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Early Childhood Australia WebWatch

The latest early childhood news!

In this issue of Webwatch… The Order of Australia Awards honour exemplary work in early childhood and children’s services; ARACY wins a grant to develop a ten-year research roadmap; CELA invites outside school hours care (OSHC) professionals to have their say on policy; and it’s time to nominate a passionate early childhood educator you know for the 2019 HESTA Awards. Internationally, researchers from Sweden link flexible leave for new fathers to improvements in maternal and infant health, and a UK report suggests young children are at risk of becoming addicted to the internet. Closer to home, a study shows only 17 per cent of the top-selling children’s books in Australia have female protagonists; Children and Young People with a Disability (CYDA) announces a new CEO; suggestions that primary school curricula are not making room for foreign language skills; registrations are open for the Little Scientists STEM event, Sonic Boom; and Early Childhood Australia (ECA) seeks your feedback on a proposed submission to the review of the Melbourne Declaration. Finally, we wrap up with 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.


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ECA and SNAICC position statement

Order of Australia
Congratulations to those honoured with Order of Australia Medals over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Many recipients were noted for work with children, including Frayn Barker for exemplary work in early childhood education and care, as well as Dr Catherine Ann Keenan, Dr Lizabeth Tong, Sean Wareing, Patricia Bailey, and George White. Elder Carolyn Briggs was also awarded for her work in preserving the Boonwurrung language. The full list of recipients is available here.

RAP findings released

Dads on-call
New research from Sweden examines the benefits of offering an additional 30 days of ‘flexible leave’ for fathers who return to work after the birth of their baby. Under the program, fathers could apply for immediate leave for up to two days to support their partner and care for their baby. A 2012 trial of the program showed a decrease in hospital and doctor visitations and medical prescriptions for both mother and baby. Read more.

Epigenetics and development

Set for success
The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) will develop a 10-year roadmap for early childhood research, supported by a grant from the Ian Potter Foundation. The Decadel Early Years Plan will be used by policy-makers, academics and philanthropists to coordinate and fund research that will have the greatest impact on vulnerable children. Learn more here.

BabyLab Podcast

Addicted to online?
Children aged five and under are at risk of becoming addicted to the internet, according to Barnardos UK. The report notes that children access social media—usually online videos—from two years old. Read the full report here. ECA’s Statement on young children and digital technologies can provide educators and families with guidelines on technology use. Read more here.


Melbourne Declaration
Did you know that governments around Australia are currently reviewing the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians? ECA has some suggestions for the document—but we also want to hear from you. Take a look at our proposed submission here and let us know what you think. Email your feedback by Friday 14 June to


Where are the rebel girls?
A recent examination of bestselling children’s books in Australia shows 46 per cent have male protagonists, and 32 per cent have no identifiable main character. Of the 17 per cent that do have female protagonists, most have occupations such as princess, ballerina and fashion designer. Read more on the implications for early bias. Read more.

Surgery and brain development

Language learning
Australia’s school curricula are not making room for secondary language skills, according to an article examining the success of bilingual primary schools. Australian teachers’ skillsets and a full curriculum were identified as the main barriers for language learning. Conversely, this article follows on from an increase in local Aboriginal languages being taught within early learning services and early primary.

Survey on professional needs

Sleep: who knows best?
Most early childhood services set mandatory sleep time for preschool children, yet most families wish they didn’t. There are no easy answers, so the Australian Research Council has funded Professor Karen Thorpe (from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research) to conduct the first Australian longitudinal study of sleep patterns in early childhood. Learn more here.


OSHC survey

Have your say—Community Early Learning Australia (CELA) invites OSHC professionals who have experience working in OSHC since January 2015 to respond to a short survey. The responses will be used to develop statements to share with politicians and policy-makers.


Mary Sayers has been named the new Chief Executive Officer for Children and Young People with a Disability (CYDA). Ms Sayers was previously Deputy CEO of Victoria Council of Social Services, and has worked extensively in the children and youth services space.

Sonic boom

Make noise about STEM at Sonic Boom—the Little Scientists Educator Conference, which will be held in Sydney from 21–22 August. Explore how to implement playful, inquiry-based STEM experiences, and hear from inspiring guest speakers. Register here.

HESTA Awards

Do you know a passionate early childhood educator with a story worth celebrating? Nominate them for the 2019 HESTA Early Childhood Education and Care Awards. Nominations close 30 June 2019.

In state and territory news ...

With budgets handed down across the nation, the Australian Capital Territory details a commitment to universal access for three-year-olds to quality early childhood education and care; in South Australia (SA), the Minister for Education calls for expressions of interest for a vacancy on the Child Development Council, while the SA Government has invested $6.25 million in an International Education Strategy, focusing on educational initiatives with an international focus for public schools and preschools, as well as more physical education. The Queensland budget includes $30.4 million to continue universal access to early learning in the year before school, extra funding for children with significant educational support needs, and an extra funding for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation. In Victoria, registrations are open for free half-day workshops for early career teachers on transition learning and development; in New South Wales and the Northern Territory, eligible families can apply for $100 vouchers to support sports and active recreation for children; and the Tasmanian Department of Education has released key data for 2018–2019, including school enrolments and class sizes, to ensure funding is distributed according to need. Wrapping up state and territory news, the University of Western Australia reports that two-thirds of disadvantaged families can’t afford to feed their children a balanced meal.

Available now-New Research in Practice Series title-Strengthening quality through critical reflection and action research
Early Childhood Australia Learning Hub

EOFY offer
Invest in your professional development with 15 per cent off over 100 quality-assured resources on the ECA Shop, including children's books.
On the ECA Learning Hub, get 15 per cent off individual modules and ECA Learning Hub Annual Subscriptions for up to 25 users. Hurry—the sale ends 30 June 2019. Terms and conditions apply.

Ethics in Action Workshop

Ethics near you
Time is running out to secure your place at the ECA Ethics in Action Workshop! The workshop will be held in Tamworth on 4 July—click here to register.
Don’t miss out on early bird registrations— come and join us in Hobart for the 2019 ECA National Conference from 25-28 September. The early bird offer closes at the end of June, book now and see the program at a glance here.

Be You Early Childhood

Protective factors
Protective factors in a child’s life enhance resilience and decrease the likelihood of mental health issues. They can include individual’s characteristics, family circumstances, early learning and community. Through your contact with children you may be able to strengthen some protective factors. Register with Be You and explore mental health trajectories.

Early Learning Everyone Benefits

Early learning matters
Advocating for all Australian children to have access to quality early learning is more important than ever. See our policy priorities for 2019 and find out how you can get involved in this year’s Early Learning Matters Week, which will be held from 1–6 September (to work in with the final week of the Federal Parliament recess, and Early Childhood Educators Day on 4 September.)

ECA Publications

Family wellbeing
ECA’s new Everyday learning series title, Supporting the wellbeing of parents and carers, provides strategies to build strong relationships with families. Learn more about how to contribute to parent and carer wellbeing, drawing on critical reflection skills and the principles of Reggio Emilia.
Find out more. Also, 15 per cent off the ECA Shop during EOFY sale.

ECA Spoke

Habits for life
'Healthy habits start early’—The NSW Office of Preventative Health shares resources and facts to help educators and families implement healthy lifestyles for children. We learn four sustainable practices to apply in our early childhood settings from Dr Sue Elliott and Australia-Aotearoa Alliance for Early Childhood Education for Sustainability.

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 309, June 2019.