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The latest in early childhood news

In this issue...The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are placed in out-of-home care at 11 times the rate of non-Indigenous children; the federal government invests $26.8 million into Kids Helpline, while its proposed new investment in preschool access is labelled ‘hazy and ill-defined'. Five commissioners have been chosen for Australia's first Aboriginal truth-telling inquiry; a team of researchers from Macquarie University is investigating how the early childhood sector communicates and shares vital health information; and the Australian Institute of Family Studies encourages families to complete its latest survey on family life.

Find the latest in state and territory news and jump down to read what ECA teams have been doing.
Out-of-home care
A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 18,862 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were in out-of-home care in June 2020. SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle has described the figure as a ‘national shame’ and called for urgent investment in community-controlled organisations to keep children safe in family, community and culture. 
Preschool funding
The 2021–22 Federal Budget proposes funding for 15 hours per week of free preschool education for all children in the year before school. While this announcement has been welcomed by many advocates in the early education and care sector, this article in The Conversation argues the conditions around the investment are ‘hazy and ill-defined'.
Last Wednesday (19 May) the Australian Government announced it would invest  $26.8 million into Kids Helpline, to help the counselling support service protect and nurture the emotional wellbeing and lives of children and young people across Australia. Read the media release here.
Yoo-rrook Justice Commission 
Kevin Bell, Maggie Walter, Aunty Eleanor Bourke, Wayne Atkinson and Sue-Anne Hunter have recently been appointed as commissioners to lead the country's first Aboriginal truth-telling inquiry. The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will investigate injustices experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Read more in this ABC News article.
COVID health communication  
Researchers from Macquarie University are investigating how the early childhood sector finds out about and passes on vital health information. If you work in an early learning service, they are interested to hear about your experiences during COVID-19, the approaches you use and how this impacts on your role. Click here to complete the survey
Families in Australia 
The Australian Institute of Family Studies is encouraging families to complete a survey on relationships, connections and support they’ve received during the coronavirus pandemic. The results are being used to understand the different ways Australian families are managing. Click here to complete the survey (it will take approximately 20 minutes). 
In state and territory news...

The 2021–22 Victorian Budget, announced last Thursday (20 May), has several measures targeted towards the early education and care sector, including the Three-Year-Old Kindergarten rollout to ensure vulnerable and disadvantaged children can participate in early learning.
Early childhood teachers in Victoria will be given a range of professional development supports to kickstart their careers under a new $3.9 million career-support package to benefit early childhood teachers in their first five years of teaching. Grants from $5000 to $30,000 are available and applications close on 21 June.
In Adelaide, thousands of school children will participate in a study led by the University of South Australia to increase physical activity and cut screen time in Outside School Hours Care services.

The Northern Territory Government is seeking public input into its Education Engagement Strategy, to be released later this year.

And finally, the Queensland Government recently launched the We need more foster carers like you campaign, calling on more Queenslanders to become foster carers.
New on The Spoke 
This piece shares resources and pedagogical practices on consent and body safety for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Also, how do you sum up a long career in ECEC? Catherine Hydon discusses the value of sharing knowledge and experiences together. 
ECA National Conference
The ECA National Conference (6–9 September 2021) will provide inspiration and new ideas from the latest research to implement in your early childhood service. Get your early-bird ticket here before 30 June, and explore the exceptional program here.
First step to Reconciliation
Whether you’re beginning or continuing your learning on including Indigenous cultures in early education, it is your commitment, time, values and attitudes that matter. Read more in Guide to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures by Jo Goodwin, part of ECA’s Everyday Learning Series.
Revitalise in recovery 
This online forum is for leaders and educators from early learning services affected by the Black Summer bushfires. Join us to celebrate successes and strengths in recovery planning and preparedness. Register here.
ECA Shop: Day Break
Day Break tells the story of a family making their way back to Country on January 26 as they share stories on Indigenous survival and resistance. Purchase it here
ECA WebWatch—Issue 356, May 2021.

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