invited to attend the ACT Government’s The Future of Education symposium in July and extend an invitation to all educators to join the conversation here. We see this as an opportunity to highlight the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign at a local level. As the Everyone Benefits campaign states:

When we improve programs and services that help all children to be healthy, to get a good education, and to contribute to our collective prosperity, we all benefit.

We look forward to advocating for children and families through this collaboration.

ECA ACT is represented on the ACT Minister’s Early Childhood Advisory Council which had its first meeting in August. This presents us with another opportunity to advocate for young children and the early learning sector.

ECA ACT will launch the new ECA Code of Ethics during Children’s Week in October. Watch out for an email alert and keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details on this, as well as news about another exciting event coming in November.

New South Wales

ECA NSW held a regional conversations evening in Wollongong recently. This is an initiative where the executive and regional group representatives meet with local regional members. The Wollongong visit included a tour of the Early Start Discovery Centre at Wollongong University which contains an interactive science museum for young children. It is inspiring to know that such a terrific facility exists for young children of the Illawarra and South Coast.

The conversations evening was facilitated by a panel of experienced early childhood stakeholders who discussed changes to the National Quality Standard, family day care in NSW, three-year-old preschool attendance and changes to the NSW approved provider criteria and responsibilities. Cathrine Neilson-Hewitt spoke with clarity and passion on the importance of quality education and care services for young children.

Our thanks to Wollongong University for their warm welcome and for the use of their facilities.

New England Regional Group had a successful get-together to discuss ethics in early childhood and the Hunter Regional Group held a conversations evening at the Murrock Cultural Centre. The discussions there centred on how educators can engage in authentic actions to educate children in the early and middle years about First Nations People. The Riverina Regional Group had 85 attendees at Louise Porter’s informative talk on behavioural guidance with children.

NSW President Carol Burgess and ECA board member Chris Legg attended the annual NSW Premier’s Teacher Scholarships Awards evening at the Mitchell Library. The Premier, the Education Minister and the Early Childhood Minister presented the scholarships. ECA member Roseanne Pugh, who is Director of KU Ourimbah Preschool and Children’s Centre, was awarded the $10 000 Early Childhood Scholarship for her service’s work on Forest Preschools. Roseanne will use the scholarship money to further her research in this area.

Northern Territory

Each year the onset of the dry season in the Top End and the cooler months in Central Australia herald a proliferation of social, sporting and cultural events across the Northern Territory. ECA NT staff, members and friends are involved in many of these activities.

Staff from the Alice Springs office were recently in Yulara for the launch of R U OK? and were also privileged to host Catharine Hydon as she presented a Code of Ethics and Implementation Guide workshop for about 25 educators. Catharine inspired and challenged participants to reflect on their own decision-making.

Meanwhile, inclusion professionals from the ECA NT Darwin office attended the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day celebrations hosted by Smile-a-Mile Fun Bus and Toy Library, and joined in the fun at the annual Teddy Bears’ Picnic held at Bicentennial Park, Darwin.

Of particular interest to members is the upcoming ECA NT Annual General Meeting. Members are encouraged to nominate for the vacant committee positions and to attend the meeting at 10 Mel Road, Berrimah on 12 September. A big shout-out and thank you to those members who have already registered their attendance at this important meeting.

South Australia

In March 2017, Helen Connolly was appointed South Australia’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People. She attended an SA Branch meeting in July to engage with over 40 members and colleagues in a facilitated professional dialogue aimed at deepening understandings for the need to be a voice for the rights and interests of all children in relevant legislation, policies, practices and services.

Helen has pledged to place children and young people’s issues higher on the public agenda to ensure they are valued members of our community. She is currently engaged in a listening tour of South Australia to gather the voices of many children to guide her work. The Branch Executive plans to meet with Helen later in the year to discuss possible collaborations.

At our August executive meeting, Aunty Suzanne, a Kaurna Elder, was co-opted onto the Executive Committee. We welcome Aunty Suzanne and look forward to gaining from her enormous wealth of experience and knowledge to support our ongoing work in the area of Reconciliation. The Hon. Fred Chaney AO stated at the AGM of Reconciliation SA: ‘Words are often easy and implementation is extraordinarily difficult. Implementation that is not based on total respect, understanding and preparedness to work with Aboriginal people will continue to make very modest progress’. The SA Branch aspires to make great progress in our relationships and understandings.

ECA SA collaborated with a number of South Australian organisations on the Re-imagining Childhood Conference, which will be held in South Australia in November. The conference is a great opportunity for delegates to engage with international and local leaders in early childhood research into the Reggio Emilia approach and it is anticipated that this will inform early childhood policy and practices in their own context. The branch has underlined its commitment to this work by awarding five scholarships to leaders to support their attendance at this conference.

Advocacy work has continued in a number of areas, including providing feedback to:

  • Child and Family Health Services (CaFHS) proposed Model of Care Paper
  • Children and Young People (Oversight and Advocacy Bodies) Act 2016 and the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017
  • Teacher Registration Board, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.


The ECA Queensland Branch held a successful AGM with increased numbers of committee members.

The 2017 Executive includes:
President, Jane Bourne
Vice President, Alison Evans
Secretary, Helene Hodgson
Treasurers, Laurien Beane and Di Holman-Taylor.

In recent months the Queensland Branch has continued its work in implementing the strategic plan. Members were involved in supporting the National ACEL Early Childhood Leadership Conference recently held in Brisbane.

In July, Denise Proud and Mel Miller represented ECA Queensland at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Toronto, Canada. Denise and Mel presented a paper showcasing ECA’s Reconciliation work.


Over the past 18 months the Tasmanian Executive has been working tirelessly to advocate against the lowering of the school starting age that would have seen children as young as three-and-a-half in our formal school system. On 7 August 2017, the state government announced that they would revoke Sections 8 and 9 of the Education Act 2016 which dealt with the lowering of the school starting age. The decision came after the release of a report completed by KPMG into the social and economic impact into the change on the education and care sector. The report showed that the lowering of the school starting age would have a significant negative impact on the sector, rendering a number of services unable to remain viable.

In recognition of the importance of early play-based learning in improving life outcomes for children, the government is instead funding the delivery of the Working Together for 3 Year Olds—targeted pre-school initiative. This initiative will provide Government-subsidised participation in quality and accredited preschool programs for children from disadvantaged and vulnerable families for 10 hours a week (400 hours a year). The program will be delivered by accredited services in the early childhood education and care sector.

This move demonstrates recognition that access to high-quality early learning is best for all Tasmanian children and will ensure that a viable ECEC sector is maintained in our state. It is children who will benefit from this decision and we will see the social and economic gains well into the future.

We will continue our regular meetings with the Secretary of the Department of Education, Jenny Gale, to ensure continued collaboration with the Department to support the development and delivery of quality programs for young children and their families in line with this new policy direction.

The Tasmanian Branch continues its advocacy work through representation on a number of working groups, including:

  • Early Years Reference Group
  • Education and Care Stakeholder Reference Group
  • AEDC Steering Committee
  • OSHC and DOE review committee.

We obtained a grant from Skills Tasmania to scope a workforce development initiative in the state. The objective of the ECEC and SAC Review and Update project is to review the previous ECA Tasmania Branch 2012–2016 ECEC and SAC Skills Plan and re-consider the trends, barriers and solutions after engaging in round-table consultation with a range of sector and industry stakeholders. This will consequently inform a range of further actions aimed at supporting an agreed, staged and sustainable way forward for early years and school age care workforce development in Tasmania.

We have contracted a project officer to complete this work and look forward to receiving further government funding to progress our workforce initiatives.

The ECA Biannual Forum will be held in Hobart on 18 November. The theme for this year’s forum is The future is in your hands and a number of inspirational interstate and international speakers will be attending. For more information and to register for the forum, please click here.


Code of Ethics Forum
At our recent annual Code of Ethics Forum, ECA Victoria was extremely fortunate to launch Ethics in Action: A practical guide to implementing the ECA Code of Ethics. We would like to thank everyone at National Office for their tireless efforts in helping make this possible.

With 95 attendees, including ECA National President Ros Cornish, and even some delegates from New Zealand, the discussions focused on continuing our exploration of ethical practice and how the ECA Code of Ethics and the Implementation Guide can support educators to become stronger ethical decision-makers.

Facebook live streaming
Exciting new development! For the very first time, ECA Victoria was able to live-stream our Code of Ethics Forum via Facebook, enabling us to reach far and wide, with people tuning in from all over the globe. Since the forum some of our videos have had over 2200 views.

ECA Vic. Branch Awards
The Victoria Branch offers a range of awards each year to celebrate student achievement and research excellence, and to provide financial support to attend professional development. The awards were established in 2005 and have since expanded to five award categories in order to meet and recognise the diverse needs of the early childhood community.

In July we were proud to recognise and award the following recipients for their dedication and contribution to the early childhood sector:

  • Sarah Gandolfo and Linda Price: Agnes Farrance Conference Award
  • Susan Woolley: Dianne Chandler Memorial Award

ECEC Scholarship Scheme—The last of the funding
Since 2010, the Early Childhood Qualifications Fund has awarded more than 2600 scholarships to Victorian educators to attain or upgrade an early childhood qualification. Since 2012, the Early Childhood Scholarships for Aboriginal People program has awarded 90 scholarships to Victorians to attain or upgrade an early childhood qualification. These scholarships have supported the quality improvement of the state’s early childhood education and care workforce.

In July this year the last of the available scholarship funding was used to grant 90 Early Childhood Scholarships and five Early Childhood Scholarships for Aboriginal People.

Although the last of the funding, ECA Victoria Branch will continue to manage all aspects of the ECEC Scholarship Scheme on behalf of the Department of Education and Training.

Western Australia

Our new ECA WA Branch office premises at the Department of Communities Centre for Parenting Excellence has provided us with the opportunity to work closely with the Centre’s Senior Program Officer. These shared premises are home to a number of support agencies with a focus on parents, children and community, which will enable us to place even greater focus on our work in the early years with families and the wider community.

The WA Branch continues to maintain its advocacy work and influence policy development. While strengthening our connections with the many newly established state government departments, we hosted a Q&A evening session with the WA Education & Care Regulatory Unit.

As we seek increased investment from the state government in early childhood education and care, ECA WA representatives have been delivering fudge for the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign during recent meetings with the Minister for Communities, Minister of Education, the Shadow Minister for Communities and various departmental officials.

The WA Branch is seeking government support to continue our Play Strategy Project campaign and advocacy work, and we have lodged applications for varied community grants and funding. We anxiously await the outcome of these grant applications.

A hugely successful Play Date was held in July at the Lockridge Primary School, where 300 early childhood educators attended along with 100 children. The day was officially opened by the local Member for Wanneroo and those in attendance enthusiastically supported our call for a WA Play Strategy.

Our branch also recently hosted a second screening of the film Nature Play—Take childhood back. This was another opportunity for our members and non-members to come together as early childhood professionals. The concluding discussion focused on how we can engage and involve our regional members, and further screenings in regional areas are scheduled.

Dr Sandra Hesterman, Chairperson of our Play Strategy Sub-committee, recently represented the WA Branch during a Mondays@Murdoch presentation and at the WA State School Teachers Union Conference. These two events were reported in the WA media, further emphasising our Everyone Benefits campaign key message that ‘quality early learning settings amplify children’s inherent abilities’ (ECA, 2016). Participants were encouraged to reflect on their own practice and to consider their involvement in our ongoing Play Matters campaign.

The Play Strategy continues its survey work to establish a better understanding of educators’ views regarding the direction of early childhood education and care for children in WA. The results of this data collection will be presented at our Play Summit on 25 October, during Children’s Week 2017. Professor Donna Cross from the Telethon Kids Institute will deliver the keynote address at this event.

The WA Branch also continues its work with key early years stakeholders, joining in on significant discussions affecting children and their families. These round-table discussions and steering committee invitations have included meetings with:

  • Supporting Infant Mental Health Services
  • the Commonwealth Liaison Forum
  • the Inclusion Support Consortium
  • a Licensing Authority Qualifications Forum
  • a Smith Family information session
  • State Training Board Consultations.

ECA WA remains diligent at each of these events, as we advocate for better outcomes for children and their families.

Our recent ECA Code of Ethics Implementation Guide soft launch with Dr Lennie Bartlett encouraged educators and early childhood professionals to reflect on current ideas and challenges occurring within their practice. A workshop session focusing on early years inclusion programs will be delivered in partnership with Early Childhood Intervention Australia (ECIA) in the coming weeks.

We welcomed two observers to the Branch Committee meetings during July and August with the view to encouraging new members to join our committee at the AGM in October.

As we commence preparations for the year ahead, we focus on our 2018 ECA Perth Reconciliation Symposium in May and other major WA events for the coming year.

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