I am feeling optimistic about 2019; we have a record number of events planned and some very significant projects to deliver. These include the rollout of the national mental health in education initiative, ‘Be You’; as well as resources for NSW outside school hours services and educators responding to children and families affected by family violence. The upcoming federal election and several state elections provide an opportunity to redouble our advocacy efforts and ensure that the rights and wellbeing of young children are on the political agenda.
The ECA National Board met in February and will meet again in April. A Special General Meeting will be held in March to appoint a new auditor. This is also an opportunity to bring Branch and Board representatives together to discuss current priorities, including:
- finalising an Early Education Policy Paper (preschool)
- progress on our governance and leadership review
- election focus for the ‘Everyone Benefits’ campaign
- getting started with a National Statement on the importance of play
- convening the Awards and Honours Committee
- planning the National Conference in 2020 and beyond.
ECA is committed to member engagement and genuine consultation with the sector. We are grateful to the volunteers who serve on Branch Committees and Regional Networks, particularly for the opportunities they provide for members to participate in local events over the year. We are also grateful to the volunteers who serve on our advisory/reference groups with meetings of the Reconciliation Advisory Group, Publications Advisory Group and Learning Hub Reference Group happening over the next few weeks.
Finally, we hope that many of you will participate in our survey on the needs of the early childhood sector in relation to professional learning.
In February, ECA and SNAICC released a joint position paper titled Working together to ensure equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the early years.
Endorsed by many leading child welfare, education and research organisations, the paper draws attention to the fact that, according to the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), over 40 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are identified as developmentally vulnerable when they start school—that’s twice the rate of vulnerability of other children. Amongst other recommendations, the position paper calls on the Federal Government to:
- establish new early childhood development targets to close the gap in the AEDC domains by 2030, and an accompanying strategy, through the Closing the Gap refresh
- commit to permanently fund universal access to high-quality early education for three- and four-year-olds to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have access to at least three days per week of high-quality preschool, with degree-qualified teachers
- invest in quality Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled integrated early years services, through a specific early education program, with clear targets to increase coverage in areas of high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and high levels of disadvantage.
If you would like to read more about the research that supports these recommendations, the discussion paper prepared by ECA and SNAICC, Ensuring equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the early years, and other reference material can be found on our website.
ECA continues to participate in the Implementation and Transition Working Group for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). We are monitoring the impact of the subsidy on participation and continue to raise concerns about the activity test as well as the impact of the transition for services formerly funded under the Budget Based Funding model. There appear to be particular issues with the Additional Child Care Subsidy for children at risk of neglect and abuse as well as the arrangements in place for responding to communities affected by natural disasters such as fires and floods. If you have examples of problems arising or suggested improvements, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are expecting the federal election to be held mid-May, with the date likely to be confirmed after an early budget on 2 April. ECA has welcome the ALP’s election commitment to provide permanent ongoing funding to the national preschool and kindergarten program to provide 15 hours of early education and care for all four-year-olds, extending to include three-year-old children by 2021. In February, the ALP also announced an election commitment of $6.1 million for playgroups and toy libraries.
Meanwhile, the Coalition government has negotiated the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access for 2019 with all states and territories, but has not made any further commitments to ongoing funding or extending access to three-year-olds. ECA recognises that the uncertainty about future funding is problematic for families, service providers and state/territory education departments.
2019 has started with lots of action for Be You, the integrated national initiative to promote and support mental health from the early years through to age 18, with early learning services and schools around Australia commencing with and transitioning onto the program.
Multiple online events have been scheduled to accommodate educators nationally. Be You Essentials looks at a whole-setting approach to implementing Be You and aims to help educators get started with their Be You Professional Learning. The National Check-Ins provide opportunities to engage in professional discussions with other educators across Australia.
Besides hosting these events, Be You Consultants have been attending conferences to answer questions about Be You Professional Learning, what’s involved in starting Be You and the benefits for whole learning communities.
What does Be You offer for educators?
Be You offers a range of online tools, guides, resources and professional learning aimed at developing educators’ skills and knowledge to promote and support mental health and wellbeing for children and young people. The initiative is for every Australian educator, from early learning services through to secondary schools, including future educators.
Be You Professional Learning comprises 13 content modules grouped under five domain areas, with content centred around mentally healthy communities.
Check out the upcoming In Focus webinar, Transitions: Learning opportunities for everyone. The first of three webinars in the Transitions series, it will explore what we can learn from everyday transitions in early learning communities to promote good mental health. Transitions: Learning opportunities for everyone is scheduled for Tuesday 30 April.
Prioritising early childhood
Be You’s vision is that every learning community is positive, inclusive and resilient—a place where every child, young person, educator and family can achieve their best possible mental health.
Have you registered with Be You?
Become part of growing Australia’s most mentally healthy generation! Currently there are over 1900 services participating in Be You nationally. Registering online with Be You is quick, easy, and free. For more information, contact us.
ECA’s reach and engagement through social media continues to grow with substantial increase in the depth and number of comments on ECA Facebook posts and higher shares.
The Communications and Marketing team are focusing on our Strategic Plan and Stretch RAP commitments to bring new and emerging voices and ideas to ECA platforms. This involves:
- identifying researchers, practitioners and ideas for our online and print publications in 2019
- linking members, readers and followers with the ideas and presenters that are gaining attention at ECA events, in print and online
- leading ideas, advocacy and arguments by commissioning or writing articles providing ECA perspectives on topics of member interest, e.g. posting blogs on The Spoke about the joint ECA/SNAICC paper, Working Together; ECA quality-assured children’s books; ECA perspectives on Australia Day; and on ethics in early childhood practice.
ECA team members recently attended the CCSA Regional and Rural Forum in Dubbo, and an ACT Public Preschool professional learning event. We will also be exhibiting at the ECA Reconciliation Symposium (May), the Government House Open Day (April), the G8 National Conference (March) and the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange Conference (July). If you’re attending any of these events, come find us!
It was a quieter period for media coverage over summer. ECA spokespeople or projects were mentioned in 41 online and print articles, reaching more than 4 million views.
There were 31 broadcast items, mainly with ABC radio. Highlights were ABC and commercial news interviews with CEO Sam Page about the launch of the Federal Government’s new Childcare Finder website in December and commentary on the latest Report on Government Services on 1 February.
Following the release of the ECA–SNAICC joint discussion paper, Ensuring equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the early years, we received national media coverage on ABC TV News (thanks to Narrabundah Koori Preschool for allowing the ABC to film); ABC Radio National Drive interviewed SNAICC Chair Muriel Bamblett; The Sector ran a story; and Sam Page was interviewed on ABC Canberra’s Breakfast and news.
Your Child’s First Year at School continues to be a popular resource for educators and families, with the 2018 calendar year showing an increase of sales compared to 2017. In 2019, we will focus on raising awareness of the product with Parents and Citizens (P&C) organisations, parents, principals’ associations and schools.
Box of Provocations, launched in September 2018 by Anne Stonehouse AM at the ECA National Conference, is a box of cards which spark critical reflection and discussion on pedagogy. With over 800 units sold to date it has been extremely well received by the sector, and is now one of our bestselling resources. The testimonial below demonstrates how the Provocations have become a vital sector resource:
The Box of Provocations for early childhood educators is an excellent tool for prompting discussion, thought and critical reflection for those working with young children. It contains a collection of cards covering a range of topics relevant to the everyday work of educators. I would use these provocations as discussion starters for room or whole-staff meetings. Each card contains questions to encourage individual reflection and group debate. I would also use these cards to plan and facilitate professional development sessions. The 100 cards across 10 themes provide a wide range of topics. This would allow me to follow up with the interest areas of educators and to also introduce new content.—Susan Reade, Acting Director, Mia Mia Child and Family Study Centre.
Our other top-selling resources of 2018 include The Anti-Bias Approach in Early Childhood (3rd ed.), edited by Red Ruby Scarlett; Learning Games five-book set (currently out of print but we hope to bring it back on to the shop soon); and the 2018 Early Years Daily Planner. We have also added some new titles to the shop recently:
- Everyday Learning Series: Early childhood educator wellbeing by Dr Lisa Baker
- Research in Practice Series: Strengthening quality through critical reflection and action research by Linda Newman, Nicole Leggett, Melissa Duffy-Fagan and Kate Higginbottom
- New books from ECTARC across the categories of program and practice, culture and community, leadership and management, communication and wellbeing, working legally and ethically, and children’s health and safety.
There are some exciting changes happening to some of our ECA publications.
We have partnered with SAGE who are now licensed to manage the Australasian Journal of Early Childhood. ECA is proud of AJEC’s longstanding and well-deserved reputation for publishing some of the most significant research in early education from Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. With the journal now being published by SAGE, which specialises in academic journals, we have the opportunity to make a wider audience aware of the ground-breaking research being undertaken in the Australasian early childhood sector.
Research in Practice Series subscribers will now receive access to a PowerPoint presentation relevant to each edition with a summary of content from the author. This is designed to help team leaders share the content with colleagues across the service. Visit the ECA Shop to purchase the latest title or follow this link to subscribe (member discount applies).
Subscribers to the Everyday Learning Series (aimed at early childhood educators, students of early education, beginning practitioners, parents, grandparents and carers) will now receive an electronic factsheet suitable for sharing with families. This can be printed out or included in email newsletters. Follow this link to subscribe (member discount applies).
We will also be giving our professional magazine Every Child a revamp this year and have been discussing new design elements and content sections. If you have suggestions for articles or features or would like to submit your own work for publication, please get in touch: email@example.com.
We have given the ECA Learning Hub newsletter a refresh with a great new feature, ‘Spend a minute’, where we investigate a topic of relevance. If you are not already subscribed you can sign up here.
Early Signals. First Responses
ECA is proud to deliver Early Signals. First Responses, a new program designed to equip early childhood educators to better recognise and respond to young children who have been exposed to or experienced family violence.
Developed in collaboration with experts in the fields of domestic violence and trauma in children and with assistance from the NSW Domestic Violence Innovation Fund, the program combines both face-to-face and online learning opportunities, including webinars, expert coaching and networking.
The Early Signals. First Responses free online learning modules will be released progressively from April 2019. Register your interest and sign up for the project newsletter at http://earlysignals.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/modules/
NSW OSHC Quality Development Program
The Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) Quality Development Program was launched by ECA Learning Hub in November 2018.
This targeted program, funded by the NSW Department of Education, is designed to support quality improvement in the OSHC sector. It focuses on building the knowledge and capability of educators and service leaders in OSHC services operating under the National Quality Framework (NQF).
This exciting online professional learning program is tailored to meet the unique needs of the NSW OSHC services and includes a dedicated website and various online professional learning.
So far, Learning Hub has released the following free resources:
- Module: An overview of the National Quality Framework
- Webinar: Being an OSHC professional
- Webinar: Self-regulation with children 5–12 years
- Webinar: Supporting children to develop conflict resolution skills
This collection will continue to grow as we develop more content. Upcoming modules include:
- My Time, Our Place: An introduction
- Planning in OSHC
- Active supervision of children
- Environments in OSHC
- Engaging and building relationships with the local community
- Development and maintaining quality improvement plans
You can find out more and access the learning program at www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/nsw-oshc.
What’s new on Learning Hub?
Music in Early Childhood (included for subscribers or can be purchased)
Music has long been regarded as an important part of early childhood education. In this module, we explore how music, as an integral part of a child’s family, community and culture, can be utilised as a powerful tool for learning and development. Written by Dr Amanda Niland, this module is a vibrant look at the foundations of music, ‘musicking’ and musical skills, for both educators and children.
An Introduction to the Early Years Learning Framework (included for subscribers or can be purchased)
This module is designed for all early childhood professionals wanting to increase or refresh their understanding of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). The EYLF provides a guide for professional practice, curriculum decision-making, teaching and learning to ensure consistent high-quality practices are in place across all Australian early childhood education and care settings.
Participatory Planning—the Floorbooks Approach (additional to subscription)
We are pleased to announce the release of Participatory Planning, a professional learning package developed in partnership by Claire Warden and ECA. This innovative program includes four modules, with three packages to choose from, depending on your learning interests. The modules include:
- Introduction to the Floorbooks® Approach
- Introduction to Talking Tubs™ and Mind Mapping
- Moving forward with Floorbooks
- Moving forward with Talking Tubs and Mind Mapping.
Be a quality reviewer or professional learning author for ECA
While ECA is fortunate to have an established and accomplished list of subject matter experts, authors and reviewers, we are always keen to identify new talent—and we are currently accepting expressions of interest from established and aspiring subject matter experts and quality reviewers. Being a subject matter expert for ECA might include being interviewed on film, delivering a recorded webinar or authoring content for an interactive learning module. Being a quality assurance reviewer for ECA’s online learning modules involves critically reflecting and providing professional feedback on our online learning content before it is launched. To register your interest in becoming either a subject matter expert or a quality assurance reviewer, please complete the expression of interest forms available here.
The Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign launched our Federal Election Strategy on March 18 with a page 4 article in The Australian newspaper – see all our media coverage here. We are calling on all the major parties to commit to seven key priorities as agreed by the campaign partners:
- Develop a cross-portfolio ‘Early Years Strategy’ to recognise the importance of early childhood development and early learning across home, community and early childhood settings.
- Children have the right to access at least two days per week of quality early childhood education, irrespective of their parents’ workforce participation or other activity.
- Provide a long-term funding commitment for universal access to quality early childhood education and care (kindergarten/preschool programs) in the year before school.
- Extend universal access to two years before school.
- Commit to strategies to increase access to quality early learning programs for children at risk of educational disadvantage, with particular attention to the need for appropriate service models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and rural/remote communities.
- Commit to quality improvement through ongoing funding of the National Quality Framework.
- Commit funding to workforce development strategies to address capacity and quality issues.
We have sent an Early Childhood policy survey to all registered Coalition, ALP, Greens and key independent Federal candidates, and plan to hold an Election Forum in late April or early May that will be live-streamed nationally.
Find out more and help us show federal political parties and candidates that #EarlyLearningMatters: https://www.everyonebenefits.org.au/get_involved_2019
2019 AJEC Research Symposium
The 2019 AJEC Research Symposium, Multiplicity: Exploring multiple perspectives, agendas and methodologies in early childhood research, was held in Melbourne on 14–15 February 2019, in partnership with the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and La Trobe University.
Thanks to our keynote presenters, Adrian Piccoli, Sharon Goldfeld, Marilyn Fleer and Joce Nuttall, for their thought-provoking presentations. These sessions explored multiple perspectives, and diverse and wide-ranging experiences. Our panel on methodological approaches—Sue Grieshaber, Linda Harrison and Jayne White—presented delegates with a great opportunity to explore the methodological aspects of their work and draw on their experience as researchers.
We heard many insightful presentations over the two days of the symposium, and many new friendships and research partnerships were forged. The roundtables were a great opportunity to discuss current research and delve deeper into some of the research methods and findings. The flash presentations were a new format for the AJEC Research Symposium and an opportunity to share visual data and snapshots of work. Both formats sparked great conversations.
ECA would like to thank the 170-plus childhood practitioners, researchers, academics and students who attended the symposium and shared innovative research methodologies and findings—without your inputs the symposium could not have been the success that it was.
Ethics in Action workshops
ECA is pleased to present Engaging with the ECA Code of Ethics. This series of five half-day Ethics in Action workshops is being held across regional NSW, facilitated by Catharine Hydon—co-author of ECA Code of Ethics and Ethics in Action: A practical guide to implementing the ECA Code of Ethics.
Informed by these two documents, the workshops explore the ethical dimensions of our work and strengthen our capacity to make more effective and respectful decisions. Using the guide to support professional thinking, participants are invited to practice the art of ethical decision-making, and work together to reinforce approaches that enhance the rights and wellbeing of children, families, colleagues and the community.
The introductory workshop, held in Port Macquarie on 21 February, had 20 participants. The highly collaborative program started with ‘Ethics is a question—What ought I to do?’ Feedback from participants was positive, with one stating that the workshop was ‘very insightful, with suggestions and tips on how to implement the Code of Ethics into my practice’.
Dates and locations for the remainder of the Ethics in Action workshops:
|Central Coast||Friday 8 March|
|Dubbo||Thursday 28 March|
|Tamworth||Thursday 4 July|
|Merimbula||Thursday 24 October|
For more information on the Ethics in Action workshops, or to register, please click here.
2019 ECA Reconciliation Symposium
As part of our ongoing commitment to acknowledging reconciliation in the early years, ECA will be hosting the Reconciliation Symposium at Moonee Valley Racing Club in Melbourne on 10–11 May 2019.
Attendees at the ECA Reconciliation Symposium will learn about a culture dating back more than 40 000 years, and facilitated table discussions will lead to an atmosphere of dialogue, understanding and engagement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants.
The format of the two-day symposium will be highly interactive. For those participants who attended last year’s event, there will be updates from various speakers, plus new presenters and ideas to build on the journey and continue our exploration of reconciliation within the sector. For more information or to register, click here.
ECA’s 2019 National Conference will be held in Hobart, Tasmania, on 25–28 September.
Themed From vision to action, the 2019 conference will expand on ECA’s strategic priorities to progress its vision of ‘Every young child is thriving and learning’. We will explore current and emerging practice to enhance young children’s experiences across the spectrum of service and education settings they attend. This includes early childhood education and care as well as the early years of school, outside school hours care and child/parent programs such as playgroups and family centres.
The conference will engage participants in a discourse on rights, wellbeing and quality improvement to facilitate deep reflective thinking and enhance ongoing professional learning and development.
Thank you to everyone who submitted an application to present at the 2019 ECA National Conference. We received more than 290 applications and are currently completing the reviewing process. All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by mid-March.
Early Childhood Australia Awards
ECA’s prestigious awards are highly respected within the early childhood education and care sector, acknowledging the valuable role that professional educators play in promoting and enhancing the delivery of early years learning. The award recipients are announced during the ECA National Conference.
For more information on how to submit your applications and nominations for the Barbara Creaser Memorial Lecture Award, the Barbara Creaser Young Advocates Award and the ECA Doctoral Thesis Award, please click here.
We have had a busy start to the first quarter of 2019 as we started working with SAGE on the AJEC transition. A massive amount of data needed to be checked line by line to ensure accuracy, and the team has worked efficiently to achieve a great result. We are continuously improving our in-house procedures and utilising key strengths from each person to reach our goals. Membership growth is steadily climbing and we are looking at new ideas to improve numbers. We are also looking forward to a supporting the events team as ECA enters its busiest-ever year for events.
The ACT Branch Annual General Meeting will be held on 13 March 2019, 5.30–7.00pm at the RUC, 54 McCaughy Street, Turner. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and if you wish to nominate for a committee position.
We are very pleased to welcome the ACT Pedagogical Leadership Network as a sub-committee to our branch. This highly professional network of pedagogical leaders have some amazing events and we look forward to supporting them.
Our commitment to progressing our strategic priorities in 2019 will be reflected in the dedication of our Committee and community members in supporting and advocating for the young children and their families in the ACT and surrounding region. With this in mind, we hope to see as many members as possible at the AGM.
NSW Branch, in conjunction with other peak groups, ran a successful forum with state candidates to learn about their early childhood policies before the March state election. The sell-out event was chaired by ECA NSW President Carol Burgess. Attendees heard the differing policies and had the opportunity to ask questions. The feedback from the event was very positive and attendees also enjoyed the opportunity to network with others.
On the same evening the Central Coast Regional Branch held a similar event with local candidates. It too was very well supported.
ECA NSW are in the process of updating our strategic plan for the next five years. This involves working with the regional groups and discussing how the Branch is moving forward, including updating the RAP.
Welcome to the first ECA NT update for 2019. We hope all are enjoying a successful start to the year.
ECA NT are preparing for the opportunities and challenges of 2019. The management committee has spent some time reviewing its Strategic Plan 2019–21, which includes the following five priorities:
- Speaking up for children
- Building social capital
- Championing quality
- Inspiring professional learning
- Positioning ECA NT for long-term success.
These priorities reflect those of ECA nationally, and our focus is on contextualising them into meaningful action for the Northern Territory.
There will be a number of opportunities for members to get involved at the local level by participating in events such as Network Meetings, Ethics in Action workshops and the development of a NT Reconciliation Plan. We are also planning more great professional learning opportunities through the year. All members will receive a copy of the plan—please share it with your colleagues and be part of the action.
The first Network Meetings for 2019 are scheduled as follows:
- Darwin—Tuesday 16 April, 6.30pm. Venue TBA
- Katherine—Thursday 18 April Venue TBA
- Alice Springs—Tuesday 23 April. Venue TBA
These meeting will be a great opportunity to meet colleagues and join in vital discussions about our services and the early childhood sector.
The ECA SA Branch Executive Committee met in January to plan the year ahead. We continue to use the ECA Strategic Plan 2017–2020 to guide our direction, and during 2019 will instigate a number of Branch meetings to support our commitment to the five priorities: speak up for children, build social capital, champion quality in early education, lead and inspire professional learning, and position ECA for long-term success.
Our Branch is a member friend of Reconciliation South Australia. A table of ECA SA Friends attended the Reconciliation SA’s annual Apology Breakfast on 13 February to honour the Survivors of the Stolen Generation. Following is Kate Ryan’s reflection on the morning:
Attending this year’s apology breakfast was a moving and encouraging experience. Encouraging to see such a wide variety of community represented and supporting reconciliation. The music from local Aboriginal singer songwriter Vonda Last and Adelaide composer and jazz violinist Julian Ferraretto was beautiful and evoked many different memories and emotions. The way in which The Hon. John Hill, former Independent Assessor of the Stolen Generations Individual Reparation Scheme, presented his findings and his reflection on over 30 individual stories from stolen generation survivors was a beautiful way to show the complexities of the report.
This was my first experience hearing Uncle Jack Charles present, what a national treasure! The stories and memories shared were genuine, moving and at times humorous. He talked about growing up as part of the Stolen Generations and now his dedication in mentoring and guiding the younger generations of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous young Australians. I could have listened to his storytelling all day! A powerful morning on many levels.
Welcome all to 2019.
ECA Queensland have been busy preparing for the year ahead, and planning for our Under Eights Week celebrations, which will be held on 17–24 May. This year’s theme is Celebrating the diversity of languages within the home, culture and community.
We are looking forward to hosting ECA’s 2020 annual conference in the sunshine state, and have already started planning for this wonderful event.
Recently a few Executive members attended a Patronage Luncheon at Government House, hosted by the Queensland Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC. The Governor thanked ECA Queensland for the ongoing important work we do in our state with children, families, educators, partners and communities.
The Branch Executive hosted a cocktail event in late November to celebrate ECA’s 80th birthday. Key stakeholders from government and non-government agencies were invited to this informal gathering to enjoy good food and wine and recognise the significant role the organisation has played in shaping the early childhood sector.
The Branch Executive Committee is focused on supporting the 2019 ECA National Conference in Hobart later this year. Suggestions for the pre-conference cultural and site visits have been identified and are now being confirmed—we hope to provide participants with a range of options to choose from.
We are pleased to report that the Tasmanian Department of Education will be a gold sponsor of the Conference. This will provide an opportunity for the Department to showcase the many early years initiatives.
Other than conference commitments, the Branch has confirmed the following state-wide meeting dates for 2019 and we are currently engaging guest speakers for these events.
- Launceston: 4 April, 10.30am–2.30pm
- Hobart: 13 June, 10.30am–2.30pm
- Launceston: 29 August, 10.30am–2.30pm (includes the AGM)
- Hobart: 21 November, 10.30am–2.30pm
The Tasmanian Labor Party has undergone a reshuffle, with Josh Willie MLC appointed as the new Tasmanian Labor Shadow Minister for Education and Early Years. Josh spent much of his career working in education as a teacher before entering politics. We look forward to building the same positive relationship with Josh that we had with the former Shadow Minister, Michelle O’Byrne.
With the federal election imminent, the Branch will be active in engaging with local candidates to ensure the matters that impact on young children and their families are at the forefront of their thinking.
On 20 November 2018 ECA Victoria held its Annual General Meeting, combined with the annual Research Forum. We enjoyed presentations from the winner of the Doctoral Thesis award, Dr Susan Marsh; Jayne White from RMIT; and Catherine Hamm from Victoria University. Although we heard only snippets of their research, the evening provoked a lot of discussion and sparked interest in further reading.
During our planning day on 5 February, the Committee undertook governance training and planned our activities for 2019. We will again hold three forums and aim to look at innovative ways to promote ECA and participation in the rural and remote areas of Victoria.
We are fortunate to have two national ECA events being held in Melbourne this year. Many of us attended the successful AJEC Symposium in February, and several Victoria Branch Committee members are involved in planning and helping with the Reconciliation Symposium scheduled for May.
We have been liaising with the DET regarding ECA Victoria’s ongoing work with the scholarship program. Although the finer details are yet to be finalised, we have been assured that there will be funding for new scholarships before the end of the financial year as part of the state government’s election commitment to provide 8500 scholarships over 11 years.
The Minister for Education, James Merlino, has established the Kindergarten Expansion Consultative Committee to provide advice on key aspects of the strategy and implementation of a universal three-year-old kindergarten program in Victoria. Members of this committee include peak bodies and representatives from the school sector and local government. The first of the regular quarterly meetings, held on 12 February, was attended by the Minister. He is strongly committed to the Kindergarten Expansion, and will be present at all future Committee meetings.
So, a busy start to what promises to be a fruitful year for ECA Victoria Branch.
We have been celebrating and planning in the past quarter here in the west.
We enjoyed our branch Christmas dinner in December and bid a sad farewell to Stephanie Jackiewicz who stepped down from the Committee after a long period of service to the Branch. Before completely signing off, however, she reached 2000 likes on our Facebook page so we thank her for her commitment to making that happen.
Committee member Marcelle Saratsis has been involved with the review of TAFE courses and attended events held by local organisations committed to supporting children and their families, including the Midland Early Years Action Group workshop (Hayley Cann).
We welcomed a new admin person, Alexandra, and with her help have planned a full calendar of events for the year that was shared with WA Branch members via the revised newsletter (if you didn’t receive this, please check your membership details with ECA).
Our next event, and part of our ongoing commitment to the WA Play Strategy, is our ‘Play Fair’ at Perth Individual Montessori College on 23 March, 11am–4pm. Bookings can be made here, and you can find out more about the WA Play Strategy at www.waplaystrategy.com/.