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Early Childhood Australia WebWatch

The latest early childhood news!

In this issue: Early Childhood Australia (ECA) announced a partnership with SAGE Publishing to put ECA’s Australasian Journal of Early Childhood (AJEC) on an international platform; Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child recently examined the emerging science on early development and genetic expression; and Western Sydney University launched a free BabyLab Podcast. Around the country, the government is inviting feedback on the second ‘What Works’ project, focusing on protecting children; ECA is inviting sector professionals to participate in a new survey on professional development; the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training will be live-streaming community forums on the future of Australian education; nominations are now open for the Barbara Creaser Awards; and New South Wales launched the Premier’s Reading Challenge. In other news, Monash University is launching a five-year research project to examine imaginative play and STEM; new report findings have revealed organisations that develop and implement a Reconciliation Action Plan experience higher cultural safety and experience positive workplace culture; the Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey data revealed high levels of stress on the job; and new research has found that use of general anaesthetics in one-off surgeries has no impact on early brain development. Finally, we fill you in on the latest state and territory news.

Jump down to find out what the various ECA teams and projects have been up to and the new resources available for the early childhood sector.


Advertising space

ECA and SNAICC position statement

SAGE and ECA partner
Early Childhood Australia (ECA) has partnered with the prestigious international publishing house, SAGE Publishing, to create a strong future and international audience for ECA’s Australasian Journal of Early Childhood (AJEC). 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.

RAP findings released

RAP findings released
Does your organisation have a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)? According to a new report by Reconciliation Australia, organisations that develop and implement a RAP experience an overall increase in job satisfaction, increase their knowledge of Indigenous histories and cultures, and have better understanding of reconciliation. The report noted that cultural safety and positive workplace culture showed the most improvement. Since 2012, this yearly report has provided a strong indication of reconciliation progress and greater social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Read the RAP Barometer report here.

Epigenetics and development

Epigenetics and development
Harvard University recently released information on epigenetics and how children’s experiences affect their genes. Read more about it here. Or click here for an interpretation of this research and further information on the topic.

BabyLab Podcast

BabyLab Podcast
A new free BabyLab Podcast co-produced by Western Sydney University's MARCS Institute and Babyology provides insight into baby communication research for parents, educators and health professionals in an accessible format. Explore the episodes here.


Protecting children: Feedback
In a week where the protection of children has been in the news, a government committee is seeking input from individuals and organisations on systems that protect children from abuse and neglect that occurs within families. In the second ‘What Works’ project, the Secretariat for the Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision will open the feedback process until Thursday 21 March 2019. To read more about the project, click here.


Qualifications equal quality
Do qualifications really equal quality in early childhood? CELA CEO Michele Carnegie examines the correlation between children’s improving outcomes and the increase in qualification requirements. Unsurprisingly, research suggests that qualified educators are more likely to engage in quality pedagogical practices, with educators who have a combination of practical experience and solid qualifications impacting overall service quality. Read the full article here.

Surgery and brain development

Surgery and brain development
New research from The Lancet shows no effect on brain development of babies put under general anaesthetic during one-off surgeries. The study, however, was not designed to assess brain development of children with prolonged exposure to general anaesthesia. Read more about it here.

Survey on professional needs

Survey on professional needs
Have your say in Early Childhood Australia’s survey on the development of relevant and valuable professional learning. Complete the survey and, in 100 words or less, tell ECA about your best professional learning experience to enter into a competition to win one of three prizes for your service. Deadline for responses is Wednesday 13 March 2019.  Complete the survey here.


Nominations open

How are you recognising your colleagues and their excellent practice? With International Women’s Day coming up on Friday 8 March, consider some of the ways you can acknowledge women in your early childhood community. If you know an exemplary educator, nominations are now open for the Barbara Creaser Awards. The fund aims to support professional organisations and honour leaders in early childhood. Nominations will close Tuesday 30 April 2019.

Conceptual PlayLab launch

Monash University is inviting early childhood educators and other professionals to the launch of the Conceptual PlayLab, a five-year research project that will find ways to integrate STEM concepts and play. The project will examine a new play-based model of learning, and explore ways in which educators can bring together play, imagination and STEM. Click here to register.

Stress for school principals

Data from the Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey released this week indicates concerns about occupational wellbeing due to an increase in bullying, stress and increasingly long working hours. Over half of the principals surveyed noted that their work hours exceeded 56 hours per week. Read the report here.

Premier’s Reading Challenge

The Premier’s Reading Challenge is underway in several states (New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania), aiming to develop children’s love of reading. This literacy engagement program aims to support children in reading between 10 and 12 books per term. Follow the above links to find key dates and guidelines specific to your state.

Community forums

What does it take for Australia to have a world-class education system? Community forums are taking place across the nation to examine this question in detail. The forums will be held by the Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training, and all hearings will be streamed live via the Australian Parliament website. Upcoming forums include Adelaide (7 March) and Rockhampton (8 March).

In state and territory news ...

New South Wales (NSW) will celebrate its first Women’s Week, with events across the state to empower women and girls; applications are now open for the Partnership, Acceptance, Learning and Sharing (PALS) program in Western Australia that will provide funding for projects that promote reconciliation in local schools and communities; South Australia is investing $185 million in schools to support enrolment growth, high school transition and disability support; in Victoria, bushfires in Bunyip State Park have caused evacuations leading to the closure of dozens of schools and early learning centres; the Queensland government has announced critical disaster funding for students and school staff impacted by flooding; the Victorian government has launched a new ‘look before you lock’ campaign to prevent parents from accidentally leaving their children behind in cars; Playgroup NSW will receive $1.75 million Start Strong Pathways funding over two years to establish Play Strong supported playgroups across the state; and in Queensland, nominations have opened for the 2019 Peter Doherty Awards that recognise excellence in STEM education.
Available now-New Research in Practice Series title-Strengthening quality through critical reflection and action research
Early Childhood Australia Learning Hub

Claire Warden modules
New online learning developed in partnership with nature pedagogue Claire Warden explores her popular documentation and planning methodology—the Floorbooks® Approach—and Talking Tubs™. Designed to create a balance between adult intentionality and child autonomy, these modules will allow educators to consult deeply with children during the planning and documentation process. Find more information about the modules here.


Reconciliation Symposium
Registrations are now open for the 2019 ECA Reconciliation Symposium to be held in Melbourne on 10 and 11 May. Engage in reconciliation and learn about cultures dating back more than 60 000 years. Discover practical tips and participate in facilitated table discussions within an atmosphere of respectful dialogue, understanding and connection between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. Follow this link to register.

Be You Early Childhood

Reconciliation Check-In
If you’re registered with Be You, you can attend National Check-In online events and join discussions throughout Australia.
Book Reflecting on reconciliation and Yarning about wellbeing and learning Check-In events to help you embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. Don’t forget your copy of the Always Be You eBook.
Led by Be You Consultants, Check-Ins offer opportunities to ask questions.

Early Learning campaign

New supporter
We welcome Community Early Learning Australia (CELA) to our campaign. As a supporter organisation, CELA has republished ECA’s pick of great resources that help communicate the benefits of early learning. Invite your friends and colleagues to join the campaign too, and help increase children’s access to quality early learning.

ECA National Conference 2019

Community event
Join ECA at the Government House Open Day on Saturday 16 March at Yarralumla, Australian Capital Territory. This free community event will be hosted by the Governor-General, who is ECA’s patron, and will include a tour of the historic Government House. For more information, click here.

ECA Spoke

New posts
If you missed the fascinating session on ‘Keeping Aboriginal voices close: Creating a third space’ at ECA’s National Conference last year, here’s your chance to read about it on our blog, The Spoke. You can find more posts, including transition to school and what quality professional learning looks like for early childhood teachers.

To view upcoming early childhood events and professional development opportunities, click here to visit the ECA events page.


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ECA WebWatch—Issue 302, March 2019.