ECA has had a terrific start to 2018 with a successful AJEC Symposium (16-17 Feb) at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. It was terrific to have so many leading academics and early career researchers gathered together to talk about politics, power and agency in early education. Thank you to everyone involved—particularly AJEC Editor Dr Lennie Barblett and the AJEC Committee; Emeritus Professor Helen May, who spoke about early childhood advocacy in New Zealand; David Ansell, who explained the work of CoLab and the process of having policy influence; and Professor Ann Farrell, who encouraged us all to continue our collective advocacy efforts.
The ECA National Board met in Brisbane the day before the AJEC Symposium, with a significant focus on setting priorities. The Board members have been very engaged with ECA’s advocacy on the Child Care Subsidy, preschool funding, and early language and literacy. They are also closely monitoring the schedule of upcoming ECA events, especially the ECA National Conference, which will be held annually for the next few years.
The Board is pleased to announce that, as part of ECA’s celebrations marking our 80th year, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) will host a morning tea at Admiralty House in Sydney during the week of our 2018 ECA National Conference in September.
The Board has also ratified ECA’s new Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Embed, Enable and Strive, which has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. We will be launching the RAP at the ECA Reconciliation Symposium 2018 in May in Fremantle, Western Australia (WA). The Reconciliation Advisory Group have met in Canberra to begin the implementation of the RAP.
Lastly, in the wake of bidding farewell to some team members at the end of 2017, we have restructured and been on a recruitment drive. I am delighted to announce that Dr Kate Highfield has joined ECA in the position of General Manager, Professional Learning and Research Translation. She will continue to maintain academic ties with Swinburne University, but has moved to Canberra to work from our national office. We have also appointed a Finance and Operations General Manager, Gregory Mowle, who had, most recently, been teaching accounting at the Canberra Institute of Technology. He brings extensive experience in similar roles with leading NGOs, including The Smith Family. Our two new General Managers are supported by a high performing team of executives and managers: Christopher Jones (Publishing and Studio), Carolyn Cousins (Learning Hub), Clare McHugh (Strategic Communications), Elmarie Snyman (Conference and Events), Shawn Richards (Systems Applications), Leo Khoo (Retail Marketing and Advertising), Farheena Rahman (Marketing-Online Learning), Helen Oakey (Policy and Advocacy) and Carolin Wenzel (Media and Campaigns). I feel very confident about our capacity to achieve our goals in 2018 against the new Strategic Plan. All members will receive a copy of the new plan with the upcoming edition of Every Child magazine.
With the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) due to come into from July 2, 2018, ECA is continually engaging with the government on details of implementation, including a submission in regards to the new In Home Care arrangements. Childcare providers should have started enrolling themselves as a provider on the government’s Provider Digital Access (PRODA) system, in preparation of the online transition to the new CCS system in April this year.
Requirements for reporting on children’s physical attendance at the centre will be included in the new CCS scheme. While third party software providers are likely to include this functionality, it will be important for services to consider how they are going to capture this data.
The New Year also started with a flurry of early childhood announcements. The Report on Government Services (RoGS) for Early childhood education and care (ECEC) was released on 1 February, and on 3 February, Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham announced a $440 million funding boost to the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, which delivers preschool education to children in the year before school. However, there was no indication whether the government is considering extending that access to two years before school.
Hot on the heels of the RoGS report came the Lifting our Game report, which made a call for Australian governments to ‘progressively implement universal access to 600 hours per year of a quality early childhood education program, for example a preschool program, for all three year olds, with access prioritised for disadvantaged children, families and communities’. Written by Susan Pascoe AM and Professor Deborah Brennan, the report was commissioned and released by all state and territory governments, and provides a sound analysis of what is required to improve Australian children’s access to high quality ECEC.
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is yet to make a decision on extending preschool access to two years before school, but there will likely be more debate in the year ahead about what is needed and how governments can step up to provide it.
Over summer, ECA was mentioned in 86 broadcast items and over 148 print and online stories that reached more than five million views. The biggest print story was an article in The Sunday Telegraph about literacy in early childhood quoting our CEO, Sam Page, and other spokespeople from the National Early Language and Literacy coalition. It ran in 33 syndicated papers—in print and online—with a reach of nearly two million. The biggest broadcast coverage came from ABC talk and news radio interviews with Sam in response to the release of the Federal Government’s RoGS and Lifting our Game reports. There were 56 items in ABC national, metropolitan and regional programs around the country.
See our media releases on the reports, here.
The ECA Shop has also had an eventful summer, with ECA’s annual Season Sale featuring discounts for all of our top bestsellers. If you’ve missed out, don’t worry. ECA members receive special discounts on ECA publications and on a huge selection of quality-assured titles. You just need to login to your account when visiting the ECA Shop to be entitled.
We also received a great response to our much-anticipated Ethics in Action: A practical guide to implementing the ECA Code of Ethics. This easy-to-use publication is suitable for all educators, managers and childhood professionals caring for children from birth to 12 years of age. You can order your copy here.
A popular resource over the holiday season was the 2018 Early years daily planner. This latest version has a practical layout that includes ample writing space for recording reflections, notes, meetings, focus areas, interactions and learning experiences. This best-selling resource is a must-have for educators and teachers in the early years. Stock is currently very limited—get your copy here.
Our social media team remained busy with more than 98 000 followers on Facebook, and reaching more than three million people on our social media channels. Please come and join the conversation here! Some of our recent activities include:
– an infographic highlighting ‘8 ways to take care of yourself’
– a new Facebook group named ‘ECA Leadership’—exclusively for participants completing the ECA Leadership Program
– video previews from ECA Learning Hub’s new modules, Routines and transitions: Embracing opportunities for learning and Visual art and creativity in your curriculum
– eight articles on ECA’s blog, The Spoke—two exceptional blog pieces were ‘Play-based learning can set your child up for success at school and beyond’ and ‘Australia Day—it’s time to change’; if you’d like to write for The Spoke, please have a look at our blog guidelines and send us your article ideas
– celebrating International Mother Language Day on all our social media channels.
We are continuously on the lookout for new, engaging content. Please let us know if you have a blog or a video you would like to get featured on our social media platforms.
The year started very well for the ECA Studio and Publishing team, with work progressing on the new series of ECA publications for the year, as well as a broad range of print and online materials for ECA, and design and editing services for our external clients. We have also been busy developing materials for the upcoming ECA events planned for 2018.
The next issues of each of our ECA publications include:
– Every Child magazine: Wellbeing (Vol. 24 No. 1 2018)
– Research in Practice Series: Helping children with difficult things by Pam Like (Vol. 25 No. 1 2018)
– Australasian Journal of Early Childhood (Vol. 43 No. 1 2018).
To help support your professional learning, ensure you don’t miss out on receiving each issue of ECA’s core publications, all of which are available through publication subscriptions—each title is published four times a year, with discounted prices for ECA members. Subscribe today with a one-, two- or three-year subscription to receive titles that cover a range of topics, including: exploring science in early childhood, sleep, wellbeing, learning to read, cultural competence and reconciliation. Thank you to our current subscribers, as your subscription supports ECA’s advocacy for young children.
Did you know? ECA’s Research in Practice Series provides practical, easy to read, up-to-date information and support for early childhood educators. The books bring together the best information available on wide-ranging topics, and are an ideal resource for children’s services, educators and others interested in the care and education of young children. To find out more about the series, click here to view a sample of The Circle of Security: Roadmap to building supportive relationships.
Did you know? ECA’s Everyday Learning Series is aimed at early childhood educators, students of early education, beginning practitioners, parents, grandparents and carers. This series provides wonderful suggestions about how to create positive learning environments for young children, by ‘making the ordinary extraordinary’. To find out more about the series, click here to view a sample of Children’s rights: Every day and everywhere Book 1.
KidsMatter Early Childhood has started 2018 with a bang—there are more events for educators to get started, and more opportunities to learn and network with the KidsMatter team and other educators across the nation. Remember, you will always find us, our online learning community and our great resources for professional learning and sharing with families on Facebook too!
The extra activity the KidsMatter team members are busy undertaking is in preparation for the launch of the National Education Initiative in August 2018. ECA is an implementation partner alongside headspace in the National Education Initiative being led by beyondblue. The initiative aims to support the mental health of children and young people from the day they enter Australian ECEC until the end of Year 12.
Participating in KidsMatter Early Childhood is a great way for early learning services and schools to prepare for all that the National Education Initiative has to offer.
The KidsMatter Early Childhood Rapid Review research described KidsMatter Early Childhood as ‘a highly successful model of online professional learning’, which should continue to be promoted to the early childhood sector and expanded to reach even more services, including those in diverse settings. Today, over 750 early learning services and schools are participating in the initiative. Their communities are enjoying the mental health and wellbeing benefits … but there is still room for more services to get started!
To find out what is involved and how to get KidsMatter started at your place with three easy steps, watch the KidsMatter Essentials, an on-demand webinar with your team. Then register your service or school and book to attend a ‘Getting Started’ event. Your team will walk away from the event with two professional learning topics well under way.
See you online!
The ECA Learning Hub team worked on enhancing the ECA Learning Hub and website. This has included mapping many of our courses to the National Quality Standard (NQS) as well as the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. We are also in the final stages of transition over to the latest version of our Learning Management System. We are very excited about this transition and the new features it will offer our learners.
New features include:
– personalised account page with a photograph
– ‘External training records’ tab that allows learners and services to record additional qualifications and professional learning activities—this can include recent ECA events or online courses
– new reporting functions
– the ability to download detailed transcripts of all completed professional learning.
New NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) endorsed courses
ECA Learning Hub is endorsed to provide NESA Registered Professional Development for teachers accredited at Proficient Teacher level in New South Wales.
Twelve more courses have been added to the ECA Learning Hub’s NESA Registered course list, which includes the 11 existing NESA Registered courses you can already access. Have a look at the NESA Registered Professional Development page on the ECA Learning Hub website.
ECA has created a closed Facebook group specifically for ECA Leadership Program participants, with the hope of encouraging discussion and engagement around leadership. It’s a place to share achievements, findings or opportunities as you progress through the program. The Facebook group is not replacing the ‘online forum’ on the website. It is simply an additional tool for offering more flexible options to connect you with peers and early childhood professionals interested in leadership.
The ECA Leadership Program recently released a new webinar, which will be made available free to all ECA Leadership Program participants. The webinar, ‘Let’s talk: Creating a culture of learning—places of teaching and learning for everyone’, features Anne Stonehouse AM and Michelle Gujer.
New professional learning
On demand webinars
– ‘Spatial reasoning and STEM for early years’ by Dr Kym Simoncini (from the 2017 Live Wires Forum)
– ‘Let’s talk: Creating a culture of learning—places of teaching and learning for everyone’ by Anne Stonehouse and Michelle Gujer
– ‘Seven myths about young children and digital technology: Where we are in 2017’ by Professor Lydia Plowman (2017 Live Wires Forum keynote address).
– ‘Anti-bias approaches in early childhood’ by Dr Red Ruby Scarlet
– Webinar: ‘Settling multiple children in ECEC settings’ by Cindy Davenport (March 2018)
– Module: ‘Documenting and assessing children’s learning, Part II’ by Clarendon Children’s Centre.
Early Learning: Everyone Benefits has several new sponsors and a new prospectus to explain the campaign to potential supporters. We are planning to invite MPs to services in the middle of the year. We reached 10 000 Facebook followers by mid-February, achieving a growth of about a thousand followers per month. Our strongest month was January, where we recorded more than half a million views and almost a million impressions from 40 posts, with 31 000 engagements. Our most popular posts were those giving practical advice on behaviour and emotional management, with strong graphics; for example, this post on ‘10 things to say instead of stop crying’.
AJEC Research Symposium
The 2018 AJEC Research Symposium was held in Brisbane at Queensland University of Technology on 16 and 17 February—held as a two-day, standalone event for the first time. It was very successful, attracting over 150 delegates from around Australia.
We heard many thought-provoking presentations over the two days of the symposium, including a look into international keynote speaker Helen May’s advocacy and activism in New Zealand and across the world. Australian keynotes David Ansell and Professor Ann Farrell delivered informative and intriguing presentations that outlined policy, global trends and the path moving forward, while ensuring our research has an impact.
The roundtable format allowed delegates to have more in-depth conversations around the methods and findings of the research. Delegates were able to forge new friendships and research partnerships while discussing the many high-quality presentations on offer at the AJEC Research Symposium.
Reconciliation Symposium 2018
The ECA Reconciliation Symposium 2018 will be held from 11–12 May 2018 in Fremantle, WA. Registration is now open, with prices starting from $554 per person. The 2018 event will be led by Catharine Hydon and Jo Goodwin. This will be your opportunity to explore reconciliation and make a difference within your early years setting. Register today!
Early Childhood Australia National Conference 2018
Be the difference for children and families is the theme for ECA’s 2018 National Conference to be held in Sydney from 19 to 22 September. This event will bring people together to recognise the impact of high-quality early childhood education on the lives of young children and their families, as well as the importance of investing in ongoing professional development for educators, teachers and sector leaders.
The conference will explore current and emerging practice, showcase professional development resources and facilitate deep reflective thinking. It will also be a terrific opportunity to network with peers, meet with leading suppliers and see the latest technology available to support early childhood service delivery. Register today to secure a spot at the early bird rate!
Sponsorship of the ECA National Conference is a great way to promote your organisation/business to the early childhood sector. ECA will ensure that your investment is worthwhile, with many direct and indirect benefits for your business or organisation. Sponsorship will allow you to promote your products and services to reach the early childhood education and care sector, demonstrating commitment and support for service providers and educators. A range of promotional opportunities are available, including branding in printed conference material and on the ECA website, as well as placement at the ECA National Conference 2018. Click here for more information.
2018 started off well, and busier than expected, with renewals and customer queries. Work is underway on the ECA Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and we look forward to seeing exciting system changes soon. New Application Programming Interfaces are also being created to support the CRM and other ECA-related products. We are also continuing to strengthen our internal processes and procedures.
Australian Capital Territory
Following the initial launch of Ethics in Action in October 2017, the ECA ACT Branch invited members and ECEC advocates across the ACT to a follow-up session during our AGM on 16 March 2018.
The ECA ACT Branch also welcomes the Lifting our Game report—commissioned by state and territory governments—which calls on Australian governments to increase their investment in early education and extend universal preschool access to three-year-old children.
The report lends itself to opportunities for exploring further discussion across the ACT ECEC community, and to Yvette Berry’s (ACT Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development) Early Childhood Advisory Council for advising on the development of the Early Childhood Strategy and Future of Education.
The full report, including recommendations, can be found here.
New South Wales
The ECA NSW Branch has reconvened for the year with an abundance of enthusiasm, with lots of activities planned for the month. The NSW executives and regional representatives met with members on 15 March for a Conversations Evening in Penrith. The guest speaker for the evening was Professor Deborah Brennan, who spoke about her newly released report, Lifting our Game, which she co-authored with Susan Pascoe. It was a review to achieve educational excellence in Australian schools through early childhood interventions.
The Far North Coast Regional conference is also just around the corner. This annual event, held at Kingscliff, is expecting to host over 300 attendees. This year’s keynote speaker is Maria Aarts, founder of Marte Meo. The conference will feature a Friday Masterclass with Maria, followed by a full-day conference on Saturday 24 March 2018.
The NSW Branch is working closely with the events team, based in the national office, to ensure that the ECA National Conference 2018 is informative and entertaining for all members. A selection of tours have been organised to ensure conference delegates have the opportunity, if they wish, to visit a variety of early childhood services in the Sydney region.
Much is happening in the Early Childhood Australia scene both at the National and Territory level.
ECA NT Branch is beginning a new strategic plan cycle and supporting members will be a focus alongside our work in advocacy, professional development and inclusion support. Members’ meetings will be pivotal to this focus and will be a place where members can engage in some ‘big idea’ conversations as well as learn about and have a say on local and national matters. The value of these conversations is in the challenge to think in new ways and to promote a positive environment of inquiry and support. Remember that these conversations count toward your professional learning. The first Members’ Network meetings for 2018 will be in Darwin on Wednesday, 4 April and Alice Springs on Tuesday, 17 April.
It is pleasing to see that the Education Minister, Simon Birmingham has announced a National Review of Teacher Registration in order to ensure that registration processes are nationally consistent and focus on teacher quality. ECA NT will continue to advocate that Early Childhood Teachers employed in the day care sector are eligible for full registration in the Northern Territory.
The ECA NT President, Sarah Lloyd and myself recently participated in a national forum organised by ECA national to discuss the ‘Lifting our Game’ Report. Stakeholders from across the country including representatives from public education, private education, early childhood education and care, local government, academia, Indigenous services and SNAICC participated. It was a very useful discussion, which identified a number of commonalities and highlighted a range of issues related to policy, funding and practice that as a collective we need to be conscious of as we move the discussion forward.
Permanently investing in two years of high quality early childhood education for every child is the wisest decision any government could make for the immediate and long term outcomes of each child. Achieving this objective must be underpinned by sound investment in the early childhood workforce, and an acknowledgement of the continuing and significant contribution that educators at all qualification levels make. To value every child, we need to value every educator.
The new ECA SA Branch Executive Committee met in January to plan our focus for the year ahead. We used the ECA National Strategic Plan 2017–2020 to organise our direction, and will continue to fine-tune and write up our own plan in the coming months to share with our members.
The committee reiterated our commitment to the promotion of the rights and wellbeing of all young children. Part of that work includes critically reviewing and providing feedback on current policy, legislation and papers. We recently gave written responses on:
– a report by the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Children and Students with Disability—highlighting the principles of effective professional learning for the team of educators and support officers working with children and students on the Autism Spectrum
– draft 1 of Children’s Education and Care skills training package products via the Feedback Forum facilitated by Skills IQ.
In preparation for the state election on 17 March 2018, the ECA SA Branch invited professionals who work with children between the ages of birth and eight years to attend a special State Election Forum to consider matters of interest relating to the care and education of young children. Over 60 professionals attended the session. Tom Richardson, SA columnist with InDaily, kindly facilitated the evening. Minister Susan Close (Labor), John Gardner MP (Liberal), Tammy Franks MLC (Greens) and James Sadler, candidate for Morialta (SA Best), attended the session. They each presented their position on education and care, after which responses were given to the questions raised by our members and colleagues.
The 10th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations was marked on 13 February 2018. A table of friends attended a breakfast organised by Reconciliation SA to honour the survivors. Ali Cobby Eckermann’s* poetry was the highlight of the day. Here is some reflection from the morning:
This was my first Apology breakfast and [I] was moved to tears several times; seeing and hearing the rawness of people’s pain and memories. Hearing the personal poetry of Ali Cobby Eckermann was extremely moving (Kate).
Thank you for the opportunity to attend the Apology breakfast … my two staff members, who are working on our Centre’s RAP, [and I] were deeply moved throughout the breakfast. Ali Cobby Eckermann’s speech and beautiful emotive poetry w[ere] the highlight of the breakfast for me. The pain that she expressed moved me to tears, and I was deeply sorry for the anguish that she and her family ha[ve] been through. It made me reflect on the power of our words and the hurt that thoughtlessness can inflict. I cannot begin to imagine the thought of having my children removed from me, I cannot imagine being taunted and punished for the colour of my skin. The Timpilya (Music Stick) ceremony was very emotional but signalled a time of healing and working together. I enjoyed hearing about the paintings on the sticks and their significance (Trish).
*Ali Cobby Eckermann (born 1963) is an Australian poet of Indigenous Australian ancestry. She is a Yankunytjatjara/Kokatha woman born on Kaurna land in South Australia. Ali is a survivor of the Stolen Generations, as was her mother before her.
Reconciliation SA developed this pledge:
1. We honour the Survivors of the Stolen Generations and pledge continued support for them. Today we remember the National Apology that named their pain, hurt and suffering. In the coming year, we will acknowledge Survivors’ stories, advocate for the journey of Healing and support a just settlement for them.
2. We recognise the hurt that also occurred for the descendants and extended family members of the Stolen Generations. We also promise to act on their stories and find ways to put the meaning of the Apology into practice.
As members of Reconciliation SA, the ECA SA branch endeavours to take this pledge into our community so together we continue to support the journey to healing.
Our planning for the ‘Under Eights Week’ has officially started. We want to talk to everyone who may be interested in joining our branch teams, especially in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Townsville, Cairns and Rockhampton. This week is of great importance to all in our sector, educating and caring for children from birth to eight years of age. It is the coming together of children, families, teachers and friends to heighten the understanding of early childhood and to promote the importance of the early years. This year’s theme is ‘Children exploring language and culture’.
Across the state there will be several key events run by ECA Queensland (Qld.) and our Education Department, which has generously committed funds for another year, as well as Jay Laga’aia (presenter of the iconic show, Play School) who will be seen out and about throughout our state. Jay is working hard to promote this week. Please visit and like our ‘Under Eights’ Website. Tell us what activities are going to happen in your local area and see what is happening in others. There is the chance to win prize money for each region by sharing your event with us. Find out more on our Facebook page, here.
We invite everyone to be a part of a week that has been celebrated as a grand event for the past 61 years. Let’s make this the best one ever!
The ECA Queensland Branch Early Years sub-committee started its meetings this year in Brisbane. Any ECA member who would like to find out more about the meeting dates and proposed activities for the Early Career group for 2018 should please email the branch. One of our members presented an overview of the advocacy work the Early Career sub-committee is involved in an advocacy group, and invited them to join the group. A network group is also being established in Townsville.
The ECA Tasmania Branch has had a busy start to 2018.
In December 2017, the Department of Education (DoE) released a draft policy on the co-location of ECEC services on school sites. The policy was of great concern to our members who operate outside school hours care and long day care services on school sites. In response to the draft policy, ECA recently held two forums across the state to gain member inputs, which were incorporated into a position paper that has been presented to the DoE. We will continue to work closely with the government to ensure that any policy decision is in the best interest of children in our state.
We also held a state-wide meeting on 21 February 2018, where the Minister for Education and Training, Jeremy Rockliff; Shadow Minister for Education, Michelle O’Byrne; and the Tasmanian Greens’ Spokesperson for Education and Training, Andrea Dawkins, spoke to members about their parties’ policies and their commitments to the education and care sector. After their presentations, members had the opportunity to ask the panel questions. ECA members were able to lobby all political parties to ensure that the education and care sector does not get ignored in election promises or from future funding for education in Tasmania.
We look forward to continuing our advocacy work through representation on a number of DoE and government committees and working groups.
ECA Victoria Branch held its annual Planning Day on Friday 2 February 2018 in the beautiful location of the Abbotsford Convent. The day was divided into two parts. The first part focused on strategy. Janet Williams Smith (Director, Service Development and Strategy, Early Childhood Management Services [ECMS]) led the discussion, and the group developed three main themes for the Victorian Branch plan, emanating directly from the National Strategic Plan. The Victorian focus will be on advocacy, membership and sustainability. Once the plan has been completed, we will share it with the other branches and members.
The second part of the day focused on operational matters as we planned our forums for the year. It was recognised that it will be a busy year politically, with the state election being held on 24 November 2018. Given the success of the South Australian Election Forum, consideration is being given to holding a similar event in Victoria.
Department of Education and Training (DET) has also asked us to partner with it, as well as Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), to host a forum in June 2018 for over 1000 early childhood stakeholders. The forum will aim to improve community awareness of the benefits of high-quality early childhood services and help build momentum for future policy reform in the early years. The event will provide a platform to explore established and emerging early childhood evidence and opportunities for future reform.
All in all, a busy start to the year! The ECA Victoria Branch committee is enthusiastic and geared up for hard work, and we look forward to sharing news about our activities as the year progresses.
The ECA WA Branch launched into the year with an energy-filled strategic planning session. On our ‘to do’ list is the ECA Reconciliation Symposium 2018, a project that committee members have jumped into with passion; the work to forward the incredible Play Strategy, promoting play in the early years; and developing a new set of branch infrastructure that will support our busy year of events, projects and programs.
Our committee members are committed to recruiting and supporting new members and ensuring they have the rich networking and learning experiences that will support their work with children and families, and will guide their career development. We will keep our members up-to-date through our popular Facebook page and through emails and networks.