The latest in early childhood news

In this issue...The Report on Government Services 2021 is released; the Pfizer/Biotech COVID-19 vaccine has been provisionally approved for use in Australia; and three of this year’s Australia Day honours recognise work in early childhood education and care (ECEC). The 2021State of Reconciliation in Australia report is out; the National Indigenous Australians Agency is seeking views on the federal government’s Indigenous Voice proposals; and ECA would like to hear about your experiences with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Finally, check out the upcoming calendar days in February. 

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

Government services report 
Yesterday (2 February), the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services was released. This annual report provides information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services in Australia, including early education. ECA is concerned the cost of early education and care is increasing and Australian children are continuing to miss out on early learning. Read our media release here
Australia Day honours 
The Australia Day 2021 Honours List recognises three people for their work in the ECEC sector: the inaugural National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell AM; University of South Australia Education Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney AM; and Thrive by Five chief executive Jay Weatherill AO. View the full list of recipients here.

Pfizer vaccine approved  

The federal government has announced the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is provisionally approved. The priority group of Australians will receive their first dose in February. Read about the national rollout strategy here.

Reconciliation report 
Reconciliation Australia has released the 2021State of Reconciliation in Australia report and urges all Australians to ‘be brave’ by actively addressing issues of inequality and racism—in workplaces, local communities and early education settings. Read the full report here.

FASD survey

ECA is collaborating with the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD Australia) to create a new resource for educators. We are gathering background information about educators’ experiences and/or understandings of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and invite you to take a five-minute survey by clicking here.

Indigenous Voice survey 

The National Indigenous Australians Agency is seeking views on the federal government’s Indigenous Voice proposals. These proposals are a way to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have more of a say on the laws, policies and services that impact them, their communities and their lives. Complete the survey here.

Upcoming calendar days 
Get involved with the following calendar days in your service: International Asperger’s Day, 18 February; International Book Giving Day, 14 February; and International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 11 February.

In state and territory news...

On Sunday (31 January), the Western Australian government announced the Perth Metro, Peel and South West regions would be in lockdown until 6.00pm, Friday 5 January. Early education settings remain open for families requiring care.
In Tasmania, public consultation has begun to inform the state’s first Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, which is expected in the first half of this year. Meanwhile, the government’s Strong Families Safe Kids reforms have led to a new focus on early intervention with wrap-around support services for families, except when children are assessed as being in immediate danger.
Western Australia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry has published a report that found subsidising kindy across the state would help parents re-enter the workforce. The gap between men’s and women’s workforce participation in WA is the highest in the country.
In New South Wales, 40 scholarships have been awarded to early childhood educators, providing them up to $20,000 towards a bachelor’s degree in early childhood teaching.
Kidsafe Victoria is urging all road users to take extra care now that the school holidays are over, in a bid to reduce the risk of childhood injury on and around the state’s roads, and particularly in suburban driveways, where an average of seven Australian children aged 0–14 are killed every year.

Connect with research
The 2021 AJEC Research Symposium is being held online next Thursday and Friday, 11–12 February. The event brings a diverse range of presentations around complexity and change in early childhood research. Book your ticket now!

New Conference dates 
We have postponed the 2021 ECA National Conference to 6–9 September 2021. Ongoing border closures and limitations led to concerns that people from some states would not have been able to join us and make our conference the robust event we have always enjoyed. Find out more here.

Leadership Forums are back 
Learn and reflect together about how to support the needs of communities, prepare for new challenges and celebrate successes, strengths and community connectedness. Early childhood and school-age care leaders can register here.

e-Safety modules 
ECA and the eSafety Commissioner have developed free professional learning modules on children’s online safety. The modules provide tips within a positive framework. Learn more here.

New Everday Learning 
Facilitating and extending play-based learning, a new Everyday Learning Series title by Leonie Arthur, will support educators to gain an in-depth understanding of play and their role in play-based learning. Get your copy from the ECA Shop here.
ECA WebWatch—Issue 348, February 2021.