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The latest in early childhood news

Making news this fortnight …  Australians are observing Reconciliation Week differently this year; new physical distancing guidelines do not apply to children in schools or early learning services; and the Australian Government launches a new national wellbeing plan. Get tips for transitioning back to school; and read the Federal Government's four-week review into the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package

Nominations are now open for the HESTA ECEC awards; download free resources on self regulation from the MEHRIT Centre; and the New Zealand Government announces increases to qualified educator wages from November 2020. 

Find the latest in state and territory news and jump down to read what ECA teams have been doing.

Reconciliation Week
‘In this together’ is the theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week (27 May–3 June). The theme takes on more meaning as we change the way we work, communicate and reflect on our journey towards reconciliation. Visit Reconciliation Australia to find ways you can participate in Reconciliation Week in your workplace or at home this year. Narragunnawali provides free resources on reconciliation for early childhood educators. 
ECEC physical distancing
New guidelines from Safe Work Australia advise that physical distancing (i.e. four square metres of space per person and maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 metres from others) only applies to adults within an early learning service. The guidelines suggest practices, where possible, such as staggering play times and longer outdoor program sessions. Read more here. 

Wellbeing matters

A new National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan addresses the needs of Australians in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic; researchers outline why early childhood education and care (ECEC) cannot revert to previous funding arrangements, and UK experts encourage schools to prioritise play.

Return to school

For some children, the return to school may be a confusing and anxious time, especially for those with disabilities or additional complex needs. Find ideas on helping them make the transition to school, and Greg Antcliff shares practices to make pick-up and drop-off times less stressful for young children and their families.
Review into Relief Package
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released its four-week review into the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. Read the full report. Additional changes are expected to be announced this week. 
HESTA awards
Nominations are open for the 2020 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards. Nominate an early childhood professional with a story worth celebrating. View previous winners' stories and apply. 
Self-reg resources
The MEHRIT Centre has several self-regulation resources and information sheets available for free. MEHRIT CENTRE self-regulation expert, Dr Stuart Shanker, sits down with ECA CEO Samantha Page in a webcast, coming soon to Facebook and the ECA Learning Hub. 
NZ subsidy increase
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a $278 million funding boost for ECEC services with fully qualified educators. It lifts the current subsidy rate of 6.2 per cent, from approximately $11.82 to $12.42 per child, per hour. The new rate will be in place from November 2020.
In state and territory news...

ECA has put together an overview of Term 2 for schools, preschools and kindergartens operating within the public school system. The Victoria Department of Education and Training has released grants for local councils and not-for-profit organisations delivering funded kindergarten programs. The grants of up to $300,000 are available for early learning facility upgrades.

The results of the 2018–2019 financial audit for education services in Queensland has been released; read it here. In New South Wales (NSW), the University of Wollongong’s Early Start initiative celebrates its fifth birthday. Families in NSW with school-aged children can apply to receive $100 vouchers to put towards the cost of creative and cultural activities with registered Creative Kids Providers; learn more here. And a Northern Rivers region experience of lockdown learning shows what the technology gap means for disadvantaged children, their educators and learning environments.

Finally, the construction of six new schools has begun in South Australia, with another 10 schools undergoing upgrades.
Semann on Leadership
ECA Leadership Program participants can access an exclusive webinar from Anthony Semann, 'Constructing leadership as a space for disobedience and possibility'. It examines the role deviance has in shaking up pre-existing notions of leadership. Enrol in the ECA Leadership Program here. 
Virtual conference
Join experts and learn practical strategies for promoting wellbeing in early learning communities. Choose to attend both days, one day or the sessions most relevant to you. Register today. 
New look shop
We’re thrilled to launch our new-look ECA shop! Browse quality-assured early childhood resources, children’s books and publications from ECA, including our latest Everyday Learning Series title, Learning and development in the first three years. Subscribe to the series and get access to free resources!
Insights and explorations
Dr Kathryn Hopps explores transitions to school after lockdown learning and Stephanie Jackiewicz discusses a different kind of leadership, that she says, early childhood educators are well placed to offer.
Vulnerable children
Register for the next ECA Connect event, 'Supporting children experiencing vulnerability’, which will be held on Friday 19 June 9.30 am–3 pm AEST. This collaborative online event will explore the impact of vulnerability on young children and focus on identifying and approaching support structures—within and outside services—that can help vulnerable children. Book here.
ECA WebWatch—Issue 332, May 2020.