As part of what the state premiers have called as "the greatest chance of early education in a generation," Victoria and New South Wales will implement a new year of play-based learning for children before they start school. The programme, known as "pre-prep" in Victoria and "pre-kindergarten" in NSW, will consist of 30 hours of play-based learning each week for all four-year-olds.
The Fair Work Commission has announced a 4.6% increase in minimum wages following its 2022 Annual Wage Review. The increase will apply to base rates of pay from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2022.
In response to the Royal Commission regarding institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, The Teacher Accreditation Act 2004 has been amended. From now on the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) will be making decisions about teacher accreditation at all levels, including the early childhood sector.
Goodstart Early Learning is now included as one of the 43 Australian organisations in the National Indigenous Employment Index, that represent indigenous employment. It is the only early learning provider, which includes a comprehensive snapshot of Indigenous employment representation processes and experiences.
The National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy (2022-2031) has been developed to support the recruitment, retention, sustainability and quality of the sector workforce.
On 9th May 2022, The Australian Building Codes Board published the preview of the National Construction Code 2022 for early childhood services. Most of the emphasis is on extra security measures of the risks associated with evacuating children from multi-storey buildings. These key changes will be adopted and implemented on 1 September 2022.
After some distressing and regrettable incidents in early childhood services in Queensland, many parents think that the sign-in and sign-out process in childcare services should be reassessed, more tough and strong so further incidents can be avoided.
As per the current PHO, all Educators are mandatorily required to be fully vaccinated. This will be repealed by the NSW Government on 13 May 2022. However, there are many workers who either do not wish to take the vaccinations or are unable to, for medical reasons. The cumulative numbers of non-vaccinated Educators have significantly hit the sector which had been dealing with staff shortages even before the pandemic. The following details the impact of the vaccine mandate in the early childhood sector.
With staff shortages, a growing concern in the early childhood industry, the Carmicheal Centre from the Australia Institute have developed a detailed report with 10 recommendations to overcome the current shortages the industry face. Some recommendations include: Prioritising ECE as an essential public service, providing universal ECEC to all Australian preschool-aged children, conversion of casual, contract-based, and temporary staff to permanent and direct employment, Lifting minimum qualification standards for new ECEC workforce entrants, and TAFE should be the primary provider of foundational education and training for ECEC careers.
The way early childhood education and care is provisioned by the government at local, state and national levels deeply impacts society. Issues range from sector-specific matters like childcare regulations, subsidies and fees to wider dynamics of social equity, workforce participation, children’s development, gender equality and response to global crises like COVID 19 pandemic. In the lead up to the Federal Election on 21 May 2022, here is a breakdown of the position of three major political parties – the Liberal/National Coalition, the Australian Labor Party and The Greens - on policy decisions crucial to early childhood care and education sector.
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