CEO report

We had a terrific National Council Meeting and Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Adelaide during September, with the launch of our new ECA Strategic Plan 2017–2020, which has five Strategic Priorities:

  1. Speak up for children
  2. Build social capital
  3. Champion quality in early education
  4. Lead and inspire professional learning
  5. Position ECA for long-term success

We will be providing all of our members a copy of the plan with the next edition of Every Child. I look forward to opportunities for further discussion on the actions and outcomes we aim to achieve.

The National Council delegates participated in two days of dialogue about strengthening the ECA network. This included a workshop on media engagement which was really useful, and a preview of our newly-released publication, Ethics in Action: A practical guide to implementing the ECA Code of Ethics.

The AGM saw three National Board Directors reach the end of their term—our thanks to Marie Howard (Vic.), Maree Toll (NT) and Julie Rutups (ACT). We are grateful for the contribution each of them has made to the Board and know they will continue to be active in their respective Branches. We welcomed three new Directors to the Board: Janet Williams-Smith (Vic.), Maree Bredhauer (NT) and Jodie Ledbrook (ACT). More information is available on the ‘About Us’ section of our website, but a summary of the current ECA Board is provided below. We will also feature individual Directors in the future editions of the quarterly ECA National Member Update.

Policy and research

ECA has continued to engage with the Federal Government on implementation details of the new Child Care Subsidy scheme, which is due to commence in July 2018. Most recently, the government has commenced conversations with the sector about how out-of-home care will be supported through this subsidy scheme.

The government also recently kicked off its public information for families—you can refer families to the website where they can access further information and estimate what their subsidy will be under the new scheme.

In early November, the government tabled the detailed rules for the scheme in the parliament. These will come into force in February 2018, unless they are disallowed by the parliament. Most of the implementation issues have been resolved during the consultation with the sector. However, ECA remains particularly concerned about a requirement for services to gather and submit data on children’s daily physical attendance, as for many services this will involve either a cost or time impost. We will be talking further with the government about how they see this requirement being met by childcare services.

On 24 October, ECA welcomed the appointment of new ALP Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Amanda Rishworth, the same day the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign hosted its morning tea event at Parliament House, and met with federal parliamentarians.

Communications and media

During spring, the Marketing and Communications team were busy  promoting the 2017 ECA Live Wires Forum in Melbourne and the new publication, First year at school: Essential tips for parents and carers. If you would like to sample a free copy of First year at school, please contact us at: marketing@earlychildhood.org.au

More recently, and hot off the press, is the much-anticipated Ethics in Action: A practical guide to implementing the ECA Code of Ethics by Dr Lennie Barblett, Catharine Hydon and Dr Anne Kennedy. This easy-to-use, 96-page publication, with 25 pages of Practice Tool templates, is suitable for all educators, managers and childhood professionals caring for children from birth to 12 years of age. Please visit the ECA website and shop for more information.

In September, the ECA Marketing team supported the 2017 SNAICC National Conference in Canberra with reconciliation resources at our exhibition booth. Closer to the office, we are currently looking at work efficiencies with the introduction of a new CRM (customer relationship management) system in 2018. The ECA Shop also highlighted outdoor learning settings leading into the warmer spring weather, and STEM-related resources leading up to the highly successful 2017 ECA Live Wires Forum in Melbourne.

The social media team remained very busy and we are now reaching 96 000 followers on Facebook, with exceptional engagement in the past three months with our sector. Please come and join the conversation here! Some of our more recent posts include:

And finally, don’t miss your opportunity to present at the 2018 ECA National Conference—with abstract papers due 13 December 2017. Also, don’t miss registering for the 2018 AJEC Research Symposium in February 2018. Please see the website here for more details.

Publications and the ECA Studio

The past three months have seen the ECA Studio and Publishing team working on the final series of ECA Publications for the year, as well as a broad range of print and online materials for ECA, and providing design and editing services to our external clients. We have also been busy developing branding and materials for a number of upcoming ECA events planned for 2017–18. We were very proud of the launch of our ECA special title publication, Ethics in Action: A practical guide to implementing the ECA Code of Ethics, which is now available for purchase.

We are currently working on the next issues of each of our ECA publications, these titles include:

These are available through subscriptions, with discounts offered to ECA members. Until the end of 2017, we are offering new ECA publication subscribers an free issue of a 2017 title—subscribe today to receive five titles for the price of four.

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, helping children with difficult things, and reconciliation. Many of our current subscribers have built a valuable library of ECA quality-assured resources. Thank you to our current subscribers as your subscription supports ECA’s advocacy for young children.

KidsMatter Early Childhood

The KidsMatter Early Childhood Rapid Review research describes the initiative 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’.

  • The KidsMatter Early Childhood initiative has had a significant positive impact on educators’ work with children, families and communities. In addition, there is evidence of transformative change within services.
  • The online mode appears to mitigate many of the challenges to early childhood educators’ engagement in professional learning.
  • KidsMatter Early Childhood is flexible—it can be adapted to suit a wide range of contexts and service types, and the resources are flexible in that they can be used with everyone in a service.

The above points are just some of the results of the rapid review carried out by researchers from Swinburne University of Technology in 2017. The research examined the use of online tools to facilitate engagement in KidsMatter Early Childhood Professional Learning.

The results of the KidsMatter Early Childhood Rapid Review are now available in a detailed report.

As 2017 draws to a close, the KidsMatter team is set to support more early childhood educators and their teams now and into 2018. Are you ready to learn all about growing healthy minds? Start the experience today.

ECA Learning Hub

The ECA Learning Hub now has over 18 000+ registered learners and the ECA Learning Hub newsletter subscriptions have increased to more than 45 000.

New professional learning available

On demand webinars

Learning modules

Coming soon

  • December 2017—Language learning and literacy with Christine Andell
  • December 2017—Let’s Talk Pilot: Creating a culture of learning with Anne Stonehouse and Michelle Gujer
  • January 2018—Spatial reasoning and STEM with Kim Simoncini (Live Wires).

ECA Leadership Program

The ECA Leadership Program was launched on 31 May 2017 and has been popular, with over 880 units sold to date.

Founded on solid expert research and five years of sector consultation, this essential leadership framework has been designed by early childhood experts and quality-assured by early childhood practising leaders.

Our ECA Leadership Program was specifically created as a strengths-based, self-directed, short-term program for both current and aspiring early childhood leaders in diverse settings. If you or your team members are interested in exploring and reflecting on your leadership journey and status, sign up today!

Special projects

Work has begun on two new special projects in partnership with Smiling Minds and the Centre of Community Child Health (CCCH) at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI). Both projects are funded by the Ian Potter Foundation and are due for release mid-2018.

The Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange (REAIE) project is well underway with module development and filming starting this month. The three modules are due for release early or mid-2018.

Early Learning: Everyone Benefits

ECA was mentioned in 368 stories between 1 September and 24 November 2017, and reached an audience of more than 70 million (cumulative)—our most impressive quarter due to high exposure of CEO Samantha Page as lead spokesperson for the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign. We received high media coverage and audience reach for the launch of the State of early learning in Australia 2017 report in September, and results of two surveys with parents and children in October.

Other media coverage came from ECA media releases on the OECD Education at a Glance 2017 report, and the release of the new ‘24-Hour Movement Guidelines’ in November, just prior to the ECA Live Wires Forum. Our stories appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, the Daily Telegraph and Kidspot. We also had interviews on Kinderling Conversation, ABC Radio  Life Matters, AM, and Melbourne Morning and Afternoons in Melbourne.

Congratulations to ECA WA Branch, which received strong media coverage for three initiatives of its Play Strategy campaign: the Play Summit in September, launch of the Play Strategy in October and a number of endorsements in November. We are strongest when we are pro-active in our advocacy and take the lead in creating the agenda.

The campaign was extremely active this quarter with the launch of the State of early learning in Australia 2017 report in September, and a Children’s Week event at Parliament House where Education Minister Simon Birmingham spoke, as did business leader Greg Hutchinson, chair of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, and former Medibank CEO Lynelle Briggs (both GoodStart board members). Our most popular Facebook post this quarter was of the Acknowledgement to Country at this event by YMCA Early Learning Centre Holder preschool children.

Our Parents Survey revealed that more than 90 per cent of parents found their children had improved social skills, confidence and emotional capacity as a result of attending early learning. They also observed improvements in their children’s thinking, speaking and listening skills. Our survey and focus groups with children found that children’s favourite activity was play—outdoors, indoors, with other children, with their parents, playing sport or games, dress-ups. All types of play!

The campaign had strong media coverage for the report launch and the survey (see ECA Media coverage for details). It’s worth listening to the Early Education Show podcast—they did a comprehensive interview with ECA CEO Sam Page on the State of early learning in Australia 2017 report (Episode 45) and recorded all the speakers at the Parliament House event (Episode 50).

To read more about any of these activities visit: www.everyonebenefits.org.au/educator-blog.

We are very keen to hear from you. Write to us to share your experiences as an early childhood educator at everyonebenefits@earlychildhood.org.au and 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 AJEC Research Symposium 2018 will be held in Brisbane on 16 and 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 standalone, 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.

As part of our ongoing commitment to acknowledging reconciliation in the early years, ECA will be hosting the 2018 Reconciliation Symposium from 11—12 May 2018 in Fremantle, Western Australia. For more information, click here.

Customer Service team

Wow, the last three months have passed by very quickly; where has that time gone! Further enhancements and fixes have been applied to the online shopping cart system, new features in CUBE and a new data syncing application has been deployed to ensure more data is available at any given time for our customers, staff and branches. We are continuing to upgrade and refine our in-house processors and working with other teams to ensure everything is running smoothly.

State Branch updates

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Branch held a launch of the new Ethics in Action resource in October, and will plan additional sessions for those educators who were unable to attend throughout 2017.

Catharine Hydon provided us with some thought-provoking ethical ideas and strategies from Ethics in Action to genuinely build the ECA Code of Ethics into our everyday practices.

October also saw the ACT Branch meeting with some inspirational educators from across the sector, including outside school hours care, government and Catholic education preschools to seek feedback on the ACT Minister for Early Childhood Development’s The future of education discussion paper.

Feedback from the session will be included in the ACT Branch submission for this project and will include:

  • transitions between early childhood education and care settings and school
  • early childhood teacher registration in the ACT
  • provision of universal access to quality, play-based and age-appropriate three-year-old programs as part of an extension to the current National Partnership arrangement.

As soon as the submission is finalised, we will send it out to our members.

From all of the ECA ACT Branch Committee, we hope everyone has a safe and relaxing break.

We look forward to networking and sharing all things early childhood in 2018!

New South Wales

ECA NSW recently met in Randwick for a conversations evening with local ECA members. The guest speaker, Gabrielle Sinclair, Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) CEO, spoke with passion and clarity about the early childhood sector. Her talk left all members impressed with her awareness of issues and her core belief of the important role ACECQA is playing in ensuring quality early childhood services throughout Australia.

The Far North Coast region held a successful mini conference at Kingscliff. This was held to enable members, who were unable to attend the March conference because of floods, to have an opportunity to attend a quality conference. The New England region ran a workshop on Indigenous language and culture throughout their region. The Mid North Coast region is planning a small conference on creating environments that foster resilience and wellbeing in young children. The Riverina held their ECA annual dinner. Sue Brady from Kurrajong Therapy Plus won the annual ‘High Achiever’ award. Grace Qualteri won the inaugural ‘Making a Difference in Early Childhood in the Region’ award. Illawarra and South Coast region met for a conversations evening discussing the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits report, State of early learning in Australia 2017. Hunter region ran a well-attended reconciliation event ‘Questions for our Cultural Journey’. Central Coast ran a wellbeing event, which was informative, practical and well-received.

ECA NSW continues to work with members to spread the word about the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign.

Northern Territory

The ECA NT Branch has been involved in a number of promotional activities during the past few months.

Children’s Week events have been the focus, with events planned in a number of urban and remote locations.

The NT Education and Care Awards were a great success again. ECA NT-sponsored awards recognise the outstanding commitment and contribution of services and educators that are achieving quality outcomes for children and their families. It is good to see a number of remote services taking out awards.

The NT Government has released a draft 10 Year Plan for Early Childhood Development. The document, Starting Early for a Better Future, outlines the NT Government’s aspiration for an equitable, high-quality and culturally responsive early childhood development system. ECA NT has been part of the Expert Reference Panel and cross-agency working group that guided the actions outlined in the plan. The plan has also been the focus of Member Network Meeting, which provided members with the opportunity to make comments on the plan.

The Branch’s Annual General Meeting was held in September. All positions were filled. The Committee paid tribute to outgoing National Board Member, Maree Toll, thanking her for her long standing and valuable contribution to ECA in the Territory, and at the national level. Maree will remain on the ECA NT Branch committee and has taken up the challenge of updating the Branch history.

South Australia

In September, the ECA SA Branch hosted an evening with Catharine Hydon to celebrate the launch of the revised ECA Code of Ethics and Ethics in Action—the new ECA Code of Ethics implementation guide. The workshop engaged participants in a practical discussion about how to use the documents to support themselves and others to become stronger, ethical decision-makers. Educators were invited to consider the ethical challenges of their community and to learn how these resources can support quality practice.

The 2017 ECA National Council and AGM were held here in SA during September. The meeting was held at the Hilton Hotel, Adelaide, enabling a number of SA Branch Executive Committee members to pop in and attend a mixture of some or all of the informative sessions. This exposure imparted a deeper, broader understanding of the work of the ECA National Office and of the work being undertaken in other states and territories. As hosts, the SA Branch Executive Committee arranged an evening at the RBar down by the River Torrens. This wonderful networking occasion gave the opportunity to not only showcase our beautiful city but also to compare and share ideas with our colleagues from across Australia.

Each year Student Graduate Awards are presented to pre-service educators who demonstrate excellence and commitment to the care and education of young children, along with a capacity to contribute to the South Australian early childhood community, through research on placement or volunteering at a centre or school. The awards this year went to University of South Australia student, Amanda French, and Flinders University student, Tayla Dwyer. The award comprises of a year’s membership to ECA, and includes a subscription to Every Child magazine (four issues), ECA Voice (four issues) and an ECA Conference discount.

Five scholarships were awarded to support long day care leaders to attend the Re-imagining Childhood Conference that was held in Adelaide early in November 2017. The successful applicants were selected on merit basis and had the opportunity to engage with international and local leaders in early childhood researching the Reggio Emilia approach to inspire and inform early childhood policy and practices in their own context. The Branch looks forward to hearing from successful applicants Kate Martin, Olivia Lauder, Paula Simpson, Amanda Ruddock and Janine Griffin when they share their experiences at a Branch Meeting during 2018.

We wish all recipients of awards and scholarships every success as they continue their professional journey, and extend an invitation to them to join us on the Executive Committee. These awards are a strategy to support and encourage new educators and emerging leaders, along with building an increased and active membership base—a mission we have strived for in the past and will continue as we move into 2018.

At our Branch Annual General Meeting held in November, we formally acknowledged Pam Linke for her active contribution and commitment to the work of ECA over the years. Pam joined ECA in 1989 and fulfilled many roles and responsibilities including that of President, Vice President, SA National Director and served as the National Publications Chair for 20 years. In recognition of Pam’s extensive contribution and commitment, both on a state and national level, the ECA SA Branch were delighted to award her Life Membership.


ECA Queensland Branch was delighted to host a networking event last month at the Ship Inn in Brisbane. Our MCs for the evening were our fabulous early career educators. We always welcome new early career members to join the group, so please get in contact with us on 1300 322 753 if this interests you. Members and attendees were welcomed with a complimentary drink and canapes on arrival. We had over 60 people at the event, so it was hugely successful, so much so that we would like to have more such evenings next year, possibly in Toowoomba and Cairns.

To begin the evening, we filmed our first ‘Facebook Live’ of our Branch President, Jane Bourne, opening the evening. It was our great pleasure to announce our theme for Under Eights’ Week for 2018—Children Exploring Language and Culture. Our presentation on ‘Age Appropriate Pedagogies in the Early Years’ delivered by Associate Professor Bev Fluckiger, Associate Professor Julie Dunn and Dr Madonna Stinson was very well-received and followed up by professional conversations led by Dr Jenny Cartmel.

Age-Appropriate Pedagogies Program was initiated and funded by the Queensland Department of Education and Training and are the program owners. We would also like to recognise Griffith University for providing the venue for our event, and thank all those who attended and shared in our collective wisdom.

Please start to think about how you will incorporate the 2018 Under Eights’ theme in your lives.


On 18 November, ECA Tasmania Branch held its bi-annual state-wide forum. The theme for the event was ‘The future is in our hands’. The event was a huge success with over 170 delegates attending.

Speakers included Claire Warden on Sustainable Practice Through Nature Play, Stephan Friedrich on Childhood Trauma, and Laurie Kelly on Possibility Thinking. As well as the three main keynote speakers, local presenters Rebecca Pearson, Kaye Van Nieuwkuyk and Karen Eickhoff ran break-out groups where they shared their professional experiences on a range of topics.

The Minister for Education, Jeremy Rockliff opened the forum and shared his vision for the early years in Tasmania, speaking openly about developing a strong partnership between the education sector and early childhood education and care services. ECA CEO Sam Page closed the conference with an inspiring speech about the work of ECA and the importance of growing membership to support our advocacy work. ECA Tasmanian Branch now looks forward to hosting the 2019 National Conference in Hobart.

ECA has continued to work closely with government on the development of the Working Together for 3 Year Olds: Targeted pre-school initiative, which will take effect in 2020. 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, 40 weeks a year. The program will be delivered by accredited services in the early childhood education and care sector. Members have participated on working groups and will continue to be involved in the co-design process.

ECA has also been successful in obtaining a grant from the Department of Education to further our work on the ECEC and SAC Skills Plan. The project will lead on from the work completed with the ECA Tasmania Branch 2012–2016 ECEC and SAC Skills Plan, while re-considering trends, barriers and solutions. The project aims to develop a staged and sustainable way forward for early years and school-age care workforce development in Tasmania. ECA has contracted a project officer who will complete this work.

ECA continues its advocacy work through representation on several working groups including the Early Years Reference Group, Education and Care Stakeholder Reference Group, Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) Steering Committee and the Outside School Hours Care and Department of Education review committee. ECA will continue our regular meetings with the Secretary of the Department of Education, Jenny Gale, to ensure continued collaboration to support the development and delivery of quality programs for young children and their families.

This year has been an exciting and challenging time for the Tasmanian Branch. We have developed strong partnerships with government and have successfully advocated for the rights of children in our state. We look forward to 2018 and to continuing our advocacy work with all stakeholders.


Annual General Meeting

The Branch Annual General Meeting (AGM) continues to provide us the opportunity to share the work of the year with our members. Each year we bring together reports that detail our work and achievements. It’s also a time to thank those who have made a contribution to the Branch and invite our members to stand for any vacant positions. At this year’s AGM, the ECA Victoria Branch was extremely fortunate to have Gill Callister, Secretary, Department of Education and Training (Victoria) as our guest speaker. As Secretary, Gill manages a $12 billion budget and leads 2300 corporate staff to deliver and improve early childhood, school education, and vocational and higher education services across Victoria. She employs a further 55 000 staff in government schools.

Research Forum

On 14 November, ECA Victoria Branch hosted its last forum for 2017. Our research forum titled Researching Early Childhood Education: Blurring the Lines was held at The University of Melbourne Graduate School. Strengthening the connection between research and practice enhances our collective capacity to enrich learning as we blur the lines between the research and practice dichotomy.

The research forum provides our members and friends an opportunity to connect with some of the current research being undertaken by Victorian early childhood researchers and practitioners, and includes presentations that showcase research in its varying levels.

ECA Victoria Branch Doctoral Thesis Award

At our Research Forum in November we were pleased to award this year’s Doctoral Thesis Award to Suzan Mentha PhD, The University of Melbourne Graduate School. The title of Sue’s doctoral thesis was ‘Being, becoming and potential: Thinking co-existence and co-production in early childhood education’. It theorises multiple notions of relational beings and becoming-relations as an imminent potentiality rather than something children always are moving towards.

The ECA Victoria Branch had established the Victorian Branch Early Childhood Australia Doctoral Thesis Award in 2015. The aim of this award is to recognise the level of excellence and diligence required to undertake and complete a doctoral thesis.

Western Australia

2018 Committee

After our recent Annual General Meeting, we have a new committee: President—Doreen Blyth; Vice President—Sally Whitaker; National Director—Wendy Gorman; Treasurer—Claire Wylie; Secretary—Stephanie Jackiewicz; General Committee Members—Suzanne Lawrence, Anna Targowska, Ralph Southall, Sandra Hesterman, Jayne Kaiko, Sandy Clark, Kate Pitt, Ruth Wallace, Hayley Cann, Isabelle Adams, Marcelle Saratsis, Denise Clarke and Margaret Owens. As a group they are working hard to establish their roles, setting up ways of working for the year and are developing the picture for 2018.

Volunteering for a committee requires time and commitment and we are all grateful that these professionals are finding the time and energy to make this contribution to their profession.

2017 Play Summit

The ECA WA Play Strategy Committee, led by Dr Sandra Hesterman and supported by our summit partners, held the 2017 Play Summit in Perth.

Educators, teachers, practitioners, academics and representatives from a range of children’s services organisations gathered in support of play and the Play Strategy. During the event, we were privileged to hear about all of the examples of leading professional practice.

Our thanks go to Minister Simone McGurk MLA, for attending the event and for sharing her deep interest in the wellbeing of children and families.

2018 plans

ECA WA Branch has a Planning Day coming up in January 2018 where we will be working on the Branch plans and events calendar for the year, and will be in touch with members, early and middle childhood partners and the wider professional community soon after that.

Heads up

We look forward to welcoming people to the ECA Reconciliation Symposium in Perth in May 2018. More details soon.

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