ECE Connect online - June

The NSW Department of Education held a series of online webinars in June 2023, aimed at supporting and promoting the early childhood education and care sector.

Watch the stream recording

MURAT DIZDAR: Good afternoon, colleagues. Murat Dizdar, the Secretary for the New South Wales Department of Education. It gives me enormous pleasure to be able to join you this afternoon in our ECE Connect 2023 series. I know this is a really powerful opportunity for us to make sure that we're communicating information and developments across our Early Childhood Education sector. And I want to call out the pivotal work that you undertake as care educators and teachers across New South Wales. Thank you to almost 10,000 of you this afternoon who've made time in your very busy schedules to be able to connect with us. I'd like to acknowledge the Burramattagal Clan of the Dharug Nation. We're coming to you from their beautiful homelands here at our Parramatta headquarters in the New South Wales Department of Education. I want to pay my respects to Aboriginal custodians, both past and present, and to those emerging leaders for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Well, colleagues, I'm delighted to introduce a very special guest to you today, in our Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning, The Honourable Prue Carr. The Deputy Premier and her Government have made it very clear in coming into government that education is such a pivotal cornerstone for the development of strong and vibrant communities. The Deputy Premier has been very clear with us organisationally that having access to early childhood education is such a pivotal fillip for a lifelong journey of success for children and young people in this state. And it's really important that we set up our youngest citizens in this state for success through schooling and beyond, and I want to take my hat off for the work that you do each and every day to make sure that is the case. Play-based learning experiences in those early years are so critical to make sure that our children are set up to be able to connect, to succeed and to thrive through their educational journey and the work that you do in early childhood settings and out of hours, school hours settings is so critical to the families and young people in this state. We're also joined by our good colleague in Gill White, and Gill leads our Early Childhood Outcomes Division as our Deputy Secretary for that very important area here in the Department of Education. Can I also talk to you as a father of three young children who are making their way through public schools in this state to great effect, and I have seen firsthand as a parent and a father, the power of the work that you do with my own three young children. They went through both pre-schooling and long day care in Five Dock and in Drummoyne. And to the educators out there who know me well through those experiences, can I apologize? I was always that parent who was running the gauntlet of trying to make the pick up time and sometimes I got that wrong and I want to thank you for your patience with me. But what I do remember fondly about your work firsthand was the care and attention that you provided my own three children. It felt to me like you knew them just as well as my wife and I did. And I'll be forever grateful for that service and experience that I got for my three children on a daily basis. They're really thriving in the public education system and I consider that to be a function of the work that you put in in those early years with them. Let me be brutally honest and brutally passionate about the fact that education is the profession that creates all other professions in this state, in fact, in society. And that's why I consider your work to be so critical, to be so important, to set up young people for success, for ongoing delivery in the state of New South Wales. Can I thank many of you who submitted questions to this forum, ahead of watching this live stream. We've looked very carefully at those submissions and we're going to try and tackle those areas that were of particular interest from you. And I know you're going to enjoy hearing from the Deputy Premier and Gill on those. If you are... if you're watching this as a recording, thanks for also making time because we're going to email the link and transcript for those that haven't been able to join us live here. It gives me great pleasure colleagues to hand across to our Deputy Premier, the Minister for Education and Early Learning in the Honourable Prue Carr. Deputy Premier.

HON. PRUE CAR: Thanks Murat. Thank you all for coming along and listening here with us today. It's so great to be here on Dharug land, as Murat said in Parramatta to talk about our government's priorities and how we can support you in delivering early education and care to our very littlest people. As some of you will know, I've said many times that it is the honour of a lifetime for me to be Minister for Education and Early Learning because it's the work that you are doing every day with our smallest people in New South Wales that is literally transforming lives. I know that our communities only thrive live when children are fully participated in quality early learning. There's been a lot of talk that I've engaged in that the Premier's engaged in, that you've heard no doubt in the media about the need for the changes that we need to make in the public school system. But today is a chance for us to talk about some of our priorities in the early learning and care space, some of what we're already delivering and some of what we see in the future as our priorities going forward. One of the... one of the things I know for sure from feedback from you and feedback from all people, from all sectors, all parts of our very varied sector that are listening here today is that workforce is a major concern. The workforce challenge that you face in your settings is a huge concern. We have too many great teachers and early learning educators leaving, that’s it. We just have too many leaving or planning to leave the sector. I know that this is an issue that is felt across all services, across our sectors, all across New South Wales, whether in suburban settings or inner city settings or regional rural or remote locations. It's a problem in long daycare and preschools, in community based services. It's a problem in out of school hours services and this is the number one priority for our government. It's very similar to the challenge that we face in the school sector as well. Of course, we made a number of election commitments when it came to the workforce challenge in early learning and care, including a $9 million investment in scholarships for educators who want to upskill and a $10 million professional development fund to support paid professional development leave for early childhood educators, whatever your qualification. We also committed to and are investing in a $3 million research study to improving the availability and efficacy of early childhood education focused on ways that we can develop the strong workforce pipeline that we need in New South Wales. We do this because we know that teachers and educators are the central heart of what early learning is in New South Wales. Now you all know that we took to the election a commitment to deliver more public preschools for the children of New South Wales. That is part of our commitment to deliver and expand the access to high quality preschool so children are set up for a lifetime of learning. We are working towards universal access to preschool and this is one part and that's important. The consultation work is already underway, including the delivery of 100 public preschools on public school sites and a further 50 on non-government school sites. We know that this access to high quality play-based learning is the game changer for so many children that we then want to see transition into kindergarten and onto primary and secondary schooling. As part of this commitment, our commitment to you and to the people of New South Wales is that every public school site, every new public school site that is built will have a preschool on site with it to aid in the transition that so many of you tell me that we need to get better at. Our work will always be informed by genuine and meaningful consultation with those that work in the sector, and we want to make this a hallmark of our government in every possible way in the education space and across whole of government. Planning is already underway to make this happen and we're going to have a genuine face to face connection with you, including during this Connect series and so many other ways via the Department through all sectors or settings that you're working in to make sure that this happens without cannibalising other services and support services that already exist. I want to speak a little bit about the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund. I want to assure you the Government is deeply committed to support... to supporting a sustainable and thriving early childhood sector made up of all service types. And the fund is going to be a crucial part of that going forward. It is going to play a big role in creating opportunities for the sector to change and to grow over the next decade and make sure that as a state we are better prepared for the challenges that we face and that we can plug holes where they exist, where they shouldn't exist. We're going to be looking at ways to use the fund to address workforce challenges, which we know that was already said is a key priority for the government. Lastly, I want to make sure that you understand that this is a government that is committed to equity in education and that equity starts with early learning and early childhood education and care. This means more practical support for children from multicultural families. It means more support for educators and services to provide adequate and appropriate support for children with disabilities and additional needs. And it means getting it actually right, really getting it right for accessing culturally sensitive, inclusive, early childhood education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families through a continued commitment to the first step strategy, of which many of you will be well familiar with. Our vision in New South Wales as a Government is to make sure that each and every child can grow, learn and thrive in a safe and high quality early childhood service, then go on to a wonderful primary and secondary school. The work starts with you. The valuable work starts with you. There's so much evidence that we can't go into it here, about the work that you do, starting our children off on the very best path for success in their life. We value you. We want to be working more and more with you and will be actually engaged in meaningful consultation with you and today is just part of that. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be your Minister and I look forward to working with you to see continued improvements in your sector.

MURAT: Thank you, Deputy Premier. Having worked with you for the last few months, it's great to hear of your vision and focus for the Early Childhood Education sector. I've seen that firsthand, but it's wonderful for our entire workforce out there to hear it. Workforce being number one. The importance of having more pre-schools, the pivotal childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund and that wonderful focus around equity and getting it right for the early learners. Well, colleagues, let's go to those areas that you nominated that you want to hear from Gill and from the Deputy Premier around. We're not going to shy away from the hot topics and I've got the very easy task I get to ask the questions and Gill and the Deputy Premier have got the answers. The first one. Deputy Premier, we want to go to you. It's the preschool commitment. You know that there have been national conversations about affordable access to preschool for families and just this week gone by we saw Queensland announce free kindy in the year before school. What's your plan to deliver universal preschool here in New South Wales?

PRUE: Well, universal preschool, it's so great to see so many of the states and territories around the country now coming on board with this. New South Wales is committed to universal preschool. Let me make that really clear to everyone engaging with this today. One of the ways that we hope to achieve that, obviously, is through our commitment to 100 public preschools and also enabling and assisting 50 non-government sites as well. But that's just part of the picture and we can only get it right if we do so in consultation with you. That was one of the first pieces of feedback I got almost on day one or two of being Minister. People saying great commitment to 100 public preschools, let's make sure we get it right, because we want to make sure that that's adding to where there isn't services, making sure that we can... we do so in a way that doesn't take away from existing services where they are and already delivering. We want to be plugging gaps. That's part of the picture, but we know that there is much more that needs to be done. 100 public preschools is not going to fix it. It's not going to be delivering universal preschool, is it? It’s not going to be delivering universal pre-K. But it's a way, it's a step forward to making that happen. And we are committed to doing that. I really look forward to investing personally in the federal government conversation around how we can get nationally consistent approaches and ensure we can try and take away some of the complexity to deliver a better service for the kids of New South Wales. But we are 100% committed to universal pre-K. I don't think any minister, especially the minister that has the dual responsibilities of early learning and education, can sit here and say they can't be committed to universal pre-K because I go to primary schools and I hear from teachers and principals the importance of that transition from preschool to kindergarten. So it's a huge priority of ours.

MURAT: Thanks Deputy Premier. Great to hear that 100% commitment to universal pre-K and that really important nexus where those additional preschools go into areas of need, particularly on an equity front. Gill, can you give us a bit more colour and flavour about the ongoing funding to support quality preschool programs?

GILLIAN WHITE: Yes, thanks, Murat, and thanks Deputy Premier. It's totally delightful to be with you all today on this stream. So yes, as the Deputy Premier says, a really strong commitment to working with the sector on access to quality and affordable preschool and making sure we work on those gaps, but also build on the really incredible existing service system that we have and so as many of you know very, very well, the flagship program that's the starting point for that is Start Strong, and Start Strong is the funding that we provide to the community preschool sector as well as the long daycare sector delivering quality preschool programs. And just a plug, there's going to be some more detailed sessions in this Connect series to get some more practical information and updates on those programs. So really hoping that many of you can tune into those. But what we know when we deliver those funding programs is how essential they are as baseline funding for that quality preschool delivery. But also what we've been able to do since the beginning of this year is add that extra affordability piece for families. So in a community preschool context, that's up to 4000... a bit over $4,000 off the bill for families and for those accessing long daycare in a preschool, in a long daycare setting that's more than $2,000 off the bill in addition to the childcare subsidy. And with the additional changes that the Commonwealth's making to the childcare subsidy, there will be an extra buffer on that affordability. So when we look at those programs, we know how vital they are. We also know how vital it is that we in the Department are in constant dialog with the sector about how to improve those programs, how to make them as easy to access as possible, as easy to explain to your families as possible. So we're constantly getting feedback from our sector peaks and other representatives, and I encourage you through these Connect series to put in questions in the chat for us to follow up on things if we can make them clearer to you as well. But fundamentally, the commitments that the Deputy Premier have spoken to come on the shoulders of that program and our ability to keep enhancing it and supporting the sector over the coming year.

MURAT: Thanks, Gill. Really important to be improvement focused there with the people that you lead here as well as being responsive to the feedback around how we can get better funding and targeted funding to make sure those quality programs out there operate. Deputy Premier, I'm going to take you to a hot topic. It's being questioned a lot in terms of what's been sent through. You covered this in your opening remarks. I want to take you to workforce. You've been very clear inside the school gates, around the workforce challenge and what you and your government want to do to make teaching an attractive profession. But our early childhood educators and teachers say that they are experiencing enormous change. They have enormous concerns around pay and conditions. They're feeling overwhelmed. What can you say to them and to the dedicated professionals out there listening?

PRUE: Yeah, well, it is it's something that is said to me every day by you working in all of our settings in early learning and care. While I wish I had a lever I could pull for every worker, every educator that is working in early childhood education and care, you will know that many, many of you are under federal arrangements and federal awards. I wish I could make a difference for more of you, but what I can do is make sure that I'm at the table federally, at the Commonwealth level, making sure as the biggest state in the country, in the Commonwealth that we are arguing for the time really has gone for that, for the underpayment of educators working in early childhood education and care. I've said a lot about the need to pay public school teachers more as a function of respect and you deserve the same. We will do everything we can for those educators working within our system to ensure that you are adequately paid as a function of respect that your government has for you. And we will be arguing very strongly around the Commonwealth table to ensure that we can do everything we can for others that fall under other jurisdictions. We will make sure that we send clear messages to your workforce that we value you, that you are involved in the formation of the very first steps of the education of our littlest people in New South Wales. That is, there's no more noble task, really. So I will always be a minister that will be talking up your profession and what you do every day, and we'll be investing as much as we can in your profession, in your professional development, ensuring that we respect the work that you do to make sure that we attract more of you and encourage more of you from state to state instead of really considering leaving, which I hear a lot.

MURAT: Great to hear Deputy Premier that you're not going to shy away as the largest jurisdiction here in being robust with the Commonwealth around what funding arrangements can look like and pay and conditions can look like for our workforce out there. Let me take you to another hot topic. This is regulation. You've been very strong inside the school gates to say we need to refocus and recalibrate and make sure teachers are not hamstrung and tied down by administrative burden and work and can focus on teaching and learning. We're hearing similar themes in the Early Childhood Education sector. Do you have any positions or plans that you could talk to around the regulatory implication actions that our early childhood educators grapple with?

PRUE: Yeah, thank you, Murat. It is something that does come up to me quite a bit actually from the sector. Let me start by saying, and I know you'll all agree with me on this, our number one priority is the safety and the wellbeing of all of our children in early childhood settings in each and every one of those early childhood settings. And there is a reason why we need important regulation. At the same time as saying that we want to make sure that the regulation that exists for very good reasons doesn't unnecessarily take you away from the job that you are trying to do, that we desperately need you to do as a society. So of course, as a Department, we will be looking at every way that we can make sure that those necessary regulations are done in a way that is useful for you as early childhood educators and useful for our children in these important settings to make sure that they are getting the best possible education through play-based learning, the thing that you're trained to do to ensure that they go on to achieve great things in their schooling life.

MURAT: Yeah, I really love the fact that our workforce is hearing from us that we want to focus you on what you're trained to do, that play-based learning experience. We know that that's what brings you to the table and Gill we should keep our doors open. We should keep welcoming the feedback about where we can make improvements to the core work of our early childhood educators. Let's get to another big topic here. Deputy Premier, you also flagged this in when you're talking about 100 preschools, but colleagues of have written about the supply and access challenges. They're telling us that there are families out there in parts of New South Wales where the wait lists for the provision are long and fulsome. How can your government, your leadership, address supply concerns?

PRUE: Yeah, well, certainly through the provision of these 100 public preschools on public school sites, we have already begun starting to look at what the framework might look for developing where this might be, but it will be based on need. It will be based on where we can make the most impact on where that need is, where there might be a desert of preschool opportunities for our young children, or where there really is a pressing equity question that we need to answer through the provision of public preschools. So it's a lever that we can pull as a state government. I don't believe that state governments in the past have pulled it hard enough. It's something that we can directly do and intervene to ensure that there is access where there is no access at the moment. And that's the principle that will guide our development of where these public preschools will be, where there is a need. And I do that with two important things in mind, because I want you to understand that this is about filling gaps where there are gaps, and I also want to keep reiterating to you that this is not about cannibalising services where they exist, where there are wonderful preschool programs within long day daycare centres that exist at the moment. This is about making sure that we identify where there is a need. And you're right, you've identified some of that need already in terms of where there are huge white lists where maybe we can come in and look seriously at the provision of a public preschool as part of this 100 or as part of a new school that we might be building. I can think of many new release areas, say in Western Sydney, where there are huge wait lists for preschool. So when we build new primary schools, they will have a public preschool on site. It's something the government can do directly and I can't wait to get to work to deliver it.

MURAT: Deputy Premier, I know it's going to be very refreshing for the workforce to hear from you that you're not going to be about cannibalising services, it's about going and filling gaps and particular equity challenges. And I know that our workforce out there listening to you are going to really welcome those developments. Gill, just off the back of that, talk to us about ‘the Fund’, what we affectionately know as ‘the Fund’. What advice are you giving to the Deputy Premier around this fund about making a difference for families and our workforce out there?

GILL: Yeah, fantastic. Thanks. Thanks, Murat. Yeah. So the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund that the Deputy Premier referred to in her opening remarks is a really important complement to those preschool commitments the Deputy Premier was just covering very eloquently. It allows us some genuine funding opportunities to look at that accessibility and affordability aspect with all sorts of service types. So I'm conscious that we will have family daycare educators listening in today. I'm also conscious we'll have fabulous educators from out of school hours care sector, and sometimes you hear from us that you think, oh are they only talking about preschool, are they only talking about those ages 3 to 5? No, we're absolutely through that fund thinking about the diversity of that ecosystem and the contributions that all of you make through those different service types to families being able to work, to families having the confidence that their children are getting access to quality early learning and that they're getting it in ways that support that transition to primary school or sit alongside that primary school experience in the case of the out of school hours care sector. So the fund is this extraordinary opportunity for us to say we know we've got good provision in some parts of the state, but as the Deputy Premier said, there are gaps and we have the opportunity to work with a board that has both independent members and government members on what can we do innovatively to work with the sector in partnership on resolving some of those gaps. Now we are very clear that that requires a quality and sustainable workforce. So the Deputy Premier in Opposition really led a focus on making sure we had a legislative objective around those workforce goals in the fund. But it's also about us looking at in certain regional areas there might be genuine barriers to service providers being able to open up. They might be property barriers, they might be workforce barriers, they might be other things that the fund can assist with. So over the course of this year, the board has come together. They're starting to do some really good analysis. Over the course of the year and into next year, they'll be able to make some investments based on the government commitments to work in this space and then we'll iterate and grow that Murat to really look at how we can make our contribution as a state to accessibility and affordability of sustained workforce alongside the contributions of the Australian government who have those broader levers that the Deputy Premier was speaking to.

MURAT: It's so heartening to see that, Gill, because the strength of an equitable system is the strength of opportunity, the strength of access and affordability we want. I know you're very passionate about this, the same in Balmain as we would one in Bourke by way of those opportunities. And that fund certainly gives us a real a real shot at being able to pull that off.

MURAT: Let me stay with you, Gill. Another massive theme has been supporting children and communities. Our colleagues out there have said that cultural safety and inclusion is so important in their settings. They want to hear more about the programs and approach that we can support them with, particularly around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.

GILL: Thank you, Murat. I'm really delighted and proud of the work that my First Nations team is doing in partnership with the sector in this space. We have an Aboriginal advisory group that I co-chair with Aunty Vickie Parry, that many of you will know about. And this committee co-designed the first step strategy that the Deputy Premier referred to in her in opening remarks. And what this strategy is about, is that true partnership between the Department, the Government and also our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues about how we strengthen Aboriginal controlled services, how we increase the number of Aboriginal controlled services, and how we ensure our mainstream services who have Aboriginal children and non-Aboriginal children can be culturally safe and can learn and grow about what cultural safety really, really means in the early years. So I'm delighted that we are taking such a strong role in this work. We see it as integral to achieving our Closing the Gap targets which exist across the nation and within New South Wales. And we know actually that our Aboriginal families, our first teachers and they have been doing play-based learning so brilliantly for tens of thousands of years. So it's us making sure that we provide the funding and the bolstering for that to shine through and also make sure that we non-Aboriginal people can learn from that. So our Aboriginal Families as Teachers program operating in 29 locations is one example and I know the Deputy Premier recently got to see the Ninganah No More Languages program in action, which is another key part of that too.

MURAT: Deputy Premier, what about you? Our school folk have heard from you about your vision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, particularly around the Closing the Gap in the equity with kids that you've spoken about. What about for early childhood sector here? What's your vision for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students that we have the privilege of serving?

PRUE: Well, look, I feel like I couldn't walk the smile on my face listening to what Gill was saying about really, like, isn't that... isn't that where we have to be? I think the Department is doing an amazing job at this, of really making sure that First Nations people are in the driver's seat about what is happening in early childhood education and care here in New South Wales. That's where the magic is going to happen. I've seen it. I've seen it myself with my own eyes at La Perouse. I've seen that happen. When communities can actually determine how their communities can actually access culturally safe and appropriate early childhood education and care right from 0 to 5. It really does make a difference. It's really magic to see. Many of you will be experiencing that right now in the thick of it. I think the Department is doing amazing work at that and will continue to support those strategies wherever we can, making sure that they can extend and expand so we can continue learning from them. As a non-Aboriginal person, I continue to learn from our Aboriginal communities and I can't wait to support them well into the future.

MURAT: You'll let me take you to the last question here. This is another hot, hot topic because our workforce wants to do the right thing, but they are saying that they need greater support in meeting the needs of children in their contexts who have a disability or require adjustment. It's a concern for them. It's a challenge for them. Can you point to any particular programs funding to help out early childhood educators out there?

GILL: Yeah. Thanks. Me, Right. Absolutely. And I think this is an area where we should continue to challenge ourselves because I think we have really good programs here in New South Wales and there's great programs in the Commonwealth as well. But that doesn't mean we're meeting all the needs or that we can think about ways of doing better. And we all know that one of the key promises of early childhood education is if we get the early intervention right, if families are supported in this process, then they can turn up to school gates in a much better situation than if those things have been missed out. So a bit of a plug. There's a session coming up later in this series about our programs, and we've done that together with our Commonwealth colleagues on what exists at the Commonwealth level and what exists at a state level. But two other things in the offing that I thought I'd just mention. The first is the Deputy Premier has spoken really eloquently about the 100 public preschools commitment. As we think through what and what that preschool provision looks like and how we upscaled the existing 100 public preschools as well as the new, we're going to be really focused on conversations with our union colleagues, our schools, our school performance colleagues about how to get that disability and access and inclusivity right in those public preschool contexts. But more broadly for the rest of the sector, I wanted to also give a shout out to the work that we're doing across other agencies, including with our health colleagues, on the rollout of health and developmental checks in all preschool settings, whether that's long day care, community preschool or our public preschools. We want to assist you as a government and as a department of having access to those development checks so that families can have those conversations before they head to school. If there are speech delays, if there are physical delays, if there's other things that we need to support that information flow about. So there'll be a specific session in this connect series about where we're up to on that health and developmental check work and how we've been deeply engaging with the sector. We know some of you do this stuff amazingly well, either yourself or with local area health districts, but we want to grow that and we want that to be available to all services across the state.

MURAT: Well, thank you, Gill. Thank you, Deputy Premier. I know just like me, you've really enjoyed the opportunity to connect with our colleagues right across New South Wales here, our colleagues in the early childhood education sector who are making such a discernible daily difference to young lives. Can I tell you that the Deputy Premier, Gill and I are enormously humbled by the work that you undertake take each day. We know the transformative work that you lead to set young lives up for success, and we really wanted to call that out. We know it's been another long day. We want to get you to your families and to your evenings, so we're going to cut it here. Thank you for connecting with us and please keep doing so in this ECE Connect series. We look forward to communicating with you in an ongoing manner. And thank you for your work. Keep it up.

Assessment and rating

Hear from the Department about the Assessment and Rating process including what to expect during the assessment visit, what to expect from an authorised officer, notice periods and what supports are available.

Nicholas Backo: Good afternoon, everyone. Please settle in and get comfortable and we'll commence shortly. As we commence this session, I want to take the time to recognise that we're all meeting on Aboriginal land this afternoon. I'm on the land of the Wallumedegal people, and I pay my respects to Elders past and present. I also want to reaffirm my own personal and the Department of Education's commitment to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to ensure the safety of children and support quality early education and care across the state. Before we start, I also wanted to mention a few housekeeping issues. The microphone, video and chat functions will be disabled during the webinar. The Q&A function, however, will be available if you have any questions. We'll have time at the end to respond to these, and we'll also do so during the session. You can choose to ask questions anonymously if you wish. We'll also be using a Menti during the session. In preparation for this, please have a mobile phone or another web browser available to participate in the interactive components of the session. Automated closed captions have been enabled during the session for accessibility. At the end of the session, we'll have time to answer your questions via Q&A panel. Please feel free to provide your questions throughout the session and we'll do our best to be able to answer them immediately or at the end. Thank you for joining the webinar. It's great to see so many people have joined us this afternoon. My name's Nick Backo and I'm the Director of the Statewide Operations Network within the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. As most of you know, we sit within the New South Wales Department of Education and are responsible for the regulation of early childhood education and care services across the state. I'm joined today by Alicia Burke, Manager of the Continuous Improvement Teams, Kathy Dryden, State Operations Manager and Lead Assessor, and Joan Schubert who's one of our Authorised Officers. There are also a number of my colleagues who will be responding to your questions during the session. It's great to see so many of you have made the time to engage in this session. I know how valuable your time is and I'm looking forward to connecting and sharing information about assessment and rating, and the critical role the quality rating system has in shaping outcomes for children. In March this year we held a webinar to provide the sector with an overview of how we plan to implement 2 key improvements occurring nationally. Many of you attended this session. Over the last few months we received feedback from you and the sector more broadly on our proposed approach. We've worked hard to consider this feedback and refine our implementation, and I'm looking forward to sharing more detail on these improvements during today's session. Before we get into that, I'd like to acknowledge the important work you all do. Working hard to provide high quality education and care services to our children and their families, it's a huge responsibility and it can be complex work. We understand there are workforce pressures that are impacting many services across the state, but equally we see every day the passion you have for improving outcomes for all of our children. In our role as the regulator, we share your passion and focus for the best possible outcome for children across the state. It is this shared focus that supports us to move forward with these improvements. There are two key improvements occurring nationally to make assessment and rating more effective. These are important to ensure assessment and rating provides families with confidence around the accuracy and currency of quality ratings. In New South Wales, we'll be implementing these changes in a gradual way. We are committed to working closely with you to support your engagement, and we will be providing you with as much information as we can to ensure that you are well prepared and supported. The first improvement will be the use of partial reassessments. This will commence later this year with a small group of services. These services will receive a phone call and support from our Continuous Improvement Team and we will work with these services to gain feedback and support them throughout the process. Partial reassessments allow us to provide proportionate and responsive regulation. They enable the regulatory authority to improve the currency and accuracy of ratings for families, and reduce the impact of assessment and rating visits on the education and care that you provide every day. Partial reassessments will typically assess between 2 and 4 quality areas. Quality areas included in partial assessments will be determined by a number of factors including, the current quality rating, recent history of compliance, time since last full assessment and sector-wide data trends. Importantly, you as the service provider will also be able to select one quality area for assessment of your choice. The existing rating for quality areas not assessed during a visit will carry over and together with the rating of the assessed areas will form the service's overall rating. I want to assure you that our use of partial reassessments will not disadvantage services who are striving to maintain or achieve an Exceeding rating. Authorised Officers will reassess between 2 to 4 quality areas with a Meeting or Exceeding rating, enabling a service to maintain an Exceeding rating in other areas that are not assessed. Additional quality areas may be added at the discretion of the regulatory authority. This can occur at the document review stage and during the visit itself. If this does happen, it will be clearly communicated with the service provider. This will only occur if there are risks to children's health and safety identified or an acknowledgement of increased quality practice. We will continue to manage non-compliance during an assessment and rating visit in the same way that we do now. You will still be required to complete your Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Plan for all 7 quality areas. services are encouraged to always be prepared for assessment and rating and maintain a high quality in all areas all of the time. Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning represents good practice. We are currently in the final testing phase of the new Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. This portal will allow you to: access your information anytime including outside the assessment and rating process, record key practices against each National Quality Standard, confirm the services meeting legislative requirements under the National Law and Regulation, and identify Quality Improvement Planning notes and goals. The Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal will assist in the second announced improvement to assessment and rating, which is reduced notice periods. We expect the portal to be available soon, and we'll be working with services to onboard them into the system and ensure that they are ready for assessment and rating. The further improvement to assessment and rating is a reduced notice period. The notice period for all assessment and rating visits will be reduced to 5 days and this will begin in 2024. As a regulator, our priority has always been on the continuous upholding of children's safety and wellbeing and supporting the best outcomes for our children. Reducing notice periods and increasing our use of partial reassessments will help us observe and assess typical practice and support quality every day. We know that within your services, considerable time and resources are often spent preparing for assessment and rating. Knowing that your rating will apply for several years, our vision is that assessment and rating will shift from something that services prepare for to the regulatory authority observing typical daily practice, practice that upholds a commitment to quality and safety. We also expect that these improvements will help improve the currency of ratings to provide families with greater assurance of the level of quality and care that children will receive. You'll see here on the slide how we envisage the 5 days notice period to work. 5 days prior to an assessment and rating visit, we will call to notify you of the visit and discuss your services, current context and plans. We'll then summarise that discussion in an email to confirm the arrangements. If you are eligible for a partial reassessment, we will let you know that during the call as well. You will then have 3 days to submit your Self Assessment information or Quality Improvement Plan and for partial reassessments to indicate your choice of a quality area. For services having a partial reassessment, one day prior to the visit, the Authorised Officer will communicate with you which areas will be assessed. While we acknowledge the impact of these improvements, many of the key aspects of assessment and rating will remain the same. The focus of the sector and the regulatory authority will also continue to be on safety and quality. Thank you for your time this afternoon. I'd now like to introduce my colleague, Kathy Dryden, who will step you through a brief overview of the National Quality Framework and the importance of the assessment and rating process.

Kathy Dryden: Thanks for that Nick, and hello everyone. I wish I could see all your faces and the excitement you're now feeling with the upcoming changes. I think the upcoming changes are probably more exciting than getting Taylor Swift tickets this week. Before we move on to the next part of the presentation, we just wanna do a bit of a pulse check to see how you're feeling about A&R. We have a quick Menti for you, so if you can get your phones out, so people are already jumping in there, that's fine. Tell us one word that comes to mind when you hear about assessment and rating? As I said, be brave, be honest, be kind. There are nearly 500 people in this this afternoon, so the more that you add the words, the bigger the words will get. So we can see, improvement, quality, anxiety, pressure, stress, workload, lots of workload, overwhelmed, showcasing. Thank you everybody for putting those words in. As I said, be brave. It's really, really important that we call these feelings out and that we understand that we all are going through these when A&R comes up and we can see that there's still some trepidation out there when it comes to A&R and we know that even our officers when they're coming out there, they also feel this as well, because they wanna do a good job and they want to make sure that it's a true reflection of the services that they're going to. So thanks for that. What we're hoping to achieve today is to try and take away some of that trepidation, we wanna provide you with some key information about assessment and rating, and help you feel more confident as you go through the process. Just for a bit of an overview and to see how far we've come, I just wanna take a step back and look at the National Quality Framework and why we're all here. The National Quality Framework provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement for early childhood, education and care and outside school hour services across Australia. The NQF was a result of an agreement between all Australian Governments to work together to provide better educational and developmental outcomes for children. The NQF introduced new quality standard in 2012. So those that have been around from the beginning, you would've seen a lot of changes. The intention was to improve education and care across long day care, family day care, preschool, kindergarten and outside school hours care. Not to mention in the past 12 months, our state regulated services have been aligned and have gone through A&R for the very first time, and that's a huge achievement for those services. We've had so many changes along the way, and as Nick has just explained, some exciting new changes coming to our approach, that will mean that the currency of your quality rating will be a true reflection of your daily practice. While, some of the reg standards and now frameworks have changed, the National Quality Framework and everything that sits under it has stood the test of time. The National Law and the National Regulations. I love our regulations, I love our National Law and I think you should love them too. These are the things that will protect you, protect your educators, protect your family. If we actually flip this picture upside down, you'd actually see how the law and the regulations support everything within that framework. We then had the National Quality Standard and the assessment and quality rating process. Alicia will talk to you about this a bit later, but I just wanna say how far we have come from the days of printing huge documents and waiting 6 months for an outcome. We then have the National Learning Frameworks. We know the changes are coming and there's 2 fantastic presentations later on in this week, so I'm not gonna touch on those. Stay tuned. We've had a number of years to understand the co-dependency of the NQF and how we as a sector are meeting the National Objectives. And if you look at the first objective, which is really, really obvious, you can see it up on the screen, and it's very self-explanatory. We are all here because we want the best outcomes for our children. We wanna improve the educational and development outcomes for children attending our services, and we want to promote continuous improvement all the time. Over time, as I said, in New South Wales, we've made a number of changes. We've gone from huge reports, we've welcomed eSAM, and then we brought in the New South Wales self-assessment document supported by our fabulous Continuous Improvement Team. All of this has come through conversations we have had and will continue to have with all of you, so everything that sits within this Framework, we are working with you all the time. Thanks, Erin. So to meet the outcomes of the NQF, the department applies a risk-based approach to all regulatory processes and we'll continue to do that as the changes come in place. Children are the most vulnerable members of our community, their rights and their best interests are paramount. Our shared priority is to ensure that the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services in New South Wales so they can live their best lives for the rest of their lives, and we all have an obligation for that to happen. Assessment and rating is the quality rating process where a service is rated against the National Quality Standard. It's a combination of how a service meets legislative requirements under the National Law and Regulations and how you demonstrate key practices against each of the National Quality Standards and how the learning framework applicable to your service underpins educator practice every day. It's your story, it's your journey, it's your 'how' and it's your 'what' and your 'why'. A&R is a key component in your services continuing improvement journey. It's important to note it's just a component of everything you do. A self assessment approach to quality improvement remains important. Connection and engagement to the A&R remains critical for educators at all levels. Every staff member in your service, regardless of what role they have, they need to be actively involved. So it should be part of your everyday and doesn't just become an event that does become stressful and people get afraid of. You know, involve yourself in A&R, get all your staff involved. We currently have over 6,000 services in New South Wales and every service has its own context, history and challenges, and sometimes just opening the door every day for all of you at the moment represents a challenge and we understand that. What continues to be of key importance for us is the services engaging with self-assessment for quality improvement. We know it's an ideal way to support services on their continuous improvement journey along with meeting their responsibilities under the National Law and Regulations. And as I've said before, we are on this journey together and this presentation, along with others, gives us the opportunity and forum to receive feedback, good, bad, and the ugly, to listen and to continue to refine our practices. To take a more detailed look at this, I would like to introduce my colleague Alicia Burke, Manager of the Continuous Improvement Teams for Statewide Operations Network who will step you through some of the important stages of the assessment and rating process. Thanks very much for your time.

Alicia Burke: Thanks Kathy and appreciate the introduction. I'd just like to acknowledge that you have just recently heard quite a big deal of information or a large volume of information, so just take a moment to allow that information to settle, but I did want to acknowledge that we do have the New South Wales Regulatory Authorities' Continuous Improvement Team and we're available to support at any time that you need us. And not a lot of people know how to reach out to us unless you've previously sought some assistance from us. So I'd just like to let you know that there are a couple of things that we can help assist you with. A lot of that involves some initial support sessions, so these can be done from a provider perspective or a service perspective. For those providers that may have a large group of services that sit underneath each other, you may like some of your key leadership representatives to sit in on one of those sessions. These sessions will step you through what is self-assessment and acknowledge that self-assessment is a continual journey. It's not just something that you do in order to be prepared for assessment and rating. It's something that is ongoing and our team can help support identify some of those specific practices that are relevant to your service and your provider type. In addition to that, we can also provide individual sessions through to services. This will break it down a little further and take us into your journey of continuous improvement at a service level. Along with service sessions, we also provide ongoing support at any time. This can be done during the assessment and rating period, it can be done before, it can be done now. If you take down our details, I know it's been put in the chat, keep that email address on hand, keep our phone number on hand to give us a call anytime you'd like to talk around self-assessment. There are also key practice sessions which delves a little bit more into how the service has recorded your key practices and how you've articulated practice, and they're individual sessions tailored to your specific service. And of course for some of you that may have reached out, you'll get some technical support around the time of submitting your assessment and rating information as well from the team. So next I'd like to introduce Joan Schubert. She's an Authorised Officer from our northwest regional team and she's going to share some memorable moments when conducting assessment and rating in the field. Over to you, Joan.

Joan Schubert: Afternoon everyone. For those of you who that actually know me, I've been given a time limit, so I do tend to talk a lot when I do go out on your visit, so I'm on a time limit of 5 minutes. Before I start, I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal people as the First Peoples of this nation and respectfully acknowledge the Worimi people of the land on which I meet and call from you today. I pay tribute to the Elders past and present, and it is a great privilege to be standing on this beautiful Country today. I've been an Authorised Officer for the past 9 years, and having worked in a small privately owned long day care service, I have witnessed and been part of the changes to assessment and rating processes over these 9 years. Walking hand in hand with the Early Childhood sector, learning, developing, accepting and understanding the current strength-based approach for service to showcase and share their self-assessment journey. In my role, I've assessed and rated community based preschools, long day care services, family day care services, OSHC and mobile services and Aboriginal community-based services. I have been privileged to travel the state to conduct the assessment and rating process, including as far south as Sydney Metro with different cultures and language, family dynamics that were a professional learning experience for me. I worked in a regional community visiting services out West in Nyngan, up to Boggabri, to the Northern coastal communities and cities of Tweed Heads, Coffs Harbour, Hunter Valley and Central Coast. While the community towns and locations were different, the consistency of the assessment and rating process statewide enables me to approach the visits with a similar vein of working with the services and not working over. While my approach remains consistent, I frequently need to adapt my message to suit the needs of your service, your staff, your children, and your community. Being the New South Wales Regulatory Authority person you see, I'm grateful to have experienced so many different ways of how education and care is fostered for our little learners that truly highlights the objectives of the National Quality Framework. The system was designed for you to show us how you do the things you do. So when I'm on some visits, I hear how services are working with refugee families, attempting to make connections with the community, and develop a sense of belonging through the efforts of the service and educator team. I hear children and families arrive to a mobile service set up in a community hall, the only building for kilometres with chatter and fun in their voices while the parents return to their farming properties or professional jobs. I hear from educators sharing their stories of excitement and joy when inclusion support strategies and expertise shared from therapists such as speech, occupational, hearing, has improved a child's development and wellbeing. I hear from Approved Providers, grateful for the new funding from the department to allow some fee relief for a family to have their child attend another day or contribute to having a staff person work longer or another shift to maintain consistency of care. I read feedback and input from families, community, extended family members and Inclusion Support bodies and government agencies to thank and praise that collaborative work early childhood services promote and provide to children and families, appreciating the difference, the educators and staff members have made in their child's life of learning, development and wellbeing. I have seen strength and compassion from services, educators and approved providers supporting each other and families through adversity such as bushfires, floods, and COVID. So commitment from you improves the educational and developmental outcomes for children attending education and care services, and I feel so proud to be part of that. Having worked in the early childhood sector and reading all your feedback in that Menti, I remember the nerves, the moments of uncertainty, the hours and days of meetings and review of practices to prepare for the assessment and rating day or days, a moment of time, and then the day after we go back to business as usual. In my role as an Authorised Officer, I respect the service attributes, so I work to review your service history, I read your self-assessment or quality improvement journey reviewed by the Continuous Improvement Team to ensure I have a wide ranging knowledge of your service to prepare to work with you through the continuous improvement journey together for better outcomes for your children, your families, and your communities. I'd like to thank you for allowing me to share why I love the assessment and rating process and working with you, a group of dedicated people. Thank you, Alicia.

Alicia Burke: Thank you for sharing, Joan. Well, you certainly have experienced and engaged with many services across the years and appreciate your time in sharing with us today. As you can see on the screen today, not only do our Authorised Officers love the variety and the different contextual understanding around assessment and rating, but you as services and providers also enjoy the assessment and rating process. This is not to not acknowledge the fact that there is a level of stress and pressure when somebody is coming into your home, your space and observing your practice. But just on the screen there, there's a couple of comments around the approach of the Authorised Officer and what you've enjoyed most about the assessment and rating process. I'd just like to take the time as well to remind everybody that following your assessment and rating visit, there is a post-visit survey that is triggered that you'll receive. And if it's, you know, the key thing would be to include some feedback. It asks lots of questions around how the officer approached the visit, how prepared you felt, and any noted improvement strategies you might have. The department are incredibly committed to making sure improvement strategies identified are actioned and worked on, and I'm pleased to let you know that a number of services have actually identified how much you're looking forward to the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. This is noted quite frequently on the recent surveys we've received since publicly identifying that information in March. There is also, I can see in the chat group there has been the contact details for the Continuous Improvement Team. If you are interested in being one of those services to test the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal, please register your interest through that email address so we can get in contact shortly. Thanks, Erin. Okay, so we have another Menti for you guys, so hopefully you'll see the Menti code up on the screen, there it is. So it's a bit of a myth or a fact. Can an Authorised Officer see the survey responses following your survey? I really like this live thing, you're able to see it climb up and down and shift. All right, just give a few more moments. There we go, wanted to hear over a hundred. So look, it is a myth, the Authorised Officer is not able to see your survey responses until the final report has been issued. This is to allow transparency in issuing the report. So I encourage anybody who has any feedback to please note it in your survey. Thanks, Erin. I'd just like to recap a couple of the assessment and rating process milestones that you'll undergo when in the assessment and rating cycle. And like we've mentioned earlier, assessment and rating is the here and the now, it's a time for the regulator to come and assess the service against the National Quality Framework, but the Continuous Improvement journey is ongoing, it's about what happens every day, all day. But just to recap, for those of you who might not be as familiar with the assessment and rating process, I'll go through phase one, is our notification process and submission of your Self Assessment or Quality Improvement Plan. So you will always be notified that you're undergoing your assessment and rating process. As Nick mentioned earlier, early next year we will be reducing the notice periods to 5 days prior, but you will always be notified that you are coming up for an assessment and rating visit. The second part of that phase is being requested to submit your Self Assessment documentation or your Quality Improvement Plan. As we explained earlier, the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal is on its way. This will allow easy access to submit your information through to the regulatory body, and you are also eligible to continue to submit your Quality Improvement Plan using NQAITS. The second stage, or second phase of the process is your actual visit. So currently you will receive a letter that identifies your visit window. It will give you a timeframe, and from early next year when reduced notice periods are implemented, you will be notified at that initial stage when your visit will be, you'll have your 5 days notice. Now, the visit is an opportunity for services to show us what you do, why you do it, and how you do it. We acknowledge that there is times that we're not going to see absolutely everything, we are sampling evidence to support a rating against the National Quality Standards. So a way that you can help educators feel less stressed or not feel as much pressure is to assist educators in being able to understand what it is that they do and why they do it. How can they explain to an Authorised Officer a key piece of information? It might be a key programming approach, it could be some, you know, inclusion support working with families and children to help support educational outcomes. Some of those things are not likely to be observed on the actual day of the visit, but it is always good to have a little list where you can point some direction or you can identify as one of your key practices in your self-assessment documentation. Authorised Officers will observe, sight and discuss practice during a visit to confirm information identified either on your Self Assessment document or your Quality Improvement Plan - key practices identified in your Quality Improvement Plan. Authorised Officers are committed to understanding the unique context of different services. And we have a number of different training available, training sessions available to Authorised Officers. All Authorised Officers are initially trained through ACECQA and go through quite a rigorous process to make sure they are capable and competent in addressing evidence that supports the National Quality Standards. We understand that center-based services have a variety level of context, so we're always committed to ways that we can further develop our skills. We have a number, like I said, of online training opportunities available for our staff to make sure they're kept up to date with current contexts, different philosophies, and different ways to approach. Just to name a few, there are Bush Kinder training sessions available, Assessment of Birth to 2 Years, Exceeding the National Quality Standard and Educational Leadership just to name a couple. The final stage or phase of the assessment and rating milestones is actually receiving your draft assessment and rating report. Prior to this, the draft report actually goes through a number of different peer review processes. So the first process is that the Authorised Officer will complete the report based on evidence collected at the time of the visit, and this goes to a secondary officer for review. This is our way to pulse check that the evidence is relevant and is linked to the National Quality Standards. It then moves from a peer review to an approver. So there are essentially 2 further people other than the Authorised Officer that confirm the evidence that has been gathered, has been accurately recorded against the National Quality Standards. You will then receive the draft report. The draft report comes in two separate reports. For those of you that have undergone the process, you'll receive an evidence summary which contains all the information that was collected from the Authorised Officer, it will identify a confirmed key practices which were either identified in your Self Assessment document or your Quality Improvement Plan, and it also confirms your compliance with the National Law and Regulations that is applicable to that standard. Secondary to that, you'll receive a rating outcome. This is where the officer will identify a summary of how the service has achieved each individual standard, along with some identified improvement opportunities as well. The last part of that is actually you have the opportunity, you have 14 days to provide feedback on that draft report and this is if there were any inaccuracies that were identified or any further information you feel that was not captured is able to be provided during that section. Following that, you'll be issued your final report. Thanks, Erin. There are a number of review processes that any service is able to apply for. So they're just up on the screen that you're able to apply for a first tier review. The application must be completed within 14 days of receiving your final assessment and rating visit, and this first tier review is conducted by the New South Wales Regulatory Authority, however, the officers that are involved in that review have not been involved in any of those peer processes or anything to do with the initial visit. Then, if you are not satisfied with the outcome from the first tier review, you can apply for a second tier review. Again, it's 14 days following your outcome of the first tier review, you can only apply for areas that you have asked to be reviewed as part of the first tier review process, and it's actually conducted by a ratings review panel endorsed by ACECQA, so it is completely external to the New South Wales Regulatory body. Thank you, Erin. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of different ways that you can provide feedback to us about the visit. So the post-visit survey is always really good for us to be able to work on improvement strategies, identify the approach the officer has taken. You then have the opportunity to respond to your draft assessment and rating report, this is if there were any inaccuracies, and we do know that at times you may feel like you'd like to provide a complaint or feedback about the Authorised Officer's conduct. The details are up on the screen, but just to remind everybody that you can contact our 1-800 number and ask to speak with a state operations manager. Depending on where your service is located, our information and inquiries team know who the state operations manager is and your concern will be identified and forwarded for action. Thank you, Erin. There are a number of quality support pathway programs that we do have available. So you'll note the contact details are there for ACECQA to express any interest, but the dual pathway program we have at the moment is the Quality Support Pathway. It is a 14-week program and ACECQA currently seeking expressions of interest. So if you are interested in that program, please use the email address on the slide. And second to that we have a compliance support pathway. It is a 6-week program and this is by referral only. So the New South Wales Department of Education may refer your service to ACECQA to engage in this program. Thank you. And like I said, there's lots of information that we have provided today about the upcoming improvements to assessment and rating, to the general assessment and rating process, but we have our Continuous Improvement Team, like I mentioned earlier. Please note down the email address, take down the phone number, put it on speed dial if you need to, but we are here to help, we are here to help your service identify how you can share those proud moments you have, how you can encourage families to be involved in providing feedback to you, and how you can feel prepared so that it alleviates some of the stress and pressure in undergoing the assessment and rating process. So I'd like to hand us over to our Q and A panel discussion. Thank you for your time today.

Laura Dawson: Thanks, Alicia, and good afternoon everyone. I'm really pleased to be joining you today to host the Q&A. My name's Laura Dawson, I'm the Director of the Communications and Engagement Team for Early Childhood Education. So we do have quite a number of questions in the chat, and our team have been working away in the background to answer many of those. I've saved a few up and I'm going to put them to our panel this afternoon. We've got 20 minutes left on the clock, so I will try and get through as many as I possibly can. And Kathy, the first one is for you and it's from Melissa who joined us early in the chat and asked, How are the centres and quality areas chosen for the partial assessment and rating process?

Kathy Dryden: There's a number of ways as Nick outlined with what quality areas we'll be looking at. We'll be looking at your history, we'll be looking at your last assessment, we'll be looking at what's happened in that time between. So the officers will do a desktop and we'll look at the areas that are strengths, areas where you've identified things in your self-assessment around areas where you need support. A lot of things we'll be looking at, it's difficult to answer just for one service because every service is going to be different. As I said before, it's about your context, your history, you know, major staff changes over the years. We'll be looking at all of that and taking all of that into account. So it won't be just a standard one size fits all.

Laura Dawson: Thank you, Kathy. And a desktop audit, that's checking in on what's kind of happened in the past and what the service may have reported, is that correct? That's correct. And then we'll be looking at that in terms of, like I said, past reports, we'll also be looking at the self-assessment document that's put in, in terms of what the centre has identified as their key practices. Fantastic, thank you. The next question is for you Nick, and it comes from Chiang who's joined us and has asked a number of questions in the chat. And this one for you is about the practice of other states and he's mentioned that other states have A&Rs that have not been completed since 2013. And the question is, why is New South Wales reducing the the notification periods to 5 days to do more A&Rs and assess fewer quality areas than the full seven?

Nicholas Backo: Thanks Laura and thanks Chiang for the question. I think to to start off, it's important to point out that national consistency is the desired aim. However, we absolutely acknowledge that different jurisdictions are implementing the improvements on varied timeframes given their specific circumstances and priorities. In New South Wales though we're really proud of the sector and the quality that everyone demonstrates on a daily basis and this means that we're well placed to implement the improvements that I spoke about earlier. Equally, I think it's important that families have current and accurate information to make an informed decision for their children, and we remain committed to that and partial reassessments and reduced notice periods support that ambition. It's true that in New South Wales we lead the way in terms of currency with quality ratings, but we're also always looking at ways that we can improve, and we're looking forward to sharing what we learn as we implement these changes with our colleagues in other states and territories. The intent of the improvements as we spoke about really is to ensure that the quality rating is current and accurate and that we have the opportunity to observe typical practice. And these changes are all designed to support us achieving that goal.

Laura Dawson: Thanks, Nick. We have had a few questions with regards to pressures on the workforce and what that might mean from a scheduling perspective. So Alicia, I'm going to ask you specifically about that and how will it work if a nominated supervisor is away on leave when the short notice period is received?

Alicia Burke: Thanks, Laura. I feel like it's a slight bit of trivia just waiting for my turn, which questions going where, so thank you and thank you for the question. We do have our head, our state-based scheduling team that would be able to support individual requests depending the circumstances of the service. So we do encourage if you are contacted by your officer and there is a particular concern raised within that timeframe, our State Scheduling Team can review that. We do have a postponement criteria that we can assess, but also Authorised Officers are going to take into consideration the unique context of your service. So if for instance there was, you know, a medical procedure or something planned where a key staff member wouldn't be available for a particular day, we do have flexibility to move and support the service where we can. However, for those longer term, you know, requests around postponement, that would be completed centrally through our scheduling unit.

Laura Dawson: So it is possible, it sounds like, services just need to reach out and have a conversation. Is that, that's the plan? Great. The next question comes from Tess, and Kathy, I'm gonna put this one to you. How are AOs allocated to a service, and is it likely we would have different AOs to collaborate with us or the same person each time?

Kathy Dryden: Oh, great question. Thanks Laura. As Alicia said, we have a scheduling system put in place. We have 100 officers or close to 100 officers statewide that comes out to your services. So generally you will get a different officer each time. We really encourage our officers to be fully skilled across all services and all service types. It's very rare that an officer would go back a second time unless it was, you know, there was no reason for them not to, because our officers are quite objective in terms of collecting evidence, but generally it's around, workflows, you know, we all have holidays, officers have holidays too. So it's about availability, availability in that space, date ranges, so many things that come in to organising when a visit is gonna be scheduled and which officer is going to have that. Of course our officers have their own contentious issues list, so if there is a contentious issue because they used to work there or there is an issue before, then that's also taken into consideration as well. So lots and lots of things are taken into consideration, but generally you'll get a different officer because we really want everyone to get the opportunity to meet all our wonderful officers because the conversations, as Joan said before, you get to meet a lot of interesting people along the way.

Laura Dawson: Thank you, Kathy. Alicia, I'm gonna put this question back to you given your role in leading our Continuous Improvement Team, do we need to document all of our critical reflections that we do in practice every day, or can we just talk to the AO about how theory and professional standards influence and impact our thinking and continuous improvement journey?

Alicia Burke: Thanks, Laura and thanks for the question. Look, again, it would be contextual to your individual service types, but we do have support sessions that are available through the Continuous Improvement Team. However, when you are looking at submitting your information or documenting your information, we're looking at key practices. So we wouldn't necessarily need to see every single way that you may have undergone some critical reflection on a practice, you can identify it might be one particular project or one particular item and discuss that further with the Authorised Officer during the visit.

Laura Dawson: Thank you, Alicia. Nick, I'm going to put Juliette's question to you. If we're only partially rated with others carried over, so I think it means other quality areas carried forward, does this mean we can potentially expect another assessment and rating of the other quality areas not assessed sooner rather than later? And could we possibly have more A&Rs in a shorter timeframe than previously with this new model?

Nicholas Backo: Thanks, Laura. It's a great question. So the short answer is that the long-term ambition or intention of Partial Reassessments is that we will be able to complete assessment and rating on a more regular basis. As we spoke about in the presentation, exactly what quality areas are looked at during a partial reassessment, we would be determining that based on a number of different factors, including things like compliance history, the current quality rating. So in short, you wouldn't necessarily expect a further partial reassessment on the quality areas that weren't assessed, it would be a decision made depending on the individual circumstances of the service. So long-term, potentially you would see an increase in frequency of assessment and rating visits, and partial reassessments is one way that we would be mitigating impact on the sector whilst also still making sure that the quality rating is current.

Laura Dawson: Thank you, Nick. Kathy, this one's for you. Unity has put through a question and that is, is there still going to be a virtual assessment of some quality areas? I know in the past there's been a few conversations online that have helped us get through COVID and whatnot, but will there be any assessment online prior to the visit?

Kathy Dryden: Oh, that's a good question. And I guess that's also because we did use, I guess Zoom, I'll say Zoom discussions when we were actually looking at some services during COVID, and we also looked at with some of our family day care with the changes of processes we were actually doing Zoom meetings just to make services feel a little bit more, you know, comfortable with the process. It's still a tool that we have in our toolkit, it's part of a conversation and part of a relationship as opposed to actually looking at assessment per se. But again, having said that, those conversations when we look at our training for our officers and when we look at the evidence, it's about observe, sight and discuss, and sometimes for whatever reason, you know, key staff members may not be able to be there. Some changes may happen but there may be a time that we would actually have that conversation through a Zoom session either previously or after, it depends, it's not a standard practice but it's not something that we would dismiss, it would be a conversation. Because really the main focus of our visits and our collection of evidence is about those practices, and that's where we would like to sight the practices, but we also acknowledge that sometimes those discussions can happen in other ways to support the service.

Laura Dawson: Thank you, Kathy. This one is about mobile services and so Alicia, I'm gonna put this one to you a bit of a unique service context and that is, how will mobile services submit their self-assessment since they do not have access to NQA? So bit of a technical question, let me know if it's not one for you, but one from an attendee representing mobile services.

Alicia Burke: Thanks Laura. It's a really good question. So in regards to the quality Self-Assessment Improvement Planning Portal, any service that holds a service number within NQAITS will be able to register for use of the Self-Assessment Portal. It is separate to NQAITS, and we will be releasing some information shortly on how to access that system once it's launched. But as each individual service number, will be able to sign up for the portal.

Laura Dawson: Great. And Alicia, don't put yourself back on mute because I have another one for you which is-

Alicia Burke: Okay.

Laura Dawson: Someone who missed the timing of when the draft report will be sent out to the service. So can you remind us of when that occurs?

Alicia Burke: Definitely. So look, with the draft report, we do have 60 days in total to issue a final rating. Usually the draft report is issued between 3 to 5 weeks after the assessment and rating visit. This allows time for the providers and services to provide feedback to be assessed and the final report to be issued within the 60 day timeframe.

Laura Dawson: Thanks Alicia. Nick, one for you from anonymous attendee asking if we're running behind with A&R as they've had an A&R in 2020 and felt that perhaps they would be due this year, but are they running on time or behind due to COVID? I think this person sounds very excited to see us.

Nicholas Backo: It does definitely sound like they're excited to see us, which is great to hear, but they are right, COVID-19 did have a significant impact on many parts of our work, including assessment and rating. And so we are behind from where we would like to be in terms of assessing and rating services in a timely manner. Again, one of the reasons for these changes is to increase our ability to be able to assess services in a more timely manner, ensure that the quality ratings are current and support families to make an informed choice. But they are correct, we are running behind, but as I spoke about earlier, we are performing very well and and catching up.

Laura Dawson: Thank you, Nick. Kathy, this one for you. Just I think some clarity about the timeframes component and noting that timeframes that for the completion of stages of reporting for those guidelines set by ACECQA, but I thought the notice timeframe was based on the National Law, not timeframe set by ACECQA. Are you able to shed some light on the ACECQA relationship there?

Kathy Dryden: That's probably, the timeframes one is probably a better one for Alicia because she looks after the schedule.

Laura Dawson: There we go, Alicia, I'm gonna throw that one to you. A tricky question coming your way.

Alicia Burke: I'll get you to repeat the question if you could Laura.

Laura Dawson: Not a worry. So DoE has noted that timeframes for the completion of stages of reporting follows guidelines set by ACECQA, but is this notice period not set by the National Law?

Alicia Burke: So with the notice periods around assessment and rating, the National Law determines that we need to provide notice that assessment and rating is about to commence. So yes, it does sit within the National Law, and our procedures around the reduced notice periods or the improvements around assessment and rating is nationally agreed that we will be conducting reduced notice periods.

Laura Dawson: Fantastic, and ACECQA is that national body that sits above and supports the states to administer the National Law and Regulations is how I understand it. And so that may give some clarity as to why that change over ACECQA, National Law and Regulations sometimes creates some confusion.

Alicia Burke: Correct.

Laura Dawson: Okay. Nick, I'm gonna throw this tricky one to you. There's a few people that have provided feedback on the engagement processes, and so how we've come to understand the feedback from services and I think it's really clear from the chat that some people feel excited by this, but there's some apprehension as well. So can you talk a little bit about some of the conversations that we've been having this year to talk about the changes and obviously this being one of them and one of the things coming up for us is to return to doing some face-to-face as well.

Nicholas Backo: Yeah, thanks, Laura. It is important and we absolutely recognise that there's a diverse range of views in the sector about these improvements. As we spoke about, we have created as many opportunities as possible to get feedback from the sector before identifying how we would implement these changes. And so some of those consultations were at the larger conferences that many of you may have attended, we've also been talking to services one-on-one as we've been completing our work and we've, you know, had lots of opportunities to meet virtually and in person in small and larger groups. But this certainly isn't the end of the conversation. We are intentionally implementing these improvements in a staged way, which gives us the ability to continue to hear from you about what your experience is like and if needed so that we can make changes to better support you with assessment and rating. So I guess what I would say is I would encourage you to continue to provide feedback. You can do that via the Continuous Improvement Team, the details are in the chat, or happy for you to, you know, continue to respond to the Q and A with your thoughts, and we look forward to working with you as we implement these changes.

Laura Dawson: Excellent. I'm gonna ask one final question, Kathy, see if you can give this on a crack. Does this mean that new services have never had an A&R will have a full assessment and only after that, they'll participate in Partial Assessment? What does that look like if you're a new service joining the sector?

Kathy Dryden: If you're a brand new service joining the sector, you will get a full assessment and rating within 12 to 18 months of commencing, and then depending, as we said before, about, you know, where you are in the process and what your compliance history and everything that we know about you, then it will determine when we will come and see you again and whether it's going to be, you know, a few extra sessions. We understand that, you know, new services, new staff take time to build their capacity and also build on their quality, but your first visit will always be a full assessment and rating with all quality areas.

Laura Dawson: Fantastic. Well thank you, Kathy, Nick and Alicia, I will be handing it back to one of you to close, but thanks so much for all of the questions that you have put into the Q&A today. Hopefully we got to many of them, and if not in this discussion, then through the chat and our team will continue to work away in the background to get through as many as we can in the next few minutes. But it was great for you to join us today. Thanks so much.

Nicholas Backo: Thanks everyone for joining us, really appreciate all the really thoughtful questions and comments. As I said, we're really looking forward to implementing these improvements in partnership with you and equally look forward to any further feedback that you might have. Our details to contact us if you have any additional questions that we didn't get to or you didn't get to ask are in the chat, and I look forward to speaking to you all again soon. Thank you.

An overview of self-assessment and developing clear goals and improvement plans.

Vanessa Beck: Good morning. Good morning everyone. I can see people are starting to be coming in from the waiting room, so we'll just take a moment to let people come in, before we get started for today. Numbers are slowly rising, we'll just give everyone a moment to come in, get settled. I hope you've brought a cup of tea or coffee with you. Be able to relax while you're watching the seminar. Okay, numbers are still increasing. We might get started and just do a general little chat about today and what we're going to talk about and launch into things. I know people are still coming in, that's okay. But I'm super aware of your time and value your time. We know how busy you are and how big a deal it is to take out an hour to sit through a session. So, we are really grateful that you've been able to do that today and come and join our session about self-assessment. So, as more people come in, thank you for joining us today at our ECE Connect Session. I'll start by introducing our speakers, which is me first. My name's Vanessa Beck. I'm actually the hub coordinator of the Continuous Improvement Team. We're also joined today by Linda Ball, and Linda is an Authorised Officer in the Continuous Improvement Team as well. Her voice may be familiar to a number of you. You've potentially spoken with her on the phone before, so now you can put a face to the voice. So, in our session today we're going to be providing an overview of the NSW approach to self-assessment for quality improvement. And Linda actually is now going to start us off this morning, just sharing an acknowledgement of country with us.

Linda Ball: Thanks Vanessa. So, I acknowledge that I'm hosting this webinar from the lands of the Gumbaynggirr people and Vanessa is coming to you from the lands of the Dharug people. We recognise the ongoing custodians of the lands and waterways where we work and live. We pay our respect to Elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines and stories. We strive to ensure every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child in NSW, achieves their potential through education. We acknowledge the ongoing custodians of the various lands on which you all work today and pay respect to elders past, present and extend that respect to, other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, joining us today.

Vanessa Beck: Beautiful. There's just a few little housekeeping things to note for this webinar and we have listed them here on the screen for you, but I'll just quickly pop through them. Your microphone, video and chat functions will be disabled, during the webinar today. The question and answer function will be available. So, if you have any questions throughout the session, by all means please pop them in there. We do have a team of people from CIT who will be in there answering your questions and so be free please to pop them in. We will be using a Menti during the session today. So, in preparation please have your mobile phone or another tablet or a web browser available to participate in that interactive component for the session. We are recording this webinar and it will be available on our website, following the completion of all of the webinars. And just so that you know, automatic closed captions have been enabled, during the session today for accessibility. So, let's have a little look at what we're going to talk about today. In this session we're going to provide an overview of the NSW approach to self-assessment for quality improvement. I would like to note before we get started that this session does not include information, about the assessment and rating process itself. We have other webinar sessions available for you to register for that to hear more specifically about the assessment part of continuous improvement. This session is going to focus on the process of self-assessment itself as this is vital in your services ongoing improvement journey. We will provide an overview here on your screen. You can see we're going to talk about what is self-assessment and why is that important. How do we articulate key practice, making practice visible, engaging staff and your stakeholders in your continuous improvement journey and also developing of goals and improvement plans of course. We're also very excited to have a guest with us today, Sam Williamson from Warrawee Care Centre, who is going to come and share her insights with you about their own self-assessment journey and continuous improvement journey, which I think you'll really enjoy. So, we're going to start with a little bit about Menti. So, this is something that's a little bit fun and it's a great way to share some of your thoughts with us. So please, if you have a mobile phone or a tablet, whatever you choose to use, you can scan the QR code on your screen to open in your browser or if you don't have those things and you're on a computer like me, you can go to the website and just pop in that code. You can see on your screen there the, 2327 2203. So, if you want to pop those in now. Sorry, apologies, I've lost my notes, so we're going to ask you a couple of questions. Please know that this is anonymous, so we'd love you to join in share. There's no way for anything to be tracked to you and the information we gather really helps us shape that support. So great, I can see you've gotten started there. What words come to mind when you think about self-assessment and how this process can guide changes to your practice? This is going to look different for everybody. We're super aware that services are all in different places, different experience, different understanding and different levels of knowledge. So, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? I'm loving this actually because it's super busy. Look at how many things. Okay, I can see there's some stress in there and I definitely can understand that and hopefully we can alleviate that a little bit for you today. Time consuming, it can be. Improvement, absolutely. That's our end goal that we're hoping for. Documentation, yes. Reflective, reflection definitely is a big, a very popular word I can see that's coming through and we'll talk more about that today, which is great in relation to your practice. Your strengths, yes, absolutely. I'm just looking sideways, daunting. I can see the word daunting and it can be when you start any new process and it's all ahead of you, it can definitely feel that way and so that stress is coming in there as well. I can definitely see that. Opportunities for staff, yes, I can see there is some concern and anxiety around the work and the volume. I get that definitely, it is challenging. practices, evaluation, success. Absolutely. That's amazing. Thank you guys, that's really helpful. So, we might pop into our second question, again, super easy. Who's involved in your service self-assessment and improvement process? Who's involved? Again, you might have multiple answers for this question and again, totally different for everybody, so every answer is welcome but let's have a look everyone. Fantastic, excellent. Your staff, families and children. Unreal, that's great. Educators, nominated supervisor, the board. Yep, great, community. Curious to know how you are accessing that and who in your community you are accessing to give you that assistance. Management, myself, that's reality for a lot of people. Absolutely. We do know that the value of being able to include your educators, your children, your families, stakeholders, because they all bring such a wealth of knowledge and different approach and information. And your staff are your experts, aren't they? They're doing it your practices every day. So, they need to be actively involved in that decision making about how and what they do. Fantastic. Lots and lots of ideas in there which is really great. Okay, lovely. Thank you for sharing all of those with us. They're really, really helpful. So, self-assessment. What is self-assessment? Self-assessment is a tool that all of us have heard of at some point or have used in different contexts. So, we're going to consider what it is and why it's important. We know that self-assessment is a key step in identifying a service's strengths and areas for improvement and we know that self-assessment supports that continuous improvement journey that lifts your service quality and improves outcomes for children and their families. All important, self-assessment creates an opportunity for services to support educators to reflect on and better understand their current practices. And thinking about what you do and why, why are you doing it? They know what they do, why are you doing it? This is the key to building their confidence in your practices and articulating those. It helps to identify areas for improving quality outcomes for your children and families. It provides the ability to reflect on your practices, against the individual elements of the National Quality Standard, rather than looking at the standard or the overall quality area, which we find typical in the traditional, more traditional QIPs tend to do and also it can showcase those unique aspects of your service and practice, during assessment and rating visits. An effective self-assessment process, support services and your teams to build knowledge, understanding and effective implementation of the National Quality Framework. We know that element 7.2.1 of the National Quality Standard, refers to self-assessment and continuous improvement. However, what we've learned over time is that this self-assessment and continuous improvement process, particularly with the use of traditional QIP-style formats, most often saw management and service leaders engaging with and preparing these documents for the purpose of your assessment and rating visit. This meant that the intent of self-assessment and self-reflection could be getting lost along the way. So in March, 2019, ACECQA introduced the ACECQA Self-Assessment Tool, which I'm sure many of you have seen and used. This is a great tool and while the ACECQA Self-Assessment Tool, supports services to identify practices, it doesn't contain a Quality Improvement Plan which is required by Regulation 55. So, understandably feedback from the sector also revealed that services were finding it difficult to maintain both a self-assessment document as well as a Quality Improvement Plan. This feedback also highlighted the need for the regulatory authority to adopt an approach to assessment and running process that support services to effectively reflect on and share their own key practices. If we're to move past the task of evidence collection, we need to step into the relationship and engagement aspect of assessment and rating. The approach needed to support services, to view assessment and rating as a part of the continuous journey, rather than that standalone event that services have to prepare for every 3 to 4 years. It needed to be collaborative, allow for all stakeholders to have a voice and authentically reflect not on just on what they do but how and why they're doing that. So, you can see here a little diagram of the cycle of self-assessment. The self-assessment and continuous improvement process is definitely an ongoing cycle. It is similar in nature to your learning and programming journeys that you would have, within your own services for children with your program, involves closely examining practice, recognising strengths and identifying opportunities for improvement. So, we would start at the top with your service philosophy. Consider your service philosophy. Does it reflect your service and educators, your children and families? Is everyone familiar with it? Are practices consistent with your philosophy? Then we will move into reviewing regulatory compliance, analysing what your service does, against the National Law and Regulations. Ask yourself are we meeting the regulatory obligations? Where regulatory requirements are assessed as non-compliant, immediate steps must be taken by you to rectify that non-compliance and put the process in place to support this. But your compliance is your foundation and we always need to start there. So, to build on top of that you would move down to your key practices and identify what they are. Analyse what do you do against the standards and the elements of the National Quality Standards. What is it that you do well and that helps you to meet each of these 40 elements. What you'll find is that often and where we are going to go into that in a little bit more detail in a moment, but what you will find is that often from these discussions around your practices and the things that you are doing, comes the response of other things that you would like to work on or improve. So, have you identified areas to improve? Identifying your regulatory compliance and strengths or key practices, like I said will highlight potential areas for improvement and will help you to note strategies and progress towards your identified goals. So, they may have become evident through discussion, about your practices or your regs or even through your discussion around your philosophy. So, you need to keep a record. Documenting your cycle is really important and it underpins a quality improvement process. The way in which you document, needs to work for your service. So, there's no one way to capture self-assessment and Quality Improvement Plans. The process is the same but how you capture it is up to you. We will talk about a couple of ways to do that today, because you do need somewhere to sort out, all of your information and trace those outcomes of the previous steps. This document becomes your service story, one your future team, families and children can reflect upon and visually see that journey. So, to support the process we're just talking about, around your self-assessment and quality improvement. We developed as in NSW, we developed an online self-assessment form that was accessible to services for 3 weeks, after you've been notified that your A&R process has commenced. based on feedback from the sector back in 2020, we then created the NSW Self-Assessment Working Document, which is the document you can see on your screen. This is a replica of the online form and it's accessible as a PDF document to be used at any time and we hear this has made a big difference for services who then have their information prepared and ready to enter into the online form at the point where they're scheduled for assessment and rating. This document was designed to include space for your service philosophy, for your identified compliance with the law and regulations and your key practices against each element, within the National Quality Standard. As well as providing areas for improvement and to answer a common question, because all of those mentioned things, the NSW Self-Assessment Working Document, meets the reg requirements of the Quality Improvement Plan as defined in Regulation 55, which means one single document to support your self-assessment and your improvement planning and you do not have to maintain, both a self-assessment document and a Quality Improvement Plan. We too reflect on our practice and take on board your feedback and we are currently in the final stages of building our self-assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. This will be optional and it's an online portal that services will have ongoing access to. More information about the portal, will be shared in the second half of the year but we are keen to hear from services who would like to be early adopters to the portal. So, keep your eye out on the ECE updates we send for details on how you may be able to register your interest. So, what are some tips for effective self-assessment? We've listed a few things on your slide there. Consideration being the first one, self-assessment is most beneficial when it is done in a way that's relevant to the context of your service. When planning and implementing your self-assessment, ensure that it suits the needs, capacity and context of your service. So, you might think about the structure of your organisation, the location of your service, who is your local community, what are the requirements of your service type. For example, family day care or outside school care, have very different requirements to long day care or even a mobile care service. You consider your staff and educators and also the children and families that use your service. Then you're going to be thinking about planning, self-assessment is a process. It requires participation from your whole service community, and adequate time to complete it without additional pressure. Planning will ensure the self-assessment process is effective and it's supported when there is an awareness of the process and the requirements of self-assessment. Clearly communicated roles, responsibilities and expectations including for those who are leading the process, familiarity with key support resources, consideration given to how the team is involved and adequately supported and resourced throughout the process and time allocated for meaningful participation. Self-assessment and quality improvement, will be most productive when those who are involved can be open and honest and feel comfortable to be reflective and critical. Effective communication and positive workplace culture, will allow everyone the opportunity to participate and have a voice. Having an open and honest approach, will also ensure key issues are identified and addressed. Make a part of your every day. It's important to note that we know for quality process, quality improvement process to be ongoing and cyclical, that it needs to be regular. When we make this point, it's not about carving out time literally in your every day but it's more that it's part of your regular or your normal ongoing routine to consider what you do and why you are doing it. Where are there opportunities to make small improvements to your practice? Because these small improvements often build on each other and support the notion that best outcomes for children are a center of what you're doing every day. Be realistic and authentic. To have a real understanding of the quality and consistency of the practices, within your service, it is imperative to be realistic and authentic. This works hand in hand with the open and honest approach. Apologies, with the open and honest approach that will ensure your key issues are identified and addressed. And you will, apologies. You'll be able to hear and acknowledge different levels of quality to see realistically where focus can be prioritised And we are going to talk a little more, a bit later about how you can engage your team today and some ideas for things that you might be able to do. An effective self-assessment process, involves reflection on each quality area in the National Quality Standard. It requires reflection and evaluation on service practice on your policies and your procedures to assist services to confirm that your minimum legislative compliance requirements are met and whether the service is meeting those in the National Quality Standards. Linda is going to spend some time talking with you now, about how to use the NSW Self-Assessment Working Document.

Linda Ball: Thanks Vanessa. So, I'm just going to build on what Vanessa has just been talking to you about. So, we know that compliance with the National Law and Regulations underpins practice and must be in place before quality practices can be considered. Therefore, the first step in an effective self-assessment process is to test your services practices, against the minimum requirements of the National Law and Regulations. Within each quality area of the NSW Self-assessment Working Document, you'll find a checklist which has been included to support you to self-assess, against the legislative requirements. When reviewing the prompts, we really recommend that you refer to the relevant law and regulations to ensure that all components of the legislation are considered. Section 4 of the Guide to the National Quality Framework, the operational requirements provides some great information and further guidance on how you can meet the requirements of the National Law and Regulations. If you identify non-compliance with the National Law and Regulations, you must take immediate steps to ensure that all requirements are met. For example, before you mark Regulation 97, emergency and evacuations as compliant, you would need to ensure that your practices are in place to reflect this. That is you need to ensure that the service has completed a risk assessment to identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the service. Emergency plans and instructions have been developed and displayed at each exit and emergency and evacuation procedures are rehearsed, every 3 months and that these rehearsals are documented. You can see it's not just a tick and flick process. You should be confident that all components of the regulation are in place, before noting that your service is compliant. Where a service has identified non-compliance with the law regulation, this is an opportunity to take action to rectify the areas of non-compliance and is a really important part of your improvement journey. There's nothing more stressful than getting to a monitoring compliance visit or an assessment and rating visit and finding an officer identifying non-compliance, it can be really unsettling. So, taking time to go through and invest in this part of the journey is really critical. This section of the self-assessment working document, allows you to record any identified issues and action needed to ensure legislative requirements are met at all times. You'll notice in the scenario the service identified that it was not meeting all requirements of Regulation 97. Lockdown and evacuation rehearsals had not been conducted every 3 months and the risk assessment for potential emergencies, didn't consider all situations or events, posing an imminent or severe risk to those present at the service premises. Consider doing this several times or allocating this to team members with a strong attention to detail, just before your assessment and rating visit to make sure that something unexpected hasn't happened. Engaging educators in compliance assists them to build their knowledge and understanding of the legislative requirements and can also help to ensure that your practices, your policies and procedures align with the law and regulations to ensure that you're compliant at all times. The next step in effective self-assessment process, requires you to look at the practice as it relates to each element. This step is where your practices become visible, compared to a traditional Quality Improvement Plan which may lead you to look at your practice at a quality area level. The NSW Self-Assessment Working Document is a structured approach and encourages you to look beyond the quality area and standard and focus on each element. Section 3 of the Guide to the National Quality Framework has some great examples of practice that align to each element and how these may be observed, cited and discussed and we're going to touch on that in a minute. So, what are your key practices and how do you articulate them in your self-assessment? Put simply, key practices are things that your staff and educators do at the service. They demonstrate quality, against the National Quality Standard. When identifying key practices, think about what your educators do that is aligned with the elements within each standard. Your team of educators know your unique aspects of your service and the best place to actively engage in this process and highlight practice that they want to showcase. When considering your key practices or your strengths, ask yourself what aspects of your practice are you proud of and make you smile? What is your service known for and what are the things that you like to share with new families or visitors to your service? Essentially when you're identifying your key practices, you are making the invisible visible. When scheduled for an assessment and rating visit, you can share your services key practices with the Authorised Officer as a way of preparing you and your team as well as the officer for your assessment. If you are using the NSW Self-Assessment Working Document, you'll notice that you are able to enter up to 5 key practices against each element. While 5 practices is the maximum number you can record against each element, there's no requirement for all 5 key practice boxes to be filled. Some elements are more in depth and will likely have many examples of practice while others are straightforward and have a lot of legislation attached to them. So, fewer key practices may be recorded. Services are encouraged to be honest and realistic when identifying their key practices. Each key practice box allows for 500 characters, which roughly equates to 70 or 80 words. This character limit is intentional and encourages services to be succinct and concise when articulating their practice. Rather than using overarching statements, talk about what you do, broad statements often don't provide a clear picture of what's occurring at your service. We often hear from the sector that educators are nervous when it comes time for assessment and rating visit. What will the officer be looking to observe, sight and discuss? Using a self-assessment approach will help you and your team to prepare for this stage of the process. You are at your service all the time, you're really familiar with it, you know what you do and you know why you do it. When identifying your key practices, consider how an officer will confirm them, through observation, sighting documentation and discussion. Can the practice be seen happening at your service? For example, a group time, a sleep and rest routine, arrivals and departures or is there documented evidence to support the key practice statement? For example a family handbook, program documentation or perhaps meeting minutes or are your educators and staff able to discuss why and how a particular practice occurs at the service or where it has come from? For example, would your educators be able to comment on a key practice such as, all educators complete Red Nose Safe Sleep Training as part of the induction process and update this training annually? I would like to share with you 3 examples of key practice statements and show you how a well articulated key practice can paint a clear picture of what's actually occurring. These examples are not prescriptive and not intended to provide a copy and paste. They work well because they're unique and consider the context of the individual service. Can I just get you to go to the next slide? Vanessa. Might be a bit of a glitch there. I'll just wait a second for that screen to come up again. I'll just continue. So, when it comes to reviewing your key practice statements, you need to break your practices down, before you could measure the relevance to your service. So, we have 2 examples. The first is we aim to support children's sleep and rest. So, quite a short broad statement. Oh here we go again. Thank you. This communicates that you are referring to element 2.1.1 in the National Quality Standard. It doesn't outline how you support children's sleep and rest. It's important to provide detail about what you do, how you do it and what practices are occurring at your service that align with each element. So, if we have a look at the green box, we've rephrased this into a key practice statement, so that it clearly shows us the how. 'Families share information about their child's individual sleep and rest routines at enrolment on the 'All about me form'. A copy of the completed form is given to the child's room leader to share with educators. Educators encourage families to communicate changes to the sleep patterns, during the morning arrival discussions. Any changes are documented in the room communication diary, so that all educators can review this information when arriving for their shift'. During assessment and rating, this key practice prompts the officer to cite the 'All about me forms' in your communication diary. It encourages them to observe educators and families, engaging in the exchange of information, around children's sleep and rest, during arrival and departures. And to discuss how this information is used by educators, develop routines which supports each child's sleep, rest and wellbeing. You can see how the second key practice statement, gives much more information than your original statement and this ensures that your your quality practices are not missed. The next statement is quite broad. We proactively identify and manage risks, to take precautions, to protect children from harm and hazard. Compare this to 'Risk assessments have been developed for outdoor activities that have been identified as high risk by educators, such as tree climbing, gardening, the fort and swings. These assessments have been developed by all educators during staff meetings and posted on the service app for families to access. Copies of the assessment have been printed and stored in a folder in outdoor educator station for educators to refer to'. You can see in this example the services built practices on top of the basic safety requirements of the National Law and how this information was developed in consultation with stakeholders and shared with families. When it comes to reviewing your practices, your stakeholders can clearly see exactly what you do. During the assessment and rating visit, this key practice will prompt officers to observe how high risk activities are managed in practice, site risk assessment documentation and the app, and discuss with the nominated supervisor and educators their involvement in developing these risk assessments. The final example here also lacks details. So, opportunities for group projects that are provided. Compare these to 'Educators implement a range of group projects to support children with similar interests to learn collaboratively. Group projects are documented in 'Floor Books' and are displayed for children to see their participation in learning. Educators engage in children's play, extending their ideas and use these at the basis to plan, follow up experiences. These projects evolve as children's interests evolve'. This clearly articulated key practice, prompts the officer to observe educators engaged in children's play and scaffolding children's learning to site program documentation recorded in 'Floor Books' and to discuss with educators how they use the project approach to stimulate children's thinking and enrich their learning. I've spoken to you a bit now about what a key practice is, however, it's important to note some of the things that are not part of a key practice. So words such as we aim, believe, strive, endeavour and value all belong in your philosophy and not in your key practice statement. Remember to describe what it is that you do. One-off examples should also be avoided. So, rather try and focus on what is your typical practice. For example, some services often record what occurred on a particular date or how they've worked with an individual child or family. Try and consider what the typical practice is and how this practice supports each child or family. There is no need to describe how you meet the legislative requirements if you've marked these as compliant. Rest assured the officer is going to check this as part of the assessment and rating visit. Your key practices should focus on what you do, above and beyond that minimum requirement. For example, there's no need to write, "We have a policy on safe sleep and rest practice" as this is the requirement of Regulation 168, policies and procedures. Rather, you might like to focus on the quality aspects of your practice, such as the chill out zone is provided with bean bags, cushions, books and puzzles for children to rest and relax on. Try to describe what educators do to give children opportunities, rather than what children have the opportunity to do. It's what the educators are doing is the key practice. Finally, as early childhood professionals, we've been trained to write introduction or conclusion statements. However, be mindful that your key practice, should be clear and succinct, which means these leading statements, are really not required. For example, you don't need to restate the element descriptor, such as, "We ensure each child is protected "by actively supervising children." Get straight to the point and say, "Educators discover potential supervision risks, during team meetings and this is used to inform and update the supervision plan." You'll notice that there are no exceeding boxes in the NSW Self-Assessment Working Document and this is because your practice is what you do. Whereas a service is hitting those exceeding themes, these will be visible through your key practice statement. You do not need to rewrite the theme descriptors as your practice. When considering if your service is meeting the exceeding themes, unpack the themes of the team, take time to understand what they're about. Read the Guide to the National Quality Framework and look for guidance on the ACECQA website, which includes further information on the 3 themes as well as case studies that offer practical and illustrated examples of high quality practice for each standard. As you're aware, there are 3 exceeding themes. Theme 1, embedded in practice. This is practice that is demonstrated consistently and frequently across the service with educators who have a deep understanding of high quality practice. High quality practice is visible across all operations, systems and staff members and aligns with the service philosophy. Theme 2, critical reflection is more than just reflective practice and involves closely examining what you do against theory, research, recommendations by recognised authorities. Critical reflection also involves looking at practice from multiple perspectives and robust debate, social justice considerations and complex situations and not just how we can do this better next time. Theme 3 more meaningful engagement with families and communities is more than simply offering surveys to families. Consider how this feedback from families or the community has informed, strengthened or shaped your practice. Thanks Vanessa.

Vanessa Beck: Okay, so having spoken about so many aspects of what makes up a self-assessment process, the key to all of that consideration is bringing your self-assessment plan into action. So, developing a quality improvement plan to drive change in your service is the key to your ongoing improvement cycle. A section at the end of each quality area, within the self-assessment working document for services is there for you to enter any goals or improvement areas that you are working on for that quality area. Services are encouraged to be realistic and authentic about your goals and your continuous improvement journey. You services are supported to focus on what is current for them and to remove historical data will refrain from listing goals just for the sake of filling boxes. At the time that you do have your A&R visit, it's the role of the Authorised Officer conducting the assessment and rating visit to review the service key improvement notes that have been uploaded onto the portal as they're not uploaded into eSAM. So, key improvement notes can be found in the PDF version of the self-assessment which is provided to the Authorised Officers when the service submits prior to assessment and rating. So, a question that we're asked really regularly is what do services do with the information, once they meet a goal. For services identified an area of improvement, it's likely that there is a key practice they have identified that needs changing or improving. So, once the goal's been met, the key practice will also have changed. So, you would be encouraged to return to your key practices and change that practice that's been improved through those goals that you've set. Remove the goal from the improvement planning section and save a new version, so you still have the copy of the original goals and you save a new version with your new goals. This will ensure the document services are working on is always current. Engaging your staff, and this is something that we get asked about, really regularly. How do we engage our staff? So, let's talk about that. We know that your staff are experts in what they do, they're doing every day and what's happening consistently at your service and being part of the process of identifying and reviewing key practices, will also increase their confidence when it comes to being able to discuss their practice with an Authorised Officer or any other visitor who comes into your service. So, we've added together some ideas. Here are some ideas to engage your staff that we've heard shared by other services who've supported their educators to engage in a meaningful self-assessment and quality improvement process. These aren't things that you have to do or must do, they're just some ideas and some of them will suit your service and your educators and others won't. So, feel free to take any ideas and give them a try on your own service. So, you might consider allocating a different quality area to different teams within your service. One to each team to review. Staff may identify areas of personal interest or strength and then be invited to lead the practice for that particular standard. You unpacking the standard or the element at each staff meeting as a standing agenda item is another way. You're doing a little bit and you're doing it often, so that document is alive and living. Sharing resources from recognised bodies such as ACECQA, regarding the quality area that you're reviewing is a great way to allow each educator to have that full understanding of the quality area that you're talking about as a team. Some services like to share a collaborative effort where standards are mind mapped together. However, usually there's one staff member that is tasked with updating the standard in the document. A self-assessment working document room or service jotting books. Some people have tried that where reflections, jottings and quick thoughts are documented and then reflected on as a team at staff meetings and added to the self-assessment working document. This allows for a real-time collection of that evidence. And lastly, the evidence tells us that teams that reflect and create the self-assessment together, tend to have the strongest self-assessment processes and that's because all voices are heard, they're documented and advocated for. And don't forget the importance of thinking about your practice making it accessible and visible and your self-assessment process, accessible and visible. Truthfully, the possibilities are endless and you are limited by your imagination. Sometimes it's hard to come up with different ways. So, we're going to talk a little bit about engaging with other professionals and other ways that you can get some ideas on that.

Linda Ball: Thanks Vanessa. That's really helpful. Continuing with the topic of self-engagement, I'm really excited to be joined by Sam Williamson who is the nominated supervisor at Warrawee Care Centre, which is an OSHC service and Sam has kindly agreed to share with you her experience and approach to engaging their team in the self-assessment to support a culture of continuous improvement. Thanks for joining us today, Sam.

Sam Williamson: Thanks Linda. So, I'm Sam, I'm the director at Warrawee Care Centre. We're a 300 place OSHC service in Sydney. We began our self-assessment journey, just after mid last year and continued it right through until we had our assessment and rating visit in March this year. We definitely aimed to start self-assessment, before the A&R process, just to really take the time to be able to connect with the document, connect with a Continuous Improvement Team and really understand what we were working towards. For those of you that work in OSHC, you would know it's a very transient population and a lot of our staff are unqualified and come and go on a regular basis. So, we needed to look at new ways to engage those staff. So, I'm going to share just a couple of tips that we discovered as part of our journey last year. While a lot of our staff don't have a complete understanding of what the NQF and the NQS is, we then turned to that and put it into words that all our educators could understand. So, it became a process that was shared amongst the staff team of nearly 40. We created a wall display that existed in a space that educators could come and go from and continually add their ideas to. And we posed 3 questions that we continually came back to throughout last year as we developed the notes to build our self-assessment. We asked 'what makes Warrawee Care Centre unique?' 'What are the things that stand out for us?' 'What do we want to showcase when we do have A&R?' But 'what do we showcase for our families on a daily basis?' We ask what are the strengths of our educators? So their skills, their knowledge, their interests, what did they bring to the service in their background and what do they enjoy doing with our children? And then we asked, how's it seen by others? Because this was about making our journey really visible and not just in the writing component of the document, but in everything that comes before that for us. So, we looked and mind mapped things, like our forest play program, our fire program, our robotics, our art programs, but also looked at things like our transition processes, our kids committee, the professionals that we work with, our vacation care excursions, our tween programs. So, all the different components that exist on a weekly basis within our service. So, an example of that might be if we were looking at breaking down our art program, what makes us unique? It's a qualified art teacher that works with our children, that has specialised resources, that teachers as part of that learning program and is aware of the learning outcomes for our children. What are the strengths that our staff bring to that? It's Louise's journey to also teach other educators. So, the way she uses her qualifications and her knowledge to impact other educators. And how's it seen? It's conversation with families, it's documentation that educators do on the children. It's the learning that is shared, between educators and families. It's the documentation and the pictures that the children are creating themselves and taking home. So, all those components were noted down and then different components of it can go across different elements. So, while you are looking at one particular practice, you'll find that it will fit in multiple elements and that's where we used the Continuous Improvement Team to support us to identify the best fit for our practices. We also used our senior staff team, which was about 8 of us last year. And we did a big brainstorm of all the documents that we have in our service that may have practices that we've overlooked. So, we went through things like our diaries, our staff meeting minutes, management meeting minutes, our QIP, our strategic inclusion plan, our RAP, our excellent documents from our previous submission, wall displays that you might overlook, practices that are sitting right there and then all the documentation that sits on Storypark. And from that we were able to pull out other practices and processes that we could contribute into building our self-assessment doc. It also meant that we could mark evidence straight away. So, when we were looking and thinking can we see it? Do we talk to it? Where's our evidence for an Authorised Officer when that time comes? We were able to make notes and mark that evidence straight away so it was ready to use. We then followed up with our team and did 15 minute chat. So, our staff are on site 15 minutes beforehand and use that opportunity to constantly be having these conversations. The more you have the conversations, about the quality practices and what we want to showcase, the more ideas came to the front. So, we just continued to add on that over many weeks to get to the point where we had enough information to start putting our document together. When it came to putting that self-assessment together, the first thing that we learned and Linda and Vanessa have both said it this morning, skip that opening statement, go straight to your practices. That was one of the most brutal lessons that we had to learn as we are also used to writing with a lovely introduction or a background and we soon learned that that goes and the first sentence was straight into our practice. So, over time we were able to build those skills and really condense what we were writing. We learned to abbreviate. And I still find myself doing that every day in documents that I write. Ask the team to help you with what words are safe to abbreviate as a lot of those abbreviations are well known by Authorised Officers. We use the NQF guide and that was such a worthwhile document for us. Have that out, highlight it, underline the words and phrases and ensure that they're aligning with what's going into each element. And don't feel that you need to complete all 5 boxes. You're better to have, 2 really strong meaningful priority practices and then lead the boxes empty. As you build on that, you'll slowly fill them at your own pace, but that way what you're putting in them is meaningful, it's authentic and it's purposeful. When that time comes for Authorised Officer to be on site and ours was in March this year, it's a lot of boxes to talk to. So, make sure that every one of those boxes within that document is something that you really do want to showcase and you're proud of. And then once you've done that self-assessment, don't let it get behind. We've already allocated time every term to come back, revisit and reflect on it, so that that document will always stay current. It's something that we are really putting into practice. It has become a very living document for our service. So, we want to ensure that it's always current and it's always something that exists within our staff team. I think that's about it. I could relate to a lot of the words that were coming up within that Menti earlier. I know it's daunting and I know it's a scary thing to do, but it is such an amazing reflective practice to take your team on and to have them constantly involved and sharing in that process, so that when A&R does land on your doorstep, you feel really comfortable and the whole staff team are ready to talk to the Authorised Officer. Okay, thanks Vanessa.

Vanessa Beck: Thank you Sam. That was really great. I really enjoyed listening to more detail of how you guys have pulled it all together and there are so many things I could pull out of that.

Sam Williamson: I know.

Vanessa Beck: But you know the simple thing that I love that you said actually is that the more you talked with your staff, the more it came out of those discussions and the more things people realised they were doing and people are so empowered when they realise that they can be that physical part of it. Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us today. We really, really appreciate it Sam. Okay, we're going to move into another Menti. Another little piece of fun guys. So pull out your phone, pull out your browser. You should, when you go back in find that you can just enter straight away and not have to scan the code again. So, we're just going to ask a couple of questions. They're super easy, really quick and all of the answers are going to be up there for you. You can just select them as you go. First question is, Do we need to have both a QIP and a self-assessment document? Do we need both of those happening at the same time? So let's see, we have people who feel yes and people who feel no. Reflecting back on what we're saying, there's NSW Self-Assessment Document, meets Regulation 55 when it talks about what you need in your quality improvement planning, which means that our self-assessment document can be used instead of the more traditional QIP if that's what you works for your service. So, the answer to this one is no, you don't actually need to have both of those happening at the same time. Some people might choose to use that. Your process is up to you but all you need to have is either the NSW Self-Assessment Document or the ACECQA QIP. Okay, number 2, Is using the NSW, Self-assessment Working Document compulsory? Do you have to use that for your processes or for assessment and ratings? Do you have to use the NSW Document? That's great. I'm really pleased to see no is taking everyone's fancy today. No you do not. You don't need to use it and really comes down to what document works in your service to really pull apart and drive that quality improvement. 'Cause at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. We are passionate about the self-assessment document, because we can see the value in it for you, but it is definitely not compulsory and does not impact anything when it comes to your assessment and rating. So, that's great. The next question asks, How often should we update our self-assessment or quality improvement plan? Should it be A, annually, B, when scheduled for assessment rating. C, on a regular basis. Whenever you reflect on your change and your practice, and the numbers are going up. Again, there are technically 2 correct answers here. So, don't be too worried about what's coming through, according to the regulation and the National Law, you must update your self-assessment or Quality Improvement Plan annually. That is what you must do. But we would promote that how often should we update it? Update it on a regular basis, if you're having conversations about what you're doing with your practice, if you're reflecting on change or someone comes into the staff room and talks about something that they've just seen that was really great and you've noticed things are changing, it's a good prompt to go back and have a look at it, maybe talk about it further and to update that plan, so that it reflects exactly what's happening in your service at the time. So, that's fantastic. And the very last question, When can I get support from the Continuous Improvement Team? I'm going to talk a little bit more about our team and what we do in a moment, but when can I get support. A, when I'm scheduled for assessment rating? B, anytime you need support with your quality improvement journey. C, when contacted by us, by our team, or D, all of the above. So, I'm seeing lots of people, thank you everyone who's joined in this, these are really fun for us as well as for you. And it's really great to see those answers come in. And the answer is D, all of the above. We contact people, sometimes people contact us, you can contact us at any time. We are here to support you. It's our entire role is to support you around self-assessment and your process. And so there will be times where we call you, there will be times where people have a particular need, they call us back. One call does not fit all. Sometimes some services will have a few calls and other services we can talk to for months, because they keep touching base with us and asking for that support around their document. So, all of those things are actually true. You can contact us, we can contact you. It happens in lots of different ways. So, thank you, thank you guys. Let me tell you a little bit about some other support and resources. So, the Continuous Improvement Team, we are available to guide you, through the self-assessment process. It is our entire purpose is to do that. So, our role is to provide individualised support to services to help you to be able to articulate your key practices, against the National Quality Standards. The team, you'll be given a person in the team and that person will be constant for you, so that you're not reestablishing all the time. And that person will arrange a time with you and provide an individual support session with you, with your team, with whoever you would like to be part of that. We also do provide sessions where sometimes the provider has a number of services, where we may talk to a group of you at the same time, so that you are all part of that same discussion for multiple service leaders. And we're also available to attend network meetings that you may have with other professionals. So, you know your own team of educators, we've talked a lot today. They are a big strength for you and they are experts. They are definitely people that should be driving that typical practice for you. Other colleagues, other people you're engaging with, providers and professionals that might help you. And we do have some other sector resources. There may be some links going into the chat. The guide to the NQF is one of the most useful documents and it's a great place to start. ACECQA have a lot of resources that you can access. So, where to next? Here are a few ideas of where to next. Consider your current quality improvement system. Is it meaningful, is it sustainable? And is it reflective of what's currently happening in your service? Consider the level of involvement of your key stakeholders. Contact the Continuous Improvement Team and arrange a support session if that's the way that we can help you. And do stay tuned about information for the release of our Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. It's coming later this year. I mentioned earlier if you were interested that we'd be keen to know and you can email the Continuous Improvement Team and let us know if that's something that you would like to be part of. We would just like to take this moment to thank you so much for the time you've taken to be part of the session today and we hope the information that we've shared is helpful for you in your quality improvement journey as a service. If you don't have these details already, please write them down. The details on the slide are the contact details for the quality support team and you can contact us for further assistance at any time with your process and documentation. I will just note the 1800 number, you will recognise that. That is information and inquiries and just ask to speak to the Quality Support Team. So, thank you for your time today. We know that taking an hour out can be a tricky thing and we appreciate the time that you've invested in this seminar today. I hope you have a lovely rest of your day and we will see you at future sessions.

Funded programs

We are now midway through 2023 and Community Preschools will be planning for their funding in 2024.

Sonja Herrmann: Welcome everyone. We'll just give it a few seconds, or minutes just for everyone to join us. Thank you.

Joss Wyer: Right, I think that is my cue to kick off. Hi, everyone. My name is Joss. I am a manager of strategic communications within early childhood education in the department, and I'll be the facilitator for this evening session. Thank you so much for joining us this evening. Appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day and at the end of your day as well to join us for Start Strong for community preschools. Before we begin, I'll just acknowledge country. So acknowledge that I am living and working on the lands of the Worimi people, and will pay my respect to Elders past and present, and extend that respect to the traditional custodians of the lands on which you are all joining us from today across the state. And I would also like to pay a special respect to any Aboriginal, or Torres Strait Islander people on this call. So, just a bit of housekeeping before we kick off. So, you can see on the screen, microphone and video is disabled, but we do have the Q&A function, which you'll be able to type into throughout the session. We'll be using Menti, so have your mobiles handy, because we have a few Menti questions to do as part of the session. We will be recording it, and we'll share the link through our EDM with you as soon as it's live, and we've got closed captions as well. So as you can see on the agenda, we're pretty jam packed. So, we've got Sonja, Steven and Fabian who will be presenting this evening. Like I said, post your Q&As throughout the session and we do have time at the end allocated to do those. You can upvote. So, if you see any in there that you are really keen to hear answered, just make sure you use that function and we'll get to as many as possible as we can at the end. So, I'm going to throw to Sonia to kick us off. This is Sonja Hermann, who is a manager of preschool funding within Early Childhood Outcomes. And I'll throw to you Sonja.

Sonja Herrmann: Fantastic. Thank you, Joss. I'd also like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land I'm coming to you from today, which is the land of the Darug people. I pay my respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to any Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander people joining us today. As you see on screen and heard from Joss, it's a packed agenda, which means we may not get to all of your questions at the end, but that's why we have a dedicated team ready to answer questions in the Q&A feature. So put your questions in as we go, and we'll try and answer as many as we can. We will also review the questions after the session and think of ways of how to share answers more broadly with you. Before we get into our first topic of today, let's set the scene by looking at the Start Strong program and what we're trying to achieve. So on the slides, you can see a pretty good overview and I'll just run you through very briefly what we're looking at. So through Start Strong, we're aiming to improve access to preschool education. So one of our elements to reduce barriers such as costs is the fee relief payment. We have targeted strategies as part of this universal program to improve outcomes for children. And we recognise how important these early years are in the lives of young children. Start Strong also supports quality preschool education because we know high quality early childhood education programs deliver long-term benefits to children. And finally, we strive to incentivise increased involvement and attendance in a quality preschool program. At the bottom of this screen, you can see a few key figures for you to just go through, pointing out that we fund approximately 700 community preschools, and over 3,150 long day cares under Start Strong. We also fund 34 mobile preschools under various funding arrangements. So, this was just a brief overview of the Start Strong program. You can find more information on our website, and someone from the team will now post a link to the chat for you. Thank you. Next up, I'll be talking to you about our first main topic of the day, which is the fee relief and reserved funds. So to help understand the upcoming slides, let's refresh our memories on how Start Strong for Community Preschools funding is calculated. So under Start Strong, a services funding allocation is determined by the most recent annual census. So for example, for 2023, services allocated Start Strong funding, both program and fee relief funding based on enrolment data sourced from the 2-week capture period of the 2022 August census submission. Services funding is based on the number of eligible enrolments, the characteristics of each enrolment, and the hours of enrolment for each child. And that's outlined in the program guidelines, while both the program payment and the fee relief payment is supplied to providers, the program payment is to support your standard business operations, while the fee relief payment is to be passed through to families in the form of reduced fees. So in the following slides, we'll be looking only at the fee relief payments, not the program payments, very important. So, certain circumstances may result in a service under spending on their fee relief funding. This may be due to reduction in eligible enrolments, or a number of families claiming fee relief elsewhere. Let's take a look at an example. A service that noted 25 enrolments in the 2022 August census would have received a 2023 funding allocation for 25 enrolments. Now in 2023, if the same service had fewer than the 25 enrolments, or a number of enrolments that did not claim fee relief at their service, then the service would have to reserve these funds. These funds would be reserved until an enrolment arrives that wishes to claim fee relief. So, if the service had 5 enrolments who did not claim fee relief, these 5 enrolments worth of funding would be reserved. And we'll get into what reserving means on the next slide. But this is the crux of what we're discussing today. Providers who have underspent or have been overpaid, and therefore have reserved funds at the end of the program period are required to return this funds to the department. Now, instead of refunds being requested en masse from the sector, we are exploring the option of having the amount of reserved funds offset against the provider's future payments. And in order to facilitate the offsetting of reserved funds against the provider's subsequent funding allocation, we need to implement a process to obtain accurate information on services amounts of reserved fee relief funding. So, some additional notes to help clarify what reserved funds are. So, you can think of fee relief funding being allocated to an enrolment spot or a place, rather than an individual child. If an enrolment spot is currently unfilled, or the child currently enrolled in the spot is claiming free fee relief elsewhere, that enrolment allocation of fee relief funding is reserved until another eligible enrolment arrives, and wishes to claim fee relief at your service. As mentioned, you cannot expand reserved funds until an eligible enrolment comes to claim it. As outlined before, in order to facilitate the offsetting of the reserved funds, we need to obtain accurate information on services amount of reserved fee relief funding. So for this purpose, we propose a simple data collection in early 2024. We are proposing to use SmartyGrants for this process, which we know is easy to use, and many of you have done so in the past. On the screen, you can see where this data collection would fit into the broader funding allocation process. The August 2023 census is not far away. It's just pretty much next month. And once you have completed it, we will be using the data submission to calculate your 2024 funding allocation. In early 2024, we then undertake the reserved, we'd undertake the reserve funds capture and then offset the reported reserved funds against future payments in 2024. Worth noting that not every service will have funds reserved. The reserved funds capture would sit alongside the annual preschool census, therefore complementing existing collection mechanisms and not duplicating them. Important, the reserved funds are not to be mistaken for fee relief surplus funds. So compared to reserved funds, surplus funds are what remains of a child's fee relief allocation after their daily fees are reduced to zero. For example, in 2023, the amount of daily fee relief allocated to children involved for 600 hours or more is approximately $52.75 a day for 2 days a week. So this is when we're looking at 4,220 over the 40-week year of 15 hours or 2 days a week. If a service has a daily fee charge of let's say $40 for non-equity 3-year-old children, that means the daily surplus fund for each of these children is $12.75. On the other hand, if a service has a daily fee chart above the child's daily fee relief allocation, let's say $60, there will be no surplus. As for the program guidelines, services must use this surplus in the first instance to lower any additional charges that the service may invoice to families. For example, this may be used to reduce an administration fee, or an excursion fee. Following the additional reductions, if any funds still remain, these can be used to reduce further fees and other costs, or in a similar manner as program payments in accordance with the program guidelines. So surplus funds, important, are not considered in the reserved funds process. Now, we want to hear from you regarding the fee relief in 2023, and how we can support you through the data capture process. For this purpose, we've prepared a Menti to get your phones out and follow the instructions on screen. So, you'll see the code on the left-hand side there. The team will also post a link, I believe, in the chat feature. So if you'd like to use a browser and not your phone, you can do so as well. We have a few questions for you. And the first one is how do you feel fee relief was implemented at your service? So looking at right now, basically the last 6 months, you will see multiple options on the screen for you to select from. So, we'll see 'very well' is leading at the moment. So, that's great to hear. More coming through. We've got quite a few in 'very well' and 'well'. That's excellent. Feel free to keep voting even if we move on to the next question. That is fantastic. That is really good to hear, thank you. Excellent. So, next question we wanna hear from you. So, during the fee relief implementation process, which of the following supports did you find the most useful? Again, you will be able to see multiple options. So to choose from, we've got webinars, Q&A sessions, phone support, email support. So that could be, you know, from the department, or from our implementation support providers. You've got webinars very popular, great. It's good to hear. So it will help us, you know, also decide what we can do in future to support you. So, that is excellent. So, yeah, not much moving in the webinars, most popular Q&A session, second, email support third, very close to phone support, I suppose, and then there was other options. On the others, we would actually know, like to know, were there any other supports you found useful? So anything in addition to the webinars, Q&A, the phone and email support, what else was there that you found useful? So CCSA, one of our previous implementation support providers. Great. All right, we'll take that on notice, not from us, but from the implementation providers. Your head office, that is good to hear. It's jumping around a bit peak body support. All right, it's jumping quite a bit. Written scenarios, okay, that is very useful feedback. Guides from us. I'm assuming that's me, thank you. Smart Central, Facebook groups, networking, yeah, networking would be very useful. Websites and preschool associations. That is fantastic. Thank you very much. And lastly, we would like to know what can the department do to support you during the fee relief data collection process? So that could be similar to what we've done before, but is there anything in particular that would be beneficial, would support you? Give it a few seconds before the answers flow in. Interval service support, clear guidelines. Good, Q&A, scenario examples. Keep it simple, we'll talk about that probably a bit later. Easier loading system, okay. Staff, clear guidelines. Yes, clear guidelines. You will hear something on this later by Steven. Fantastic, lots coming through. There was something on videos I think I saw. Individual support, I think I said before, examples, phone support. Electronic data collection, excellent. Thank you so much, that is super useful. Lots of good feedback and good ideas. Thank you. Our next topic is the transition to calendar year funding. So as you know, the starting program has been operating on a financial year basis since its launch in 2017. And we now want to move to a calendar operation as this aligns with the preschool year, the preschool reform agreement, as well as other programs such as the Disability and Inclusion Program. We also heard from the sector that this would support their forward planning in a better way. The next 6 months will be a transition period and Start Strong for Community Preschools funding will be delivered on a calendar year basis from the 1st of January, 2024. Once on a calendar year, the first quarter of funding will now be delivered for January to March, and no longer July to September. Census adjustments will no longer be required from August Census 2024, and the previous census will determine your next 12 months worth of funding. So for example, the 2024 Annual Preschool Census will determine your full 2025 calendar year funding. On this slide, you can see how the next 18 months of funding will work, noting that the previously outlined proposed reserved funds process has not been included here, and that will be considered later. The July to December payments will initially be based on the 2022 August census. This is the same as before. Adjustments will then be made following the completion of the end review of the 2023 August census data. The January to June 2024 payments will be the final round of funding where backdated funding adjustments are included. And then from July to December, 2024, we will be fully on the new process with funding entirely determined by the August 2023 census. So, no more backdated funding adjustments will occur after that point. And further details and additional supports will be shared with you all over the coming months. I know this is a fairly big change, we want to support you as much as we can, and there could be visuals, and updates on the website as well. We'll take your notes from the previous event into consideration as well. Speaking of funding adjustments, Fabian from my team will now provide a brief overview of updated guidelines and criteria for services who may be eligible for a funding adjustment outside the typical census period.

Fabian Jaimes Arias: Okay, thank you Sonja. Funding allocations based on annual fiscal census data works for most services. However, we understand that there are circumstances where a service may need an adjustment to its funding outside these typical arrangements. For this reason, the department had established guidelines to support services experiencing financial hardship due to significant increases in enrolments. To be considered under these guidelines, services funded under the Star Strong for Community Preschools program need to meet certain criteria. The following 2 categories were available under the previous guidelines. Services approved for operation less than 2 years ago, and experiencing financial hardship due to an increase in enrolments. Services whose Start Strong Capital Works project led to increase in enrolments. Where a service is eligible for a funding adjustment under these guidelines, funding calculations are completed in addition to adjustments made following the Annual Preschool Census. For example, a service may have completed its Start Strong Capital Works project in time for term 1. The service sees a significant increase from February, and can therefore request a funding adjustment. The service does not need to wait until the August census. The August census data will still be used to calculate the services funding going forward, and any additional increases will then be captured. Let's take a look at what has changed with the new guidelines. New criteria have been approved, and the following has been added. Services that experienced a significant enrolment increase, this now includes established services. Services that increase the number of 600 hour enrolments, and services whose funding is impacted by a crisis event. For example, services impacted by natural disasters, such as flooding or bushfires, environmental events, such as coastal erosion or unplanned changes to premises. Revised guidelines will be published on the department's website for the first time in due course. The published guidelines will include detailed criteria. Now on this slide, we can see a summary of the old and the new criteria. All 5 categories build the updated guidelines for funding adjustments. Any inquiries regarding a review of funding under the funding adjustment guidelines can be directed to our email that you normally use, which is the ecec.funding. And I will now hand back to Sonja for the next part of the webinar.

Sonja Herrmann: Thank you, Fabian. And I think I just wanna maybe point out that this is actually quite a significant change. It's a great change. So if you do have significant changes involvements, you know, throughout the year, we know there's various circumstances where they can happen. Do please reach out to us, you know, email us or call us, and we'll have a conversation with you. All right, so now in the next, I guess, roughly 5 minutes or so, I'll be talking you through some proposed changes to the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas bands, or in short, the SEIFA bans. They're used under the Start Strong Community Preschools program and determine the funding rates. So on this screen, you can see the current SEIFA bands landscape for funding calculations. SEIFA bands are an integral part of Start Strong program, as you know, and they are intended to deliver funding to the community preschool sector in an equitable manner. The department created expanded range of SEIFA bands based on suburbs and postcodes in New South Wales using 2011 ABS data. These bands go beyond the deciles used by the ABS and give a range of 1 to 18. The funding rates are scaled along the SEIFA bands and the hours of enrolment. So for 6-hour of enrolment, services on the lowest SEIFA bands, so that's 1 to 8, receive the maximum rate of $7,466. And services on the highest SEIFA bands, which are the 17 and 18, receive $4,808. To see the current funding rates by SEIFA band, please visit the Start Strong program guidelines and look at table 2. And the team will insert the link, so if you wanted to have a quick look at it, you may do so. Worth noting, regardless of the service of the SEIFA band, the service will receive the maximum rate of $7,466 for all children eligible for equity loadings. So, what are the proposed changes in SEIFA bands? We are recommending changing the 18 SEIFA bands to 10 SEIFA deciles. This means the program would be better aligned to the ABS data, as well as other programs such as Start Strong for Long Day Care. That program already uses the SEIFA deciles. It should also make it easier for services to find relevant SEIFA information. We're also proposing to change the SEIFA data from 2011 to 2021. We think this change is absolutely needed. It's timely, as areas have gone through significant demographical and geographical changes. And our SEIFA data used for funding can and should really reflect these changes. Lastly, we're looking at whether SEIFA details should be maintained at the service level, so as they are right now, so determined by the service address, or should they be determined by the addresses of children involved at your service. With the option of using child addresses to determine SEIFA, we recognise that every child involved at your service comes from the suburb or the SEIFA area your service is located in. As such, funding would be better targeted to the children and families that need it most. However, we also understand this option brings up other questions such as how will budgeting, and the funding planning tool work with multiple different SEIFA details, you know, would there be any considerations around fees? There's quite a lot of questions that probably come up when we're talking about child level addresses. So we'd like to hear from you more in our upcoming Mentis, so get your phones ready. There's one more slide, I believe, and then we'll go on to the Menti. Maybe 2 slides, apologies. So on this, on the previous slide, I already had some of the reasons as to why we're proposing these changes. So, that includes the outdated ABS data. It's time to move with the data, the significant demographically and geographical changes, the alignment with the ABS and other programs such as Start Strong Long Day Care. Also like to reiterate that Start Strong is intended to deliver funding in an equitable manner. So we wanna reach out to the families, and the service most in need. So, our proposed changes mean we better align the SEIFA details with this aim. I'd also like to acknowledge that we have heard from you in the past about the SEIFA bands, and that a change is needed, which includes simplifying by using deciles instead of the bands. So, let's summarise the proposed changes again. So, changes would not come into effect immediately, but from 2024 onwards, 18 SEIFA bands would be converted into 10 SEIFA deciles with funding rates to be scaled accordingly to support equitable funding distribution. Each service of SEIFA decile would be either based on the address in the Early Childhood Contract Mentor System in short, ECCMS, or the National Quality and Agenda IT System, so NQAITS. Or we would use the child addresses to determine SEIFA deciles instead. And for that purpose, we'd be using census data. The maximum funding rates would not change with this proposal. And we're also looking at transition arrangements and additional supports that we can provide to you. I'm sure you've got lots of questions, and feedback on the proposed SEIFA changes. So, you get onto our Menti, and I can see someone's already in there, which is fantastic. So the first question is we wanna, I guess, hear from you. If you had a preference, what would that be? Would it be service address, which is the current system, or would you perhaps think a child who just reflects your service better and would support more children? And we also have an option if you don't have a preference. I also recognise that thinking on the spot, you probably can't think of everything. So this is just a quick capture to get your views. We'll engage more and have more conversations in this regard. So, we're just really curious to see what you think, what's currently, when you hear about these changes, what's on your mind? And the follow on questions will be around, you know, what are your thoughts around the SEIFA deciles, whether we base it on service address or not, or the child address. So we'll do both and capture a bit of additional feedback from you. So, we can see the majority has a preference towards the service address which we have heard before. So, let's go into the next question. So, share your thoughts on the SEIFA deciles based on the service address. So what speaks to, I guess, the service address or what does not speak to the address? And I guess most people would think about, is it because it's simpler? If you're used to it, you know, very keen to hear your thoughts on why you would preference this. All right, so we've got consistency for setting fees and budgeting. Consistent, consistency, yes, due to cross-border. That is a good point, simple to use. Childless means more population, harder to budget. We have children from many suburbs. Yeah, border town. Not sure if we can scroll down to the screen. Thank you. Centralised, yeah, we see a lot of consistency, which is great. Most families in the same area. Yeah, it looks like we've got lots of similar feedback, which is excellent. Children in rural areas would benefit. Yep, excellent improvement. It works now. That is, yeah, we've had SEIFA on a service address for quite some time, since the beginning of Start Strong in 2017. Too many variables with children. We have a wide range of socioeconomic families, but the majority live within the same postcode. That is good to know. Yeah, same town. All right, let's move on to the child address then. So, what are your thoughts on the SEIFA deciles house based on the child's address? And that might be the opposite, but maybe there's other things to consider. We'll give it a few seconds. Here we go. Too messy and complicated. So yeah, so as I mentioned, it could be just the opposite, too many variables. Nightmare material, right? Complicated, targeted for children. So that's right, one of the benefits, it would be targeted to the children and the families where they're coming from. Changes significantly from one year to the next. That could be the case for some services. Great idea, our families come from far and wide. Excellent. Can we scroll down a little? Well, or maybe we just move on to the next one. Even if you still post some questions, our answers will obviously have a look at it afterwards. All right, so the last question we have on the SEIFA is what type of support do you need for the SEIFA transition? And that could be various, I'm not just talking about webinars and things. You know, what else is there that we can do for you to support you through that? All right, training, individual, clear information, staff, guides, information. Around the deciles, webinars, clear guidelines. When will we know hour deciles? So we're working through that at the moment. So, we've only received the ABS data for 2021 recently, so we're working through all of that. So, there will be more information shared with you as soon as it becomes available. FAQs, clear information. Time to adjust, yes, time is a factor we're considering. And face-to-face workshops, that is fantastic. Information ahead of time, we'll try and make it as timely as possible. Possible funding support if it decreases due to the change, and that's good to hear. That is something you'd like us to consider. And an early access to funding tool. Excellent. I think, so if you still wanna post some of the answers, please do so, but I'd say we've got a lot of responses, which is fantastic, thank you. So, thanks for participating in our Mentis tonight. All right, over the next 2 slides, I will be handing over to Steven Gibbs, our acting director of Commissioned Programs, and he'll take you through some of the additional details regarding the Start Strong for Community Preschools program in 2024.

Steven Gibbs: Great, thank you. Thank you, Sonja. Yeah, so we've turned our attention to 2024, thinking about ways we might want to enhance the program and improve it for services and to improve it in terms of child outcomes. So one of the things, of course, that we're quite aware of is the importance of getting guidelines to you as soon as possible. We know in the past that hasn't always happened. So, we're working very hard to actually finalise the guidelines over the next month, or so that we can actually release them to you in term 3, and so that you can do that as early as we can. Our aim also is actually to keep the changes fairly moderate for 2024. We're not looking to do any kind of major changes to the program, given that there's already a few changes in place in terms of say calendar year funding, and SEIFA, and so on. But I can assure you that the funding rates on an enrolment basis will not change, and they're not gonna reduce at all going forward. Next slide. Thank you. So what we are going to be doing over the next, you know, over the next month, or so when we release the guidelines, the guidance we're looking to actually simplify as much as possible. Some of the feedback we've had and we've actually had it in this session earlier was around just making sure that those guidelines were clearer. So, we've been working internally on a new commissioning framework that will give us some great, great evidence around and framework around delivering better program support over the next few years. And part of that work involves simplifying the program guidelines, ensuring that we're actually creating clear sections and the information you need is at the foreground of those guidelines. So, keep an eye out for that. Obviously for 2024, some of the SEIFA band changes that Sonja has just outlined, that will be one of the bigger changes in this particular sector. And then the other thing we're actually looking at at the moment is ensuring that we're supporting as many services as possible within the overall outcomes that we're trying to achieve within this. And so we're looking at some of the some of the services that it's perhaps not so much a preschool thing, but some of the out of scope services that actually do deliver preschool programs that support vulnerable disadvantaged children, particularly in the community, that they get access to some of the Start Strong funding as well. There's only a small number of those particular services, but we know through our engagement with the sector that there are, particularly around fee relief, will support, I think, some of the children we're talking about. That's pretty much it for me in terms of 2024. Just keep an eye out in term 3, that we'll get the guidelines out as quick as we can so that you guys can start planning for 2024. All right, I'll now hand over to Fabian, who's gonna just go through, I guess, what's gonna happen in the next 3-6 months.

Fabian Jaimes Arias: Okay, thank you, Steven. So, now I'm gonna talk about accountabilities. On the 14th of June, the Performance and Assurance team sent an email informing that the Accountability form for the 2022 calendar year is ready in ECCMS. Please note that this corresponds to 2 programs. The Start Strong Free Preschool Accountability can be accessed directly from the bottom of the left side menu of the ECCMS homepage. The Start Strong for Community Preschools Accountability can be accessed on the Accountability tab within the individual funding specification. So 2 different places, one is in the menu, the other one is in the tab. The completed accountabilities need to be submitted by the deadline, which is the 28th of July of this year. You can access The Financial Accountability return guide by visiting the link in your email, or simply searching it on our website. And also our team will post it in the chat. If a service receives funding under more than one program, please be careful to locate the right proportion of salaries and other expenditures into the different programs in order to avoid any duplication. And if you need help with your accountabilities, please contact our team by emailing eceaudit.funding or calling the 1-800 number in the slide. Now, I will bring you some good news. So we aim to send the funding letter covering the July and December funding period to the provider's main email address registering ECCMS before the end of term 2. The funding letter will include details on program and fee relief payments. And I have warm news for cold days. Payments will be processed during the winter school holidays. Now, the representative fortnight for this year's census covers from the 31st of July to the 11th of August. The census itself will be open in ECCMS from the 17th of July until the 25th of August, and we will have a dedicated helpline and email address that will be available from the day the census opens until September. Once the census is open, you can contact the team by emailing ECECcollection, there's no dot in between, so it's the whole thing together, at, or calling that 1-300 number as well. And ECCMS. So ECCMS, as Sonia, Steven, and myself, we have been mentioning, is the abbreviation of our software. So if we answer the phone and we say about ECCMS, it's ECCMS. And if you haven't reviewed your details in ECCMS in a while, I suggest checking that your list of contacts is updated in the following 3 areas. So it's contact at the provider level, contact at the funding specification level, and user roles. And the SP-Admin is the only user role that is able to accept terms and conditions, submit accountabilities, and also submit the census data. So, please be sure that this staff member has access to ECCMS. And if you change your bank account details in ECCMS, please let us know as soon as possible. You must fill an Electronic Funds Transfer EFT form and send it to us via email. This is very important as we will also need to make changes in our finance system. So when you change your bank account details in ECCMS, the system sends you an automatic email with this EFT form attached. You can also request a copy from us or find it in our website. And also another good news is that we recently added an additional description to your remittance advice. These additional details should help you more easily identify the nature of the payment received. You can also visit the payments tab in the funding specification in ECCMS to review your funding amounts or refer to the funding letter that we sent you. Now, the Transition to School Statement supports the continuity of learning and development for children between early childhood education and care and school. The transition to school digital statement is a preferred method, but where the digital statement is not possible, the PDF version can be completed and uploaded on your existing software platform. Our transition website has user guides and other support material available for you, and the link will be in the chat. And if you have any questions or need support, the transitions team is available via email, ecec.transitions, and it's in the slide. And also the next 6 months, terms and conditions will be released towards the end of term 4. So, please keep an eye on your emails so you can review and accept them. We will send the funding letter with our location and payment details for the January to June 2024 period. You will also be able to see the 2024 details in ECCMS around that time. In December this year, we will make the first payment corresponding to the first quarter of the 2024 calendar year program.

Joss Wyer: We are exactly at 6:30. Thank you, everyone, for tuning in this evening. We appreciate it's late. So, thank you so much. The contact email was in the slide, but I'll get the team to quickly post in the chat too if you do need to get in touch, but thank you so much for joining. Have a great evening and see you soon. Thank you, everyone.

We are now midway through 2023 and Long Day Care will be planning for their funding in 2024.

Kate Hancock: Good evening everyone and thank you for joining. We can see the numbers are rising, so we'll just give it a couple of minutes and then we'll get started. Great, well, we might get started on tonight's webinar, which is Start Strong for Long Day Care. Today we have presenting Meagan Smith who's a Programs Officer with Preschool Funding Long Day Care, and Caitlin Anear who's a Manager of Preschool Funding Long Day Care. So I'm just going to hand over to Meagan to kickstart the webinar.

Meagan Smith: Thank you, Kate. Yaama, yamandhu marang? Hello, are you good? I begin today by acknowledging the Wiradjuri people from the lands I am presenting from today, and to all the traditional custodians of the lands on which you are joining us from today. I pay my respect to all Elders past and present, and I extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today. We recognise the ongoing custodians of the land and waterways where we work and live. We pay respects to Elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines, and stories. We strive to ensure every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learner in New South Wales achieves their potential through education. Just a bit of housekeeping to begin. The microphone and video will be disabled during this presentation. There's also no access to the chat function, but you can lodge a question using the Q&A function. We will be using Menti during this session, and Menti allows a live collection of information for us all to see. In preparation for this, please have a mobile phone available to participate. This session will be recorded and available on our website following the completion of the presentation. Automated closed captions have been enabled during this presentation for accessibility. During the presentation, we will mention email addresses and phone numbers, and we will have a slide at the end of the presentation with these details for you to gather. It's now time for our first Menti. If you can all please scan the QR code with your mobile phone. The information that we are looking to collect from this first question is around fee relief. As this is the first year that fee relief was available to all children 4 years old on or before the 31st of July, attending an eligible long day care service, we would like to understand how you feel fee relief was rolled out in your service. The question is how do you feel the implementation and delivery of fee relief went at your service? Scaled from 'not very well', 'not well', 'neutral', 'well', or 'very well'. It's really excellent to see that we have a lot of 'well' comments with the fee relief implementation, so I'm glad to see that. It'd also be interesting to find out what other aspects of the implementation of fee relief that didn't go quite so well. But definitely glad to say that most of the people here today think that it went quite well. The 2023 Start Strong program is the key mechanism through which the Preschool Reform Agreement and the Affordable Preschool Initiative is being delivered to provide funding to long day care services for the provision of preschool education in New South Wales. The Start Strong program objectives are to improve the affordability of early childhood education, uplift quality, drive improved outcomes for children, and incentivise increased enrolments and attendance in quality early childhood education programs in the year before school. The program focusing on supporting children in the years before school to access quality early education regardless of the service setting. The program is outcome-focused. This means we are building a link between evidence, the program, and performance to influence more effective outcomes for children throughout improved program design and delivery over time. The 2023 program was also designed to be more consistent with the Start Strong for Community Preschools program. We had some amazing results with the uptake of the 2023 Start Strong program. 97.2% of eligible services are participating in the 2023 Start Strong program. 82,000 children have access to fee relief across New South Wales in long day cares, community preschools, and department preschools. Over 3,200 services are participating in the 2023 Start Strong Long Day Care. I wanna take a moment to congratulate each and every one of our long day care employees for their hard work in implementing 2023 Start Strong. We understand the difficulties faced by services with the changes made. Everyone has done a wonderful job in embracing these changes to deliver affordable quality preschool education to children in the year before school. Well done and thank you for all of your hard work. From the introduction of the 2023 Start Strong guidelines in October, we have achieved many milestones to get us to where we are here today. In November 2022, services were revised of their funding allocation amounts for the 2023 Start Strong program. In December 2022, the terms and conditions were released, and services were advised for those who wanted to participate in the program needed to accept the terms and conditions. In January 2023, the new Start Strong program officially commenced. Services also received 75% of their fee relief entitlement in quarter one of the program payment and 3-year-old trial payment. In February 2023, the Australian government provided the New South Wales department with a representative week of enrolment data. This data assists the department to analyse changes in enrolment numbers. In May 2023, the quarter 2 payments were made, the program payment and the 3-year-old trial payment, which brings us to where we are now. And today we'll be discussing the remainder of the 2023 program and the 2024 Start Strong program. I would like to introduce you to Happy's Long Day Care. We'll be using Happy's Long Day Care as a case study service to walk you through the program requirements. Following the release of the 2023 guidelines, Happy's Long Day Care read through the new guidelines to understand their requirements so they could start planning for 2023. In late 2022, Happy's Long Day Care received their funding allocation letter and accepted the terms and conditions of the 2023 Start Strong program. As a part of the introduction of fee relief, Happy's downloaded the declaration form. To be able to pass on fee relief to families, they provided a declaration form to all parents of children that were for on or before the 31st of July 2023. The families filled out these forms choosing whether or not to have fee relief applied at Happy's Long Day Care, providing consent to sharing information with the department and return the form to the service. One of Happy's preschool's children, Joey, turns 4 on the 17th of April 2023, which makes him eligible for the fee relief throughout 2023. Happy's provided a copy of the declaration form to Joey's parents and asked them to fill it out. Joey's parents filled out the form and confirmed they wanted to access fee relief at Happy's. They consented to sharing Joey's information with the department. They signed the declaration form and then returned the declaration form to Happy's. Happy's Long Day Care collected all the declaration forms from their families of eligible children and have recorded the details into their software. This included forms from families who have chosen not to access fee relief at Happy's. Happy's Long Day Care had their software updated at the end of 2022 in preparation for the 2023 Start Strong program. The changes to the software means that Happy's can record the fee relief information for each of the eligible children as per the technical specifications document. The image on the screen is from the technical specifications document which outlines the information that is required during the data submission in July. Happy's Long Day Care is open for 52 weeks of the year, and each eligible child receives $2,110 of fee relief across the year. Happy's have been providing fee relief of $48.58 per week to eligible children. During the first 6 months of the year, Joey's parents have signed him in and out each day he attends and advised of absences when he was sick or on holidays. The software has calculated Joey's daily and weekly fees and the amount of CCS from the Australian government. With the changes to Happy Long Day Care software, they have recorded which families have signed and submitted the declaration form, tracked the amount of fee relief each child has received and the number of weeks it has been provided to each family. Knowing the weekly fee relief amount each child is eligible to receive, Happy's was able to record this in their software. Having completed all necessary steps, coming into January 2023, Happy's Long Day Care was prepared. They had their system updated and was ready to deliver the fee relief to families. The fee relief deduction will appear on each invoice the family receives. With the collection of all this information, Happy's Long Day Care is prepared for the fee relief data submission coming up in July. Moving into the second half of 2023, the department and services will continue to work together in the delivery of the Start Strong program. In July, we will be processing the quarter 3 payments including the program payment and 3-year-old trial payment. In addition to this, the remaining 25% of fee relief will be paid. For the first time, services will be asked to submit the fee relief data for the period January to June 2023. More information on this will be provided in future slides. In August, the 2024 guidelines will be released followed by the 2024 Fee Relief Declaration Form. Moving towards September, in preparation for 2024, services can start providing the 2024 declaration form to families in enrolment packs and to existing families when confirming enrolments. In September after the fee relief data has been cleansed, the Start Strong Long Day Care will be able to analyse the data and commence calculation of the fee relief. Sorry. In October, the department will be processing the quarter 4 payments including the program payment and 3-year-old trial payment. In November, we'll be sending out the 2024 terms and conditions for acceptance by service providers. It is really important that these are accepted as soon as possible to ensure prompt payment of the 2024 Start Strong funding. Apologies.

Kate Hancock: Meagan, do you want me to take over while you have a drink of water?

Meagan Smith: Yep, apologies. It should be fine now, thank you.

Kate Hancock: Great.

Meagan Smith: Now I need to know where I was up to. From November, funding allocation amounts will be communicated to service providers via email. At this time, services should be able to prepare the Transition to School Statement for the children who will be attending primary school in 2024. In December, we will begin processing fee relief payments for services who have accepted the 2024 program terms and conditions. This will mean service providers are able to provide fee relief from January 1, 2024. Coming into the new year, the 2024 Start Strong program will commence, and in January, the first instalment of the program payment and 3-year-old trial payment will be made. In February 2024, we will be conducting the second fee relief data submission for the period July to December 2023. With the introduction of fee relief, approved providers need to meet new reporting and data submission requirements. Services who have been recording the information we went through on the last few slides across the first 6 months of the year will mean that they are ready to complete the fee relief data submission. Service providers must complete the mandatory data submission for all children in the service, including those children who are not getting fee relief at the service and have returned their declaration form. The submitted fee relief data will enable the department to access a number of eligible children receiving fee relief at the service, calculate fee relief funding adjustments for services, meet Australian government data reporting obligations in exchange for the third party payment exemption, report to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to determine family out-of-pocket expenses after all government subsidies are applied, and support the evaluation of the Start Strong for Long Day Care program. During July, your service will be asked to undertake their first fee relief data submission. We will be using ECCMS to complete the fee relief data submission. The department will contact services via email to advise them of their allocated dates to access ECCMS and upload their data. In preparation for the data submission, we encourage services to check that their software is up to date and can allow the data extract. If you are unsure about any steps around extracting the data, please contact your software provider. For support on the fee relief data submission, there will be a dedicated website available which will have fact sheets, quick reference guides, and how-to videos available to support services. If you need further support after accessing these materials, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you do not use a third party software system, please contact us for additional advice. Going back to Happy's Long Day Care, we will be looking at how they submitted their fee relief. On the 6th of July, Happy's admin officer runs the fee relief report in their software system and extracts a CSV file with all the required data from the 1st of January to the 30th of June. On the 12th of July, Happy's received their invitation to submit their data in ECCMS. On the 13th of July, Happy's reviews the data filed and makes sure it only contains the information about children whose family have consented. On the 14th of July, Happy's logs into ECCMs, records that their service is open for 52 weeks of the year, and uploads their data file. Happy's Long Day Care is open for 52 weeks of the year and their daily fee relief is $127. They have calculated their fee relief per child by dividing $2,110 by 52 weeks, giving them $40.58 per week fee relief. Happy's has downloaded their CSV file from their software and they have removed the children where the parent has not provided consent for their information being used. As you can see, the CSV file is quite plain, but it has all the required information needed by the department. Firstly, we can see the service details for Happy's, including the SEID number, service name, and address. We then move to the child information starting with their name, enrolment ID, date of birth, and address. The example on line 8 has part of their details removed as the family did not consent on the declaration form for the additional fields to be shared with the department. This includes their enrolment ID, language diversity, First Nations identity, and number of days enrolled. Moving along on the CSV file, we can see if the child identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and language other than English at home. It then moves on to the enrolment details. Number of days or sessions attended, number of hours attended, and number of days or sessions absent. The software has calculated the total fees charged and the amount of CCS and ACCS applied for the period the 1st of January to the 30th of June. As you can see, all of the children have had their declaration form signed and submitted to Happy's. The child in line 2 was not enrolled at Happy's for the first week of the year, so their fee relief started week 2. So they were eligible for $1,014.42 fee relief. The child in line 3 has not opted for fee relief at Happy's because they are claiming it at another service. So their fee relief amount is nil. The child in line 4 changed service in week 18 and no longer received fee relief at Happy's. Their total fee relief was $675.20, which is slightly under the total they were eligible for, but after CCS, Happy's utilised as much fee relief as the child was eligible for until their fees were nil. The child in line 5 started at Happy's in week 5 but also attended another service, and the family decided in week 22 that they would claim the fee relief from the other service. So Happy's only applied the fee relief for week 5 to 21, totalling $689.81. The child in line 6 attended for a full 26 weeks and had $1,055 fee relief applied to their fees. The child in line 7 was eligible and consented to claim fee relief at Happy's, but after the CCS and ACCS was applied to their fees, the remaining amount before fee relief was nil and being tracked in their case, and is being tracked at the service in case their fees increase over the year to apply the fee relief against those increased fees. The child in line 8 attended for the full 26 weeks and had $1,055 fee relief applied to their fees. The fee relief data submission will allow the department to adjust the amount of fee relief a long day care service is eligible for. Initial calculations for fee relief were based on the representative week snapshot from May 2022 provided to the department. We understand that service enrolment numbers change during the year, and we want to support all services so they are not out-of-pocket any fee relief that has been paid to eligible families. Fee relief data cleansing and adjustments will commence just after the close of the submission period, and we aim to make payments from September. The department will store, cleanse, consolidate, and verify data sets and report to the Australian government. The department will protect all data received in accordance with security and privacy compliance guidelines. In line with security and privacy compliance guidelines, services are not able to email the CSV file to the ECEC funding mailbox. If you are experiencing issues with the ECCMS upload, please call us to discuss. Going back to Happy's Long Day Care, we'll be looking at how they recorded their expenditure of the Start Strong funding streams. Happy's Long Day Care have been keeping excellent track of their spending of the Start Strong funding. They are only required to have an ECT 4 days a week and they have allocated some of their program funding to employ an educator full-time. This assists them to develop a quality early childhood education program based on the Early Years Learning Framework and have an ECT working in the preschool room every day of the week. Happy's have been keeping track of the additional days and hours ECT is working, and the wages that have been paid to employ them for the additional day. Some of the 3-year-old trial payment has been used to purchase educational resources. Happy's bought 12 new painting easels that mean that all of the 3-year-old children can now be included in more of the preschool activities provided to the older children. They have retained receipts of the purchases as evidence they have spent their funding appropriately. Happy's was able to send one staff member to a training session that was designed to provide ideas to educators about activities specific to 3-year-olds. Happy's retained a copy of the invoice of the training costs and accommodation for the staff member to attend. They had to backfill the position with a casual educator and they weren't able to use the Start Strong funding to cover those additional staffing costs. Happy's knows the new guidelines in 2024 declaration form will be released from August 2023 and is preparing to familiarise their staff with the upcoming changes. In September, Happy's downloads the new 2024 declaration form from the department Start Strong Long Day Care website and starts to hand them out to new families in their enrolment packs or when confirming enrolments with existing families. Just like this year, parents will nominate a service on the declaration form, allowing Happy's to know if their service will pass on the fee relief or not. Happy's Long Day Care knows that there are a number of children who will change service in the year before school, and this can impact where the child is claiming the fee relief from. Happy's is collecting and keeping the 2024 declaration form. They are updating and recording the child's information in their software, and when it comes to January 2024, Happy's is ready to pass on the fee relief to eligible children and have it recorded on their invoice. Happy's has had some personnel changes and have logged into ECCMS to update their primary contact details. If Happy's did not update their email and phone number in ECCMS, there would have been delays in the receipt of funding. In November, Happy's receives an email with their allocation amount for the 2024 program. Happy's accepts the terms and conditions for the 2024 Start Strong program in ECCMS. Happy's will receive their fee relief payment in December, which will allow them to calculate fee relief allocation per child for 2024 and be prepared to release fee relief to families from the 1st of January. In January 2024, Happy's will receive their program payment and 3-year-old trial payment. They're excited to further develop their staff and purchase additional educational resources. Moving away from the new fee relief requirements, there are another 2 elements we will cover today. The first is the development of the Transition to School Statement. This is the first year that the Start Strong program has required services to use the Transition to School Statement process to support children transitioning to their first year of school. The Transition to School Statement supports the continuity of learning and development for children between ECE and schools. The Transition to School Digital Statement is the preferred method, but where the digital statement is not possible, the PDF version can be completed and uploaded on your existing software platform. Transitions website has user guides and other support material available. For further questions and support, The Transitions Team is available via email at I would also like to provide some information on services transferring approved providers. When a service is changing approved provider, we need to be advised at least 42 days or 6 weeks prior to the effective date. In addition to the notification given to the regulatory authority, transferring approved providers need to email A transferring approved provider will be sent a financial accountability document that will need to be completed and returned. This document breaks down the payments received, what has been expended, and the balance left to be paid to the receiving provider. A receiving provider will be sent a statement of transfer of funds which outlines the amount that they have received from the transferring approved provider and evidence of the transfer such as a bank statement. If the receiving approved provider has not received funding before, they will also receive an undertaking for unexpended fund form to be set up in the department systems to receive funding. In the instance that the transferring and receiving approved provider do not have a matching GST status, the department will liaise with these providers as a different course of action will need to be taken to transfer the funds. This now concludes my section of the presentation, and I would like to introduce you to Caitlin, the manager of the Preschool Funding Long Day Care team, to provide details on the 2024 Start Strong program.

Caitlin Anear: Wonderful, thanks Meg, that was a great overview of the 2023 program. And I'm so grateful that your voice held out to the end. So you did a great job. I'm now gonna go into a little more detail about what to expect from the 2024 program. So the Start Strong program and the guidelines that outline all the rules about the funding are reviewed each year. As we've heard, the 2023 program saw lots of changes for long day care services including the introduction of the fee relief, increasing the program funding and a broadening of the spending rules, and rollout of the 3-year-old trial to support 3-year-old children to access preschool. We've heard from services and providers that the department should keep any changes for next year minimal to allow the major changes undertaken in 2023 time to settle. Based on this feedback, the changes to the 2024 Start Strong program will be limited. The program elements, that is, the program payment, the fee relief, and the 3-year-old trial will all remain key aspects of the 2024 program. We also receive lots of feedback that the release of the 2023 program guidelines happened too late in the year to enable services to plan appropriately. This year the 2024 program guidelines will be released in August. The funding rates in the 2024 guidelines will not reduce. There are some areas that the department are considering making small changes to. These changes are designed to make the program easier to understand, streamline the payment spending rules, and ensure that services can plan effectively. The department is investigating opportunities to broaden the scope for services who are not currently eligible for Start Strong. When considering service types that meet the objectives of the program, this includes services that focus on supporting preschool aged children to access 600 hours of a quality preschool program. The guidelines will be updated and might look different to this year's. The department is focusing on making sure the guidelines are accessible and easy to understand, with the most important information for services to be provided upfront. The fee relief spending rules may be streamlined to better enable services to expend surplus fee relief. We know services understand their local community needs and would like to enable you to use this information to make decisions about applying excess fee relief to best support disadvantaged and vulnerable children and their families who are accessing your service. The department is also considering options to reduce the administrative burden on services and providers. This includes looking at returning to bi-annual payment instalments and whether or not unexpended or reserved funding may be able to be rolled over into the next year's program. Changes to the 2024 program will be included in the new guidelines. When these are released, we'll notify all services and be sure to explain where the key differences are from 2023. If you've got any feedback on anything I've mentioned, I'm really keen to hear from you and you can send emails through to our ECEC funding mailbox. We've got some specific details at the end for you there. Okay, we've now got some time to do some live Q&A and we've got Kate back to help us out with this. Really keen, if you haven't had a chance to pop your question into the Q&A box, please do so. Also just wanna let you know if we do get overwhelmed with questions, we are gonna keep a record of all of them and we will provide some answers after the fact as well. So if we don't get around to answering your question today, we will guarantee that we'll be able to answer it later on. I'm actually gonna start with a question that was lodged during the registration for this session so you were able to lodge questions that you're really keen to hear a response to. So I'm gonna start with one of those. The question was, "At my service, "I have approximately 3 months' worth "of fee relief left, "then I will need to top up to cover the fee relief "for the remainder of 2023. "When will I receive more fee relief funding?" Now, I know we've gone through some of this this afternoon, but I think answering this question is a really good way just to confirm the process for people. So service's fee relief allocation was based on the number of eligible children in May 2022. So it sounds like this service has seen an increase in their eligible children accessing the fee relief above the amount that they were originally funded for. So by submitting their first 6 months of data that Meg just went through, the department will be able to use that information to calculate how much fee relief they've expended so far, estimate how much the service will expend for the remaining 6 months of the year from July to December, and whether or not an adjustment is needed. So if the service does need an adjustment, so it sounds like this one, for example, would need an adjustment, the department will begin making those payments from September. Also I just wanna note that the final 25% of the initial allocation of your fee relief funding will also be paid out in July as well. So you will have received your 75% at the beginning of the year. You'll also get your next slot in July, so you'll get a fee relief payment in July. And then if your data shows that you need an adjustment, you'll get a second payment from September as well. Gonna hand over to Kate now to go through some questions.

Kate Hancock: Thanks so much Caitlin. I've noticed in the chat one of the questions is, does a service need to submit data for all enrolled children?

Caitlin Anear: Yeah, look, that's a great question. Yes, they do. They need to submit data for all eligible enrolled children who have provided consent for their data to be submitted. So they would need to provide data for their children that are accessing the fee relief at their service, but they also need to provide that data for children who've chosen not to access the fee relief at their service. Maybe they're enrolled in another service and have chosen to access the fee relief there. So they will need to send through all of the data they have for their 4-year-old eligible children in relation to fee relief regardless of whether or not they're accessing fee relief if their parents have consented, if their parents have filled out that consent form. That's the real key there. You need to make sure that that form's being filled out.

Kate Hancock: Great, thanks for that, Caitlin. Another one that we've got is when is the deadline for data submission? The person has noted that their third party provider is not yet ready with giving them information on how to extract data, so they're keen to know the deadline.

Caitlin Anear: Sure, the deadline is not quite set yet. So what we are really hoping to do is to have a period of time where services are going to be able to submit their data, and we're going to ask for services to submit that data in different sections of that time to make sure that the system, so to make sure that ECCMS is able to collect all of that data and that services won't have to wait or have any delays in the system being able to handle all of the data that it needs to collect. So there isn't a hard and fast end of the due date, but the entire data capture period will be finished by September. So it will be some time between July and August, because by September, we need to be making those decisions about who needs that adjustment payments.

Kate Hancock: Great, thanks Caitlin. Is it compulsory to submit fee relief data to the department?

Caitlin Anear: It is, yes. Yeah, it's part of the guidelines. So it is compulsory for you to submit the fee relief data through to the department. It's really important not only for us to be able to make those fee relief adjustments to make sure your service has been funded appropriately, but it's also part of the requirement we have with the Australian government. The fee relief payment from the New South Wales government is considered a prescribed third party payment by the Australian government, and part of the agreement we have with them is that we need to provide some data through to them, so they can do that overall analysis of what the impact of the fee relief has been. And so they require that data from US so it's compulsory to submit the data.

Kate Hancock: Great, thank you. So what does a service do if they don't have a software provider to help them do that?

Caitlin Anear: Meg, do you wanna answer this one?

Meagan Smith: I can. So for those services who do not have a software provider that they upload their information to, we will be looking after these services separately, we will be providing them with a manual form to complete, just noting that this manual form is only available for those people who do not have a software provider. So we'll be able to communicate with those people separately. So they'll just need to reach out to us at ECEC Funding or the phone number that will be available at the end of this slide deck.

Kate Hancock: Great, thank you. And again it's another question that relates to the authorisation to share information, and the question is where a child is eligible but the family doesn't authorise information to be shared, is fee relief still received for that child?

Caitlin Anear: So I suppose just to, it's a bit hard to clarify the question 'cause we don't know who asked it. But I suppose if the situation is that the service has a child attending who is eligible for fee relief but is not accessing it because they've chosen not to, then the service needs to make sure that they quarantine that funding and don't spend it in case, for example, if that child was to leave your service, say, halfway through the year, and the new child that came in to fill that spot did wanna access the fee relief, you need to make sure that you have that fee relief available for that new child who's come into that spot. So I'm not sure if I've answered that question 'cause there's a bit more information I'd need. If I haven't, if that was your question and I haven't, please send it through to the ECEC funding mailbox and we can provide some specific answers to your question in relation to whatever's happening there.

Kate Hancock: And we got a yes, you answered it, thank you.

Caitlin Anear: Excellent.

Kate Hancock: Which is always nice to see. Just having a look through 'cause we've got a few questions coming through. So picking out the ones that are the most on trend. One of them that we've had is is the data submission different to the normal weekly submissions?

Caitlin Anear: I think that's in relation to the weekly submissions that are required by the Australian government through the Child Care Subsidy System, and it's a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. So it is a different submission that you're required to upload your CVS file through to the New South Wales department through ECCMS. But the weekly updates of your system where when you're sending your invoices out to your families and you're showing that fee relief and you're tracking all of that in the system, it should really just be a report. So if you're doing that weekly or however often it is that you send your invoices out, it doesn't have to be weekly, as long as your system is tracking that, the software providers should have in place an ability for you just to download a report really easily and then the extra steps you're gonna need to do is then to upload it into ECCMS with us. So it is a separate process, but the data collection side of it and making sure you've got all that information should be happening automatically through your software system.

Kate Hancock: Thanks so much for that. Now we've had a couple of questions about 4-year-olds and funding for 4-year-olds. One of them is do we still get funding for 4-year-olds before the new financial year? And the other, and I'll tell you both of them at the same time because they're relating to the same thing is do we continue to offer, offer relief to current children until the end of the year? Any child turning 4 from July will get the relief from January 24, is that right? So it's a little bit of interpretation in the questions, but it's a lot of it relating to that 4-year-old group.

Caitlin Anear: Sure, yeah, and so I think what the information is, yes, if the child was eligible, so if they were turning 4 before the 30th of July, then they will, even if they weren't 4 in January yet, so they haven't had their birthday, they should have been receiving fee relief from your service the whole way through and they will continue to receive that once they turn 4. In relation to those children who will turn 4 after July of this year, you won't need to apply fee relief for them because they're not eligible this year, but they'll get full access to the fee relief from next year. So they'll get their year of fee relief from next year instead of this year.

Kate Hancock: Great, and what happens if a service can't submit their data within the allocated timeframe?

Caitlin Anear: Yeah, sure, that's a great question. So if there are any sort of, I guess, technical issues either with ECCMS or your own data software system, definitely reach out to us and we'll try to work through those. If there is some reason that you do end up missing the entire deadline and we can't get that data from you, what it will mean is that your service won't be able to be considered for an adjustment during that September process. So that's not to say that you won't get an adjustment at all. It will just need to be outside of the timeframes that we've been chatting about here 'cause we'll need access. We'll need to figure out how to get your data, what the issue is, get it in, and then make those analyses and whether or not you might need an adjustment. So it will just mean the timeframes we've spoken about won't apply.

Meagan Smith: As an extension to that question as well, I can see that they're asking about how the deadline will be communicated. So we will be sending out emails to each of our services advising them of their allocated dates that they will be able to upload their data into ECCMS. If you do experience any issues during this timeframe, please also reach out to us so we can work with you through those issues.

Caitlin Anear: Yeah, I think that's probably the key here. We know this is the first time you've had to do this. It's the first time we've had to do it as well. So we're really keen to work really closely with our services and our providers to make this as seamless as possible. I think it was mentioned earlier, but I just wanna reiterate it. There is gonna be a number of different resources available to help you with this. We'll have how-to videos. We're gonna have a quick reference guide, a step-by-step guide. There's always the phone line, the telephone number which we'll go into in just a moment to make sure you've got a hold of them. I'm really keen for you to contact us and we can try to walk you through and get the data. So I think that's just really important to note that we know it's new and we know that there's probably gonna be some bugs with it, but we're really keen to work really closely with services to get it ironed out.

Kate Hancock: Great. Children who receive fee relief this year but still attend next year, will they still receive funding next year?

Caitlin Anear: Absolutely if they're still eligible. So if their age is still eligible, they can absolutely still receive fee relief. That will be the case both for your children who are attending maybe in those first 4 weeks of the year before they head off to school. So they might just come along to the long day care for sort of January, and then they're off to school, so they will be eligible. And then also for those children who are going to go through that second year of preschool, they'll also remain eligible, and we'll be funding your service based on that eligibility for sure.

Kate Hancock: I think the next question follows on from the submission deadline that you were talking about earlier, Meagan, and the question is, will the submission time be different for every service?

Caitlin Anear: Great question. Not every service. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna batch up I guess groups of services. It's actually going to be done by provider as well, which is probably just something important to note. So if you are a provider who has more than one service, and we reach out, we'll be reaching out about all of your services in the same batch as well. So, yeah, I hope that answers that.

Kate Hancock: And I'm on mute. We've still got questions coming through. So just going through these ones and again it's another question is is data submission only for Start Strong fee relief?

Caitlin Anear: Yes, yeah, that's right. Yes, this is just in relation to the fee relief, but when we say fee relief, we do mean all of the potential eligible children at your service. So what we were saying before about children who are receiving fee relief and children who aren't, both of those groups are captured in this data submission, but it isn't in relation to your program payment or your 3-year-old trial payment, which are the other 2 streams of your Start Strong funding. So it is just in relation to your fee relief funding.

Kate Hancock: There's actually a question that I can help answer which is is this session being recorded and will it be made available? It is being recorded. It will be made available. It does take us some time to get it up onto the website just to make sure that it's accessible for everyone. So it'll be made available in the coming weeks. So I'm feeling quite good that I was able to answer one of the questions. Just having another look through.

Meagan Smith: There was a question in there, Kate, are these guidelines for approved providers the same for changes to management committee? All other details remain the same. So in relation to that one, I believe they're speaking about the transfer. So as long as the provider ID is not changing for the service and it's just the management committee, so the people who are responsible for looking after the service, then those transfer conditions do not apply. If that's not the right answer to that question, also feel free to email the ECEC funding mailbox and we'll get some more details from you as well.

Kate Hancock: Great. And this is another 4-year-old question. If a child has just turned 4 this month, are they able to have funding applied from June?

Caitlin Anear: Yes, they definitely are. And they were also able to access fee relief before they turned 4 as well. So because the eligibility of the child is 4 on or before the 30th of July, that child, even though they were 3 for the first half of the year, they were eligible for fee relief. So if that is the case for any services who might have children who have been eligible and perhaps they haven't been accessing fee relief, they didn't realise they were eligible, reach out to the funding mailbox for us 'cause we can provide some specific advice about what you can do. Moving forward is easy. You can apply the fee relief, but we can have a discussion about what you can do about the first 6 months of the year for the child if they were at your service for that time as well.

Kate Hancock: Great. I think we've got time for a couple more questions. So one that I've got here is children that receive funding this year and are still eligible for next year, in their case, do parents need to sign another declaration for the new year?

Caitlin Anear: Meg, do you wanna answer that one?

Meagan Smith: So, yes, we do need a new declaration form completed for each child every year. This just allows us to follow the fee relief amount that we're expending to services and also allows us to track children who are attending multiple services and how many children are accessing the fee relief. So the answer to that is yes, we do need a new declaration form completed by families for each child each year.

Caitlin Anear: And can I just add to that that the declaration form will be new as well. So it's not just that you need a new declaration form. There will be a 2024 specific declaration form. If you have a look closely at the current one, like it talks about 2023 on there. So there will be a new declaration form and that will be released after the guidelines have been released as well. So don't start using your 2023 form. I know that you might wanna try to get in front of this and get your families who are enrolling now for next year or those children that you know are going to be continuing on in your service. Don't get them to sign the 2023 form. You'll need to wait until we've released the 2024 form.

Kate Hancock: That leads very nicely into the next question, which is what happens if the family returns their form late? So, for example, the funding started in January 2024 and families didn't return the form until March 2024.

Caitlin Anear: Yeah, sure, and there's a couple of bits to that. So in relation to what happens to the way your fee relief is applying, sorry, the way your service is applying fee relief, we've left this up to services. So because we know the forms were new, fee relief was new for parents and for services this year, if you've got a child who has been at your service for the first 6 months of the year, family were late in getting their form, you have 2 options. You can either have, you can either apply the fee relief for the entire year for that family or you can start the fee relief from the date that that family lodged the form with you. So there's no hard or fast rules this year about that because it's a new process and we wanna try and get as many families accessing this fee relief as possible. In relation, the other bit I was just gonna say, in relation to your fee relief data submission and how the department funds you for that, unless and until the program is finished, we don't have any oversight of those forms. So the department has no way of knowing whether or not a particular family has filled out a form or whether your service has collected it. So the data submission is really the only way the department is going to know how many of your families have filled out that form. So you'll just need to make sure that any of those forms that you collected partway through the process that the data is in your data submission so that we can count that child as having received fee relief and we'll know how much fee relief you've applied 'cause it will be in your data.

Kate Hancock: Excellent. This is a question that I particularly love given the sustainability angle. Is there going to be a digital declaration form so the services don't have to print so many out?

Caitlin Anear: Yes, that's what we are hoping for. What we are looking for in 2024 is to try and make the form in a way that you can put it into your own software system. So we know that services are using a bunch of different third party software. So our first step is to try and make that form accessible in whichever of those software systems that you use so that you can send them out in the way that maybe you send out all your other forms. So that's our first step. And then broadly into the horizon, the work that's being done on the digital hub, that's just one of the things we're considering about whether or not something like that can sit in the digital hub as we move towards that.

Kate Hancock: Great, thank you. Now we have run out of time for questions, but I did just wanna flag that Lisa has said, "Thank you very much for providing this information "and that you've clarified things really well, "Caitlin and Meagan." So I'm gonna hand back over to you for a bit of a Menti for us to collect some information.

Caitlin Anear: Excellent, thank you Kate and thank you for that feedback. That's lovely to hear. So, Menti, this is our final Menti. So if you can scan the QR code again, what we're really keen to understand is what elements of the program do you wanna hear more about? We're gonna use your responses to plan out what our resources and our supports are going to be, 'cause we wanna make sure that services are really, really supported to plan and implement their Start Strong funding. So our question is what else would you like to learn about the Start Strong program? And I believe it's a free text so you can type in whatever you might want into that question. I think they're gonna come up on the screen, but we're also gonna take it away and analyse it and then plan out what other types of supports we might put in place from here as well. So I'll give it a minute. I can see a couple of questions relating to the 3-year-old trial. Apologies, this is very little on my screen so I can't really read it, but we will go away and we will take very close notice of what's coming in. Some more questions about the data. Very, very soon we will be releasing more information about the data collection, sorry, the data submission as well. So there will be an EDM that will go out. There'll be the new webpage that we've been talking about. So this isn't the only time you're going to hear about this. There will be other ways that we'll be able to keep you up to date specifically with that data submission as well. So keep an eye on your inboxes. That's coming out very, very soon.

Meagan Smith: I can also see that there are some comments on there in relation to providing clear guidelines that are easy to interpret. So that is one of the feedback we did receive from the 2023 program as well. And in our development of the 2024 Start Strong program guidelines, we are aiming to make them a little bit clearer to understand with more specific information about spending rules and other information on there that has been identified is required more by services.

Caitlin Anear: That's a really great point. Alright, just really conscious of time. I think the other thing I just wanna mention is if you haven't had a chance to respond to that question or you think of something later, please contact us. Please send us an email about what would be really helpful for you. We're really keen to hear from services. This is our final slide. It is basically just our contact details. I've seen that they've also just been popped into the chat function as well. So you can contact us via telephone Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 at 1800-619-113. We have ECE funding mailbox which is I'm not gonna read out the link. There's a link there onto our Start Strong pages where you'll find the guidelines, you'll find the overview, the technical specifications. Anything Start Strong-related you'll be able to find it from that page. We've also included our colleagues from the Transition to School Statement team as well. So they're at And there's a little link there to their resources, which are sitting on the department website as well. Hey, am I thanking people or are you? I'm happy to do it, that's totally fine. A big thank you to everyone who's come along this evening. I know that it's late and we really appreciate your time here and your feedback both through the questions and the Mentis that we've done has been really, really helpful. We're hopeful that it was informative for you as well. And key takeaway is please contact us if you've got any questions about anything we spoke about today or anything more broadly. Give us a ring or send us an email. We've got lots of people on the team who'd love to have a chat.

Kate Hancock: Thanks Caitlin, thanks everyone.

Quality and compliance

This presentation will walk you through resources available to manage all food allergies.

Louisa Coussens: Session. We'll talk about the regulatory requirements. We'll spend some time thinking about risk. We're also lucky enough today to have with us Kathryn Mulligan from the Anaphylaxis Education Program at New South Wales Health. And then we'll finish with a short Q&A session. Please be posting your questions throughout the presentation. Some we will provide written answers to, during the session, and some we will leave for the Q&A session at the end. Inevitably, there will be some questions that we won't be able to get to today, but it's fantastic to see them coming in. The information really helps the Regulatory Authority to structure our guidance and any that we don't manage to answer, we'll make sure that you receive either answers to your questions or guidance that helps you answer your questions after the session. I'm going to introduce Yasmina Kovacevic to you now. Yasmina is the Director of Regulatory Strategy, Policy and Practice here at the New South Wales Regulator.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thanks, Louisa. Good morning, everyone. It's good to see a solid turnout for this really important information session. This information session links our focus to harm prevention and the safety of children while they are in your care across New South Wales in any education and care service. I'm Yasmina, acting Director from the New South Wales Regulatory Authority, and I also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of lands that we are all on today and pay my respects to the Elders past, present, and emerging. The New South Wales Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and Care, as many of you know. But I'm just going to cover a few points for the benefit of new staff across the state. We have an important oversight function across safety and quality. Our work spans the full range of activity and decision making, from the very first entry point to becoming a provider of ECEC or operating a new service, changes across the service delivery, ongoing compliance monitoring, and quality assessments. We also respond to incoming complaints and incidents that occur across all service types. So as we carry out our regulatory efforts, we are focused on upholding public trust and confidence in all education and care settings through our safety and quality oversight lens. We do this for the benefit of children and families right across New South Wales. So as you can imagine, we have a wealth of data that provides us valuable insights into systemic issues, knowledge gaps, and challenges that the sector may be facing in meeting obligations. A very important part of our role under law is to ensure providers, service leaders, and educators know where and how to access important guidance about the NQF. And in this context today, we are focusing on a very specific topic, all about allergens. As a regulator, we have zero tolerance to critical or serious harm to children while they are in your care in any ECEC service setting. And I know that we share this position with you as responsible and dedicated providers, service leaders, and staff across the sector. Allergy and anaphylaxis management in education and care services recognizes that mealtimes present heightened point in time risks to children. So the focus on consistent practices in your service is so important. Children and families rely on that focus to be maintained. We also know that many providers have seen new staff join their services, and I'm sure that there'd be a significant number of participants here today that may not have seen our guidance session last year on this very same topic. So we've made a commitment as a trusted regulator to make sure that all of you have access to the guidance you need, to be the best you can be in whatever role you have in the ECEC sector. Providers, service leaders, educators, and support staff. And we know from our data that we are seeing persistently high numbers of instances where children are being fed known allergens. So there is definitely more that we can do and that there is more that we need to do collectively as a sector. So stay with us. And I see the numbers have climbed. We're getting closer to 360, that's great to see. You're going to hear great guidance today, useful information from expert speakers, including, as Louisa mentioned, our guest speaker, Kathryn Mulligan from New South Wales Anaphylaxis Education Program. I will now hand back to Louisa.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Yasmina. The Regulatory Authority's first priority is the health, safety, and wellbeing of children in New South Wales. It's crucial that anyone caring for children understands and recognizes the symptoms and necessary medical response for an allergic and anaphylactic reaction, and that we as educators and service providers can identify and manage risk to eliminate potentially life-threatening situations while supporting children to participate in the full range of activities. A critical point in the day where we are seeing incidents reported are mealtimes and food related activities. So today, we're going to look at allergy and anaphylaxis management in ECEC services with particular attention to food and mealtimes. The Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations stipulate requirements around the management of medical conditions such as allergy. Let's take a look at the key regulatory requirements. Regulation 168 requires an approved provider to ensure the service has policies and procedures outlining how the service manages medical conditions in children, including the matters set out in Regulation 90. Regulation 90 outlines requirements for the medical conditions policy, informing staff of the services practices for management of children's medical conditions. It details the requirement for a medical management plan, a risk minimisation plan, a communication plan for all children with a specific healthcare need, allergy, or medical condition. All three of these documents are required, so let's look at them more closely. Firstly, a medical management plan. This document should detail all required information about a child's condition, triggers, circumstances, and necessary medical response, including any medication needs. There is a nationally recognized medical management plan for asthma, anaphylaxis, and allergy that can be used to fulfill the requirement for a medical management plan Under Regulation 90, the ASCIA action plan. We'll discuss this more in a moment. Secondly, a risk minimisation plan. This plan identifies risks and strategies to eliminate or reduce the risk specific to the child and the service environment. And thirdly, a communication plan. This explains how everyone is to be kept informed of each child's changing needs over time. So that's Regulation 90. Regulation 91 states the parents must be provided with a copy of a services medical conditions policy if the provider is aware that the child has a specific healthcare need, allergy, or other relevant medical condition. This ensures that parents understand what the service's responsibilities are, what measures are put in place to protect their child, and that they're involved in discussions about their child's health needs whilst in care. Let's revisit the ASCIA action plans for a moment. As I mentioned, ASCIA action plans meet the regulatory requirements of a medical management plan for asthma, anaphylaxis, and allergy as outlined in Regulation 90. As of June this year, 2023, ASCIA has released updated versions of these plans. I want to confirm that previous versions of these plans are still acceptable. However, as services are conducting their regular reviews of children's medical plans, we would encourage services, families, and medical providers to shift to the updated format of these ASCIA action plans. I also want to point out that ASCIA action plans do not expire. If plans run beyond the date of review, they remain current and active unless your service has its own policies requiring more frequent reviews. ASCIA itself recommends that as new adrenaline injectors are prescribed, a review should take place, including updating the child's photo to ensure they can be identified easily. Shortly, Kathryn Mulligan from the New South Wales Anaphylaxis Education Program will discuss these new action plans in more detail. Moving on to our next regulation. Regulation 136 highlights the requirement for staff training of anaphylaxis, ensuring that all services always have at least one trained staff member present and immediately available as a minimum requirement. I'd like now to ask everyone to join in a Menti question to help us get an idea of what allergy scenarios you might encounter in your daily work. So please grab your phone and scan the QR code that's coming up on your screen. Yes, that's very telling, isn't it? 120 and rising have answered yes and only 9 have no child enrolled with an allergy. Interesting. We might move on to the next question if we can Also, yes is in the majority. So most of you are serving food as part of your daily routine, 123 to 40. Thank you. That's really useful information. Let's move on to the next question. Just an interesting step about processes in your service. So an educator, a cook, some people have that two point check process where an educator and a cook are checking. Most services, in fact, have two checks. Really interesting. Thanks, everybody. Let's move on. I can't see the slides, but I'm going to press on. We've talked about mealtime being a critical point in our procedures and a common point in the day for allergy-related incidents to occur. How then can we make mealtime safer for children with allergies? Whether a service provides their own food, uses a food delivery service, or asks children to bring food from home, the risk of exposure to known and unknown allergens is greatly increased during mealtimes. The way in which a service minimises this risk has significant implications for the health and safety of children. Kathryn from AEP will also be going through some common risk minimisation strategies in her presentation today. I'm going to touch upon some key considerations when developing or reviewing your services procedures for mealtimes and food-based activities. Obviously, we can't eliminate food, so we must manage it. There are really 4 areas of knowledge you must have in order to manage and minimise risk. First, you need to know the health needs of the enrolled children. Second, you should know your services policy on management of medical conditions and be able to locate and understand all documentation relating to the child's health needs. Third, you must know about ingredients and be able to identify products that contain allergens. And fourth, you must know how to respond if a child is exposed to an allergen and how to follow the child's medical management plan. Crucially important is how your service manages meal preparation, meal serving, and mealtime supervision. The procedures in place at your service should support all children to participate in mealtime safely. What does this look like in practice? Well, here are some suggestions. Develop a menu using knowledge of known allergens within your service. Substitute ingredients where possible, ensuring product labels and ingredient lists are double checked. Where you can't eliminate an allergen completely, have a tailored allergy safe meal for children who can't eat it. If you use a food service, have these discussions with your food providers and make sure you know what checks are in place at their end. Talk to families about service-specific allergy requirements to ensure lunchboxes are packed with care. Ensure supervision practices are embedded at mealtimes, including identifying possible allergens within lunchboxes. Review your service's supervision strategies during meal times. For example, how do you ensure a child does not eat from another child's bowl? Is there a handover plan if educators need to leave a supervision post? These considerations, as well as your policies and procedures, should be specific to your service environment and address the unique circumstances in your service's risk minimisation processes. Services should also consider food-based play activities where the risk of exposure to known and unknown allergens is also increased. This includes sensory experiences, Play-Doh, arts and craft. For play-based activities that incorporate food, this may include strategies like replacing allergen food with other low risk substitutes, like a flour free Play-Doh. Ensuring children's allergen information is always accessible, adhering to close supervision for activities, and considering storage items such as egg cartons and milk containers, and strong communication and handover plans to ensure all educators understand and are aware of children's allergy requirements. Once again, a service's policies and procedures need to be specific to your service and address the unique circumstances in your service's risk minimisation processes. Review how meals are served and checked for allergens. How are allergen safe meals identified? A clear and consistent system is needed to ensure the right child receives the right meal. Implement a checkpoint to ensure each meal each time is checked for allergens and individual children's needs. This brings us nicely to our next slide and the sneak peek I mentioned at the beginning. I'm very happy to announce the imminent release of the meal checkpoint resource to assist services in their risk management approach to service of food. This is a risk minimisation tool that will assist in reducing potential exposure to allergens for children during mealtimes by providing an inbuilt checkpoint strategy to ensure the right child gets the right meal. For each mealtime, a staff member responsible for meal preparation will record children's names and known allergens on the checkpoint tool and assess the standard menu for compatibility. They will indicate on the tool whether a child can eat the standard menu or if a tailored allergy safe meal is required. An educator who will be serving the meal checks this information against medical management plans and menu items, confirming the meal the child was served. We've seen the reported incidents, and we know that exposure to allergens is presenting great risk to children. Over half of all reported incidents have occurred through a child being given or provided with a meal or food item containing a known allergen with high numbers of incidents in long daycare services. The meal checkpoint resource aims to slow down the meal service by ensuring that two people review children's health needs, review the service's menu and ingredients for the day, and confirm that the meal being given to a child does not contain known allergens. The resource will be freely available on the department's website imminently as a downloadable package, consisting of the resource itself and a how-to guide. Services are encouraged to review their risk management procedures with a view to how current practice could be improved in this area and how the meal checkpoint resource may assist in reducing risk for children with allergies. We do realize that a one-size-fits-all approach is not always possible given the broad range of service types and contexts that you will work across. Family daycare educators, for example, will often be the only person serving meals. In instances like this, a review of strategy and practice will help in refining the procedures you have in place to ensure the right child gets the right meal. Please visit our website for more information about this resource. I'm now absolutely delighted to introduce you to Kathryn Mulligan from the Anaphylaxis Education Program, who will be talking to you today about everything allergy. Thank you, Kathryn.

Kathryn Mulligan: Hi, everyone. And thank you, Louisa. Can you hear me okay? Great. Thank you for having me again this year. This is obviously something that I feel really strongly about. I do a lot of work with services, and some of you may have met me before. I'm really sorry. So let's move through this. Next slide, please. So this is what we'll cover. And just gonna start my timer so I don't rabbit on too long. So we're gonna talk about the new action plans. I find this really exciting. Some of you might go, "Oh my goodness, no new action plans. I just got used to the old ones." We make changes to the action plans as needed every now and again. Great new changes. So I'll go through them. We'll talk about mealtime risk management. Obviously, mealtime is the the highest risk time. So I'll go through some of those risk management strategies. I'll talk about resources. There are some great resources out there if you know where to look and where to find them. And talk about some general tips. Next slide. So the new format for the action plans. This new action plan was released on the... I think it was the 5th of June, so it's very, very new. The new action plan design is in response to the fact that we have two adrenaline injectors now. In the past, we've had two action plan designs, which one for each adrenaline injector. That has caused problems. So when people have gone to the doctor and had an EpiPen prescribed, for instance, and then gone to the pharmacy and had an Anapen dispense, there's been problems when the device and the action plan haven't married up. So it is really important that if you have an EpiPen, you get an EpiPen action plan because you want the instructions for use to be correct when you have an emergency situation and you need to use the device. So in response to these problems, what ASCIA decided to do was to have one action plan, which meant that no matter what device you ended up being dispensed, EpiPen or an Anapen, there was one action plan. So it is actually solving a few problems, especially when things like shortages of the EpiPen Junior occur. This happened in March this year. Doctors were prescribing EpiPen Junior devices, but there weren't any around, and pharmacists were dispensing Anapen Juniors because there was nothing else to to give. And this will solve these kind of logistic problems. The rollout is expected to take about 6-12 months before doctors are starting to fill in the new action plans as a standard. So don't expect it to be a sudden change when you're starting to see these new action plans. Next slide. These are it. So you can see that it is quite a significant change in design, but the basic crux of these action plans are exactly the same. So you can see that the instructions for both adrenaline injectors are on the red action plan there. The personal details of the patient or the child are actually up the top, which is a little bit different. And there's a bit of formatting change on the action plans. Next slide, please. Okay, so next slide. We go through the changes one by one. So you can see that there's the EpiPen and the Anapen instructions on the design, on the new design. That solves the problem with which ever in adrenaline injector you get dispensed. There is a wording change about.. in the asthma box, it's down the bottom, so it talks about allergen exposure. If you have a read of that, you'll notice and compare the two, you'll notice a bit of a change there. Next. The signs and action for anaphylaxis remain unchanged. So that red area is pretty much unchanged apart from a little bit of formatting. And there is a little bit of shuffling around of the mild to moderate section, and it's in two columns. Now, that's pretty much the only difference there. And the patient details are at the top there. The antihistamine section at the top of the action plan, you will be very excited about. And this is one thing that I really pushed hard for when I was asked for feedback. I'm on the Anaphylaxis Committee of ASCIA and I pushed hard for this, was that there is a dose section added to this part of the action plan where it is talking about antihistamine because schools and your sector, the early childhood sector, you need to have the dose as part of... to be able to give antihistamines to meet the regulations, so I fought hard for this. So I'm really pleased to say that I was listened to. I'm sure there are other people that said it, but I said it really loudly. So there's going to be a dose section so that you're actually...doctors actually will write a five milligram dose or a 10 milligram dose, so that's exciting. Next. So this is the first age plan for anaphylaxis. This is the action plan that I would recommend that you have in your services. So this can be used as a poster, and it's got no personal details on it. And this has both devices on it. Even if your first aid device that you have in your service is an EpiPen, I would suggest that you use the device, the action plan that has both devices on it. Next. There are going to be the new format action plans available that have instructions for single use adrenaline injectors only. So you will be able to get the new format with just EpiPen instructions and just Anapen instructions. So they will be available, but it is recommended that you do use both device instructions plans in services. Next. All right, so let's get into the risk management. This is such an important topic, and it's really important that we do kind of nut this out a little bit. Pardon the pun. Next. So just as a reminder, it's really important that you understand how allergic reactions can occur. So food particles are not floating around in the air. And as you would be aware, food is the most common allergy in children. But reactions occur predominantly from children being exposed to their allergen through the mucus membranes. The mucus membranes are from..are basically inside the mouth. So children are exposed through eating their allergen, so they are given food that contains their allergen, either in a meal or through cross-contamination. So it might be from people using cutlery that's contaminated or cooking utensils that are contaminated, fry pans, things like that, or the food itself can actually be their allergen. It can also be when they get food on their hands and then the hands go in the mouth. It can also be where food is on their toys or an object that then goes in their mouth, or it can be utensils and things like drink bottles that have been shared. And then that's how the food gets in their mouth. So that's just a reminder. Food's not floating around in the air. It's also really important when you're talking about allergies to understand the difference between allergy and intolerance because we do know that when we look at the reactions that have occurred, some of the reactions are occurring because there's a misunderstanding about the difference between allergy intolerance. People are being...people with a milk allergy, for instance, are being given lactose-free milk because there's a bit of an understanding. So... misunderstanding, sorry. So when someone has an allergy, an allergy involves the immune system, whereas an intolerance involves the digestive system. An allergy is potentially life-threatening and can lead to anaphylaxis. Whereas if someone has an intolerance to a food, it's non-life threatening and can cause some discomfort. An allergy....when someone has a food allergy, even small amounts can trigger a severe reaction. With an intolerance, often some of the food can be eaten. For instance, if someone has a milk...dairy intolerance, they can eat cheese, but, if they drink fresh cow's milk, they can drink a small amount, but not a lot of it, that's when their symptoms will start. With an allergy, the symptoms are the kind of symptoms that you see on the ASCIA action plan, whether mild to moderate or severe. When it's intolerance, you see things like tummy pain, or bloating, gas or flatulence, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, things like that. So it is important that if you don't understand the difference between allergy and tolerance, that you do look further into it or ask people that do know. So the ASCIA website has some good information about allergy versus intolerance. Make sure you're going to reputable websites if you do look it up. Next. Or you can ask, also contact us and we can help you understand. So when you are looking at risk management and individual healthcare plan, as Louisa was talking about, is really, really important. So the individual healthcare plan or the risk management plan should be developed. And when you are developing procedures or all those risk management plans, it's important that they are part of the routine for every day. So have policies, procedures, and routines that are just part of the everyday procedure. Don't just have procedures that are put in place on the days where the children with allergies attend because what happens then is they fall by the wayside, or if the child attends on an extra day, the procedures aren't there to keep that child safe and that's where accidents can happen, so have procedures that work every day, have them centre wide. So if you have a child with allergy in the baby room, but not in the toddler room, still have the same procedures in every room just to keep consistency, which means that when educators move rooms or you have casual staff, it keeps these systems consistent and there's less likely to be mistakes happen or gaps in procedures. Make sure everybody knows; casuals, students, volunteers. Make sure everybody knows what those procedures are. Next. So whether you have a child with an ASCIA action plan for allergic reaction, so a green action plan where a child has known allergies, but no prescribed adrenaline injector or an ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis, where they have a prescribed injector. The risk management strategies need to be the same, so we don't treat either of these two children or these two people with plans any differently. The risk management still should be just as stringent for both groups of people. Just because a child doesn't have prescribed adrenaline injector doesn't mean that they're not going to have anaphylaxis. It just means the risk is lower. Next. So in terms of start... sorry... resources, there are some really good resources for you to look for some examples of risk management strategies. So the best practice guidelines has a whole document with some strategy examples there and that is available at This is a complete resource hub. It is a national resource, so please be aware that you need to have a look at them and then contextualize them to New South Wales. And you need to make sure that they do comply with New South Wales requirements. Next. There's also the all about allergens training, which is This is free online training for kitchen staff. It is also for anyone who handles or serves food. And from that Mentimeter questionnaire, it looks like lots of people serve food, which means most people, if not all of you, should be doing this free online training. Some of it does talk about the kitchen in terms of food menu planning and food preparation, but it's still good information. It talks about food matrices, food labeling, food storage, but it's still relevant to anybody that serves food and prepares food. It's really good training and you get a certificate. And who doesn't love a certificate? So I would encourage you all to be doing that training. And it's free, so it's fantastic. Next. There's also the e-training, which is available online. And this does talk about some risk management strategies as well. That is also free. That's at This should be done ideally second yearly. It should, in my view, be part of induction for new training so that when you have new staff that they don't set foot as looking after children, shouldn't set foot in your service, looking after children until they've done that online training. There is also a 20-minute refresher. So if you ever have a feeling like, oh, I can't remember, I really need to kind of have a reminder, there's a 20-minute refresher, and that should be in addition to face-to-face training. So you can do that in addition to anaphylaxis only training, anaphylaxis and asthma, or part of your CPR, first aid CPR. There is also on the Best Practice Guidelines website, this document here, which is somewhere where if you are really kind of going, I don't know where to start here, this is something I'd encourage you to do. And it's a checklist, and it looks at your current practice around food allergy. And this is something you can work through to kind of look at where you're at now and what you need to be doing to get up to speed and get your service kind of more in line with what should be happening. So that's on the Best Practice Guidelines website as well. It's a really good kind of checklist to work through. So other things to be doing is to consider allergies, and Louisa did touch on this, but consider allergies when you're planning menus, obviously. Communicate with your parents about the contents of lunches brought in from home. So if you have nut allergic children, make sure that you are communicating to parents and you have to do this regularly that you request that nuts are not brought in from home in lunchboxes. So peanut butter sandwiches are not okay, Nutella sandwich is not okay, and remind them. And also, it also helps to explain to parents what nuts are, have pictures of them because some parents aren't aware. Some parents aren't aware that cashews are actually nuts or that Nutella does contain hazelnut, which is a nut. Consider allergies when you're preparing snacks. So when you've got cut fruit, when you've got cheese and crackers, and how you serve them also matters. So having cheese next to fruit and the kind of utensils that you are providing, making sure that there's no utensil swapping. When you are planning special events, so Christmas, Easter, Harmony Day, Teddy Bears' Picnic, things like that, make sure you are considering the children with allergies when you're doing that. There shouldn't be any exclusion. We don't want children being excluded from any kind of celebration, but we also want these children kept safe. One of the big things that I see regularly is birthday cakes being brought in from families. Make sure you've got a really clear policy around that. Are parents allowed to bring food in from outside? And if they are, do you have really clear requirements about what they can and can't bring in? Are they allowed to bring in cakes know, cashew buttered icing on it and things like that? Because again, you have to be aware that a lot of families aren't cognizant, I guess, of what is in food. If their child doesn't have an allergy, often families are completely unaware of what is in the food that they eat because they don't need to be aware. If you doing...if you are using food for educational purposes, like you're using're doing a cooking activity, please don't cook with a child's allergen. If...we don't want you to not do the cooking activity. We just want you to substitute. And again, on the Best Practice Guidelines website, there is a big document with lots and lots of substitutions. So if you are making a cake, there's a big list of substitutions you can use for eggs, for wheat, and for milk, for instance, so there's lots of substitutions. If you've got a vegetable garden, have a look at what you're planting for craft, like Louisa was saying, with the egg cartons and milk cartons. You might have to use juice cartons instead, things like that. Have a plan B. For instance, if you have a child with an allergy, and their food gets... their meal gets dropped. Have something in the freezer. Have a plan B. Next. So, obviously, meal times is the highest risk time, and you need to try and develop a system where you decrease chaos. So I'm a strong advocate of colour coding because this is a visual reminder. And have this colour coding consistently throughout your whole service, so from the kitchen, to the trolleys, to the plates, to labels, et cetera. And it can be any colour combo that works for the service. So I suggest traffic light colours, or so red, orange, and green because that's significant to me. Red means danger, orange means caution, and green means go. Put all ....allergies in the same category. So whether the child has a green action plan or a red action plan, put them in the same high danger colour. So for instance, in my colour coding system, the traffic light system, you would put children with allergies in the red category. If you can't get red plates, for instance, you might have blue, green, and white, whatever works for your service, but make sure it's consistent, consistent colour coding through whatever kind of labeling you have, make sure it runs right through the service. Next. So let's run with the traffic light colouring. So the children with allergies go in the red, the red category. So you'll have children with a red action plan, green action plan, coeliac disease, and FPIES, things like that. So anybody that's gonna end up in hospital, if they get fed the wrong food, they would go in this high risk category. And in my colour coding system, the traffic light system, it's red, but choose whatever colour works for your service. In the orange, the step down from the high risk is children with intolerances, lifestyle choices, religious choices, so vegetarian, halal, whatever. They go in the next step down. And in my colour coding suggestion, it's orange. And then you have green, which is no restrictions. My suggestion, though, in this case is not to have too many colour codes because it can get too confusing and it loses power. So have three or four colour coding, my suggestion would be three. And then have this colour coding working through labels, place mats, cutlery, cups, bibs or that kind of thing. Next. Then on your....the list of children, you could also have this colour coding thing. And this would work with the new meal checkpoint that has just been shown to you. You could actually write the children's names in these colours in the red, orange, and green. You could have their names highlighted, for instance. That could be integrated in this new meal checkpoint system as well. So also make sure that you have a handover when the food's being delivered. The two-person check. Two regular, preferably permanent staff members, making sure that the right food is given to the right child. Very, very important because if one person isn't on their A-game on that day, then hopefully the other person will. But it means that the right meal is being put in front of the right child. Okay? And when you are serving food, work through that colour coding. So the high risk children go first, so red children. Let's work through the red list first, then the orange children, and then the green children in that order, and systematic approach to food delivery. Same with beverages, you have to treat beverages the same. So especially things like milk, make sure that children with milk allergy have their...that their milk is absolutely checked to make sure they're not being given the wrong milk. They might have their milk bottles made up at home rather than made up in the service. Have a two-person check for delivering milk, same as food, 'cause milk being given to the wrong child can be very, very dangerous. Drink bottles, there should be a system to make sure that drink bottles are not swapped or shared. And something like, you know, storing them in pigeon holes or having supervision when they're handed out. Next. If you have food provided, making sure that right children get the right lunchbox and labeling, and cleaning up spills really quickly, and hand washing before and after eating is absolutely paramount. And washing with soap and water, not with hand sanitizer, running water and soap is absolutely preferable. Next When you're booking training for your staff, please make sure that you are being discerning about who does your training. Make sure that your first aid trainer does go through the ASCIA action plan and doesn't just show you how to deliver an EpiPen. That's a question that you should be asking. It's really, really important to make sure that your staff are well-trained in anaphylaxis and allergy management. Next. So some general tips, first aid adrenaline injectors. We highly, highly recommend them for all centres. Use the resources that are available to you, so the Best Practice Guidelines and online training, and you can also contact us. We are there to support you and our contact details are there on the screen for you. Next. And that's it. Sorry about the rushing, and thank you for your time.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you very much, Kathryn. That was fabulous to hear from you today. I know everyone here will be very appreciative and have benefitted enormously from everything you've had to say today. Thank you. Stay online, Kathryn, because we're gonna answer a couple of questions in a moment. I think we've got enough time left. But before we get into the Q&A, well, I just wanted to highlight how important procedures are in your day-to-day operations, particularly around mealtimes and food handling. It's really important that providers are maintaining oversight across all of these aspects and ensuring that any new or casual staff have access to and can easily understand what their role is in this really important area of practice. We've got some resources up on the screen, some additional sources of information where you can find details about allergy and anaphylaxis management in ECEC services. And additional links to specific documents have been included in the chat, so please do take a look. Okay, I'm going to turn our attention to some of the questions. Penelope, do you want to show yourself? Thank you.

Penelope Stone: Hello, everyone.

Louisa Coussens: Yeah, I might just start with this first question we have here from Grace. Thank you very much, Grace. And Grace has asked, "Can we please clarify? Do plans need to be reviewed and updated every 12 months? Is this a legislative requirement?" Penelope, do you wanna answer that one?

Penelope Stone: Absolutely. So, Grace, we did cover some of this in the session, but it's a really good point to reiterate to everyone. So these medical management plans, they don't have an expiry date at this point. Most medical practitioners will put a review date on it, or possibly your service policy might require a regular review of, say, 12 months or six months. Once again, they really need to be specific to the children because some children's allergies might need review every six months, some might be okay for a year. But in short, it is not a legislative requirement that they are reviewed every 12 months, although we highly encourage that regular review of medical management plans to ensure that you're meeting the child's needs. Children's health needs change regularly, they're growing very fast. Things change all the time, so it's really important to have that regular review going. And as you sort of come up to that regular review at some point over the next six to 12 months, as we said before, we would encourage you to look at the new ASCIA action plans and consider updating to those new formats.

Louisa Coussens: Thanks, Penelope. And I'm not sure if this is a question for us as the regulator again, or if this is one for Kathryn, but we've been asked, "If a child has anaphylaxis and allergy, do we need two plans or just one plan? And which plan do we need to use?"

Kathryn Mulligan: This is definitely a me one. This is a very simple, simple question. If the child has a prescribed adrenaline injector, they need the red ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis. If they don't have...If they have a known allergy and they don't have a prescribed adrenaline injector, then that's when they have the green action plan. What their trigger is for anaphylaxis doesn't really matter because they all go on the same plan regardless what food triggered their anaphylaxis or what the higher risk food is that is thought to be the one that's likely to cause anaphylaxis out of... You know, if they have five food allergies and only one of them is considered to be the high risk food, that's likely to cause anaphylaxis, it all goes on the same plan. But if they have a prescribed adrenaline injector, they have a red a action plan, and all their allergies go onto that one plan. If they have no prescribed adrenaline injector, they have the green action plan. One action plan only.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you very much. And I think I'm just looking at the time. I think we've got time for one more question in the session. I see that we've been furiously typing answers to questions during the whole session, but again, if there's anything that we haven't been able to get to today, we do commit to following up with you after the session today, either by answering your question directly or by providing some guidance that will help you to answer those questions. So the last one that, I think, we can get to is, okay, for services, is it mandatory to use the ASCIA action plan? So some doctors may like to...may have their own version.

Penelope Stone: Great. So I'd just like to point out, so this was quite a popular question and did come up a couple of times where I realized that it's something that people are interested in. So I think it kind of crosses over a bit of what we do as the regulatory authority and what Kath provides as well, so we might do a bit of a joint answer here. But from the regulatory authority's perspective, it's not mandatory to use an ASCIA action plan as your medical management plan. Medical practitioners can provide that medical management plan in multiple formats. What is imperative is that the services have the correct, thorough, and detailed information in how to identify, manage, and respond to the children's health needs. So that's the discussion that families will need to have with their medical practitioners to ensure that accurate information and current information is on that medical management plan and that the service understands and has access to that information. Kath, do you have anything that you might like to add there about the way medical practitioners use the ASCIA action plans?

Kathryn Mulligan: The ASCIA action plan is the only plan in Australia and New Zealand that is recommended from our point of view on how to manage allergic reactions and anaphylaxis because it's best practice. And unfortunately, if GPs are doing other things to manage allergic reactions and anaphylaxis, we know it's not best practice and that's where it gets a little bit scary. So from the allergy community point of view, it's the only action plan that we would.... Or medical management plan we would recommend because it's best practice, it's the safest thing to do, it's the safest plan to follow.

Penelope Stone: And it is the nationally recognized document for this medical condition.

Kathryn Mulligan: Yes.

Penelope Stone: So yeah, we would encourage people to access this document. It's there for our use and for children's benefit.

Kathryn Mulligan: And it's easy to follow if you know how.

Louisa Coussens: Great. Thank you very much. Thank you, Penelope. And thank you again, Kathryn, for joining us this morning. And thank you to everybody who has joined us and listened into this session. I hope you've benefitted from it. I hope you've come away with some new tips and some resources that you didn't know about and some strategies that you can take away and implement in your daily practice straight away. So thanks once again. It's been lovely to have you, and enjoy the rest of your day.

Learn more about the implementation of the National Quality Framework Review.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Welcome to those joining this afternoon's webinar on National Quality Framework Review and Next Steps. We'll just give it a couple of moments to get as many participants in. I love watching these participant numbers climb. It's fantastic. As the numbers climb, I am going to be respectful of everyone's time, and I'm going to kick off. A great big good afternoon, everyone. I'll start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that I am on today. The Gadigal people of the Eora Nation here in sunny, but cold Sydney. I hope it's more pleasant wherever you are today. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging, and I also acknowledge their culture and wisdom from which we all continue to benefit and learn from in the work we do across the early childhood sector. It is great to see such a strong turnout for this important information session about the upcoming changes to regulations following the 2019 NQF review. You'll see some housekeeping instructions there. The microphone, video, and chat functions at your end will be disabled during the presentation for obvious reasons. We've got a massive crowd, which is great. Please ask questions in the Q&A section. There's also an up voting function, which is you get to like other people's questions. And this session is being recorded. Okay. I'm Yasmina, I'm the Acting Director from the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. The New South Wales Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and Care has a very important oversight function across safety and quality. Our work spans the full range of activities and decision making in your space from the very first entry point, to becoming a provider, or operating a new early childhood service, changes across the service delivery if you're a provider, ongoing compliance monitoring, and of course quality assessments. We also respond to incoming complaints and incidents that occur across all service types in New South Wales. So this range of important functions means that we have a wealth of data that provides us valuable insights into systemic issues at your end, knowledge gaps, and challenges that you as the sector may be facing in meeting your obligations under the NQF. I'm going to take a few minutes to give you a high level summary of why we're introducing changes. We know that your service has most probably onboarded new staff since 2019. That wouldn't be a surprise, and many of you may well not be familiar with the journey. And also as a trusted regulator, it's important that we communicate the why as well as the what and the how to the sector we regulate. The 2019 NQF Review has involved a national process with governments from each state and territory regulatory authority, the Australian government and the ACECQA, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority. Regular review ensures the NQF is current, effective, fit for purpose, and implemented through best practice regulation. Regular reviews are common and occur in most regulated schemes or industries. This is important to ensure legislation and the framework keeps up with and reflects changes and innovation across the sector and broader society. Importantly, the 2019 NQF review has involved two rounds of national public consultation on issues directly raised within this review. Feedback from you in the sector, families, and communities have informed government decisions. The NQF Review was limited to the particular issues raised within this review, and we understand that there are other current challenges that you may well be experiencing in the sector. There are separate bodies of work and government initiatives currently underway to help alleviate those pressures for the sector, as well as other formal reviews that are focused on topics outside of the NQF remit. So for today's session, we will be focusing on the NQF review changes that are on the horizon ahead of us. As the New South Wales regulator, we want to make sure each and every one of you know about the upcoming changes, and that you know how and where to access important information to guide you in your services in ensuring compliance with those changes. Thank you. In 2022, Education Ministers agreed to changes to the NQF based on findings from the NQF Review. Outlined in a document called "Decision Regulation Impact Statement" changes to the National Law and Regulations arising from the NQF Review findings are being implemented in 3 rounds throughout 2023. The first round of approved regulatory changes relating to regular transportation of children in centre based services came into effect on 1st of March, 2023, and I'm sure you're well aware of these changes. There is an ECE Connect session, which is this type of presentation, on safe transportation of children, and it will be taking place in two days time. This is a public service announcement now on Wednesday, 21st of June at 10:00 AM. So please do tune into that very, very important presentation. Today's session, however, will focus on the second round of approved regulatory changes due to commence 1st of July this year. Back in April, you would have received information from ACECQA on these changes that are commencing from 1st of July, and those communications went out nationally. But as we get closer to July, which is around the corner, the New South Wales Regulatory Authority has arranged this session as our ongoing efforts to ensure you in the sector are well prepared for the upcoming changes. It's also our commitment as part of our guiding principle to be transparent with the sector around the important requirements under the NQF. This session also aims to focus in on the important accountability of providers, service leaders, and educators, as you all have an important function under the NQF. Thank you. So as mentioned today, as mentioned rather, today's session will focus on the second round of regulatory changes. We'll explain each of these changes in a moment and what it means for you. For more guidance on each individual change, at the end of the session, we're going to provide you fantastic links developed specifically for the sector to assist in understanding and implementing the changes. It's important to know that overall changes are quite technical, and they're less focused on broader day-to-day practice of your service. We also note that approved providers and services are not the only entities being impacted by these changes. We as the New South Wales Regulatory Authority are on our own journey of adjusting to the upcoming changes to ensure our officers and our staff regulate in accordance with the updated changes. So please send your questions through in the Q&A function, and I'm sure as you're familiarising yourself with the guidance, you'll have many questions or potentially you may also have some concerns. We won't be able to answer service specific questions in this forum today, or discuss individual scenarios. However, the good news is we're committed to taking on these questions and sending out an FAQ document at the end of the session. Any service specific questions can also be directed to our standard information and inquiries unit. They're well-versed in responding to these, and their contact details are on this slide that we have up at the moment. Okay, we are getting to the key messages of today's information session, and I'm going to hand you over to Kathy Truong. Kathy is the Manager of Regulatory Policy in the Regulatory Authority. She's representing the team leading this work. Over to you, Kathy.

Kathy Truong: Thanks so much, Yasmina, and hi everyone. Thanks for joining this ECE Connect session to learn more about the NQF Review changes. It's so lovely to see so many people here today and interested in this topic. My name is Kathy. I am the acting Manager of the Regulatory Policy team within the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. I would also like to acknowledge I'm on Darug country, acknowledge Darug people as the ongoing custodians of these lands, and pay my sincere respect to Elders past and present, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal people joining us online today. So today I have the exciting role of talking through the changes and what they mean for you and your service. As Yasmina said, if you have a question while I'm talking or if you'd like clarification on something that I've said, please just pop your question in the Q&A, and one of our moderators will have a look at that. So we today have grouped the changes starting the 1st of July into 3 key themes. These are improved safety, quality, and governance. The second theme is increased flexibility for services, and the third one is fee changes. So in the following slides at the very top, you'll see what the theme is. So our first group of changes or theme aims to improve the safety, quality, and governance of early childhood education and care services. So this first change on the slide here, FDC educator qualification. This change applies to family daycare or FDC services only. So previously, FDC educators could be working towards, or sorry, actively working towards their qualification. From the 1st of July this year, 2023, new family daycare educators must hold an approved certificate three level qualification or higher before they start their role in an FDC service. So they cannot be actively working towards a qualification when they start in the FDC service. If you are an existing FDC educator here today, you will have a 12 month transition period to complete your studies. So that means existing educators, you're currently working in an FDC service. You have until the 1st of July next year 2024 to complete an approved qualification. If you are an FDC provider or in the leadership team, please consider how you can support your educators to ensure they're able to complete their approved qualifications within this timeframe. And I believe that our moderators have already shared the links to the specific guidance on this change in the chat. Thank you. Our next change I think will be a popular one. It is about the PMC definition. So this change applies to all service types. From the 1st of July this year, the definition of a PMC, so a person with management or control of a service, will change. The PMC definition is being expanded to include persons within or outside the approved provider entity who are responsible for managing the delivery of the provider's services, or who have significant influence over the activities or delivery of the service. So a clear example may be people who hold executive or management roles within the approved provider entity. However, again, this new definition means it does not matter if the person is not employed by the approved provider entity. So for example, you might have someone who is employed by a third party or an outside management company, or you might have a volunteer, and these people can be considered a PMC if they manage or have significant influence over planning, direction, controlling the activities, or delivery of the service. I think the important point to note about this changes is it is only an expansion in the definition. Though as usual, and what doesn't change is that it is still up to the approved providers to identify who the PMCs of your service are, and to notify the regulatory authority of any changes to your PMCs. So what's this change mean for you? As your next steps, please read the information sheet carefully to assess whether your PMCs are current, or whether any additional people will meet the expanded definition of PMC when it does come into effect the 1st of July this year. If you do have additional people who meet the PMC definition, notify the reg authority through NQAITS that those people are the PMCs for your provider after the 1st of July, 2023. However, if you are satisfied that the reg authority has already been notified of all your PMCs who meet the expanded definition, you will not need to take any further action. So again, we have the link to the information sheet in the chat. I think it's really important to check this one because we wouldn't want you to accidentally go through with notifying additional people who do not actually meet the expanded PMC definition. Thank you. Onto our next one. National Approved Learning Frameworks. This next change might also be very familiar to you, and it applies to all service types The current National Approved Learning Frameworks will apply until the 1st of February next year, 2024, at which point, services must then use the new versions of the frameworks. So the new versions are called Early Years Learning Framework Version 2, and My Time, Our Place Version 2. Information on the new versions of the frameworks can be found on a ACECQA's website. So we're sharing that link now. The website includes resources to support implementation, and there's an additional note that there's additional supporting material will be developed. So it's a good one to bookmark for later. There are designated teams in the department working with ACECQA on supporting providers and services with implementing these new versions. So just another plug, we do have ECE Connect sessions on the learning frameworks. Make sure you catch those if you're interested. Okay, so we're tracking well. That was our first theme, and moving on to our next theme. The next four changes aim to increase flexibility in service operations. So on this slide at the top, you have short-term slot staff. Sorry, replacements. This topic is about what your service can do when there are educators or early childhood teachers who are absent for a short time. This change is relevant to centre-based services that educate and care for children preschool age or under, and there are two parts to this change. So the first part is about replacing early childhood teachers, or we'll call them ECTs. The current regulation, which is Regulation 272 in New South Wales, that has been extended to allow a diploma qualified educator or a primary teacher to replace an ECT if that ECT is absent from their role because they have resigned from the role. So until now, and this is an existing regulation, but until now short-term illness or leave, were the only reasons for replacing the ECT. These reasons still apply. This change just means we're adding resignation as a reason, and you can have this replacement of the ECT for a maximum of 60 days in a 12 month period. The second part of this change is about replacing certificate three and diploma qualified educators, as well as those who are working towards a cert 3 or diploma. From the 1st of July, 2023, a new regulation will allow these educators to be replaced by a primary teacher. If the educator is absent because they're sick, their short-term illness, because they're on leave, because the educator resigns, or if the educator is attending supervised prep placements for their approved quals. You can have this replacement for a maximum of 30 days in any 12 month period. Again, we are sharing the ACECQA information sheet on this topic. I personally think the information sheet explains the changes really well. It also includes an example that illustrates the calculation of the days, and information on the record keeping requirements when you're using these short-term replacement regulations. So please have a look at the information sheet. Also on this slide, transitional workforce provisions. This slide... Sorry, this change is again relevant to centre-based services that educate and care for children preschool age or under. The transitional workforce provisions have been extended for a year to allow time for the National Workforce Strategy Qualifications review to be finalised. You might be aware of this review. It's being led by ACECQA right now. So this means that in New South Wales, existing regulations 239A and 242 will be extended until the 31st of December next year in 2024. As you know, these regulations are about attendance of early childhood teachers in remote and very remote areas, and persons taken to be early childhood teachers. So if any of those regulations apply in your service, more information on the transitional provisions can be found on ACECQA's website and we'll just pop the link in the chat. Thank you, our next change is on family daycare coordinator to educator ratios. So again, this change applies to FDC services only. The changes to the regulation will clarify how to calculate the family daycare coordinator to educator ratios. So this is particularly relevant for any FDC providers and leaders on the line. There are different calculations depending on whether your FDC service has been operating for less than 12 months, or for 12 months or more. So from the 1st of July, again, if your family daycare service has been operating for less than 12 months, a minimum of one full-time equivalent FDC coordinator is required for every 15 FDC educators. So for example, if you have between one and 15 educators, you will need one full-time equivalent coordinator. If you have between 16 and 30 educators, you'll need two full-time equivalent coordinators. So that's if your service has been operating for less than 12 months. But if your FDC service has been operating for 12 months or more, then there's a different ratio and a different way of calculating the ratios. So if you have 25 or less FDC educators, you will need one full-time equivalent coordinator. And if you have more than 25 educators, you'll need an additional 0.2 full-time equivalent coordinator for every five additional FTC educators. So I hope an example helps. So for example, if you have between one and 25 educators, you need one full-time equivalent coordinator. If you have between 26 and 30 educators, so that's an additional five FDC educators. You'll need the one full-time equivalent coordinator that you had, plus a 0.2 full-time equivalent coordinator. And if you have between 31 and 35 educators, you'll need the one full-time coordinator plus 0.4 full-time equivalent coordinator. So I understand this is quite a technical change. If you would like to go through this again, remember, this session is being recorded, but also have a look at the info sheet developed specifically for FDC providers, and we will put that in the chat again now. The final change in this theme is about the Excellent rating and it's a simple one. It applies to all service types. The Excellent rating will be valid for 5 calendar years now. Before this change, it was valid for 3 calendar years. And our final changes relate to adjustments in fees. Fees cover a small portion of costs that are associated with regulatory functions and activities, including processing applications, ensuring effective regulation and support for the sector. So fee changes apply to all service types. At the top you have the changes in fees that are charged by regulatory authorities. So the changes are dot pointed underneath. There's going to be a new extra large service category introduced for all application fees and annual fees. So you are in this category if you are a centre-based service with 101 or more places, or an FDC service with 61 or more educators. A new fee, sorry, this is a new change so a new fee will be introduced for applications for amendment service approval, which is currently free. And fee increases will apply to annual fees, application for provider approval and service approval fees, and notification of intended transfer of service approval fees. At the bottom half of this screen, you see there's fees charged by ACECQA. Fees will increase for second tier review, and if you're a tertiary education provider and apply for your course to be assessed and approved by ACECQA. For details on the percentage increases and the phasing over 3 years, please check out the information sheet from ACECQA on fees, and we'll also put that in the chat. It's in the chat now. So those are all the changes for this round of the NQF changes commencing the 1st of July, and that's all from me for today. I know that might have been a lot of information, but remember everything that I've said is in an information sheet or is on ACECQA's website. We've shared those links in the chat so you can go back and have a look, and I hope it was helpful to hear a summary of each of the changes. I'll pass back to Yasmina now. She has a Menti question for you, and then we'll close the session. Thanks so much.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thank you, Kathy. That was great to hear about all those upcoming changes, and I just wanna highlight we have over 600 participants and it was climbing a moment ago, which is great. We really welcome that, and also just to recognise, there were at least one of those links that weren't working properly and I apologise for that. We've reattached the proper one, and also a flurry of questions on PMC. We are noting that. I just want all of our participants to know the regulatory authority will very soon be issuing further and deeper guidance, and we are going to use your questions from here to inform how we frame that guidance as the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. So thank you very much for that. It is our objective to ensure there is no confusion out there. All right, I'm hoping I'm still on track. So you can see on the screen, on the slide rather, there is a question there. There is a QR code. I trust you all know how to use that QR code. You basically need to use your smartphone, or there's a website address there with a code. And the question is, what would you like more information and or support on? So we'll just give a few moments. I'm not sure how this is going to work. I'm thinking that we will be shown a graph in a moment. There we go. I was right on the money with that comment about PMC, wasn't I? Thank you so much, this is invaluable information for us, and there are dedicated teams in the reg authority that will now use and apply this feedback to frame and to strengthen our guidance for the sector. Still going. Right. Okay, so PMC definitions is definitely leading. Followed by the National Approved Learning Frameworks. Then we have short term staff replacements, Excellent rating, and then the other issues follow on. But certainly we are really going to focus our time, effort, and energy on these issues. Rest assured you will be receiving clear and really easy to understand and follow guidance that is applicable across various service types and settings. Thank you. Okay, let's move back to the slide. There we are. That's the one. So I trust that you found that information useful and relevant. The changes to the NQF, we've just chatted about, we've just heard from Kathy on will be in place from 1st of July this year. This session has been a high level summary. As you can see, we can't possibly ever cover every single scenario in this timeframe. It has been a springboard for you to start looking at the dedicated fact sheets on the topics that are of most relevance to you. Links to the fact sheets have been provided in the chat, and you can also find all the fact sheets against each NQF Review issue or change in the webpage link on this slide that you see there. So as I mentioned, your questions and those Menti results will definitely help us develop an FAQ document, which we commit to doing for you in further supports and resources. The guide to the NQF, that big publication, will also be updated on the 1st of July. And of course, if you have any further questions beyond all of those resources, reach out as you do to our information and inquiries team. Their contact details are there on the slide for you in case you missed it earlier. And next slide. That is it. So I just wanted to thank everyone for putting aside your time and your attention to this really important information session. Reach out, as we mentioned, we'd be very happy to help. We've been very efficient today, we haven't taken up a full hour, but we trust that we have conveyed the key messages of relevance to the sector. Thank you very much.

Learn more about the safe transportation of children in ECEC services.

Louisa Coussens: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us. We'll just wait a few more moments for people to join and get settled before we make a start. It's great to have you all here this morning. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us. We're just giving people a few more minutes to join in and get settled and then we'll make a start. You can see the numbers are still climbing. It's good to have you all here with us today. All right. Thanks, everybody, for coming. It's 2 minutes past 10 and we have lots of good stuff to get through today, so I'm going to make a start. If people are still joining us, that's okay, we'll start slowly and people will listen in as they join. So thank you, everyone, for joining us this morning. My name is Louisa Coussens, and I manage the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support team at the NSW Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and Care. Our team provides educational tools and resources to help you apply the National Quality Framework. If you've attended a webinar or read a guidance note delivered by the NSW Regulatory Authority, it was most likely the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support team who developed it. We are your walking, talking guides for putting the law and regulations into practice. I have with me today Penelope, Kathy, Meg, and Juliana to answer your questions. And I'm pleased that we are bringing you this session today on the safe transportation of children in early childhood education and care services. I acknowledge that I'm joining you today from the lands of the Darkinjung people. I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands that you're all joining from today. I pay my respect to elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines, and stories. And I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this session today. Let's hear from the children of Kooloora Preschool.

[Video] We place our hands on the ground to acknowledge Aboriginal land. We place our hands in the sky that covers Aboriginal land. We place our hands on our heart to care for Aboriginal land. We promise.

Louisa Coussens: Some housekeeping. The microphone, video, and chat functions will be disabled during the presentation. However, you can ask us questions using the Q&A button. We're also using upvoting today. This means that if you see a question from someone else that you'd like answered, you can vote for that question and it will move up the list. We'll answer the most popular questions during the session. We will be using Menti during this session, so have your phones ready. And also, this session is going to be recorded and will be published on the Department of Education website. What will we cover during the session today? Well, most exciting is that this year, we're providing an opportunity for you to hear directly from experts in response to your most burning questions with a live Q&A session. We're going to talk about regulatory requirements. We'll look at vehicle checks and record keeping. We're very fortunate today to have with us Louise Cosgrove from Kids and Traffic, the experts in young children's road safety. We'll finish with a Q&A session. Please post your questions throughout the presentation and get voting. We'll be looking out for the most popular questions to put to our panel of experts at the end. We'll also provide written answers during the session. Inevitably, there will be some questions that we won't be able to get to today, but it's fantastic to see them coming in. The information really helps us in the Regulatory Authority to structure our advice and support for you. Any that we don't manage to answer during the session, we'll make sure that you receive answers to your questions or guidance that helps you answer the questions after the session. I'm gonna introduce Yasmina Kovacevic to you now. Yasmina is the Director of Regulatory Strategy, Policy, and Practice here at the NSW regulator. Thanks, Yasmina.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thanks, Louisa. Good morning, everyone. And I can see those numbers climbing in our participant tab, which is fantastic. I'll start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that I'm meeting on today, obviously virtually, the Awabakal people here in Newcastle, and pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging. Good morning. This is a very, very important regulatory guidance session that we're bringing to you today. As Louisa mentioned, I'm a director, one of four, in the NSW Regulatory Authority. And we regulate the early childhood education and care sector. We have a very important oversight function across safety and quality. Our work spans the full range of activity and decision making, so from the very first entry point to becoming an approved provider or operating a new service perhaps, changes across your service delivery environment, ongoing compliance monitoring, and of course quality assessments. We also respond to incoming complaints and incidents that occur across all service types across NSW. So as we carry out our regulatory efforts, we're focused on upholding public trust and confidence in the early childhood education and care sector through our safety and quality oversight lens. And we do this for the benefit of children and families right across the state. So many of you may well recall near miss events and serious incidents that have occurred nationally involving transportation of children. In our important role as regulator, we pay close attention to these near miss events as they present a call to action to do more. A near miss is a potential incident in which children may not have necessarily sustained serious injury, but where, given a slight shift in time, or position, or other elements, serious or critical injury to a child could have occurred. So as the regulator, we do pay rather close attention to near miss events, not just in NSW, but nationally and internationally, to better understand, interpret, and devise stronger risk controls that safeguard children and then communicate those risk controls and improvements back to you as the sector working directly with children. We do need a collective focus and commitment to prevent critical harm to children. And the Regulatory Authority, we have zero tolerance for critical harm coming to a child, and this includes times when they are transported to or from services. And of course we do understand that this may well require additional steps on your part. We do understand that. The regulator is focused on safety of children who are transported to and from services on transport provided by or arranged by the service anywhere in NSW. So I'm hoping that we have quite a few approved provider representatives here on the webinar today. So as approved providers, it's so important that you champion this accountability and ensure effective mechanisms that are in place across services that provide transportation for children. Transportation presents heightened risks to safety of children, especially young children, and especially during the period of movement between a vehicle and service premises or other locations. A critical risk of children being left on vehicles has been the key driver behind recent changes to regulations, in an effort to ensure a appropriate checks and an effective risk management process is in place that protects each and every child. National regulations relating to transportation other than part of an excursion have been strengthened to improve risk management processes, with regulatory amendments taking effect, as many of you would know, from 1st of March this year. Additional record keeping for centre-based services forms part of this, and we'll look at this later on in the session. So all services who provide transport, both regular and for excursions, are required to have relevant policies and procedures in place and to ensure that those are implemented effectively. And this will collectively ensure every child's safety while providing, arranging transport. All educators and staff, including and importantly new or casual staff, are required to understand those requirements and consistently implement the services' safe transportation policies and procedures. So I'll stop there. I know there's many more exciting focuses of today's webinar. I'm going to hand back to Louisa, who will take you through our guidance and important information on the topic. Over to you, Louisa.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Yasmina. Before we get into the detail, I'd like to ask everyone to join in a Menti question to help us get an idea of where you work and how many of you manage transportation on a regular basis. Please scan the QR code or visit and enter the code at the top of the slide there and answer those questions. So first of all, what service type do you currently work in? Not surprising to see that most of you are here representing long day care services, preschools, outside school hours care. And we have some family day care representatives here as well. Fantastic. Thank you very much. Let's move to the next question. So do you currently provide or arrange regular transportation for children at your service? Okay, interesting, it's about half and half. Great. So maybe some of those of you who aren't currently may be thinking about doing so in the near future or you may be interested to know some more ways that you can manage risk with other types of transportation, which we will touch on today as well, such as excursions. Thank you very much. All right, so let's start by looking at how we talk about transportation in the National Quality Framework. As Yasmina said, transportation is a high risk activity. For effective risk management and compliance with the law, it's important to understand what sort of transport your service offers. We are going to focus our attention today on regular transportation. The national regulations define regular transportation as the transportation by the service or arranged by the service other than as part of an excursion of a child being educated and cared for by the service, where the circumstances relevant to a risk assessment are substantially the same for each occasion on which the child is transported. What this means is that regular transportation is routine or repeated journeys, whereby education and care services are transporting children or have arranged for the transportation of children between an education and care service premises and another location, such as their home, the school, or another regularly visited place. It does not include transport that is not arranged or provided by the service. This could include, for example, a school bus arranged by a school or a private company that drops children to an education and care service as part of its community route. It does not include transportation that forms parts of an excursion, although there are regulatory requirements related to excursions in Regulations 100 through to Regulation 102. It's important to understand the difference between an excursion and regular transportation for the purposes of complying with the regulations. However, as I know you understand, the risk to children exist equally in both instances. I will say again that transport is a high risk activity with potentially catastrophic outcomes for young children. For effective risk management, services should be striving to implement best practice risk minimisation strategies across all transportation at your service. Now let's take a closer look at those regulatory requirements related to transportation of children in ECE services. The ongoing transport regulations include the requirement for risk assessments in line with regulation and authorisations to transport a child outside the context of an excursion. Remember, excursion risk assessments and authorisations for excursions are covered in Regulations 100 to 102. So first of all, Regulation 102 confirms for us that the regulations in this section apply to transport that is not part of an excursion. Regulation 102 tells us that a risk assessment is to be completed for all transportation before a child is transported. And Regulation 102 tells us what needs to be included in that risk assessment. Let's just go a bit further with this requirement. Risk assessments are to be specific to your service environment and the locations you travel to, from, and through. They're to identify and assess the risks that transporting children entails. The risk assessment is to include a number of required areas as stipulated in Regulation 102 , things like seat belts and safety restraints, as well as the proposed route and destination. And it must also include strategies to eliminate or mitigate any identified risks. Risk assessments need to reflect the daily and weekly context of your service. If, for example, you transport children to and from school on a daily basis as part of your OSHC program, you may have significantly different numbers from one day to the next. This would require a different risk assessment so that it's reflective of actual practice and service context. Small differences in attendance, for example due to absence or illness, should not require a new risk assessment as it's likely that the identified risks and minimisation strategies are largely the same. Regulation 102 outlines the authorisation requirements for transporting children. It's important to note that authorisation from a parent or guardian is to be obtained in writing before a child needs to be transported. Details of what must be included in that authorisation can be found in Regulation 102 -4. The Department of Education website has resources that can support your understanding of transporting children safely and remaining compliant with the regulatory requirements. These include links to Kids and Traffic resources and videos of practice examples which you may find helpful. The link will be popped into the chat for you. As some of you already know, in March this year, new transport regulations came into effect. These changes were introduced as a direct response to incidents occurring during transportation and the recognition of the high levels of risk inherent in transporting children. They cover critical transition points such as embarkation and disembarkation. These new regulations are for centre-based services who provide or arrange a regular transportation. If this is not you, stay tuned as these regulations provide useful signposts for all services in the minimisation of risk during transport. We'll look at each of these four new regulations now. Regulation 102 requires that a staff member other than the driver is to account for all children as they embark at the service premises and keep a record of how each child was accounted for. Regulation 102F similarly requires that a staff member other than the driver be present during disembarkation. Regulation 175 requires that the regulatory authority be notified when a service begins or ceases providing regular transportation. And Regulation 177 talks about the prescribed documents to be kept by the approved provider. Here is another Menti that will help us in developing guidance to meet your needs. Please scan the QR code or visit and enter the code. So the first question, have you notified the regulatory authority that you provide transport or have ceased providing transport? We know this is a new requirement, so really not wanting to catch people out, just really trying to have people think about this question today. Great, so most of you have. And then the next question, how would you rate your understanding of transport requirements, including the new requirements that were introduced in March, 2023? Good, so most of you feel you have a good understanding. Great. Wonderful, thank you. Okay. So there's been a shift to the NSW policy position relating to the driver of the vehicle as a result of the regulatory changes. Educator-to-child ratios apply across all locations at all times that an education and care service is operating, including during excursions and any transport provided or arranged by the service. To be included in the ratio, educators must be working directly with children, meets the qualification requirements for educators at centre-based services, hold a valid Working with Children Check. From the 1st of March, 2023, if the driver of a vehicle is an educator and meets the above requirements, the driver may be included in ratio calculations for the purpose of educator-to-child ratio requirements across the service. It's important to note though that meeting educator-to-child ratios alone does not achieve adequate supervision. As you've heard, the national regulations require risk assessments to be conducted prior to transporting children. The risk assessment must consider, among other things, the number of educators or other responsible adults appropriate to provide supervision during the transport. I'd like to spend some time on parts of the new regulations, specifically vehicle checks and record keeping. As I said, updated regulations apply to centre-based services and require additional records and processes for embarking and disembarking a vehicle. Although Regulations 102 and 102 do not apply to Family Day Care services, the practice of accounting for children as part of transportation is a recommended approach. It's imperative for all of us that process is followed at these key transitionary moments of transportation to ensure that every child is accounted for and safe. Upon embarking a vehicle, a record is to be kept, accounting for each child that has hopped in or onto the vehicle. It must say how that account was made, visual contact, name call out, for example, and the time and date the record was made and by whom. Services should have systems and procedures in place to manage no-shows, ensuring that each child who is expected on the day is in attendance or accounted for. Similarly, upon disembarking, a staff member aside from the driver of the vehicle, is to be present at the service to account for each child as they hop off the vehicle at the service premises. This is to be completed in a way that ensures active supervision of all children by staff. Make visual contact with each child. Once all children have disembarked, the interior of the vehicle is to be checked at the service to ensure that no children have been left behind. Records are to be completed and kept as part of a risk assessment and to identify how each child was accounted for. We know that your environment and the way that you go about your work has changed in recent times. Devices that help us all in our daily lives can inadvertently become distractions. And we ask services to consider this at these important transition times. ACECQA has developed a sample safe transportation of children safety checklist and regular transportation record to support risk assessment and management in transportation. The link will be posted in the chat. The image on the screen is an excerpt from this sample record. The full document also includes an embarking a vehicle record and other important considerations to risk management related to vehicles and transport. Another sample, Safe Transport Checklist, created by the Department of Education and Kids and Traffic, can be found on the department's website. A link will also be provided in the chat. Remember to ensure that the record or checklist you use is specific to your service environment and it's informed by your unique transport risk assessment. As you can see on this sample, it contains all regulatory required information as part of the record. Your service may like to think about how you record this information and whether this record suits your service context. I'm now delighted to introduce you to Louise Cosgrove from the Kids and Traffic program. Kids and Traffic is the early childhood road safety education program proudly funded by Transport for NSW in partnership with Macquarie University. Increasing awareness of the need for road safety education for children and their families, and ensuring that young children are given consistent road safety messages by both early childhood educators and families, Kids and Traffic represent the experts in road safety for young children. Louise will be talking to you today about best practice principles and ways to ensure your services' transportation policies and procedures can support educators, children, and families. Thank you, Louise.

Louise Cosgrove: Thanks, Louisa. It's great to be here. And what a great crowd we have here as well. I can see 322 participants at the moment. So thanks, everyone, for joining us online today. I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands on which we're each based today, to pay respect to the people who live, work, learn, and grow in these places, and to all who have come before them. And I'm joining you today from the beautiful Wallumattagal Campus of Macquarie University on Dharug land. So as Louisa mentioned, Kids and Traffic is the NSW early childhood road safety education program. We are funded by Transport for NSW, and we work in partnership with Macquarie University. So we provide free road safety education, professional development, resources, advice, and support to all of our education and care services across NSW. We're part of a broader, comprehensive road safety education program that Transport fund. So we also have program partners in the school sectors, so Department of Education, Catholic Schools NSW, and also the Association of Independent Schools. Kids and Traffic currently have a suite of eight workshops for educators, and we offer these either face-to-face or online. In addition to the workshops for educators, we also work with TAFEs, and other RTOs, and universities with pre-service educators. We support and work with a range of stakeholders, including local government, police, and health. And we also have a wide range of teaching and learning resources that can be used as part of your services' road safety education programs. These include animations, stories, songs, books, and games. And we have loads of templates and samples on our website that are free for you to access. So as mentioned, we've been working with the department on a range of resources to support the safe transportation of children, particularly as part of service provision, and that's what we're gonna take a deeper dive into today. But what are the key risks when transporting children? Firstly, that a child is unaccounted for. So this might be that the child isn't at the collection point for afterschool care or for a home pickup or that they're unaccounted for on arrival at the service. So transitioning from one location to another obviously carries a greater risk for children to be unaccounted for. Secondly, the risk that a child is injured or harmed. So this could happen while in the vehicle when embarking or disembarking or also during transition between the vehicle and the service premises or other location. These times of key risks are not mutually exclusive, and sadly, there have been cases where a child who is unaccounted for has been injured or harmed as a result. So importantly, what we're going to look at now is how we can mitigate these very serious risks. We know services are required to have policies and procedures in place to ensure their practices protect children from risk of harm during transportation. But today, we'll consider the important elements of clarity and communication to ensure these policies, procedures, and practices are implemented on every trip. So keeping these key risks in mind, we'll take a look at some of the broad mitigation strategies that can be implemented and also at some specific examples of practices from services who regularly transport children. So, yeah, we'll just go to the next slide too. Thank you. Okay, so clear procedures and tools for documenting children's attendance are absolutely crucial to ensuring children's safety during the transport process. Services must establish and explicitly communicate these procedures to all staff involved in the transport process. So as Louisa mentioned, this should also include how absences are recorded when notified by families and also how unexplained absences are investigated. Confusion can certainly be caused if a parent calls the service to notify of a child's absence, but the child's name isn't removed from the transport attendance register for that day. This situation is also quite common. If you work in out of school hours care, perhaps this has happened to you before, where it's usually the case that the parents notified the school of the child's absence but not your out-of-school hours care service. So the result obviously is an unaccounted for child at afterschool care pick up, which can really stretch out the process for everyone, which affects educators and the other children. But good communication between the school and the out of school hours care service or family day care around attendance can help to alleviate this problem or at least minimise the impacts. It's important that those attendance registers are kept up to date, that they're checked at the beginning and end of each transport run. So tools for documenting attendance should be used at multiple times during the transport process by multiple staff, as we know, so at the point of collection or departure, when embarking and disembarking the vehicle, and then when entering the service premises or other location. So we've seen examples, some services include photos of each child along with their name on the attendance registers just to enhance that accountability of educators who are documenting attendance. And this can be a really good strategy, particularly when transporting larger groups of children. So, you know, in out-of-school hours care too, where we've got children all wearing the same school uniform, so it's quite easy to mistake one child for another. So having those photos alongside their names can be helpful. Alright, formal attendance registers and multiple checks during the transport process. So further to using documentation tools and registers, we also will be doing those regular headcounts. These are vital to ensuring children are accounted for during the transport process. So headcounts can be conducted and checked against the attendance register at multiple points during the transport process, and again by multiple staff. So one educator might mark the attendance register while another does the head count, and the two are checked against each other. So this requires both educators to be actively engaged in the attendance checking processes. And a headcount really highlights very quickly if a child's unaccounted for, and then further investigation can occur immediately. Again, the processes here must be clearly defined, as should the roles and responsibilities of each staff member involved. We know where there's a lack of clarity around who's responsible for headcounts and role marking that sometimes staff can become complacent and assume that someone else has completed the tasks. So clarity of roles and responsibilities is really key. In the image on the slide there, you can see that the children at this out-of-school hours care service are lined up to have their names marked off once they're inside the service. That attendance register had already been completed by the driver and another educator as the children exited the vehicle and again as they entered the service gate. So you can see in this case there's a really well-defined physical space where the attendance register is being completed. And it's important that that attendance register and headcount check are done before children enter rooms or other shared play spaces because it just makes it much more difficult to account for them when there's other children around. All right, transitioning from the collection location or the premises to the vehicle and vice versa often requires engagement and communication with other stakeholders, such as family, schools, or third party providers of activities such as excursion venues. So establishing suitable meeting points to allow for collection and supervision is really important, especially at school, where there are often hundreds of children coming and going at the beginning and end of the day. So equally important is establishing a procedure for where and how the service vehicle is parked for pickup and drop off. Ideally, the vehicle will be parked close by to the gathering point and on the same side of the road as the school, the service, or again, the excursion venue. In the example on the slide there, the gathering point for children was well defined. It was shaded, it was comfortable, and in this case, the children met the educator at the gathering point, and then they routinely waited for some of the other foot and vehicle traffic to move on before walking out to their service vehicle. So the timing was important as well. Having open channels of communication with other staff involved in the transport process at these busy times can also help to mitigate risk. So, for example, using walkie-talkies or mobile phone communication between the educator at the collection point, staff at the vehicle, and back at the service can assist with minimising risk and providing those safer transitions. So the service featured in this slide introduced walkie-talkies for communication after they reviewed their transport procedures. And this strategy has really helped to make transitions not only safer but also smoother. So let's have a look now at authorisations and emergency contact and venue contact details. So when transporting children as part of service provision or as as we're going on excursions, whether it's regular or excursions, all authorisations must be current and in place. So tasking this to a specific staff member and requiring the process to be undertaken before transportation is crucial. Regularly cross-checking the records held at the service and in the vehicle is also important to ensure that your child and family contacts and emergency contact details are current. This is really important if someone needs to be contacted where a child's unaccounted for. And similarly, the contact details of other stakeholders, such as schools and excursion venues, should also be accessible. If a child is unaccounted for when being collected from home or school, contact needs to be made with the school, the family, or the emergency contact as soon as possible. So this will also be the case if a child that is being transported to their home, there's not a responsible adult there to collect them from the vehicle. So these sorts of situations can not only cause inconvenience but also be upsetting for educators and for the other children involved on the transport run. So having current, up-to-date contact information for all stakeholders in the vehicle helps to ensure appropriate action can be taken efficiently and effectively. Within our Safe Transport Toolkit that you'll find on the department and our Kids and Traffic website, we've got our sample safe transportation of children policy document. And within that document, there's some examples of flowcharts that you can use to give a clear and quick response if a child's unaccounted for in similar situations to those that I've just highlighted. Okay, and I know Louisa has talked about this already, but it is such an important point. So we do need to have those clear procedures for checking and clearing the vehicle. As we know, sadly, there have been instances where children have been left on service transport, and the consequences have been tragic. So clear procedures that outline the roles and responsibilities of individual educators at these times of heightened risk are crucial to children's safety and wellbeing. Policies and procedures should outline clearly the specific checks that must be completed when and by whom and how these checks must be recorded. The vehicle clearance must be completed on disembarkation by more than one person, for example, the driver and the educator who completes the attendance register. And in addition to this, after every transport run, a thorough check must be undertaken to ensure no child remains in or near the vehicle. So that involves a visual inspection of all areas of the vehicle and also calling out the names of the children who attended the transport run, making sure the engine's turned off, and then we can have a second educator do that clearance as well. So educators completing the vehicle inspections at disembarkation and before the vehicle is secured should also record written verification of the vehicle checks and also how those checks were made, as Louisa said. Again, though, as multiple staff members are involved in checking and clearing the vehicle, there's room for complacency if assumptions are made that someone else has completed the task. So it's where we come back to clarity of roles and responsibilities. It's absolutely paramount when it comes to checking and clearing the vehicle. Okay, so there is provision within the regulation that we need to look at the legislation of our jurisdiction around how children are restrained in vehicles too. So we'll just have a quick run through of these requirements. But there is lots more advice in the Safe Transport Toolkit. And I know this area does cause some confusion to people, so please feel free to contact us at Kids in Traffic if you are unsure. So we know, to protect children from harm when in transit, they should be appropriately restrained. So specifically transporting children in vehicles requires services to comply with child restraint legislation. Child restraint rules vary depending on the type of vehicle being used. So if the driver or any passenger is not restrained in accordance with the law, again, depending on the size of the vehicle, the driver can be penalised with demerit points and fines. The use of those dedicated child restraint systems, as we know, prevents death and serious injury in a crash. So road safety authorities, such as us at Kids and Traffic, we recommend the use of child restraints and booster seats for as long as the child still fits into the restraint. That's really important to match the size of the child to the restraint type that's gonna offer them the best protection. So where vehicles can be fitted with child restraints and booster seats suitable for the ages of the children who'll be using them, we know that the risk of harm will be minimised. When transporting children in vehicles, we can't control what happens outside of the vehicle. We can only control what happens inside the vehicle. So it is important we take steps to make sure children are restrained appropriately on every trip. So in the image on the slide, the children here are going on an excursion. They're all restrained in forward-facing child car seats that have been professionally fitted into the vehicle. And in this case, the educators were also trained in how to check the restraints and how to adjust them to fit the individual children as well. So it is important to note that when transporting children in vehicles that seat 12 or less people, it is the driver's responsibility to ensure they and all their passengers are restrained according to the law. If services are transporting children in vehicles that are built to carry more than 12 people, which includes the driver, they should always aim to achieve the best safety outcomes for children by following child restraint recommendations. And as I mentioned, this is an area that does cause a bit of confusion, so do refer to the documents, particularly the Transporting Children Safely guidance document in the toolkit, or contact us at Kids and Traffic for further advice on your specific circumstances. Okay, so supervision. So appropriate ratios. One of the most effective ways to minimise risk is to increase supervision, particularly when moving children to and from the vehicle. So transition to and from the vehicle might involve children walking through car parks, on footpaths, or crossing roads. Minimising harm to children as pedestrians must also be considered as part of the broader transportation process. So it's not just on the vehicle, it's also outside of the vehicle, moving to and from. Parking the vehicle close to the premises or the excursion location and on the same side of the road, again, is a good risk mitigation strategy. But supervision is the best risk mitigation strategy, so really look at those ratios. Not only do increased adult to child ratios allow for greater supervision, they also allow educators to have better quality interactions and conversations with children, which can really add value to excursions and regular outings. Increased adult to child ratios also promote greater supervision in the vehicle, including the educator's capacity for checking that children remain seated in the appropriate restraints throughout the journey. Okay, clear communication about each person's duties and responsibilities. So we come back to this. So we really need to ensure that communication's ongoing. It should happen before, during, and after the transport process. Transporting children as part of service provision may be viewed as business as usual for services who do this regularly. And as a result, processes and practices might not be revisited and reviewed as often as they should be. So it's important for providers, leaders, educators, other staff, volunteers, anyone who's involved in transportation that they regularly communicate about roles, responsibilities, and record keeping. So the image in the slide there shows five educators from this out of school hours care service having their daily pre-transport run meeting before their afterschool care pickups. The meetings are time to clarify the attendance registers, to ensure each educator understands their responsibilities, and to check that each vehicle contains all the equipment and information required for the five bus runs that are just about to occur. Okay, we know, under the Education and Care Services National Regulations, risk assessments must be carried out to identify and assess risk to children's safety, health, and wellbeing associated with transportation. So decisions need to be made about how best to manage these risks and plans put in place to ensure control measures are implemented. There are many factors that must be considered prior to transportation to ensure regulatory requirements are met. The most important consideration though is to establish the severity of the potential consequence in order to determine risk mitigation strategies. So although the chances of the event occurring may be deemed as low, consequences of transport-related risks are often catastrophic. So providers, leaders, educators, and all other staff involved in transportation should regularly meet to review those risk assessments. All those involved should also be dynamically assessing risk whenever they're transporting children. So risk may change depending on external factors, like changes in the weather, or road conditions, or children's individual needs and behaviour day-to-day. The communication with families about children's needs, and dispositions, and moods is also really important just to keep track of these changes. The Transport Safety Risk Assessment and Management Guide in the Safe Transport Toolkit provides risk assessment templates and best practice examples. And in the examples, each risk mitigation strategy recorded has a staff member or members allocated to its implementation. So this level of clarity is crucially important to ensure strategies are actually carried out. So it's important to have a process for familiarisation with policies, procedures, and risk assessments to include this in induction and ongoing education and training for everyone involved. So, you know, obviously there's a huge amount of importance placed on the development of these policies, procedures, and risk assessments, but we also need to think about the communication and the understanding around them. So when services have established processes for induction in educational policies, procedures, and practices to minimise risk, all those involved in transporting children are more likely to understand their roles and responsibilities. So this might involve including transportation as a regular agenda item at your staff meetings, engaging in our Kids in Traffic professional development workshops, reviewing your policies, and procedures, and risk assessments regularly, and including transportation and induction for any new staff. So working through these documents in a practical sense rather than just passing on documents to be read by staff also enhances understanding. You could include visuals, photos of particular practices such as the steps involved in checking and clearing the vehicle. That can be really helpful too to bring those words to life. Processes for familiarisation with policies, procedures, and risk assessments should be documented and added to the service calendar to ensure that that crucial step isn't missed. So providers and leaders might work exceedingly hard at ensuring all those policies and procedures are documented, but not have those mechanisms in place for communicating those to the frontline staff who will actually be implementing them. So it's really important to take the time to work through the documents together with all the people who'll be responsible for implementing them on that day-to-day basis. All right, so let's have a look at road safety education and how we can include that in our programs as well. So engaging children and families in the service's ongoing road safety education program is a really effective way to keep transport safety high on everyone's agenda. Road safety education should be cross curriculum, play-based, child-centred, and localised so that it's meaningful and relevant to children. For young children, obviously it's the adults in their lives who are responsible for their safety, but this doesn't mean that we can't engage children in learning about all the things we do together to keep safe, things like holding an adult's hand, keeping close, or being safely buckled up in a car seat or a booster seat. For older children, so for our school-aged children, road safety education will include their responsibility to ensure all of the safety practices that the service has in place are followed under the supervision of an adult. So keeping children safe is a really unifying goal that educators and families will work on together. So instead of, often, as we do, noting and highlighting families' unsafe practices, really try and focus on giving attention to all the safe behaviours that you observe too. We've got loads of programming ideas and resources in our Kids and Traffic professional development workshops and also on our website. So come along to a workshop or book-in to an online session. Transport fund us to provide these to you free of charge, so make the most of the service. Okay, let's have a look at the documents in the Safe Transport Toolkit. I'll just go through these really quickly, these next two slides, just because I know we need to have time for our questions and answers as well. So as mentioned, the documents can be found on the Kids and Traffic website and Department of Education website. The blue document, "Transporting Children Safely," that's a guide to help providers, leaders, and educators understand the legal requirements of the Education And Care Services National Law Act and Regulations when transporting children. And it also provides that extra information about how to comply with the NSW Road Rules and the Road Transport Act, along with some more information there about best practice road safety guidelines for traveling with children. The pink document is around transport authorisation. So we've got a template and samples there to assist you. The purple document, "Safe Travel and Transport," that's got some more information there about the importance of working with stakeholders and how to use transportation to support a whole-of-service approach to road safety. The green documents are sample safe transport policies and procedures, and there's also a checklist that you can use as a best practice model to model your own documents on. And the orange document is a guide for transport safety risk assessment and management. So that particular document has sample risk assessments that you can, again, use as models for your service to work on when documenting your own risk assessments. And we also have three videos. So we're really, really excited to have added those last year to the website. The videos focus on centre-based early education and care, family day care, and also out of school hours care, so there's something there for everyone. And thank you so much to the wonderful services who helped us out with those videos. Okay, and just, again, to promote how we can help you, we provide professional development, as I said. We can help you with resources, support, advice around your policies, and procedures, and risk assessments. So please jump onto our website if you have a chance and take a look at the resources and the workshops available. So thanks for joining the webinar today. And I'll hand back to Louisa now for our Q&A.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you so much, Louise. Fabulous tools and strategies there. Please stay with us if you can because we might call on your expertise in our Q&A section in a second. Before we do that though, here are some additional sources of information regarding transportation in early childhood education and care services. Additional links to specific documents have been included in the chat, and we hope that you find them useful. All right, let's have a look. I know that the team have been furiously answering questions throughout the session. We've had some themes crop up pretty recurrently. So we've chosen a couple of questions that touch on these themes that we'll address that will hopefully be helpful for a large number of people here today. And the first one, I'm going to introduce Penelope to you, I don't know if, there we are, hi, Penelope, who is a member of the quality practice and regulatory support team here at the regulator. Penelope, I'm gonna ask you if you can touch on or provide us with some clarifying information about the regulatory requirements around excursions versus regular transportation.

Penelope Stone: Yeah, sure. Hi, everyone. So this question has popped up a bit, so we do want to just address it so that hopefully we can clear it for you. So the question that you got was, are the vehicle checks and record keeping the same for excursions? So the vehicle checks and record keeping required under Regulations 102 and apply to centre-based services only when they're providing regular transport other than as part of an excursion. So those checks and record keeping are not a legislated requirement for transport as part of an excursion, although they're highly recommended as a key risk minimisation strategy in keeping all children safe when embarking and disembarking vehicles. So if you are organising an excursion, consider those embarking and disembarking procedures and how you're going to ensure that every child is accounted for as you hop on and off the bus, or train, or whatever mode of transportation you might be using there. The Regulations 102A to D apply to all service types, but they do only apply to transportation other than as part of an excursion. Transportation as part of excursions, as we mentioned, is covered under the Regulations 100 to 102, and there are requirements under those regulations for things like risk assessments and some processes to be followed there. But in short, the vehicle checks and record keeping are not required for excursions, but it is highly recommended that you review your processes of these, look at those Regulations and . Even though they might not apply to your service type, they could be very valuable additions to your risk minimisation plan, processes, and management of transportation.

Louisa Coussens: Brilliant, thank you for clarifying that, Penelope. Louise, I might turn to you for the next question or theme, which is around children and the use of booster seats. So we're really keen to know whether children stop using booster seats when they turn seven or when they are 145 centimetres tall. Is there some clarifying information you can help us out with here?

Louise Cosgrove: Yeah, there's some information. Hopefully, it's clarifying. So we have legislation and we have best and safest practice guidelines. So legislation states that children can come out of booster seats when they turn seven. Best practice guidelines tell us that children will not be big enough to be well protected by an adult seatbelt alone generally at that age because they won't be big enough. So that's where the 145 centimeter recommendation comes in, because we know 145 centimetres is the minimum height required to get a good seatbelt fit. And by a good seatbelt fit, what we're looking for is the sash part of the belt sitting on the mid shoulder, so it's not cutting into the neck and it's not slipping off the shoulder. And that lap part of the belt needs to sit low across the pelvis and just on the top of the thighs there. So the lap part of the belt's not coming up and crossing their tummy, where all of those really vital organs are. So look for that seatbelt fit as well. Another resource that I can point out to you is the Five Step Test. If you have a look on a website called, you'll see that Five Step Test. And that's another way to check if they're actually big enough to come out of boosters. So hopefully that's clarified the difference between what's legislated and what's actually safest practice.

Louisa Coussens: Fantastic. Thank you, Louise. And thanks, Penelope, for jumping in there. And thank you to everybody here this morning. It's been a really great session. Great to see so many of you here. We've covered lots of territory. We've answered lots of questions. Look, if there are any that we didn't get to, we'll make sure that we follow up by answering your questions directly or providing some further guidance tailored to the hot topics here this morning. The regulations are there to provide routine structures around practice and activities. It's important to remember that every scenario involving children needs to have adequate risk controls. I'll leave you with that thought. Thank you so much again. Thank you, Louise. Thank you, team. And thank you, Yasmina. And we'll see you at a future session. Enjoy the rest of your day. Bye-bye.

Join Red Nose Australia to learn more about appropriate sleep and rest procedures for children.

Louisa Coussens: Good morning, everybody. Thank you for joining us. We'll give people a few more, or a couple more minutes, to let people join and get settled. It's great to have you with us today for this ECE Connect session on Sleeping Safe in Early Childhood Education. Can see the numbers climbing rapidly, which is great to see. We want to give people a chance to settle in and be able to hear the whole session, so we'll just wait a moment or two more. Thank you everyone for joining us. It's great to have you with us. Fabulous to see so many of you here this morning. A really, really important topic that we are discussing this morning, Sleeping Safe in Early Childhood Education. So lovely to see so many of you here. And I can see the numbers are still climbing, which is great. Thanks for having you here with us for this ECE Connect session on Sleeping Safe in Early Childhood Education. I'm going to wait until 2 minutes past 10 on my watch, and then we'll get started. All right, I'm going to make a start. I can see the number's still climbing, but let's make a start, because we have lots of great information to get through this morning. It's lovely to have you. Thank you very much for joining us for this session on Sleeping Safe in Early Childhood Education. My name is Louisa Coussens, and I'll be facilitating this morning's session. I'd like to begin today by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that we are all on today. I'm joining you from the land of the Darkinyung people, and I'd like to recognise the Ongoing Custodians of the lands and the waterways where we all work and live. I'd like to pay my respect to Elders past and present as the ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines, and stories. I'd also like to extend my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on this call today. So I manage the Quality practice and Regulatory Support team in the NSW Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and Care. The Quality practice and Regulatory Support team produces a range of content: guidance, webinars, structured bite-sized learnings that you may have come across. You're often prompted about these in our newsletters. So our resources are there to help you understand and apply the National Quality Framework. We have a packed agenda to work through today. We'll begin by providing an introduction and overview of safe sleep and rest practices, and the requirements under the National Quality Framework. I'll also provide an overview of the changes coming through the National Quality Review, and how you can begin preparing. Then we'll dive into hearing from our Q&A panelists, and answering some of your questions on safe sleep and rest. Thank you to everyone who was able to submit your questions prior to today's session. We will end with some useful links to guidance and resources to wrap up today's session. Before we get into things, I'd like to go through some housekeeping quickly, so the session can run as smoothly as possible, and you can get the most out of it. As you may have noticed, the microphone, video, and chat functions are all disabled during this presentation. You can ask questions though throughout the session, using the Q&A function. The panel will be responding to questions, and we'll do our best to get to as many questions as possible. We also have some questions that we received prior to the session, to get us started. An important thing to note: if you're submitting questions through the Q&A function, due to the nature of this session and the high turnout of participants, we might not be able to answer every question, and we won't be able to answer questions that involve very specific details related to your individual service context. Any questions that we aren't able to get to today, we'll ensure we answer them either directly or through guidance following the session. Implementing best-quality practices, such as managing continuous supervision of sleeping children, may look different based on your service's individual context and layout, and the individual needs of the children in your care. What we'll do during this session is provide you with best-practice principles and your mandatory requirements under the National Quality Framework, that you can take away and apply to your service to ensure that children are sleeping safely. Through the Q&A function, if you see a question you would also like to see answered, rather than retyping it you can vote for it, so we can prioritise answering questions with the most votes. Thank you for submitting any questions you have through the Q&A function. These are really useful for us and the regulator, to help shape the guidance and information that you need to assist you in your work. I'm gonna hand over to Yasmina Kovacevic now, Director of Regulatory Strategy, Policy, and PractiCe, who's going to provide an introduction on the topic of safe sleep in early childhood education services, as we get into the session. Thank you, Yas.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thank you, Louisa. Good morning, everyone. I'll start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that I'm on today, and that is the Dharug people here in Parramatta, in Sydney, NSW. And I pay my respects to their Elders, past, present, and emerging. I recognise the ongoing wisdom and knowledges of Aboriginal colleagues, educators, and service leaders that are on this call today. We continue to learn from you on our collective journey towards cultural safety for Aboriginal children in education and care services. So as Louisa mentioned and offered my introduction, I'm one of the directors in the NSW Regulatory Authority. My teams are responsible for leading this important work, and I'm really pleased to see the numbers of participants steadily growing. It's so important for us to have as many staff here as possible attending. It'll be highly informative and interactive. You heard about the summary of how you can put forward questions so that you have clarity of what is required in this important area of practice. The Regulatory Authority is a distinct business unit. We are embedded in the Department of Education, and I'm just going to give you a quick oversight, because I recognise there may well be quite a few new staff working in the sector since we last ran this session. The regulatory authority is responsible for effective oversight across the 6,000 early childhood services in NSW. And in delivering this regulatory oversight, we're focused on ensuring accountability of providers, very, very important role that providers have, so that service leaders, educators, and staff are supported in their work. We have accountability of our effectiveness as a regulator to children and families, and that's a very important relationship. We also have accountability to uphold public trust and confidence in the sector in which you work, so that families see the value and have no concerns as and when they enrol children and young babies. So part of our responsibility as an effective modern regulator is also to provide education and guidance to those that work in the sector, all of you, on the requirements under the NQF, and today we're focusing on one of the higher risk activities within settings, children's sleep, and rest. As providers, educators, and service leaders, you each play a crucial role in ensuring babies and children in your care are safe. This role includes understanding safe sleep requirements and implementing best practice for all children in your care. You are also important support systems for many families. You're in a great position to help families understand safe sleep, and build those partnerships with them around this. So safe sleep means that all potential danger or hazards have been removed, and the child is sleeping in a safe environment. It means that sleeping children are protected from harm and hazards, and there is adequate supervision going on. So some other thoughts in regards to adequate supervision relate to routine embedded behaviours and practices, and also to ensure you remove or eliminate distractions that may interrupt your routine behaviours and practices. And you'll hear more about this in a moment. Safe sleep means reducing the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy, including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents, and reducing the risk of injuries or harm to children during sleep and rest times. It's so important for us to talk about safe sleeping as the responsible regulator in ECEC settings, because this is an activity that carries a heightened level of risk to children. Some sleeping arrangements are not safe, and can increase the risk of harm. Our regulatory visits' data confirms there continues to be quite a high number of examples where safe sleep and rest requirements are not met, or have been inadequately implemented. And this continues to be a concern. We need a collective focus and commitment to prevent critical or serious harm to children as they sleep and rest. As the regulator, we have zero tolerance for critical harm coming to a child, and this includes times when they are sleeping or resting in your services. As the regulator, we are focused on the safety of children as they sleep and rest across any service, anywhere in NSW. And as approved providers, and I trust that there are many of you in today's session, it is so important that you champion this accountability, and that you ensure effective and consistent mechanisms are in place across your services where children may be sleeping and resting. And of course, I also acknowledge the overwhelming majority of dedicated providers, service leaders, and staff that apply a consistent focus on children's health, safety, and wellbeing as they sleep and rest. And for that, I commend you. So that's all from me for today. I'll now hand back to Louisa, who will take us through the regulatory requirements for safe sleep provision. Thank you.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Yasmina. The sleep and rest requirements under the National Law and Regulations aim to prevent harm and ensure the safety, health, and wellbeing of all children attending early childhood education and care settings. There are several regulatory requirements relevant to children's safe sleep and rest. I'll cover some of the key ones briefly so they're front of mind as we progress this morning. As I talk through them, I really encourage you to think about this cluster of regulations as a collection of regulations for keeping children safe during sleep and rest times. When you consider sleep and rest at your service, you are thinking about this cluster of 6 regulations. So the first thing is that approved providers, nominated supervisors, and educators must take reasonable steps to ensure children's needs for sleep and rest are met, having regard to each child's age, developmental stages, and needs. Then, education and care services must have in place policies and procedures relating to sleep and rest for children. The third one, as Yasmina mentioned, is supervision. Approved providers, nominated supervisors, and educators must ensure all children being educated and cared for by the service are adequately supervised at all times. Next, harm and hazards. Specifically, that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children from harm and from hazards likely to cause injury. Now, equipment. Approved providers, you must ensure that all equipment and furniture used are safe, clean, and in good repair, and that each child being educated and cared for has access to sufficient furniture, materials, and developmentally appropriate equipment suitable for their education and care. This includes safe sleeping equipment. And finally, how does the space itself look and feel? Specifically, indoor spaces used by children must be well ventilated, have adequate natural light, and be maintained at a temperature that ensures their safety and wellbeing. So we have children's sleep needs being met. We have policies and procedures in place and being followed. Children are properly supervised all the time. They're protected from anything that might harm them. Equipment is safe to use. And the space they're sleeping in feels right. It's ventilated, not too hot, not too cold, not too dark, not too light. At the end of this session, we will talk more about the available resources and further information you can access to assist you in implementing best practice and meeting your regulatory requirements. I will now talk about some current insights from service visits completed by officers in our Statewide Operations Network within the NSW Regulatory Authority. The purpose of this section is to highlight current practices which have resulted in breaches during recent service visits. Following this session, it would be timely to review your sleep and rest environments, equipment, policy, and practices, and make any adjustments required. We've had the benefit of deeper insights following our recent Safe Sleep and Rest regulatory program that we have run, and other visits. And this is what we know. Three common themes were identified regarding safe sleep and rest practices. These are: the cot room not maintained to facilitate supervision, strangulation risks present, and the sleep and rest policy not followed. Now I encourage you to think about your service. Let's use these common themes as a reflective opportunity. When you consider how your cot room is maintained to facilitate supervision, are the viewing windows into the cot room free from posters or blinds? Is there anything mounted which inhibits supervision of a sleeping child? Is the room maintained with suitable lighting, enabling educators to conduct physical checks of a sleeping child? Let's consider the presence of strangulation risks. What electrical equipment, and in particular, their associated cords, are within reach of a child in a cot? How do your educators ensure that children are not put to bed with items such as necklaces or dummy chains? How are blind cords secured so children cannot reach or access them at any time? And finally, to your service's sleep and rest policy. Do all of your educators know where it is located? Does your policy effectively communicate best-practice safe sleeping procedures? Do educators know and understand this information? Do they follow the policy? When was the last time your service reviewed the policy? Whether you are a provider, service leader, or educator, we encourage you to take the time following this session to review your sleep and rest provisions using the earlier references on regulatory requirements. You can also use our fantastic guidance material that I will share and talk about later on. I'll now talk briefly about the changes coming through the NQF Review later this year. Based on findings from the National Quality Framework Review, ministers have agreed to these four changes. The overarching objective of these changes is to continue supporting services in risk minimisation relating to sudden unexpected deaths in infancy, and further reduce infant deaths in education and care settings. The changes build on the important practices you already have in place to keep children safe during sleep and rest times. All your safe sleep practices are really important, and should continue, and these changes build upon these practices. Let's take a look. The first change is that the regulations will specify the matters that must be included in services, policies, and procedures for sleep and rest. As we know, services are already required to have in place sleep and rest policies and procedures. This change will specify the content that must be considered and addressed within these policies and procedures. Remember that your policies and procedures should be based on current, recommended, evidence-based guidelines, and this won't change under the new regulation. As we know, Red Nose is the national recognised authority for safe sleeping. So your policies and procedures should continue to be informed by Red Nose recommendations and advice, as well as guidance materials from ACECQA and your regulatory authority. The second change is that the regulations will require a risk assessment to be conducted in relation to sleep and rest, including the matters that must be considered within that risk assessment. Many services already do risk assessments for sleep and rest as recommended practice. So this change aims to further strengthen risk minimisation strategies across all services. The regulations will tell you the specific matters to consider in the risk assessment for the unique context of each service. Risk assessments will protect children by guiding stronger safe sleeping practices and protection from harm and hazards during sleep and rest in the individual service context. The third circle isn't really a change, but it's that governments will develop further guidance to support services, policies, procedures, and practices for sleep and rest. This is part of our role, as Yasmina mentioned, as regulatory authorities, and ACECQA as the national governing body. And we are currently working on this to ensure that guidance is ready well before the changes come in. You might feel like there is a lot of guidance from different sources already. However, national guidance based on Red Nose recommendations will help to ensure that everyone is getting the same resources and information. Finally, the last change is compulsory training on safe sleep practices for all family day care educators. In this session, you have heard about some of the findings from the inquest into the tragic death of infant Jack Loh. From this inquest, the coroner recommended this change for compulsory training. Before we see this change though, governments are undertaking critical research regarding what training would be most beneficial in meeting the needs of family day care educators. And we will be involving relevant peak bodies in this work and ensuring that their input and their voice is heard in this process. I'm sure the next question on everyone's lips is, When are these changes coming in? These changes involve obviously changing the regulations themselves, and that can be a long process. Changes are expected to commence before the end of this year. However, when we have more clarity about the actual date, we'll let you know as soon as we can. Please be assured that you will get notice before the changes start. We know it's really important for you to be prepared, to feel prepared, and we know it's important for you to know well in advance. We are keeping our eye on this and we will let you know. So providers, although the new regulations are not in place yet, there are some ways that you and your service can start thinking about how to prepare for these upcoming changes. Review. Take a look at your sleep and rest policies and procedures. Are they up to date, clear? Do they reflect your service's practices? Also review your service's approach for updating policies and procedures. Do you know who is going to be involved in that process? Do you have processes in place for involving educators and families and children when updating policies and procedures. Follow. As I mentioned, your service should continue to follow best-practice guidelines from Red Nose. The National Quality Framework Review changes do not impact this. So continue to keep up to date with Red Nose advice. Promote. Providers, you can continue to promote the current requirements and best-practice guidance related to safe sleeping. You can also start to raise awareness about the upcoming changes. Your service might have different ways of doing this, such as during staff meetings. Remember that the upcoming changes build upon the important practices you already have in place during sleep and rest times. Complete. Get into a good routine of completing checks of your sleeping spaces, equipment, and environments. For example, checking the ventilation and temperature of sleep spaces, checking for hazards, and checking that your sleep equipment is safe to use. Providers, if you don't already do so, understand how you identify, assess, and mitigate sleep-related risks in your service, and start to record this. Building on this regular routine will help your service to implement the risk assessment for sleep and rest, once that is required. Subscribe. Finally, make sure you have subscribed to receive updates and communications from recognised authorities, including Red Nose and ACECQA. This will help you to keep up to date with information on when the National Quality Framework Review changes will come in, and the fact sheets and guidance that will help you to understand and comply with the changes. We'll now move to our Q and A panel. We are very fortunate to have 3 experts in this field joining us today. We have Kathy Truong, Manager of the Regulatory Policy Team within the NSW Department of Education, Sarah Hunter, Senior Field Officer in our Statewide Operations Network, also here at the department, and Lorraine Harrison, Educator at Red Nose. Thank you all so much for joining us. So starting with you, Kathy, would you mind telling us a bit about your role at the Department of Education?

Kathy Truong: Hi, everyone. Thanks, Louisa. As Louisa just mentioned, I manage the Regulatory Policy team within the NSW Regulatory Authority. So my team and my role, we're responsible for providing regulatory advice and input to support the functions of the regulatory authority. So what that means is we look at emerging regulatory questions or issues impacting the sector, and we work closely with other teams in the department, with other teams in other states and territories, and with ACECQA on these questions. So part of our work this year and last year has been to support ACECQA in the NQF Review, and also the implementation of the changes coming from the NQF Review. Thanks.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Kathy. Moving on to you, Sarah, what does a typical day in your role look like?

Sarah Hunter: Thanks, Louisa. I've been a Senior Field Officer with the department for 11 years. In that time, I've worked in different locations, and I currently sit in the southern metro hub. I've undertaken compliance and A&R visits in all service types, including long day care, out-of-school hours, family day care, mobile services, and monitoring of out-of-scope services. My typical day is varied, it's always very interesting, and I'm continually learning and reflecting on my practice, which is what I really enjoy about this role. My day could include: conducting visits to a service related to a notification of a serious incident or complaint, a direct complaint, a monitoring visit, a pre- or post-approval visit, or an assessment and rating visit. If I'm not out on a visit, then I'm generally at my desk planning for visits, making phone calls to services and families which relate to notifications or complaints, talking with services about how the law and regulations may look in their context, networking with colleagues to share best practice, or sharing practices and experiences. I could be preparing or writing A&R reports or recording any visits that I've conducted. The work can be quite fluid, and depending on what work is coming into our hub, then it may take a higher priority, and then my day might change. But one thing that is constant in my role, and which guides my every decision, is the shared focus that we all have with providers and the staff in each service, to ensure that children are safe, healthy, and that their wellbeing is always maintained.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Sarah. Lorraine, can you explain to us please a bit more about your role at Red Nose?

Lorraine Harrison: Yes. Thanks for that, Louisa. And hi to everyone that's here today. My main role is involved in education within Red Nose. Red Nose, as most of you hopefully are aware, is a not-for-profit organisation who has been very active in research and support, education and care of families across the country in reducing the risk of sudden infant death. And as a result of the safe sleeping education and information, we've seen an 85% reduction in the infant death rate across the country, which is something to be very proud of. As I said, my main role is in education, and I provide education to anyone around the country that's involved in the care of infants and toddlers. So of course that includes parents, families, health professionals, early childhood educators, and lots of other people as well. And when I say parents and families, I'm certainly also talking about grandparents as well. I also provide a little bit of work in the bereavement stream, where we provide help and support to anyone that's impacted by the death of a baby during pregnancy, birth, infancy, and early childhood, and that includes childhood educators as well. We can provide support in that area. So I've been with Red Nose for 17 years now, and obviously I enjoy it. I come from a nursing and midwifery background, and my main areas over the last 'x' number of years has been in nursing education and in emergency nursing. Thanks.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Lorraine. Fabulous to have you here. And as you can see, we have a very knowledgeable panel here to answer your questions this morning. For the first question, I'm going to come straight to you actually, Lorraine. Could you please tell us about Red Nose's safe sleep recommendations, and how they can be applied in the context of an early childhood setting?

Lorraine Harrison: Yes, thanks. What a big question. We could do a whole day's workshop on that question, so, I'm not about to start doing that. You know, a lot of it, what you need to remember too, is that a lot of the safe sleep recommendations have come out of being particular to babies between or in 12 months of age, but there are many areas of that safe sleep recommendations that are important for children of all ages. So I will mention some of those now, but hopefully by the end of the session today we will have looked at many of the areas where the recommendations are applicable for children older than one. So I think I just would like to respond to this question by simply going through very quickly the 6 recommendations, and just saying what that means, so that if you have an understanding of the six recommendations, it really goes a long way to understanding how to provide a safe sleep environment in many, many different ways. So our first recommendation is to always place baby on their back for sleep. Now that's really placed the emphasis on that recommendation is to always place, and the area where a lot of parents, but also childhood educators, stumble a bit in how do you do that if the baby's rolling? So the message is to always place, the message is not, baby must always sleep on their back. So once baby is looking like they're starting to roll, then they should no longer be swaddled, need their arms free, space of a cot, but still always placed on their back for sleep. The second recommendation is to keep baby's head and face uncovered. And that helps to reduce the risk of overheating, but also of suffocation. So, very important to avoid the use of any loose, heavy, soft, or padded bedding in the baby's sleep environment. And also not to, when a baby or a child is sleeping, they should not be wearing a hat as well, because not only can they slip over their face, but the hat may also contribute to overheating. To keep baby smoke-free during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood. I don't think there's very many people that would argue about that recommendation today. So it is important. There is a strong connection between the impact of smoking during pregnancy and exposure of secondhand smoke on babies and infants and children. And hence the Regulation in NSW is very much that, you know, it is illegal for parents to smoke or other adults to smoke in a car that has children in it. So it's something that's being taken very seriously. Providing a safe environment for baby to sleep in day and night. In terms of childcare, that very much is in those early years, or early months to years, provision of a cot or a port-a-cot that meets the mandatory Australian Standards. And then of course as the child gets older and moves from a cot to a bed, then the floor beds that are recommended for babies that are older. The last two recommendations. Firstly, we recommend for families that they sleep baby in the same room as the parent or caregiver for the first 6 months. How does that apply to childcare? Normally you're not sleeping when the babies are sleeping, particularly during the daylight hours. So where that crosses over is the whole concept that we've been talking about already, around the supervision and checking of sleeping children. And breastfeeding is recommended. And how does that apply in a childcare service? For you to be able to provide a service that is breastfeeding friendly, and to have an understanding of how breast milk should be stored and heated, reheated, and what the recommendations are around that. So important that you are up to date with the current recommendations around that. And I think that's a very quick whole day's run-through the safe sleep recommendations.

Louisa Coussens: Thanks, Lorraine. You're a pro. Fabulous, thank you. I'm going to come to you now, Sarah. As an Authorised Officer, I know everyone here would love to hear from you directly about this. What are the types of things that you might look out for when looking at a service's safe sleep environment when you're completing a service visit?

Sarah Hunter: Perfect. Thanks, Louisa. As always, what I'd look for when on a visit to your service are safe sleep and rest practices that are in line with the Law and Regulations. So some of those will include the ones that were previously mentioned earlier in this presentation, as well as being guided by best practice from the NQS and recognised authorities such as Red Nose. Some examples, and again, I could probably talk to this all day, but I will try to keep it to the main things. So some of the examples include looking to see if the sleep area is a comfortable temperature. Can it be heated and cooled, depending on the season? Is it well ventilated with doors or windows that can be opened? Is the room well lit? Is there enough light in the room to ensure adequate supervision so that I can see and hear a child? And I ask, could I conduct a physical check and see a child's characteristics without an additional light source? So when I walk into a cot room, I shouldn't need a light from a torch or a phone. And I say this as this has actually occurred, some cot rooms I've walked into have been so dark that I lose sight of the educator who's entered in in front of me. So what happens if a child is in distress or wakes up, and before you can get to them, you have to stop to turn on a torch or a phone light? So making sure that you're able to walk into that cot room without needing any additional light source to be able to conduct a physical check safely. I'd also be looking at the furniture that's used for safe sleep. Do those cots comply with Australian Safety Standards? Is there a label or a certificate to confirm this? Is the bedding consisting of a sheet that fits the mattress securely, without it being too large or small? Are there any other items in the cot, such as doonas, pillows, weighted blankets, that should not be in there? The only safe space to sleep a baby is in a cot or on a mattress or bed on the floor. There should be no prams, bouncers, high chairs, car seats, swings, or hammocks used for sleeping. Unfortunately, as an officer, I still see these items being used, or a child has fallen asleep in one of them and then been left to sleep. If this occurs, the child needs to be removed to a safe sleep space, so either a cot or a bed or mattress on the floor, to make sure that they're safe at all times. The position of the cots in the room also needs to be considered. Do they allow educators to freely move around and between them with ease? So this also refers to the position of the cots in a room, and which cots should be used first should be considered. If there is an emergency for that child that you need to respond to, can you access them easily and quickly Make sure that there is space between them. And also if the cot room is long, large, or oddly shaped, positioning the younger infants or first sleepers near the door so they can be checked and monitored more readily. So it's not just about the space between cots. To limit hygiene, sharing of items, passing dummies between children, it's also about the safety aspect. I'd also be looking for cords from electric appliances or any blinds that can create a possible risk by children grabbing onto them, pulling them, or getting themselves tangled up in them. I'd conduct general observations or discussions with educators about your supervision practices, including viewing windows. These should not be obstructed by blinds, craft, posters, programs, or other displays. Cot room windows are a conscious design strategy, just like viewing windows into bathrooms, nappy change areas, or other spaces to ensure adequate supervision. Please have the windows clear. Open any blinds during rest time. And also there's been occasions where I've seen windows with window tints. Some are a reflective tint, which do not allow educators to see in, which makes the window ineffective. Or if a dark tint, it restricts the view. Again, please, no tint on windows. And if it's currently tinted, please remove it. Cot rooms are not a storage room. They're designed for safe sleep. Only cots and/or beds, if beds are placed on the cot room floor, should be in there. Please keep toys, boxes, prams, et cetera in another space. Nothing on the floor or under cots. Please keep them clear. It's again about access by educators to the cot. If a child gets in a cot room or tries to hide, then you can also easily see them. If you've got mobile babies that have been able to get in, you've had the cot room door open. I'd also look at children's clothing for safe sleep. Are they wrapped? If you're wrapping them, then how old is the child? What type of material are you using? Are they using a sleeping bag, a blanket, sheet? How are they tucked in? Is the blanket not weighted? Are they using a dummy? There's no dummy chains. Soft toys for young babies, no teething necklaces. And also that clothing is appropriate. So they're not overheating, as well as you're removing any hooded jumpers or any clothing with cords to prevent possible suffocation. And we're also looking at the position of the child in the cot, so making sure that their feet are at the bottom. I know some further areas I look at in a safe sleep environment will also be covered shortly. My last point is about music, and the level of music within the cot room. Please consider the volume. Is the music so loud to inhibit educators being able to hear children crying, moving, struggling, calling out, or even coughing? When a child is in danger, this can be silent or have minimal noise. So having a sleep space where music is at an appropriate level can increase educators' ability to hear a child in distress. Consider, do you need music? Can it be on when settling children, and then turned off once they're asleep? Also think about where the music player, and if you're using a baby monitor, where they're located. Are they next to each other? If so, the monitor will clearly pick up the music, but not necessarily the baby sounds or the noises from children that may be at the other end of the cot room. So as I said, these are a few of the things I'll look at. I know that there's going to be some more covered off. So back to you, Louisa.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Sarah. What a wealth of information. That was super useful. Lorraine, I'm interested in your views. I suppose in a similar vein, I can see we've had some questions about bedding, sheets. I'm interested to know from your perspective, what are the types of things that you would like to see in a safe sleep and rest environment?

Lorraine Harrison: Okay, thank you very much. The old presenter's boo-boo. Make sure you're unmuted before you start to talk. Yeah look, that really helped me a lot too, Sarah, because it fits in so well with the Red Nose safe sleep recommendation. So in terms of, you know, bedding, anything that's in the cot or may be in the cot, just think back to that second safe sleep recommendation, to always keep baby's head and face uncovered. So anything that's going to potentially cover baby's head and face is not safe in an environment for babies to sleep, and for older children as well. So some of the things that have been suggested was, you know, the type of bedding, toys, comforters. As far as toys and comfort is concerned, I think that's probably one of the most frequently asked questions we receive on the safe sleep line from early childhood educators. Certainly any soft toy or comforter should not be in the sleep space of a baby less than 7 months of age. Around 7 months of age is when babies start to develop, and will develop, attachment for transitional objects. And that's often in terms of the parents, and that they will respond much better to a soft toy or comforter that may help them settle. That doesn't mean every baby has to have one, but after some degrees of research, Red Nose has decided and made the recommendation that from 7 months of age, soft toys or comforters may be okay in the sleep environment of some babies. And some objects, you know, there's comforters out there and there are huge comforters. There's one that I've seen advertised on Facebook regularly that would be bigger, a soft toy that would be bigger than most babies or children that are still in a cot. Now obviously things like that would be totally unsuitable as a comforter for a baby, whether at home or in care. So think about what comforters parents are bringing, sending in for their children, thinking about how that might impact on that particular baby with the use of it. Yeah, so some of the others talking about blankets, and a lot of people are confused about whether blankets can be used or not. Certainly in the Australian recommendations, blanket use is okay, but they should be lightweight blankets, not heavy weighted blankets, and they should be able to be tucked in over the baby, and not to come up any higher than their chest when it's tucked in. So we don't want baby to be able to wriggle and squirm and get down under the blankets, or to kick off loose blankets or bedding that might get over their head and face. Sheets, same thing. Obviously fitted sheets are preferable, because there's not, you know, the risk, if they fit properly, there's minimal if any risk of them becoming loose and covering baby's head and face. And I think that's- Do you want me to go through the rest of the list that I was given for that, Louisa? There's a few others.

Louisa Coussens: Oh, please. Yeah.

Lorraine Harrison: Please go on? Okay.

Louisa Coussens: Cool, yeah.

Lorraine Harrison: The next thing that was brought up that was suggested I should just mention is what age is suitable for babies to use a sleeping bag. Now a baby can use a sleeping bag right from birth, as long as it fits them appropriately round their arm holes and neck. So you don't want the baby to be able to lift their arms up, and that lifts their sleeping bag up over their head and face. So they can be used right from birth, but they must fit appropriately. And they need to be- Sleeping bags refer to a sleeping bedding that they have their arms out. There are a lot of other products on the market, and they are a form of swaddle. So if it's parents are sending you a sleeping bag that's arms in, then that's a swaddle. If the arms are out, that's a sleeping bag. So the difference between the two is that a swaddle suit is only used in the very, very early weeks, or rarely beyond three months. Once the baby starts to look like they're going to roll, all swaddling should be ceased. Whether that's the use of a light muslin or cotton wrap, which is what Red Nose recommends, or whether it's one of those swaddle suits. How long can you use a sleeping bag for? Once a baby is up and out of the cot, and sleeping on a floor bed, then sleeping bags can be a bit of a hazard for trips and falls. So it's really preferable to limit the use of sleeping bag while the baby is in a cot. I think they're great too, because once baby's rolling, many parents will put them in a sleeping bag, and you can add or remove clothing depending on the temperature of the room, of which there is no exact temperature, but a comfortable temperature within the room. And sleeping bags are great for that and often don't need blankets once the baby's rolling. Recommended temperature. Yeah, there is no recommended temperature. So the room should be comfortable. And of course, I just wanted to stress what Sarah was saying about it, there being adequate lighting and adequate ventilation, safe space between the cots, and you know, just an average room temperature, and dress the baby according to the room temperature. And weighted blankets. I've mentioned there have been records of deaths with babies and older children. The oldest one I've heard of was a child of 9 who was using a weighted blanket, and the child was stuck underneath the blanket, and it was so heavy that the child couldn't get out from underneath it. So they are not recommended in a safe sleeping environment. We know that little babies have very fragile airways and breathing mechanisms. So particularly the younger they are, the more a weighted blanket can be a risk to them. They're actually manufacturing now weighted sleeping bags. And isn't it wonderful? Supposed to help the baby sleep. The weights of the weighted sleeping bags are on the chest part of the sleeping bag. So these little bubs who, you know, have difficulty in managing their airways and breathing, and need all the support they can get, they don't need something heavy sitting on their chest to impede that. Why baby's feet are placed at the foot of the cot? That's when you're using a blanket, and so that the baby can't wriggle down underneath it. Again, related to keeping baby's head and face uncovered. And keeping head and face uncovered really does apply to all age groups of children, particularly when they're in care that- And so yes, hoodies and hats should be avoided in the older children as well, that they're sleeping. And I think that's pretty much answered.

Louisa Coussens: Fabulous. Thank you very much, Lorraine. And all those risks really move us quite nicely onto the next topic that I'm going to come to you with, Kathy, please, which is around supervision. So can you tell us about the regulatory requirements related to supervision? Do infants need to be within sight and hearing during sleep and rest?

Kathy Truong: Thanks, Louisa. Yeah, and thank you to everyone who wrote in asking about supervision. I know it's been a hot topic in a lot of service settings. It's perhaps a more challenging area of practice. So that's why it's so important for us to have conversations about the regulatory requirements, and then understanding Red Nose guidance, and consider how these together apply in the context of your service, to keep children safe. So I'll start with the reg requirements. So if we think about what the regulatory requirement is under the National Law, it's the requirement to ensure all children being educated and cared for are adequately supervised at all times. So that includes during sleep and rest times of course. And I think this is a really important point to remember. So as always, what is adequate depends on all the circumstances of your service. So there are so many factors, I guess, that could impact if supervision is adequate or not. But consider things like the number, ages, and abilities, the individual needs of your children, how many educators you have and where they are positioned, what each child's doing, and the risks in the environment that you're in. So that's, I guess, the regulatory requirements. And when we look to Red Nose, it's because we look to best-practice advice and recommendations from recognised authorities to guide how we meet our regulatory requirements. So in this case, Red Nose guidance guides how we ensure adequate supervision. For safe sleeping, we look to the Red Nose advice that children should always be in sight and hearing distance of an educator, so that the educator can check on children's breathing and the colour of their skin, and intervene if anything does go wrong. So if we link that back to the regulatory requirement, it's not in the regulations, but being within sight and hearing is one part of, or one way of, ensuring children are adequately supervised during sleep and rest. So I hope that explains what's in the regulations and what's best practice, and how they both work together.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Kathy. And I might stay with you, because I know we also have lots of questions about physical checks.

Kathy Truong: Yeah. Yeah.

Louisa Coussens: Can you tell us about physical checks of sleeping children, and how often they should be occurring?

Kathy Truong: Yeah, that's another common question we get, and I've seen some come through. Regular physical checks are another part of ensuring all children are adequately supervised during sleep and rest times. So you'll know that the Law and Regulations do not specify how often they need to occur. Your service's policies and procedures should address the frequency of your physical checks. And this, sorry, should really reflect the level of risk identified for children at your service. So if your policies and procedures don't include this, or you know, you might want to have another look at your policies and procedures, or contact your provider, just to clarify your service's practice. But as an example, your service might want to conduct regular physical checks of all sleeping children every 10 minutes for children under 2 years of age. But again, there might be, you know, circumstances, and children might have different needs that need to be assessed to determine any risk factors that means that you'll be doing more regular physical checks. So what I mean is, you know, babies or children with medical conditions or specific healthcare needs who require a higher level of supervision.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you.

Kathy Truong: Thanks, Louisa.

Louisa Coussens: Great. Sarah, I'm going to come over to you now, because we do have some questions around what sort of documentation services should have. So could you tell us what types of safe sleep-related documentation you would want to see or expect to see in a service?

Sarah Hunter: Yeah. Of course, of course. Yes. This is something that's always spoken about I think on nearly every visit that I undertake. So something that's been mentioned several times here, and is probably the first starting point, would be around the service's safe sleep and rest policy. So it's making sure that that policy is based on the relevant areas of the Laws and Regulations, so those that have been covered off today, best-practice advice from recognised authorities, and it also aligns with current practices within the service. So the policy should be relevant to the age of children cared for. So if you're caring for under 2's, information that's relevant to that age group, or for the other end of the ages, if you're a before and after school care or vacation care, then seeing a policy which still reflects rest and relaxation appropriate for the ages of the children. It's important that the practices within the service and the policy align. Ensure that it does, as been mentioned, please go and have a look at it after this session. And if it doesn't, then review the policy. This could mean adding practices that you already undertake, or introducing new practices that are in the policy to reflect current recommendations, but may not be occurring on a day-to-day practice by your educators. It's important to regularly review this policy, and also getting families involved in that process and sharing it with them with any changes that have been made. Another document is, and one that's come up in a few questions, is around the record of safe sleep checks. These could be either paper based or digital. While these are non-regulatory, these are a best practice as a measure put in place by the provider to ensure that educators are conducting their regular physical checks of each child, which then in turn relates to a strategy in place to ensure that educators are adequately supervising children. So that sleep check may include such details as the name of the child, the time that it was checked, the educator that checked them. It can also include, I've seen some examples where the safe sleep check also records the position of the child, whether they're on their, you know, rolled over onto their back, or they've rolled onto their stomach or they're on their side. It may also identify the location of the child in the cot. So if they've moved from one end to the other, or they're laying across the cot, that it also just identifies that information as well. So it's very varied what we see, but that's sort of the general idea. So it's up to each service to sort of do that. But as I said, those physical regular checks and that record is about one of your steps that you've got in place to ensure adequate supervision. Another document that is becoming more typical to see is a safe sleep risk assessment. And this is an acknowledgement by educators see safe sleep as a high-risk activity. And the risk assessment would outline the risks that they've identified relating to safe sleep, and the strategies that you're going to implement to mitigate that risk. Other things may be Red Nose or safe sleep posters, and information in the cot room or in the foyer. And then it's also the certificate of compliance to demonstrate that the cots comply with Australian Safety Standards. And that's, I think, about it. These are just a few of the documents, Louisa.

Louisa Coussens: Fabulous. Thank you so much, Sarah. I can see that we're almost out of time, but Lorraine, I'm gonna come back to you for one last question. If you can give us some nuggets of gold in just a few moments, 'cause this is a question that we had come through prior to the webinar, but I can also see some people referring to a similar theme in the Q&A today. Do you have any advice, Lorraine, for staff and services on having challenging conversations with families, if a parent is requesting that a service implement practices that are not considered safe for their child?

Lorraine Harrison: Yes, I can. Look, it's a really difficult area. And I see it from both sides, because I have parents that ring me up and say da da da da da about the childcare service. And then I'll have the educators and they'll ring and say, "What do we do? This is what the parents want us to do." And you know, my information to both sides is very consistent. And I think that's the important thing to remember, whenever you're dealing with any discussion situations with parents where there might be some variation in how parents want baby placed for sleep, or bring children along to care services when they probably are not well enough to be there. So it's about looking at the risk. And I guess the important thing is that, as I said, the message is consistent, that you discuss with the family the priorities within childcare around safety of their child, and that that's your main priority. Some of the areas where I've had questions that come in, it may be related to baby being, you know, "My baby sleeps much better on their tummy, I want you to place baby for sleep on their tummy when they're in your service." Now in that situation, it's very simple, but not easy, simple to have the discussion around the importance, and we know that placing babies on the back for sleep is the safest possible way for these babies. If parents are insisting, then it is really important that you obtain some information from their medical officer or other health professional that's written as to what care and plan that you should be implementing in that situation. My experience is, nobody will write that sort of information for you on a formal written document, to say that it's okay to place small babies on their tummy for sleep. So it's about having that discussion. You may find that- The other thing that concerns me from a health perspective is when, you know, you might have a child who has a disability or has an illness, a chronic illness, and I guess you will confirm with me that these children are coming more and more into early childhood services. It is really important that you have a plan provided for you by the health professional. For example, I had a phone call not that long ago about a child who'd been diagnosed with sleep apnea and was using one of those apnea machines for sleep. And the parents just brought it along to the childcare and said, "Well here," you know, "this is how you do it." No, you need, for your own safety, and this child definitely would need a risk assessment, but you also need to have written instructions as to how to use that machine. You know, I doubt that there would be many children that would come to your service that require daily medication that you aren't given a plan for. So it's important for all of those variations from a health perspective, that you have a written plan, and that you know what you're doing. If the discussion, and I'll finish up on this last point, if the discussion is around, one of the other common ones that we get is around the wearing of necklaces. We know that necklaces, anything around a baby's neck can create a significant risk to a baby. When it becomes difficult to have the discussion is around if it's a cultural or family heirloom or a religious object. Again, it's really important to just have that discussion with the families. I can't give you the words to say. You know your families reasonably well. Have that discussion about the concerns around safety of babies sleeping with objects around their neck, and you know, that that's your prime aim. And be consistent about that. It's not an easy discussion at all, I can guarantee. And I've also had it from the parents' end, ringing me and saying, "Why can't they wear their necklace while they're in daycare?"

Louisa Coussens: Thank you so much, Lorraine. I'm sorry I have to wrap us up, because I think we're going to be booted out at 5 past 11.

Lorraine Harrison: Oh.

Louisa Coussens: And there's still so much wonderful information and discussion to be had on this topic. Thank you so much to our panel. Are we still going? Yes, lovely. Thank you so much to our panel. That was really valuable. Thank you, Lorraine. Thank you, Kathy. Thank you, Sarah. And thank you very much to all of you for joining us this morning. I hope that you've taken away lots of things to go back to your service with this morning. We were going to talk about resources and guidance. I did promise that at the start. But having run out of time, we've put some links in the chat for you. Please feel free to take pictures of these slides as they pop up on your screen now. We have recorded today's session, and we plan to make all of the ECE Connect webinars available at some point soon. This safe sleep one will be available at some point, pending just checking through the guidance that we've shared with you today. So thank you very much everybody. Any questions that we haven't been able to get to today, as I said, we will follow up with either responses to your questions, or with guidance that you can then use to answer the questions yourselves. Thank you again. Thank you, Lorraine. Thank you to all of our panellists. And thank you for all of the work that you are all doing out in the sector to keep children safe. Bye-bye.

We will discuss the changes and the opportunities for implementing the EYLF V2.0.

Beth Flatley: Hi. I can see everyone starting to join us now. Thanks so much for coming along. I'll give you a little bit of time to get yourself online and all organised and we'll kick off in a minute. Okay. I can see that our numbers are still going up and people are still joining us, but so that we get through our content today and get some time hopefully for some questions and answers at the end, I'll kick off. Thanks for joining us for today's ECE Connect session. My name's Beth Flatley. I'm the director of the Centre for Excellence in Early Childhood Quality and Transitions in the early childhood outcomes area of the department. I'm joined by Jackie Bradshaw, who is the manager approved learning frameworks and assessment for learning, and Kathy Dryden, who is the state operations manager in the State Operations Network of the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. We've also got a number of Department of Education colleagues behind the scenes today working away responding to some of your online questions during the session and helping people with any technical issues you may have. So in this session, our aim is to provide you, as the title says there, with an overview of the updated approved learning framework, Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Framework, often known as the EYLF or the E-Y-L-F, Version 2.0. We're going to discuss the changes today to the vision, principles, practices, and learning outcomes and the opportunities for implementing the EYLF 2.0. We'll also be exploring this as part of assessment and rating and what this looks like for services. Before we kick off, I would like, of course, to Acknowledge Country. I would like to acknowledge that I'm hosting this session today on the land of the wonderful and resilient Wangal people in Sydney's Inner West. I'd like to pay my respects to them as the ongoing custodians of the lands and waterways where I live and work and pay respects to the Aboriginal communities in the lands on which you are living and working. I'd like to pay my respects to their Elders past and present as the ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines, and stories. We strive in all that we do to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners in New South Wales achieve their potential through education. And I'd like to extend that respect to any Aboriginal colleagues that are on the call today. So just a bit of housekeeping before we kick off, and those of you that have joined us for other ECE Connect sessions might recognise some of these things already. So just pointing out that our microphone, video, and chat functions are disabled during the webinar, but the Q&A function, which is at the bottom of your screen, is available if you've got any questions throughout the session. And we will work very hard to make some time at the end for Q&A. My apologies if we don't quite get there. But there are always options to respond to your questions in the background and at a later time if we don't get there. So we'll be using Menti during this session. Some of you might have used that before. But in preparation, if you have your mobile phone or another web browser open and handy, that will enable you to participate in those interactive components of the session. And please don't worry if you don't get a chance to say all you need to say in the Menti today. We're gonna keep these Mentis open until next Tuesday, 4 July, so that if things occur to you later on or you don't get a chance, you can pop in and add some more feedback there. I should state that this session is being recorded and that's so we can make it available on our website for people that aren't able to attend today and that we've got our automated closed captions enabled during the session for accessibility purposes. So to kick off our session today and get us all going on a Thursday morning, we've got a Menti that we're going to put up, a Menti question. You can scan that QR code that's on the screen or you can open a web browser, type in, and then enter that code you see on your screen. We're gonna keep the link and the code in the chat so that if you miss it, don't worry, it will always be there for you. Please know this is anonymous so you can join in and share freely with us. The information we gather through this session is going to help us shape not just further sessions, but the kind of support that we can see might be needed around the approved learning frameworks and help us to tailor that support. So let's move to our first question. We'd like to know, and my goodness, you're busy already, where are you in your journey? And how familiar are you with the EYLF Version 2.0 and the changes? Wow, this is really fantastic. So I can see that quite a large number of you have started reviewing these changes already, which is really great. And I'm also seeing a rather sizable group moving into that period of having a decent understanding or starting to unpack and even some starting to embed those practices within their services. That's marvellous. I'm conscious that we've still got what looks like, you know, a sizeable group that are reading through, but are not at that stage yet. And obviously we're keen to hear more feedback from you in terms of how we can help and support. With that in mind, I'm gonna hand over to Jackie Bradshaw now, who's gonna take us through the changes and updates to the EYLF version 2.0. Please do keep completing that Menti if you need to, if you haven't responded, but as I can see most people have, I'll hand on over to Jackie. Thank you, Jackie.

Jackie Bradshaw: Thanks, Beth. Good morning, everyone. So thanks for joining us this morning. I'm looking forward to the session, and I can see that there's many of you online, so appreciate your time today. So let's jump in and take a look at the approved learning frameworks. For some of you, you'll be very familiar with these documents, and for some, it might be quite new. So we'll touch on these, the existing frameworks that we have in place already. Now, these were developed back in 2009 and were designed to support us as teachers and educators in our work with children to maximise their potential and develop their foundation for success and learning. So you can see the two frameworks on the screen, the Early Years Learning Framework for children birth to 5 years and through to their transition to school and also My Time, Our Place, which is for school-age children, so those children attending outside school hours care. And in 2012, they came into the National Quality Framework and became part of that larger framework there as well, which we can see on this next slide the different components of the framework. So it's made up of the National Law and Regulations and the National Quality Standard. And you can see the two frameworks there in the centre with a strong link to quality area one in the National Quality Standard, which is around our educational program and practice. But they also have a role across many of the different quality areas in the National Quality Standard. There's also a strong link here with the objectives of the National Quality Framework, in particular, to improve educational and developmental outcomes for children. So that's the strong link there to the broader framework and that pops these into a little bit more context for you. If we're thinking a little bit more now about the new versions that have just come into place, I'll take you back a couple of years to 2020 where Education Ministers agreed to update the two learning frameworks, 'cause as you know, and as I just mentioned, they were developed back in 2009. So they've been in place for quite some time. There was a university consortia engaged by ACECQA on behalf of all of the governments to undertake this update to the frameworks and that was really about ensuring that the frameworks maintained their currency, that they continued to reflect the developments that we know have occurred in practice and our knowledge in early childhood education and care, and also to support us as teachers and educators in our role to best meet the learning and development needs for each child. That was done over 3 stages. So there was stakeholder engagement, which then moved into looking at the contemporary research around practice. And then in 2022, there was a pilot across 16 services right across Australia. And then earlier this year, in January 2023, they released the updated versions, and we'll drop some links into the chat later on where you'll be able to download those if you haven't already. So let's take a closer look at some of the changes and we're going to go into a little bit more detail, but right across both of the frameworks that have been in place, there has been a mix of expanded explanations across the principles, practices, and learning outcomes, but there's more specific connection here between the National Quality Standard and the two frameworks. So just remembering that the frameworks were actually in place before the standards came into place for us. And so there's been a stronger connection between sustainability, theoretical approaches, critical reflection, the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing, and doing, and also inclusion. And as we take a closer look at the frameworks and the different components, you'll see the strengthening of all of those particular areas. Today we're gonna take a closer look at the Early Years Learning Framework. There is a session tomorrow that will take a closer look at My Time, Our Place. So let's jump in. Here on the screen, you can see all of the different elements of the Early Years Learning Framework, starting at the top with the vision and then coming down to the fundamental view of children, which is belonging, being, and becoming, and they're really key components of the framework. We've also then got the principles, practices, and learning outcomes, and these are all of the updated versions here on the screen in front of us, and we'll take a closer look at those now. And a little fun fact, as I mentioned, these have been strengthened, these frameworks. They're really just building on what we already know and what we're already doing, which is really exciting, but they have gone from 51 pages to about 70 pages. So there's a lot more guidance in there for us. If we take a closer look at the vision, what you can see here is that there has been a real change in this. And if we can just jump to the next slide. Thank you. So where you can see here is on the right-hand side of the screen is the updated vision, which has really strengthened how we view children and that they are, we're wanting them to be able to engage in their learning, become those confident and creative individuals and people that we want to grow and build up, and there is a really key focus here on them becoming active and informed members of the community. And in particular, the vision strengthens connection here with the Alice Springs Education Declaration along with the Australian curriculum around supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. So it's really about recognising diversity and the importance of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, people, and history. On the next slide, we'll see the updated principles and what we can see here is that the principles have actually gone from 5 into the new version where there's now 8 principles. There's been 3 new principles introduced. The first one is collaborative leadership and teamwork and that's really recognising what we've been doing for a long time as teachers and educators in the sector and that's working as a team and it's around the important role that we all play as teachers and educators and that we can all be leaders in the work that we do. But it also recognises the important role that children play as leaders in their day as when, sorry, when they make choices around the experiences that they engage in, who and how they engage in those experiences, and they can take those leadership roles as well. So it's really recognising the work and the way that we've been working with children, families, and communities for a long time. The other principle that's been introduced is sustainability. Now, this is asking us to think beyond caring for the environment and it describes the 3 dimensions of sustainability. So thinking about environmental, social, and economic sustainability. So when thinking about environmental sustainability, that is really looking at how we take care of our natural environment. Our social sustainability is about those, again, respect for diversity, thinking about our local and our global communities as well. And then we have our economic sustainability, which is considering how we can support economic development without the detriment to the other parts of the sustainability dimensions that I've just mentioned. Also here we've got a new principle around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island perspectives, and this is, again, drawing the links to the Alice Springs Education Declaration, but also recognising the really important role that we play as teachers and educators in advancing reconciliation in Australia and also recognising the oldest living culture and the importance of that. And so the importance of that in terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, teachers, educators, and communities in our services, but also for all children to have a stronger understanding and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and culture. There has also been a renaming of a couple of principles there as well. So high expectations and equity has been expanded there to equity, inclusion, and high expectation. And again, drawing the link and strengthening the framework with the National Quality Standard, which has a strong focus on inclusion as well. And then also ongoing learning and reflective practice has again been strengthened to critical reflection and ongoing professional learning. So really, again, recognising how much, as teachers and educators, we engage in that critical reflection on our own practice and the programs we are delivering, but also that we see ourselves as lifelong learners in this work as well. On the next slide, we've got the practices and what you can see here is actually the practices have gone from 8 down to 7 in the new framework and that's because we can see learning through play and intentional teaching has been combined into play-based learning and intentionality and drawing the link between the importance of, or the connection between play-based learning and being intentional in our practice and recognising that teachers and educators are intentional in all aspects of the work that they're doing through designing our learning environments and experiences to working with intentional teaching strategies such as questioning and inquiry in how we're working with children. So that has been combined. The other key changes that you'll see here is that we've moved from cultural competence to cultural responsiveness. And again, that's asking us to think more deeply around diversity and moving from just an awareness and appreciation of diversity, to really thinking about reflecting on our practice and having a strong stronger commitment to different cultures and diversity and individual children, families, and community and also Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families, and cultures as well. The other change here in the practices is the move from assessment for learning through to assessment and evaluation for learning, development, and wellbeing. And so in the updated versions of the framework, you'll see that there's a stronger focus here on defining and understanding assessment and evaluation and the differences between the two. So assessment, we'll be talking about assessment of, assessment for learning, and also assessment as learning. And then we look at evaluation and it, again, talks about the importance of critical reflection as teachers and educators in this on our practice and our programs and the work that we're doing in our services on a daily basis. So again, this is really strengthening and bolstering the work that we've already been doing for many years here as well. In the learning outcomes, what you'll see is that the 5 learning outcomes have actually remained. They were seen as fit for purpose and still really relevant to the work that we are doing. But what has changed is that within the learning outcomes, when we start to look at the key components, there has been some refinement, again, sort of drawing everything together and reflecting the updated principles and practices and contemporary theories that we know around our work that has been reflected in these key components when we start to take a closer look. So on the screen, you can see one there for quality area one and where key component 3 has a focus or has shifted and been renamed to include not only self-identity, but a positive sense of self-worth for children as well. And so in the examples that sit underneath that, which is the same format that we've had in the existing Early Years Learning Framework, there are examples of what this might look like for children. What they've done there is really expand those to reflect the updated principles and practices. And so for example, in the original version under this key component, there were about 8 examples and that's actually moved to 18. So a lot more guidance for us as teachers and educators, which is great. And so that's strengthening, and that's where we'll see the difference. There's also that opportunity for us to add our own examples of how we might see children displaying confident self-identities and positive self-worth. We can add to those in the same way that we could in the existing Early Years Learning Framework as well. There's also some really great guidance in there around ways that us as teachers and educators can actually promote this in the work that we're doing with children. On this next slide, what's great is this will probably be very familiar to many of you. You would've seen it in the National Quality Standard. This is the planning cycle and that has now been included in the approved learning framework as well. It describes something that we do on a daily basis and outlines the key components of the planning cycle for us. It does that in this great diagram, which you can see on the screen, but, also, it has the text that follows. So it unpacks that a little bit further for us. And we can see that through observe, that's really about listening and collecting information about children and what they're doing. We can then assess and analyse and interpret the learning. We move into planning and designing our programs and then obviously implementing and enacting the program that we've designed, and that final step of evaluating and critically reflecting, as I mentioned earlier as well. All 5 of those components here really inform our thinking about children's experiences and improve the practice that we go about on a daily basis to ensure that all children are included and able to engage and participate in the programs that we are offering. Also, in the framework, there is a great glossary of terms and I love this for being able to jump in and get bite-sized pieces of information around some of the terminology. This has also been updated to reflect some of the new terms or some of the work that, again, or ways that we've been working with children and families for a long time. And so that's been updated. There's about 5 pages in the back of the Early Years Learning Framework where you can jump in and have a look at these different terms. These are just some of them on the screen that have been updated. And one of the examples is that it provides a really nice short and succinct description of cultural responsiveness, but that is also expanded further in the earlier parts of the framework and then cultural safety as well and the difference between the two. So a really great resource available for you there. So now that we've had a quick snapshot at the different components of the frameworks, let's think a little bit more about implementation. And on the screen in front of you, you can see the timeline. So we know that at the end of last year, Education Ministers endorsed the changes to the frameworks and, as I mentioned, earlier this year, and as you would know, they were released. And so we're in this stage called familiarisation. This is an opportunity for us as teachers, educators, and providers to start looking at these frameworks, becoming familiar with them, thinking about how we might implement them while at the same time the existing frameworks remain in operation. In 2024, we'll move into full implementation and Kathy will take us through that in a little more detail in just a moment, but before then, I am going to hand back to Beth, who's gonna jump in and do our next Mentimeter.

Beth Flatley: Thanks so much, Jackie. That's fantastic. So look, we've got another Menti. If you need to get in again, the code is the same as last time, so I'll give you a moment to do that. This time we'd like to hear from those of you that have commenced your journey and the steps that you're taking to get ready. So could you share with us some of the ways that you're getting ready in this familiarisation phase? Once again, this is anonymous, and once again, we will keep this open until 4 July. Just give you a moment to get some responses up there. Yeah, there've been some ACECQA webinars as well too, haven't they? So webinars. The team memos is really great. Attended some training. I can see training come up, and webinars again. My goodness. Planning meetings, yep. Some things about reflection in there as well too, which I think is really vital. Yeah. Critical reflection's coming up again. Yep, our educational leaders taking roles. My goodness, you're doing an awful lot. Yep. Planning meetings. The fact sheets are coming up, the ACECQA fact sheets. That's really great. Yeah, I'm seeing some common themes here as well too. Worth kind of thinking about that in the context of the next question we have for you as well. So I might, you can keep going with this one, but I'll bring up the next question at this point. So what do you see are the challenges of implementing the EYLF Version 2.0 in 2024? So I can see you're doing a lot of preparation, but where are you seeing challenges? Absolutely, time is one we have heard before, yes, and I see that coming up, absolutely populating my screen. Staff turnover, it's absolutely worth acknowledging that. And the anxiety around change I think is a really good call-out as well. I think that's a really common theme and something that's a very, you know, part of the human condition. Having the time to educate staff and upskill staff. Having the time for planning. Workforce shortages there coming up again. Educator awareness of the changes. Guidance of how we can put this into our programming. There's some really good things coming up here. The staff burnout one's important to call out too. There's a lot of change going on, isn't there? And we do need to think about how we manage that for our staff and also how we support you in managing that given these new changes that are coming. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I'm gonna give this just a tiny bit more time 'cause there's some really good and important feedback coming up here that we can take on board and then think forward to how we support you. Yeah, and the time again comes up. Time to make adjustments. And look, it's worth noting that, you know, the idea is to get started implementing those changes. You've still got a process to go through. Yes, you need to be on the new framework in 2024, or the updated framework in 2024, but there is then that process of working through that and working to embed those changes and we're conscious that that also takes time. Thank you so much for your responses. As I say, this one remains open, but I'm gonna hand back over to Jackie at this point. Thank you, Jackie.

Jackie Bradshaw: Thanks, Beth. I agree that they were some great suggestions there on how people are becoming familiar with the updates, and also, I really wanna thank you for sharing some of the challenges that you may be having around this. As Beth mentioned, we have heard some of these and I'd like to just sort of really reiterate that we hear you and we're acknowledging what you've said and we're walking this journey with you. So we will be, as Beth said, reflecting on your feedback in this section about how we can go forward. So thinking there, and like Beth said, this is an opportunity at the moment to take some time. We heard that time is a challenge. We've also still got a little while to go before we're thinking about full implementation and I think what's important here is taking some bite-sized opportunities to do some of that. So as you are in your daily practice, thinking about how you can pick up, where you would normally pick up the existing framework, maybe pick up the new framework at the same time or instead of and have a look at that there. You can see some examples on the screen and I think many of these were covered off in the Menti. So really thinking about maybe how we can unpack these visions, principles, practices, and learning outcomes in our staff meetings. Thinking about that new principle of collaborative leadership and teamwork. Thinking about how we can share the load here. What parts can we all play in this? And sharing that load across our team and leveraging the strengths of our educators in our teams. Some people may have particular interests or focus in different principles or practices and maybe they can take the lead in that work there as well. Reviewing and downloading the resources from ACECQA. I think that's great. That came up in the Menti. That's another great one to be doing. And I think using the tools that we've got available to us, so our quality improvement plan and also the self, or the self-assessment tool, are great resources to think through the steps to getting ready for implementation in 2024. We're on this with you. So as Beth mentioned, we will take some time to look at your feedback in that Menti and think about how we as the Department can support you. So thank you very much for sharing all of your thoughts on that and the different ways that you're looking and becoming familiar with the frameworks. I'm going to actually hand over to Kathy now and she will take you through the next part of the session. Thanks, Kathy.

Kathy Dryden: Sorry. Thanks, Jackie. I'm so glad to see, well, I can't see all your faces on the screen, but I'm sure you're really excited about all these changes. And I'm really glad that we're doing this on a day where Taylor Swift tickets aren't for sale so we've got your complete attention. As we've said before, all the speakers have said, we understand that with change comes an uncertainty and a range of questions, and there's gonna be lots of questions now and there's also gonna be lots of questions into the future. And the frameworks were put out in January and there's an intentional immersion space. So we've got time. We understand that you may be feeling anxious and unsure about how the new frameworks will impact on your assessment and rating, and as discussed before, you'll be at different stages. So we know that from our offices that some people are way ahead. They're right onto it. You know, they've been listening to it, they're starting to implement it, right down to people that, you know, are struggling to get their doors open every day with new staff, and some people haven't even really put much thought into it yet because there's other changes, the NQF changes, there's so much. So this is our opportunity just to step through this together and look at the frameworks. We're gonna touch on quality area one and what happens during assessment and rating, but as Jackie said before, it is not just about that one quality area where the frameworks and the outcomes for children come. So full implementation. So what does that mean for services? Phase two of the implementation will commence from early 2024. The legislation will be updated and we'll be advised of a commencement date. After that date of the commencement in early 2024, an approved provider will actually be in breach of the national regulations and not meeting relevant elements of the NQS if their services are not yet using the frameworks in accordance with the legislation. From early 2024, the original frameworks will cease to be recognised under the National Law. But don't panic, we will be providing ongoing support to the sector and we will be keeping you updated, along with ACECQA updates. So please be, you know, tuned in, be advised, and you'll get continued support from internal teams within the Department as well as the information you'll be provided on ACECQA. So how do we assess the frameworks now as part of the A&R? During assessment and rating process, authorised officers assess the frameworks and collect evidence using the triangulation of evidence, as you can see on the screen. We use observe, sight, and discuss methods as outlined in the Guide to the National Quality Framework. To gather evidence and assess the frameworks, authorised officers observe, apologies, discuss, and sight evidence in the following ways. And what I'm gonna give you is just some examples, it's not an exhaustive list, and it's gonna be very different for your service. So when we observe, we look at: children displaying behaviours and engaging in activities that are consistent with the principles, practices, and learning outcomes; evidence for outcomes described in the approved learning frameworks; educators providing experiences for children that actively promote or initiate the investigations of ideas of complex concepts and thinking and reasoning and hypothesising; When we discuss, when our officers will discuss it, we'll be asking: how do educators make curriculum decisions; how learning outcomes are promoted through the program and children's experience; how the service communicates learning outcomes for children with their families; how the learning outcomes, principles, and practices are reflected in their philosophy. And as Jackie had mentioned before, the philosophy may be something that's an organic document. It may be things that you'll be looking at over the course of time, over the course of the next 6 months. So you can ensure that your philosophy and other documents are reflected in your practice. We will be sighting that documentation has been gathered in a variety of ways about children's progress towards the learning outcomes and planning that establishes further learning goals. We will be looking at documented programs that include planned experiences and the strategies to support individual children's goals. Documented programs demonstrating that assessment of the learning outcomes has led to goals being identified for the group of children that are designed to intentionally support aspects of learning through play. That should all sound very, very familiar to you all because it's something that you are all doing now. And as Jackie explained before with the cycle of planning and documenting, it's already happening in your service. So how will our assessment change with the new framework? The modes of collection will not change. The triangulation of evidence will continue. The evidence that authorised officers analyse will be slightly different as the services implement the changes. For example, the content has been expanded and examples included for the learning outcomes. However, the learning outcomes themselves, while strengthened, haven't changed. There may be a slight change in the questioning by authorised officers during the A&R visit. The wording of questions to educators may be slightly different to reflect the changes so that educators can articulate their principles and practices. Some additional considerations on how educators have been informed, trained, and their understanding of the changes, particularly in the early implementation phase, may occur. It's worth noting we're already beginning to see services engage with the frameworks, and you've said that before yourself with the Mentis, through professional discussions and sector professional development. And they're already examining, there's lots of Facebook pages even where educators are examining how the principles and practices are influencing their curriculum designs. And they're already talking to, you're already talking to each other. The best source of knowledge is the people that are out there doing the job. As the elements of the national framework have shifted over the years, many of your practices have changed with it. Many of you are already doing much of what is needed. I have spoken to many providers and educators who are saying, "Finally the frameworks have caught up. They're reflecting what we're doing in practice." As Jackie said previously, the language and the context has changed, but the outcomes have stood the test of time. So the shift to the new frameworks will not be a significant one for many of you. Thank you. How are we preparing? We are working on this joint journey with you. The framework documents were released in January 2023 for all of us. And as I've said, 2023 is the year for immersion. We identify that there are so many things going on this year with the changes to the NQF that this is our time just to read it and, as Beth said, immerse yourself in it and become aware of it. Through our internal training and national training from our wonderful team at ACECQA, our authorised officers will be skilled in the changes to ensure when conducting A&R they have a thorough and a deep understanding of the changes. They have applicable current conversations, asking educators questions that reflect the changes. They understand the content of the changes when they are sighting documentation to ensure services are implementing the changes, and they understand how practices and services may slightly change, even the wording used or the experiences implemented by educators, to reflect the outcomes. Many of our officers are already having those conversations with you and you may notice in our quick notes that are coming out with report that we're actually going to start using that language and having those conversations so that we know that you're on track too. It's really important that all your educators are connected to the frameworks. The frameworks are not just something you need because A&R's about to happen or you've received your notification. While we touched on quality area one previously, the frameworks need to be reflected in your philosophy, as I've said before, and embedded in your practice and your policies. The framework, like A&R, are not just an event. They're a practice that supports best outcomes for children so they can be living their best lives for the rest of their lives. So we have up onscreen a range of resources that might be a little bit small for you to have a look at, but I will point you into the direction of the ACECQA website. The ACECQA website have excellent resources. And the same for us, for ACECQA, it's about updating those resources. So keep that on your browser, keep that on your history. They will be updating those resources. They'll be updating the fact sheets for you to have those conversations. It's a lot of information right now, but we have time. So do it in small bites. As you've said before, you're doing it at staff meetings, you're doing it through updating documents. So take small steps and don't make that change become so overwhelming. ACECQA is our source of truth and it should be yours as well. As I said, they will be developing and promoting resources and training over the next 6 months. As we continue on this journey with you, there'll also be some upcoming information and resources as well as recordings. For example, today, it will be a recording available. So you can share that with your staff. And we'll also have our ECE Connect sessions later on in the year. So anything new that comes about, we will be sharing that with you as soon as possible. So what other support is available from the Department right now? Have you heard about our continuous improvement team? They are the bomb. They are fantastic. The role of our continuous improvement team is to support services at any time through your quality journey, not just at A&R. The team will be providing tailored and individual support to services in how to articulate those key practices against the National Quality Standards. They can provide initial support sessions, they can provide key practice feedback sessions, and they can provide ongoing support and they can also provide you with that technical support when you're putting in your self-assessment. So talk to them. The number's up on the screen. There's an email or you contact our 1800 number and ask to speak to people in our continuous improvement team. Many of you have probably had had that contact already. There will be a number of resources developed to support services in response to the changes to the frameworks along with our approach to A&R that has been previously discussed at other sessions this week. Keep an eye out, keep an eye out for these later on in the year through this and other sessions, and you can provide feedback. As Beth said, our Mentis will be open. You can contact the continuous support team and you can also provide that feedback through ACECQA on their website. I'm gonna hand back to Beth so Beth can talk about our next steps.

Beth Flatley: Thanks so much, Kathy, that's really great. Really appreciate the Taylor Swift reference. I know that was many people's lives yesterday and probably a bit today and on Friday as well. So look, in terms of next steps, Kathy and Jackie have talked about some really great options for you, and I know some of you have already mentioned these options when we were doing the Mentis as well too. But just to summarise, think about those next steps, what you can do now and over the course of the next 12 months into early 2024. It's a really great time to start to get familiar right now if you haven't had the opportunity to do that. Download it, read through it. Take a bit of time to reflect on your current practices. As Kathy also mentioned, there's a great range of resources and links that are already up there and available on ACECQA's webpage. They have plans to release more. We also look to go back to them and talk to them regularly about what else we think might be needed in this space. So we can use the feedback we've got from you today to provide that feedback back to ACECQA and work together with them on further resources. So read up, get familiar. Take the time to make a plan. As Kathy said, break it into bite-sized chunks. Look out also for future ECE Connect sessions and know that you can also download the recording from this session, the slides from this session, and perhaps use those in one of your staff meetings and provide those resources to staff that weren't able to attend today. Look out for other training opportunities. There are some organisations already providing these and we'll take on board your feedback and see what else we think we might be able to support you with there. And then of course, as per usual, make sure, if you're not already, that you're signed up to the Department's regular communications so that you're getting our newsletters because we like to provide you with updates that way as well. So this is our opportunity for our last Menti together and this one, I'll just leave that code up on the screen again in case you need to get back into it. And the code will be at the top of the next slide as we move forward. And once again, can see some of you are in and amongst it already. If you could please share with us in a few words what you see as those challenges in implementing the EYLF Version 2.0 in, oh, I beg your pardon, I'm just making sure that we've got the right one on the screen. Thank you. Apologies for that one, but good to see people are still writing there. What do you need from us, the Department, during this familiarisation phase to help you prepare for implementation? So what else could we provide you with or talk to ACECQA and our partners about providing you with? Free training I'm seeing come up. Training is a big one. Yeah, okay, fantastic, a training video of some kind, more webinars, more Roadshows or ECE Connect sessions. Yes, absolutely, we will plan for those. Real-life examples is a great call-out. I'm really glad to see that one up there. We've been thinking about that and how we can support around that. The Educator's Guide, I know that's come up in the questions as well too. Yeah, NESA accredited training. Some really fantastic ideas here. Visuals I saw come up there as well too. Yes, the free hard copies. I know ACECQA aren't doing the hard copies anymore. I believe you can get in contact with them and purchase one, but I think otherwise the expectation in the new world order is to download and print from there. That's my understanding. Yeah. Resources and training for educational leaders. Okay, that's a good call-out. Yeah, more training, webinars, one-to-one support, case studies. Wow, this is really great. Thank you, the case studies is also something we're having a look at for you as well. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, we have certainly given the feedback to ACECQA around the printed copies. Can certainly provide that again. Yeah, okay, there's some really great common themes coming up here. Thank you so much. I'm just having a look at my time, but please do continue there if you've got more things that you want to include. But we've definitely got some time for some questions if we do have any. So I'll just take some time and have a look at the chat and see what we've got for you. I know there was a question that came up and that also I saw come through on the Menti as well too that was related to an Educator's Guide. So I think there was one developed as part of the original EYLF and that that was really useful, and that that was provided by ACECQA. I'm not actually sure whether the intention they have is to provide that, but certainly, we will go back to them with that feedback. So given that ACECQA are leading that support for state and territory governments, we will work through that with them, make sure we take that up from them, and where the feedback from you, as it seems to be indicating, is that that will be helpful, we'll certainly take that advice forward. I'm just gonna have a look and see if we've got any other questions. Okay, so my understanding is that ACECQA's plan in terms of the guide side of things is that they would be doing more things along the lines of fact sheets on the visions, principles, and practices. Yeah. So, but we'll certainly take the feedback to them about the guide as well. Okay, so that's that one. I believe we've got another question that we might be able to answer for you that relates more to assessment and ratings. I'm just trying to see what that question might be. Give me a moment and I'll have a look. Kathy, if you can see that question and want to jump in and answer that, please do, but my team are telling me in the chat there's a question that relates more to A&R. Might be the one we've got at the top of our list in the question and answer I think. You're on mute at the moment, Kathy.

Kathy Dryden: I do my best work when I'm on mute.

Beth Flatley: Don't we all?

Kathy Dryden: Is that the one about that we can reflect to look closely at the new version compared to the old one? Both versions at the moment for this year will be acceptable. I think what our officers are doing is starting that conversation about how we are moving from that old version to the new version. But as we go through A&R this year, the current version, the original version, is the version that we are required to have in place.

Beth Flatley: Fantastic, thank you. I'm just gonna take a check-in and see if we've got any other questions in the chat that we might be able to answer. Ah, so I've got a question here that relates to OOSH. So how do you see this working in an OOSH centre where we have high staff turnover, many staff who are not pursuing a kind of forward career in the industry? Look, I would say we've got an OOSH session coming up tomorrow, so if you haven't registered for that session yet, it would be fantastic. We'll pop an answer in the chat for you as well, and one of the team are writing that right now. But if you do have time to come along to the session for OOSH services, that would be fantastic. It's at the same time, just tomorrow. Just having a look and seeing what else we've got here. Our team are doing mad typing in the background here to answer these questions before I can even get to them. Thank you so much, team. That's fantastic. There's a question here about whether or not there's a link to purchase the new one from ACECQA. We're gonna pop that in the chat so that you can see it, and there is a link that'll take you through to enable you to do that. I've got a question here about how are you planning to support the educators to adapt to these changes in, ooh, just moved on my screen. Let me go again. How are you planning to support educators to adapt to these changes in the field given significant changes taking place? Kathy, I know you spoke to that a little bit earlier on in the session, but did you want to talk to that at all?

Kathy Dryden: I can, and I think that this is part of that, of having that conversation. It's really around the provider and how they're going to support their staff. We can give you the resources, but we can't, you know, and have those conversations. When we go out to services with the A&R, whether it's assessment and rating, we have our continuous improvement team, and as I said, if you need support from them, they do an amazing job with groups, with individuals. So if your educators, as you're a educator group, need to have that contact with them, we can do that. But that's what I said before, do it in small pieces. Some of that stuff that you are doing every day with your educators, you're already doing. You do your policies. You understand the regulations. Those things are already happening in your service. It's just a matter of just making that small shift. The small shift that you do in your programming and in those conversations that you have with your educators will have a lot more meaning for them than us coming and giving you a whole heap of resources because you understand your families, you understand your educators, you understand the children that are attending your service, and that is such a wealth of knowledge that you already have and connecting those to the frameworks will be the most important thing that you can do.

Beth Flatley: Yeah, fantastic. Thanks, Kathy. And absolutely agree with all of that. You know, the bite-sized chunk side of things is also really important to bear in mind. We've got a practical question here in terms of where exactly we should go on the Department of Education website to be able to access today's session, so slides, recordings. The team are gonna pop something up in the chat for you. I don't know that we'll have an exact link for you yet that will take you right to that point because we have to go through the process of actually finishing off the recording and getting that up for you. But I know that the team will at least be able to get you to that page. So we'll pop that information in the chat. Yeah, I've got a call-out here about family daycare educators, saying, "It may be hard for family daycare educators because we often work on our own." I'm conscious of that. I'm conscious that some of you will have larger providers that can support you in that space, as Kathy was saying more broadly about other service types as well. But that's why that feedback's really important for us to be able to understand what else we can do to support, to be able to provide that feedback to ACECQA as well. And as Kathy said, the process itself remains the same. So please do reach out through all of your networks. Please do take advantage of all the resources that are out there and available and we'll look to provide support where we can as well. Okay, let's just have a bit more of a look and see what else we've got. I'm conscious I'll need to wrap up probably after the next question. Ah, this is an interesting one. So do we have any resources that we can provide for families about the changes? I'm actually not sure on that front, but it's a really good call-out if we don't. Jackie and Kathy, do you know anything in this space, whether or not there are any resources that ACECQA might have created that speak to the changes for families?

Kathy Dryden: Oh, sorry, Jackie, I'll just jump in. I was gonna say not specifically, but that's something, it's good feedback and it's something that's come back through our officers as well, even in terms of the assessment and rating. The best resources that families have to be aware of these changes are you. It's the conversations that you are having with those families. And as I said, some of those conversations you're having with families now on your Facebook page, and one thing that we've noticed with the refresh of the frameworks is that we've gone from being very isolated in our communities as, you know, our local space to our children and our families being universal citizens. There are so many methods that you can actually have that conversation with your family, whether it's through Story Park, whether it's through your Facebook page, whether it's those day-to-day conversations, you know, your foyer displays, your programs, things like that. It doesn't have to be a just we're giving you all this information, take it away and have a look at it. Some people learn like that and they prefer that, but I guess immersing people in this information, immersing your staff in this information, so it becomes a way, it's a way, it's a practice. I was gonna use the words from "The Castle" and say it's a vibe. It just becomes, and someone mentioned in one of those things, you know it like the back of your hand and you know the regs like the back of your hand. And this is just another part of that. It's going to become a way of teaching, learning, being, so that our littlest learners have the best outcomes. And if we put our children at the front of every decision that we make and every practice we do, it will become second nature for you.

Beth Flatley: That's a really beautiful way to sum up. I couldn't have said it better, Kathy. Thank you. I'm conscious that we've still got some unanswered questions and we do want to make sure we get those answers through to you. So we're gonna create an FAQ document from this session as well and we'll make that available on the website alongside the recording. So where a question hasn't been answered for you or whether you'd like to be able to, you know, if we've answered one live and you want to really be able to sink into that and reread, we'll make sure we get those FAQs up on the website for you. Thank you so much, everyone, for your questions. I'd like to thank everyone very much for coming along to this session today and for sharing with us all of your feedback about where you're up to on your journey with unpacking, understanding the updated EYLF Version 2.0. Today's session, as we said, will be followed up by another session that we'll do later on in the year on the implementation phase. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue on your journey unpacking bite-sized chunks, understanding, and we want to support you along the way. So if you've got any specific questions relating to your service, you can email us. That's the I'm reading that, but that will also be available in the chat for you if it's not already. You can also, as Kathy said, find out more information on ACECQA's website, and I thank you so much for your time today. Thanks, Kathy. Thanks, Jackie. For those of you joining us in tomorrow's OOSH session, we really look forward to seeing you there. Thanks very much.

We will discuss the changes and the opportunities for implementing the MTOP V2.0.

Beth Flatley: I'll just give everyone a minute to join. As I can see, we've got participants joining right now, and then we'll start in about a minute's time. Okay, I think our participant numbers have slowed down just a little, still a few more people joining us, but we might crack on as it's a minute past 10. Hello and thanks for joining us for today's ECE Connect session. This is the last in our ECE Connect series for this time around. Of course, we'll have more coming up later in the year. My name's Beth Flatley and I'm the Director of the Centre for Excellence in Early Childhood Quality and Transitions here in the Department of Ed. I'm joined by Jackie Bradshaw, who's the Manager of our Approved Learning Frameworks and Assessment for Learning team. And also by Alicia Burke, who's our Manager of the Continuous Improvement Team in the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. We've also got a number of colleagues behind the scenes today who will be responding to some of your online questions during this session. In this session, our aim is to provide you with an overview of the updated approved learning framework, My Time, Our Place, also known as the Framework for School-Aged Care in Australia or MTOP Version 2.0. We'll discuss the changes to the vision, principles, practices, and learning outcomes, and opportunities for implementing the updated framework. We'll also explore this as part of assessment and rating and what this looks like for services. So I'd like to start with an Acknowledgement of Country before we kick off. I'd like to acknowledge that I'm hosting this meeting from the land of the wonderful and resilient Wangal people here in Sydney's Inner West and pay my respect to their elders past, present, and emerging. We recognise the ongoing Custodians of the lands and waterways on which we all live and work, and in which you join this meeting from today. We pay respect to their Elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines, and stories. We strive in all that we do to ensure that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learner, especially our littlest learners in New South Wales, achieve their potential through education. I'd also like to acknowledge all the aboriginal educators and teachers that we have joining us on this call today. And thank you for the work that you do with our young jarjums or children each and every day. So a little bit of housekeeping before we get started. You'll see a few things on the screen there. If you've joined us for one of these webinars before, you'll be pretty familiar with all of this. So our microphone, video, and chat functions are disabled during the webinar, but we do have the Q&A function, which is down the bottom of the screen just about in the middle for you. And that's available if you have any questions throughout the session, including any technical questions that you might have in terms of getting online, trouble with hearing, things like that. If time permits, we also have some time for Q&A at the end of the session. We're going to be using a Menti today during this session, which I think many of you may have used before. But if you haven't, in preparation, have a mobile phone ready or perhaps open another web browser, so that that enables you to participate in the interactive components of the session. And look, we know that everybody learns and processes information differently. And if you'd like to take a bit more time to reflect on some of the questions we're asking in the Menti today, we keep that open. So all of the Mentis for today's session will stay open until Tuesday, 4 July, so you can come back to them later or if you've got time and there's someone who couldn't attend the session today, but perhaps is in your team that would love the chance to participate in that, they can also provide some feedback through that forum as well. Do also like to point out that today's session's being recorded and that's so that we can make it available on our website for people that weren't able to attend today, or if you've got, once again, other staff in your team who would like the opportunity to listen to it. We also use automated closed captions and they've been enabled for accessibility. So here's our first Menti. You can see the code, you can scan on your screen there. You can also open your web browser, pop in, and then the code that's there. The code will be on the screen as we move to the next page. So don't worry about that, it stays there if you need it. It's anonymous. So please know that the information you share with us remains anonymous and the information we gather throughout this session is really going to help us in the work that we do to understand what we can provide for you as department and what we can advocate for in terms of the support you need with the new updated framework. So the question we're asking, and I can see people are jumping in and getting amongst it already, which is great, is where are you in your journey? How familiar are you with the updated MTOP or Version 2.0 and the changes? So we've got quite a few participants on the line, so I'll just give you another minute or 2 to pop those responses in. I can see that we've got, you know, a fair few people that are sort of hanging around that middle area in that you've either recognised that it's been updated, haven't had a chance to engage with it yet, have read through the changes, starting to kind of, you know, get amongst it and understand it. We recognise that it's a journey and we're in that awareness phase. We're in that phase of coming to understand those changes of preparing for them, but not needing to implement them yet. And we'll talk more about that a little later on in the session. Fantastic, okay. Please do continue with that if you need to, but I'd now like to hand over to Jackie Bradshaw who's going to take us through the MTOP Version 2.0 and the updates. Thanks, Jackie.

Jacqueline Bradshaw: Thanks, Beth, and good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us today at the end of what I'm sure has been a very busy week for you. As Beth mentioned, we're gonna jump in and take a look at the Approved Learning Frameworks now, and we'll start by having a look at the 2 Approved Learning Frameworks, which have been in place under the National Quality Framework since 2012. They were actually developed back in 2009, so they've been around longer than the National Quality Framework, and you can see them there on the screen. We've got Belonging, Being & Becoming, The Early Years Learning Framework, which is for children birth through to 5 years of age. And on the right hand side, My Time, Our Place, the framework for school age children for children attending outside of school hours care services. So as I mentioned, these were developed originally back in 2009, to support educators to provide children and young people with opportunities to maximise their potential and set that foundation for future success. They've been crucial in our daily practice since then. And having a strong awareness of these frameworks and how they guide our work is really important. They've been developed using strong, international evidence-based and they provide the foundation for quality teaching and learning by outlining principles, practices, and outcomes, which will help us in our professional decision making, in planning, delivering, and evaluating quality programs for children in our care. So let's pop them into context a little bit more. We're going to take a look at the National Quality Framework here just very quickly, because for many of you, these frameworks and the National Quality Framework would be really familiar. For some of you, this might be a little bit more new, but what you can see on the screen here is that we've got the National Law, the regulations, the National Quality Standard, and in the centre, is where we can see the frameworks positioned. We know that they've got really strong links to Quality Area one in educational program and practice, but they actually link to many of the other quality areas that you can see there on the screen. The National Quality Framework has some objectives, and in particular, for this session today, the objective around improving educational outcomes and educational and developmental outcomes is really crucial. And you can see the strong link there with the 2 frameworks. So what we're going to do is take a closer look at the update, as Beth mentioned, and this started way back in 2020, when Education Ministers agreed to provide or complete an update on these frameworks. A consortia of universities was engaged by ACECQA on behalf of all of the governments to actually undertake the update project. And the key aims of that project was to ensure that these frameworks that have been guiding the work of us for quite some time, maintained their currency and relevance to our work, that they continued to reflect the recent changes in practice and knowledge that we have in this space, that it has grown over those years, and also continue to provide support for teachers and educators to best meet the learning and development needs of children and young people. So this started, as I said, back in 2020, and then in 2021, the first stage of the project kicked off with stakeholder engagement. And from there, it looked at the contemporary research that was available to make some recommendations. At the early part of 2022, there was actually a trial of the updates in 16 services right across Australia. Earlier this year in 2023 back in January, the updated frameworks were released and are available to all of us to access and have a look at in more detail, and that's what we're gonna do now. We're gonna jump in and take a closer look. Today's session, we are gonna be focusing on My Time, Our Place, Version 2. There was a session yesterday on the Early Years Learning Framework, and that has been recorded and will be available in the near future as well. But today, focusing on My Time, Our Place. So across the framework, there has been a mix of clarifications and expanded explanations right across all of the principles, practices, and outcomes. And there's been some really key differences here with strengthening the connection between the 2 frameworks and the National Quality Standard. And that's, as I mentioned, these were in place before the National Quality Standard came in. So this is how an opportunity to strengthen their connection. In particular, they've been strengthened in areas of sustainability, theoretical approaches, critical reflection, and the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being, and doing, and also inclusion. So we're going to unpack each one of those areas in a little bit more detail as we go through. On this slide, you can see all of the elements of the new, the updated framework. And so you can see there that it starts at the top with a vision for children. And then the fundamental to the framework are those key words, belonging, being, and becoming. And this is how we view children's lives characterised by belonging, being, and becoming. And then we go into the principles, practices, and outcomes. And so these are the updated versions that you can see here on the screen. And like I mentioned, we're about to take a closer look. Bit of a fun fact that our framework here has gone from about 45 pages to 70 pages. So there's a lot more guidance here for us as educators to support us in the work that we're doing with children and young people. We'll take a closer look at the vision. And this is really exciting, because what this does is one of the key changes I've noticed for My Time, Our Place, is that it's been updated from just using the word "children" to children and young people. And that's recognising the age ranges of the children that we're working with in our services. It also recognises the importance of play and leisure, and the role that that takes in promoting creative, confident, and successful lifelong learners. Also, within this, we can see where that the knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives has been clearly placed in the vision. And that's recognising the Alice Springs Education Declaration and along with the Australian curriculum and the importance of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. This also recognises the really important role that we, as educators, in outside of school hours care services, play in advancing reconciliation in Australia, and also that respect and recognition for the world's oldest thriving culture. On the next slide, we can see that we've got the principles. So on the left hand side, the principles of the original framework, and on the right hand side, we can see the update principles. What you'll notice here is that they've gone from 5 principles through to 8, and so there's a lot more, and the introduction of 3 new principles. The first one is something that's probably very familiar to us as educators and the way that we've been working for a long time. And it's that collaborative leadership and teamwork. This recognises that all of us as educators play a role in leadership, not just those formal roles that have been identified. And also, it recognises here that the role of children and young people in providing leadership in the time that they're in outside of school hours care services. The other principle that's been introduced is sustainability. And again, this is asking us to think beyond just caring for our natural environment. It's asking us to think about social sustainability, as well as economic sustainability, and it unpacks those terms in a little bit more detail for us as well. And the third new principle is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. As I mentioned, this is the strengthening of our framework with the Alice Springs Education Declaration and also the Australian curriculum and the importance of understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. It really is asking us to build on local and regional and national knowledge when we're working with children, families, and communities as well. It's also an underlying principle of the National Quality Framework. So again, that's strengthening between our framework and then NQF. Some other changes that you'll see in the principles here is that high expectation and equity has been expanded to also look at inclusion. So equity, inclusion, and high expectation. And this is a recognition that all children have the right to participate in high quality programs and services, regardless of their circumstance, their ability, gender, capabilities, and diverse ways of doing and being. And again, that's a really strong connection to the National Quality Framework there that also has a guiding principle of equity and inclusion. And also, on the screen, you'll see that ongoing learning and reflective practice has also been strengthened to critical reflection and ongoing professional learning. So within this, there's a clarification between critical reflection and reflection and what the differences are there. And it also recognises that, again, as educators, we see ourselves as lifelong learners and we're constantly wanting to build on our professional understanding and practice. So some great strengthening of the principles in this version, which is really good to see. On the next slide, we can see the updated practices. And so what you'll see here is that the practices have actually gone from 8 in the original version to 7. And that's because the practice of learning through play and leisure and intentionality have actually been combined to recognise the connection between those important practices. And so, play, leisure, and intentionality is our updated practice here. The other ones that we can see on the screen are holistic and integrated and interconnected approaches rather than just holistic approaches. And that's drawing our attention to the way that the principles, practices, and outcomes all work together to ensure that children's wellbeing, learning, and development is enhanced through our work. So it really draws us to be mindful of the interconnection between the different elements of the framework. You'll also see on the screen that there's collaboration with children and young people. So again, recognising that we don't just have children in our care in outside of school hours, it's recognising the age range that we've got. So that's the change that we can see there on the screen. And again, that's really about the way that we go about the work, and the importance, again, of children and young people having input. And for us, as educators, collaborating in the design of our programs, environment, and spaces as we go. Also, we'll see here that cultural competence has been updated to cultural responsiveness. And again, that's asking us to dig deeper to understand different cultures and diversity, and move beyond just having a cultural awareness. It's really asking us to have that ongoing reflection of our practice, our knowledge, and understanding of different cultures and respecting the diversity of children, families, and communities who we are working with. Lastly, on the screen, you'll see that there's been the alignment of assessment and evaluation for wellbeing, learning, and development. And again, this unpacks the difference between assessment and evaluation and the role that both of these play in the work that we're doing and the importance of having contemporary understanding of assessment strategies and ensuring that they're inclusive and culturally and linguistically relevant, and think of the child holistically through physical, emotional, social, and intellectual as well. And the important role of capturing children's voice and contribution in that as well. So the assessment practices are outlined in a little bit more detail in the updated framework. Having a look at the outcomes in a little bit more detail, what we can see is, again, we've reflected the age range in the outcomes, but in general, they have remained consistent. They were considered still fit for purpose and current. So they have remained at the higher level. Within that, there is some de detail that has been updated and expanded guidance for us as educators in our work. And you can see that on the right hand side of the screen, where the outcome around children having a strong sense of identity is there. So children and young people have a strong sense of identity, but when we dig into the key components, key component 3 has been updated and renamed to children and young people develop knowledgeable and confident self identities and a positive sense of self-worth. And when we look at the examples in there, we can see that they've been expanded as well. So like the original framework, when we are starting to look at the outcomes, we can see what this might look like for children and there's examples there and we can see that they have been, we've got a lot more detail in there, in this version. For example, under this, it's moved from about 8 examples of what this might look like for children to about 18. And then, also, there's some descriptions of what it might look like in our practice as educators. And again, they've been expanded. So really, some stronger guidance for us in our work, which I think is a really positive thing. And also, a recognition of our professionalism in our role in outside of school hours care services. It also links with the Disability Discrimination Act and the Racial Discrimination Act, which have been reflected in the updated version of the framework. And again, it integrates all of the different and updated principles, practices into the guidance that it's providing us as well, so a lot more detail. The other inclusion is that the framework now includes the planning cycle as well, which is great, and it will be very familiar to you as well, because it's included in the National Quality Standard. So I'm sure many of you have seen this image before, but it does outline in both the diagram, which you can see on the screen, the different stages of the planning cycle from observe, assess, plan, implement, and evaluate. And it provides further guidance around that in the framework as well. And it unpacks what that might look like or considerations for us as educators when planning programs and environments in outside school hours care. And I think that, again, that's the recognition of the importance of our work when it's bringing in the planning cycle into our framework. So hopefully, as you can see, as we've been talking about this, that a lot of this is really just strengthening what's been in place for a long time and also bringing the frameworks in line with some of our practice that we've been doing already in our services. The other part of the framework is the glossary, and that too, has been updated to reflect some of the new terminology that we'll be using in our work. And many of these terms, I'm sure are familiar to you and already part of your everyday practice, but it has been updated and I really find that this is a great bite-sized pieces of information for us to jump into if we're starting to unpack the framework a little bit. It's a great spot to turn to at the back of the updated version. There's about 5 pages of terminology and it's nice short, sharp pieces of information for us to take a look at. For example, it gives a definition of cultural responsiveness, which is unpacked in greater detail at the beginning of the framework. And then it also talks about cultural safety. And so, you'll be able to sort of see the slight differences between those terms and how they're used throughout the framework as well. So I think that's been a really great update to the framework and recognises the importance of our roles. So now that we've gone through the different elements of the framework, let's think a little bit about implementation. And so as I mentioned back in 2022, the Education Ministers endorsed these changes, and in 2023 in January, the updated versions were released. And so you can see here on the screen we're in what we're calling the familiarisation phase. And so this is where we can start using these updated versions of the framework alongside the original framework. So the original framework still remains current and in place in this year. And in 2024, we'll move into implementation and that's where the framework, the current framework will no longer be in use and these new frameworks will be in place. We're gonna talk a little bit more about that in a moment when I hand over to my colleague, Alicia, but right now, I'm gonna hand back to Beth to take us through our next Menti. Thanks, Beth.

Beth Flatley: Thanks so much, Jackie. And yeah, just reiterating that we are in that familiarisation phase at the moment, so take that at pace for yourselves, noting all the other things that you're working through. I know you're working through and one of my colleagues always says, you know, "Bite off small chunks." We'll talk a little bit later on in the session about how you might unpack some of this with your team and give you some ideas. I know you'll have plenty yourselves already. While we're working through the Menti on the screen here, so remember the code is there for you. We've also got the scan that you can use for your mobile phone there, as well too, if you've got it. So we're gonna talk familiarisation now. We've got a couple of questions in this space, so could you share with us some of the ways that you are getting ready in this familiarisation phase? So it can just be a few words. Through meetings, yep, absolutely. So if you staff meetings, meetings with your educational team as, yeah. Reading through the framework, obviously. Updating policies and I know that came up in one of the questions we had come through the Q&A as well too. Yeah, team meetings are coming up as a really common one. Staff reflection is a great one when working through in terms of your critical reflection. The glossary, yeah, I'm glad that's helpful. A lot of people saying they've found that updated glossary quite helpful. And then the training and the webinars and the professional learning is starting to come through as well too. So we're interested in the department as to how we can, not only point you to some of the great resources that ACECQA's already released in this space, but understanding what else you might need. So as you're unpacking the framework and getting familiar, where things occur to you, we really value your feedback. Yep, these ACECQA resources have just come up there too. Fantastic. Please do keep sharing things in this one if you're not finished yet, but I'd like to move on. We've got a second question for you as well, too. So what do you see are the challenges to implementing the updated framework for school aged care in 2024? So once again, just a couple of words or if you need to say something a little longer, that's fine too. And I know some of you'll be finishing up in the other ones, so I'll give you a little bit of time. Time, I just said that word. Funnily enough, this came up in our EYLF session yesterday as well too. So having the time to do it, having the time to read through it, having the time to engage and start to familiarise, and then move through to that implementation. I know some of you may have already started that, that was indicated in our very first Menti. There's no need to have started that yet, but for those of you that are starting to unpack it, you'll have a bit more understanding in a concrete way of what your challenges are. For those that are not there yet, projecting forward to what you think those things might be. So time and training, yes. Time to read through it. That there's an interesting one here about children being more interested in technology. It'd be good to unpack that a little bit more. Staff burnout came up yesterday in our EYLF session as well, too. We're really conscious in the current workforce climate and with so much on your plates. Yeah, ever changing staff, these are all related things, aren't they? So thinking about how best for us and ACECQA and others to provide you with that training information like these webinars in a way that still enables you to engage with it, given the challenges that I know you're facing from a workforce point of view as well, too. Translation to practice, I think, is up there somewhere as well too. So very keen to think about, yes, thinking about how to implement that into practice, yeah. Yeah, not having the consistent team and how you bring the team on the journey when you've perhaps got casuals coming in and temp contracts and things like that absolutely does create challenges, that's a really good call out. Training for all educators, not just the directors. Yes, and we're interested, as I said, in how we can provide that to you in a way that your educators able to and have time to unpack it. So what's the right time, what's the right format for you? Is it about doing that in small chunks? Is it about having the recordings like we're doing with this so that staff can engage with these things at a time that's suitable. And yes, and the finances of things. Absolutely, which is why we're kind of making some considerations as to what we can provide as a department and all these ACECQA resources on their website don't require, you know, that kind of consideration of cost, which is really great. Teaching the benefits to everyone moving forward. Yeah, how you frame that for your staff and families and communities and how you take that forward. Fantastic, there are some really fabulous ideas and some really great feedback for us to unpack and take on board. These Mentis stay open, not just throughout this session as I said, but to 4 July, so please do continue to work through that if you need to. But I'm now going to hand back over to Jackie, so she can talk a little bit about next steps.

Jacqueline Bradshaw: Thanks, Beth. So yes, thanks, everyone for sharing those ways that you are becoming familiar with the updated framework, and also some of those challenges and as Beth said, we are listening and we're interested in what we will be able to do to support you in those next steps. I think many of you provided a lot of what's on the screen already, but just to cover off on a couple of ways that you can unpack and become familiar with the framework in a little bit more detail is thinking about, as many of you said, the vision, principles, practices, and outcomes, and using your team meetings. I think, thinking about how we can share the load across all of our educators. Leveraging their strengths and interests themselves, because some of them may have particular areas that they'd like to focus on. So how can we leverage those and think about that collaborative leadership that we were talking about earlier and get some of them, all of us involved in this process. I think the other part for me is where you would typically pick up the framework in your daily practice, whether it's through your observations or in your program, any of those types of opportunities. Maybe actually pick up the updated version and see what it's looking at as well, because as you can see, the updated version is strengthening the existing framework and I think some of the other good tips here is downloading those resources from ACECQA, which will pop in to the chat keeping an eye on both the ACECQA and the department webpage. As we mentioned, this will be uploaded later for our teams to listen to. But also, looking at the tools that we've already got in place. So the Quality Improvement Plan or our Self Assessment tool, they're great resources to think about how we can build in a plan for this into those. Remember, implementation starts in 2024, so we do have some time between now and then doing this in bite-sized pieces will be a really great way to get ready for that. So we do have, in this case, a bit of time for us to work through the updates to the frameworks I'm going to hand over now to my colleague, Alicia, who will take us a little bit more into the implementation and assessment and rating. Thanks, Alicia.

Alicia Burke: Thank you, Jackie and thanks both to yourself and Beth for sharing so much information about the My Time, Our Place Version 2.0. Good morning, everyone. While it's morning for some, I'm sure it's a little closer to lunchtime for a few of you that have finished your morning shift this morning, so really appreciate your time to sit in on this session and gather some further information. My name's Alicia Burke and I'm currently the Manager of the Continuous Improvement Team within the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. I would like you to take a moment just to take in this information that you've received so far. From the Menti responses earlier, I can see a number of you are aware that the framework was changing, however, if not yet had time, to review those changes. So just acknowledging that there's quite a lot of content that we've shared this morning that will get you on the right track to being familiar with the changes. I'd also like to note that it was on 23 January this year that the My Time, Our Place Version 2.0 was released to everybody. So we, as a regulator, are also walking this journey with you. We're becoming familiar with the changes, the revisions, and the expansion. As you've heard earlier in the presentation, Version 2.0 of the My Time, Our Place, the 2 keywords are expansion and clarification. It's around those key practices which are likely already happening for a lot of services. So it has actually strengthened what we do all the time. As with any changes, comes a level of uncertainty and a few questions that you might need to have some answers to. We acknowledge and understand that some of you may be feeling anxious and a little unsure around the My Time, Our Place Version 2.0 and how it's going to impact your assessment and rating visit. We've seen earlier some handy tips on how to become familiar and I'd like to step you through the process of assessment and reading and assessing quality area one during your assessment visit. So during phase one, you have time to become familiar, familiar with the changes, the revisions, and the expansion. This means that you can start using version 2.0 with the expanded vision, principles, practices, and outcomes within your service. As I mentioned earlier, the expanded content and clarification of practice is likely something that you are already doing within your service. Early next year, we will move into phase 2, and phase 2 means the legislation will be updated and advised a commencement date. After the commencement date in early 2024, an approved provider will be in breach of the national regulations, and not meeting the relevant elements of the National Quality Standards if you are not yet using an operating in accordance with the My Time, Our Place Version 2.0. From early 2024, the original My Time, Our Place will cease to be recognised under the national law. It's important to note that we will provide ongoing support to you during these phases. So how do we assess the frameworks now as part of assessment and rating? I know that many of you have undergone the assessment and rating process so would be familiar with these modes of evidence collection, but authorised officers assess the frameworks and collect evidence using a triangulation of evidence method to test and confirm your key practices that are occurring at your service. To gather the evidence and assess the frameworks, authorised officers observe, discuss, and sight evidence. And these evidence collection methods are outlined within the guide to the National Quality Framework. Noting that these are just a couple of examples as a guide and certainly not prescriptive as each service is going to demonstrate your key practices in a variety of ways. Authorised officers are going to be looking at how children and young people are displaying behaviours that are consistent with the principles, practices, and outcomes. They're going to be looking for evidence of how children and young people are achieving outcomes described in the My time, Our Place. How are children and young people supported to co-design their program and their choices during their time? How are children and young people supported to play and have active and passive leisure of their choosing? And how are educators providing experiences for children and young people that promote the investigation of ideas, complex concepts, and reasoning? Authorised officers will make time to discuss with educators and key members of your team how you make curriculum decisions. This currently occurs now when assessing the frameworks. How are learning outcomes promoted through the program and children's experiences? How is the service communicating these to families? And a big one is, obviously, how is play and leisure facilitated by your educators? We all know that children within these spaces of afterschool care programs, before school care programs, and vacation care, they're telling you exactly what they wanna do, and your role as educators is facilitating that with intention. Authorised officers will also sight documentation that has been gathered in a variety of different ways to support how children and young people are achieving the outcomes and how are those planning decisions facilitated by your group of educators? Authorised officers will look to sight documented programs that will include potential strategies to support individual children or group goals. They also currently look at documented programs that demonstrate how you consider groups of children and intentionality around supporting play, leisure, and recreation. So how will the assessment change with My Time, Our Place Version 2.0? The modes of collection will not change and the triangulation of evidence will continue. The evidence that authorised officers analyse will be slightly different as the service implements the changes. We would be seeing some of the expansion and the terminology used within the revised My Time, Our Place. There may be slight changes to questioning by authorised officers to understand the intent and knowledge base of your educators regarding the My Time, Our Place Version 2.0. The wording of questions to educators will be slightly different. So it will look to articulate how educators articulate their principles and practices according to the My Time, Our Place. And there'll be some additional considerations on how educators have been informed or trained in their understanding of the changes, particularly within early implementation phases. It is worth noting that we are already starting to see a number of services engaging with the revised frameworks involving in professional discussions, sector professional development, and articulating how the principles and practices influence your decision making at your service. Authorised officers, as I said, are walking the journey with you. We are preparing the same way that you are preparing to become familiar with the revisions. Through our internal training and national training from ACECQA, our authorised officers are trained in the changes to ensure that when they are conducting the assessment and rating visit, they have a thorough and deep understanding of the changes, have applicable and current conversations, asking educators questions that reflect the changes, understands the content of the changes when sighting documentation to ensure a service is implementing these changes, and understand how practices of services may slightly differ. There are a number of resources available on the ACECQA website as both Beth and Jackie had mentioned earlier regarding the approved learning frameworks, and in particular, the My Time, Our Place Version 2.0. If you haven't already accessed these resources, I would suggest that you jump on the ACECQA website and have a look through what is available, and I can recommend the key changes fact sheet. It is a quick read document that will identify clearly those changes and revisions to the My Time, Our Place. It's a good starting point. As we continue this journey with you, there are also a number of upcoming information resources as well as recordings of this webinar that will be made available on the department's website. And lastly, I'd just like to let you know that the New South Wales Regulatory Authority has a Continuous Improvement Team that is available at any time to support your continuous improvement journey. The team consists of a group of experienced authorised officers who can assist you to understand and articulate what you do and why you do it. There are a number of support sessions that are available. We offer initial support sessions for providers or for services. So if you're a large group provider and have a number of key leadership people that you would like to engage in a session, please reach out. The details are on the slide above. And if you're an individual service and you would like to have some tailored support, please contact us at any time. Further to the initial support sessions, we also provide key practice feedback sessions. This is where we work intensively with you to review and provide you some feedback regarding the use of your New South Wales Self Assessment Working Document. This will be later supported through the introduction of our Self Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. And as most of you may have known, going through the system, you may have also reached out to our team to gain some technical support during your submission phase. So please reach out at any time that's convenient for you and we can tailor some support that's going to help support your journey. Thank you for your time and I'd like to hand over to Beth.

Beth Flatley: Thanks so much, Alicia. Highly recommend the work of our Continuous Improvement Team. Please do reach out to Alicia and the team and for support, where you need it, and to have that conversation and help you to plan. In terms of next steps, so let's think about and summarise some of the things that we've heard today in terms of what you can do now and before 2024 to start getting ready. So for those of you that haven't had a chance to get familiar yet, get familiar, read up, and think about how you work through your planning. So download it, read through it, reflect on your current practices, as a couple of the team have said, there's some really great resource. I think I have too, there's some really great resources and links that are already on ACECQA's webpage. I believe we've got that up in the chat. And then start to work on a plan on what you can do to get ready. Keep an eye out for our future ECE Connect sessions as well too. One thing that came up I think in the last Menti we did was webinars, training, other kind of resources that you might be able to engage with. So absolutely we intend to hold some more ECE Connect sessions on this space later on in the year. So have a lookout for those and we'll take on board your feedback in terms of what you'd like us to cover and what would be most beneficial for you. Check in with the department's website as well too, and know that we do send out regular communications both through our email newsletters and updates. So sign up to those if you haven't already, you can do that from the department's website. I believe we'll have links in the chat for people that need it. You also should keep an eye out for any other kind of training and resources that might be available and we will, obviously, take on board, as I said earlier, your feedback in the Mentis that you've done for us and any other feedback we receive in terms of where best for us to put our energies in terms of the types of training and resources that would be most beneficial for you and to support you in your next steps. Okay, so we have one last Menti to do together today. Same code, same code to scan as well too. We'll just work through to that. So once again, anonymous, please do share information as you need to because this information really does help us in terms of understanding that further support and resources that you need. So what do you need from us as the department during this familiarisation phase in 2023 and to prepare yourself for the implementation phase. So once again, just please share with us in a few words what would be most beneficial. More webinars, face-to-face presentations. Okay, that's good to know. The webinars and training is coming up. Yeah, ideas around practice. Once again, I'm glad to hear that come through, because I think that's something that's come through quite consistently in the EYLF space as well too. Short webinars, yes, we're gonna aim to finish up a bit early for you today, if we can, but yes, understood. Sometimes, it's about that content that you can share with your team, perhaps something even that's recorded that might not be a webinar, but gives you a bit of content that you can share, maybe at the start of a staff meeting, helps to kick off a conversation and helps you in your planning. Yeah, absolutely, take that on board. Examples for different sized services, okay, that's a really good one. Leeway with all these changes, yeah, case studies. Okay, that's a really great one as well too. Scenarios, real examples, case studies, fantastic. Yeah, okay, good. Yes, something that we are thinking about in the transition space as well too, is providing some of that kind of content that leads into the team meetings. So yes, something that you can have that's a bit of content packaged up to share with your staff. Individualised support via the phone. So, obviously, you can reach out to the Continuous Improvement Team. I'll also share details. You can reach out through our Information Enquiries Team as well too where you want to provide more feedback or request some support. Workshops, okay, fantastic. Wow, we're getting some really great ideas here. And look, once again, as we've always said, short, sharp tips, yeah, we're definitely hearing you on the how can we package things up in a way that's short, that shares those things like visual examples as you're saying, that gives you content in formats that is going to be time sensitive for you and for your teams. Absolutely, take that on board. This is really great and we really appreciate it. Thank you for that feedback and all of those really great ideas. Please do keep including them. As I said, right up until 4 July as you need. But I think I'll move on now. Look, our team have done such a great job in the background in terms of Q&A and I think have responded to most of your questions. So I'll just have a look and see if we've got anything else that we can answer for you. But if you've got other things that you'd like us to answer, we do have a little bit of time, so by all means pop something in. Okay, all right. So it looks like we've got a question here that I might be able to just answer live for the person that's put that in. So let me have a look and I'll read out the question. "So can I ask why when there are such extreme labour shortages when you've just changed the framework, where insisting on only giving services 5 days notice for A&R." So look, one of the things that I would say about that, and I do just wanna frame this up right, and I'll hand over to Alicia for the particular kind of A&R component of the question, but ACECQA and at a national level, the frameworks were updated, so as Department of Education, we're not in charge of or the timeframes around the updates and how that was made and brought in. So, but absolutely, we are here to support you with that process as are ACECQA in the resources that they've provided. ACECQA, did you want, I'm sorry, ACECQA. Alicia, did you want to respond a little bit to the A&R side of things?

Alicia Burke: Yeah, certainly, so look, I'd just like to note that the national improvements to assessment and rating is exactly that. It was a national agreement around some improvements. We did host webinars earlier this week around the content of those. So the introduction, increased use of partial assessment and rating visits, and also the introduction of the 5 day notice period for assessment and rating. So the main aim is to show that there's accuracy and currency in ratings and to assist with some of that pressure in allowing a shorter notice period for services. So they are national changes that are occurring throughout Australia for a number of regulatory bodies.

Beth Flatley: Thanks so much, Alicia, I appreciate that. Okay, so look, it doesn't look like we've got any other questions, but if something else does come through, we can absolutely still respond to that. So, I am also wanted to note that we are gonna create an FAQ document based on the information that's come through the chat today and also other questions that we think might be really relevant for us to answer for you. That will go up on our website alongside the recording from today's session, so that you can, as you said, have access to those slides, because I believe we had someone in the chat saying it would be great to have access to the slides, and so you've got access to the slides through that recording and obviously something that you can then take back to your team and share the sections of that with your team that you think would be most relevant. Thank you. All right, so I'm gonna take some time and wrap up now. Thank you so much for coming along to our final ECE Connect session in our series for this time around and for sharing with us all of your wonderful feedback on where you are up to with the changes in terms of My Time, Our Place Version 2.0. Today's session, as I said, will be followed up later in the year by another session where we'll focus on the implementation phase and what can be expected there. In the meantime, we encourage you to commence and/or continue on your journey, and should you have any questions specifically related to your service and your own circumstances, you can always contact us on an email address that will also pop up in the chat. But I'll read out now, As we said, you can also find more information on ACECQA's website and they've got various resources to support you with the approved learning frameworks and that's That one will also be in the chat for you. Thank you ever so much for coming along today. We hope you have a great weekend and a really well-deserved break for those of you that aren't doing vacation care, of which I am very grateful and my own child who is also very grateful for all the wonderful work you do. Thanks for joining us, have a great rest of your day.


Your wellbeing at work matters as it affects your health, outlook and personal life.

Amanda Kidd: Worimi ngani - That's, hello, how are you, in Darug language, the local language of Sydney, which is where I live, work, and play. Didjurigura Thank you for joining us for our Be You session, Wellbeing in the Workplace. I'll just check I'm sharing the right screen one moment. So my name is Amanda Kidd. I am a Be You consultant with Early Childhood Australia. I also have my colleagues, Blaire Aldrich and Susan Sharpe, also Be You consultants joining us in the chat box, sharing Be You resources and answering any questions that you might have. Later in the session, we'll meet Mel Oake, the wellbeing officer from the Berry Patch Preschool and Long Day Care Centres, who will help us bring alive wellbeing in the workplace, sharing their Be You journey with us today. So thank you to all of them for giving them, giving up their time to be here with all of us, and to all of you as well. I know time is a precious commodity in the early childhood space. So thank you very much for being here today. So I would like to acknowledge that I am meeting on the land of the Darramuragal peoples, and I pay my respects to Elders past and present for they hold the knowledge of many generations to pass onto our children and acknowledge them as the traditional custodians of the lands, skies, and waterways of this Country. I would also like to acknowledge any First Nations people joining us online today and extend my respects. As we have people joining from all over New South Wales, it would be really wonderful if you could take a moment to do your own acknowledgement however that may look for you. So while you're putting your energy into creating a positive mental health environment for children and young people, it's also really important to focus on your wellbeing and that of your colleagues. So yours and your colleagues' wellbeing need to be a priority and we're gonna learn more about that today. So when discussing mental health, sometimes unexpected feelings or thoughts can emerge and sometimes these can be really challenging. So please be aware of any thoughts or feelings that come up for you and have a plan for who and how you can reach out for someone and to someone for support. And Be You has a range of wellbeing tools and fact sheets to support our educators. And they will be in the chat box for you. And this is one of the resources up on the screen. This is our Mental Health Services and Support resource, and it can be found on our website and it's free for any educator to download and display within your service as appropriately, as appropriate. So today we are going to have a bit of a spotlight on workplace wellbeing. We're going to unpack the research, which is the foundation of our newest educator wellbeing resource, and we'll have an overview of the resource which can help you to build a thriving workplace. So hopefully you'll get to go away with some new information and some practical tools and ideas to support your wellbeing in your workplace. So just a little bit about Be You. We are a federally funded mental health initiative to promote mental health from birth to 18 years. It's for every educator in Australia, from early learning services all the way through to secondary school. And it also includes future educators, so people training to be an educator. Be You is led by Beyond Blue in partnership with Early Childhood Australia and Headspace. And our vision is that every learning community is positive, inclusive, and resilient. A place where every child and young person, educator, and family can achieve their best possible mental health. Be You includes a suite of resources and tools, including a team of consultants like Blaire, Susan, and myself, who can implement, who can help you to implement a whole learning community approach to mental health and wellbeing. So let's get into it. We're going to start off with an activity doing this together and we're going to use Mentimeter. So you can actually access our Menti board by using this QR code up on the screen, or there will be a link in the chat for you. So you can click on that link and it will take you directly to the Mentimeter board. So what we're going to do, we are going to create a word cloud together and we 're going to fill this word cloud with words that come to mind when we think of a mentally healthy workplace. We're going to think about what it looks like, what it feels like, and what it sounds like. So I think this will help us get into the right kind of mindset for this session, thinking about wellbeing in the workplace. So hopefully, oh, it looks like you have. I'm gonna share my screen now. You've all managed to access the board, so thank you. And I can see the numbers are rising there. So up on the screen, these are all the words that you're telling us is what a mentally healthy community looks, feels, and sounds like. And what you can see there, you can see in the middle those big bold words. So we see safe, we see supportive, we see happy, respectful, those are words that are being repeated and they're being, so they are, people are using those words the most on that board. So I can see things like laughter as a big one. I think that's a really important attribute of a mentally healthy community. Positive, respectful, honest. Look at all these wonderful words that we can see there. So I feel like that we're not having any trouble thinking about what a mentally healthy community looks, feels, and sounds like, are we? Oh, we see peaceful, we see caring. So these are all really great words that we're going to maybe consider later on in this session when we look at our strengths and our opportunities for growth when we're thinking about positive culture, positive workplace culture. So there you go. Look at all of those wonderful words and hopefully you're feeling really inspired. And hopefully you can reflect on your own service and whether or not these were, you know, these attributes of your service. And if it's not, perhaps having a think about how could you build these into your service. And that's what we're here to talk about today with Be You. So thanks for your contributions, everyone. I think that will help us, yeah, as I said, reflect on things later on in the session. So we'll go back to our board. You can keep adding to that board if anything comes up for you, that's fine. It will still be up and running for you if you'd like to keep adding to it. So up on the screen is, are the foundational pillars for mentally healthy workplace. And these are taken from the national blueprint for mentally healthy workplaces, which was developed by the federal government as part of the National Workplace Initiative. So we see the words there. Protect, respond, and promote. So protect is identifying and managing work-related risks to mental health. Respond is identifying and responding to support people experiencing mental health issues or distress. And promote is recognising and enhancing the positive aspects of work that contribute to good mental health. So why are we talking about this? Well, because protecting, responding, and promoting a mentally healthy workplace is actually our legal responsibility. We have a responsibility to identify, respond to, and manage psychological risks and hazards in the workplace. So according to SafeWork New South Wales, stress is actually one of the top causes of injury for education and training. So it's really important that we identify and address psychological risks and hazards to protect the mental health and wellbeing of our team and to support a thriving workplace. So today we are going to focus on promote, creating a positive environment and promoting mental health. So if you do want more information on the protect and respond pillars, there'll be a link in the chat box to our education and workplace safety resources webpage to find links to relevant external resources. So this is our newest wellbeing resource. This is our Beyond Self-Care: An Educator Wellbeing Guide. So this was launched in at the end of March this year and we're really proud of it because we feel like it's, you know, innovative and it's specifically for educators, but for the workplace ideally. So the guide actually supports services to explore the promote pillar for a mentally healthy workplace. And there is a link in the chat for you so you can access it online. So in 2021, Beyond Blue commission Monash University to conduct a series of educator wellbeing projects to support the development of new Be You educator wellbeing resources, including this guide. And so the information in this guide is actually from the voices of educators across the country who have shared, who have been active and have shared their voices. And so a lot of what's come from this is from educators. So the guide actually contains key findings from the research and it provides foundational principles and activities to help services promote a mentally healthy workplace. So the key findings from the research, which I pointed out in this guide, but are also summarised really well in an article by some of the researchers, which is there will be a link in the chat box to five ways to promote educator wellbeing, the article. So the research actually said that we need to have a shift in thinking about stress. So this refers to the Moving Beyond Self-care piece. And so we are thinking that while there are some aspects of individual responsibility around supporting our own wellbeing, so ensuring that we're looking after ourselves, we're having enough sleep, we're eating healthy. You know, maybe getting extra support if we have a mental health condition or we're you know, eating healthy, exercising. So all the holistic things to care for ourselves. But in actual fact, what we found from our research was that many of the stressors that educators actually experience arise from their environment. And that's, it's the environment that actually needs to change and not the educators. So this shift in thinking is actually a strength-based sort of equitable supportive approach, where we're, you know, addressing the environment, those stress factors in the environment, rather than, you know, saying to an educator, oh, you need to look after your mental health. You need to make sure you're doing this or you need doing that. So just thinking about how we could do this, how we can identify those stress factors within our environment and how we can address them. And I'm sure you can think of examples of stressors in your environment. So the next one there is positive relationships with colleagues and leaders are essential to promote wellbeing. So this highlights the importance of culture in nurturing collegial relationships. So people are helping each other out when required. People perhaps are doing some small acts of kindness. They're celebrating each other's successes. They're encouraging people to take breaks, I think that's a big one. And to go home on time, I think that's a big one too. We often feel we have to, you know, work extra hours or do extra things, you know, and not take our breaks for particular reasons, which you know is, yeah, we shouldn't really be doing that. So having that culture where we are promoting wellbeing where we can. Obviously I know there's a lot happening in the sector at the moment, so it is challenging to do some of those things. But how can we make it easier and more supportive for educators? So supportive leaders positively contribute to educator wellbeing. So this is about the role of supportive leaders in promoting an inclusive environment where there are opportunities for staff to have input in decision making about the service. And that leadership provides, you know, clear expectations around roles and responsibilities. They're checking in with staff regularly to ensure they're doing okay and to help them support their professional development and their mental health. And giving them choices where possible around, you know, perhaps work options. So for example, what their roster might look like in the week. And leaders also leading by example. So role modelling self-care, role modelling help seeking behaviours.. You know, again, going back to taking breaks. You know, we don't wanna create a culture. People are looking up to the leaders. We don't wanna create a culture where the leadership is not taking their breaks, they're not going home on time. You know, we want them to ask for help if they need it from their colleagues because in our team we have expertise and we have, yeah, we can share that decision making and that support. And it's, I think it's important for leaders to be vulnerable with their staff to show that we are just humans and we do need support, and yeah, that collegial relationship. So I think it's important for a leader to think like that and the research has shown that as well. The next one is a systems-wide approach is needed to promote and sustain educator wellbeing. So taking a system-wide approach to wellbeing means offering individual support to educators. So having things like an Employee Assistance Program, you know, and mindfulness programs or having maybe mental health days available for staff. So you know, looking at those aspects of individual educator support, but also addressing the demands on the educators. So for example, I can think of one that comes up quite a lot, thinking about the required amount of time, sorry, the required amount of documentation versus the time that educators are actually allocated to do it so, and then looking at perhaps the National Quality Standards and seeing what are the regulations around that. And are we meeting it? Are we, you know, going above and beyond and perhaps we need to cut it back for a certain time period? Or you know, just reflecting on that alone. Creating and implementing a service-wide approach to wellbeing that is supported through policy and leadership and also includes educator's voices. So yeah, ensuring that everybody gets a say can help build that culture, that positive culture. The last one is unique challenges for diverse teachers. So diverse teachers face unique challenges that need to be identified and addressed, including First Nations educators, culturally linguistically diverse educators, LGBTQIA+ educators, and also early career educators and educators on contracts. So ensuring that we're meeting their needs and creating an inclusive space and ensuring that everybody feels included in a sense of belonging within the service. So have a read of that article for more information about those key areas and recommendations and see how you're doing. You might be able to sort of have a bit of a reflect on how you might be going in those areas. So why does educator wellbeing matter? Well, educator wellbeing is actually at the heart of caring for children and young people. It affects how educators interact and build relationships with children and young people, families and colleagues. And it's been linked to better outcomes for children. So this image on the screen demonstrates the bi-directional influence of wellbeing between children and educators. So when educators are flourishing and they're thriving, children are flourishing and thriving, and vice versa. And this often comes to a surprise to some educators when I show them this image because they just they're, we're carers. As educators, we wanna help and we wanna support children as best as we can. And we don't recognise that, you know, when we're burning out that's actually impacting the way we interact with the people around us. So I think it's really nice to see this as a visual in front of us. And while I think it is important to point this out, as this is often the motivator for educators, to begin prioritising their wellbeing, the focus on educator wellbeing in the workplace should really be motivated by the fact that our people in our community, our team, they are important and their wellbeing matters. And just because we care should be enough and it should be the reason why we're focusing on educator wellbeing. So what contributes to wellbeing? So on the screen you can see the 6 layers that can contribute to educator wellbeing. We can see the individual educators, so we've touched on that a bit, collegial relationships, workplace culture, leadership, community, governance and policy. And when I look at this particular image, I see similarities with the Bronfenbrenner's socio-ecological cycle with the educator kind of in the middle there and where all the layers are interacting and are influencing the individual educator's wellbeing. And I think it's important to remember there are some layers there that we cannot influence. So governments and policy and community are probably areas that might be out of our control. We, you know, but they do influence on the educator. So sometimes we can't control it, but how do we manage that? So while some of those contributors are out of our control. And what this actually highlights is that educator wellbeing goes beyond just the self-care of the individual. And that the workplace is in the position to address some of the components that contribute to educator wellbeing. And so the areas that the workplace can address are the individual educator. So we talked about that earlier, where we talked about perhaps offering, you know, an Employee Assistance Program. You know, having access to mindfulness programs or encouraging them to build their mental health literacy by for example, I'm just gonna plug Be You here, but registering for Be You. Because I think when you build up your mental health literacy, you start to understand how mental health actually affects everything that you do. And you begin to notice it in yourself as well and where you're at on the mental health continuum. So that's a really important one there. The other areas that a workplace can address is collegial relationships. So we can build those. We can put things in place to build collegial relationships and to build workplace culture. So how we do that is by talking to our team and you know, finding out what are our strengths, what are our opportunities, which we will look at a little bit later. Well, we'll look at sort of how, looking at activities that can help us with that. And leadership, so leadership, you know, I think often some of us have moved into roles in leadership that perhaps haven't had the time or the professional learning around leadership. And maybe it is about doing professional development in that space and learning more how we can support ourselves as a leader, how we can support, to be a better leader and to support our team, how we can support workplace culture, how we can support collegial relationships, and how we can support individual wellbeing. So we don't actually have time to go through them individually, but we do have an extensive list of outcomes in the guide that you can consider as focus areas that you might like to address from the collegial relationships, workplace culture, and leadership perspectives on the areas of working together, inclusivity, and prioritising wellbeing. So that's on page 12 to 19 of the guide. So let's move on. And I did see there is a question in the chat box. Is there a any recommended Employee Assistance Programs for early childhood sector or any plan to develop one for early childhood professionals to access? That's a really great question, Lisa. There are a lot to look at and I think it's going to depend on your specific circumstances and where you are. I think Blaire you might be able to answer that question so I don't take up too much time, but it does depend on your context. So you might be able to find ones, you know, that support a larger organisation or a smaller organisation. So some people might be from a really small organisation and instead of having an employee assistance program, they might actually reach out to like a local counselling service that they can recommend on an individual basis or that they can access, or you know, there's larger ones. So yeah, depending on where you are, I don't know. If you do wanna reach out, if you are a Be You service, reach out to your Be You consultant. That would be a great place to start and they can help you with that. So thanks for the question Lisa. So on the screen is the seven principles from our guide that can actually support your learning community towards being a place where educators can thrive. These principles aren't in any particular order. They all have a similar level of importance. And we will start at the top there. So, create a positive culture and environment. So educator wellbeing is based on a positive organisational culture. Services need to create environments where educators are supported, engaged, and can thrive. As we move over to recognise educators as professionals. The focus on this is that educators' professionalism, their expertise, and capability is acknowledged, it's respected and celebrated. This is important for professional identity. Moving to acknowledge educators' autonomy. Educators' agency and autonomy is acknowledged and respected. This includes whether and how to engage in wellbeing initiatives. So thinking about our context, what wellbeing initiatives are going to work and what are you trying to address as well. So yeah, that's a good one to have a think about because often we're quite enthusiastic about introducing wellbeing initiatives. You know, whether that be, let's all do yoga, or let's do, you know, have a fruit bowl or have a mindfulness program. But is that going to work for your staff? Is that what they're requiring? Is it addressing the issue that you are trying to address? So that's something to think about. Where are we up to? Promote respectful relationships. So relationships amongst staff, children, and the learning community are respectful and collaborative. Wellbeing resources are accessible and inclusive. So wellbeing initiatives are accessible to all educators and they're convenient. They acknowledge educators' cultures, experiences, and needs, and they support their work with children, young people, and communities. So moving on to learning communities use evidence-informed practise. So high-quality relevant evidence is used when designing wellbeing initiatives. Local data is used to inform decisions and track and review progress outcomes. So data is actually really important for the successful implementation of any change. So if wellbeing in the workplace is something that you wanna be focusing on in your service, perhaps you know, finding a way to collect data, whether that be sort of surveys from with the educators about what they want or having a session discussing what that might look like to get the educators' voices in there, and then to see it progress. So 'cause when you've got the data, you're able to plan for change, and then you can then implement things appropriately. And yeah, based on your context. So wellbeing initiatives are practical and they're adaptable. So they need to be applied and relevant to the daily work of educators and their learning communities and they should be adaptable to the context in which educators work. So for example, talking about Be You, you know, when you're implementing Be You, you're going to do it in a way that suits your service and what you're already doing, so you don't. So, yeah, I think it's nice to be able to perhaps thinking about also whether or not it's working right now. It's good to reflect on that first. But instead of trying to make things, yeah, trying to do big things, you could perhaps already look at what you're doing and how they're working and how you can, yeah, make that support the change you're trying to do. So these principles are a great starting point to inform policies and procedures around workplace wellbeing and to take into account, into consideration when exploring perhaps the role and responsibilities of your wellbeing champions at your service. How you approach or engage with them will depend on your service context and where you're at in your workplace wellbeing journey. And also, as I said, any identified issues that need to be addressed. Okay, so we are now going to hear about an organisation's journey towards a thriving workplace. I think you've had enough listening to me. So I like to introduce Mel Oake from the Berry Patch preschool and long daycare centres, a participating Be You organisation. Mel is the wellbeing officer specifically for educators for all five of the Berry Patch services. So welcome Mel, thanks for joining us today.

Mel Oake: Thank you.

Amanda Kidd: to share all about the Berry Patch's journey. Here you are. I can see you now.

Mel Oake: Yes.

Amanda Kidd: So we're going to just perhaps start off with Berry Patch's history with Be You. and maybe a bit of an overview about your organization's approach to wellbeing in the workplace. Would you mind sharing a little bit about these please?

Mel Oake: No, worries at all. Thank you so much Amanda. It's great to have the opportunity to share a little bit about our service's culture. So the lovely Berry Patch operations manager Kylie identified a need for mental health and wellbeing through the COVID period. Although we had some resources in place to support this, she found staff burnout, low morale, and isolation being such big factors coming forth that more intervention was required. She sought out a way of incorporating resources and activities to encourage conversations around mental health, and doing so, she found Be You. We found Be You to provide fact sheets and resources to encourage and support these conversations and slowly shine light on educator wellbeing. Once in contact with Be You, were assigned a Be You consultant and that is where Amanda has come in. She was able to point us to useful information and help encourage all educators to sign up to the website and take full use of these resources. Each of our centres were assigned action team leaders, all by volunteering to assist educators locate the right resources that were applicable to that specific workplace. As well as Be You we have regular correspondence guidance internally meetings with SafeWork New South Wales, Transitioning Well, Black Dog Institute, and HeadsUp, all to ensure we're covering all different needs within the workplace in regards to staff wellbeing.

Amanda Kidd: Thanks Mel. Did you have more? Or you look, I'm not sure if you're looking- No, that's great. And I think it's really nice that when you were talking, you were talking about that there was an issue identified. So during COVID, you know, your operations manager saw that there was a need for educator wellbeing to be a focus for your service. And I think what that highlights there was the leadership support. So leadership actually went in and went, no, we need to find something to do. We need to, we've searched around, and we found Be You was suitable for our context and it was flexible and adaptable for each individual service. So it's quite interesting to hear that you're not engaging with Be You as such as a blanketed approach. You're actually engaging with it based on each individual needs of the services. So I heard you say there that each service accesses various parts of the Be You initiative and they're engaging with various tools that are different to one another. So I think that's really nice.

Mel Oake: Yeah, of course. 'Cause I think that if we had them all just as a streamlined approach for all the centres, I think everybody has, there's a lot of different backgrounds and cultural differences. So I think it's important to make sure that we've got a bit of difference between all of the centres and provide for that as well.

Amanda Kidd: Mm-hmm, really good. And the other thing I heard you talk about was relationships with other external resources. So you,

Mel Oake: Yeah.

Amanda Kidd: you mentioned SafeWork New South Wales. You mentioned Black Dog Institute. And you and I think it's really nice that you are seeing the need for creating relationships with community organisations that can support you to help build a, you know, a culturally safe, and inclusive, and a thriving workplace.

Mel Oake: Oh, yeah, definitely.

Amanda Kidd: So can you just tell us a little bit about the relationships that you have? Like how did you get involved? I feel like sometimes that might be, yeah, something people can take away.

Mel Oake: Yes. Originally, so once we got involved with Be You, there's obviously the other resources out there. So it's kind of just going through really an internet search and finding what's applicable for our services and what's going to work best for us. Looking at Black Dog Institute, they send out regular emails, they check in, they identify different parts in our workplace in regards to mental health, what we can look at improving, or something that we can change or things like that. And the Black Dog Institute will give you some positive feedback, different resources, as well as Be You they obviously give us, you guys give us so much positive guidance and support. And HeadsUp, they have provided us with templates, different, oh, there's a thousand things that comes to mind. But yeah, majority of it is fact sheets, support guides, as well as providing the support through phone calls, through Zoom meetings, through emails. A lot of correspondence between myself and those companies.

Amanda Kidd: And what I really like is that you're not doing it on your own. That you're actually being able to reach out to people. You've got the confidence to be able to go, no, I need support in these spaces. And there are people with evidence-based, you know, tools or resources that we can actually use to implement into our service as well. And what I like is that you are, you know, you're not seeing Be You as like this program that you have to do certain things, you're actually seeing it as a support to implementing mental health and wellbeing in your workplace. That it actually is just sort of this really great resource that you can use. And particularly you did plug the consultant support, so I thought I'll add that.

Mel Oake: I think it's very helpful to be able to take elements of each place and be able to use it rather than just using one as a whole approach. We've got multiple different influencing factors that are gonna help support the educators, the leadership team, the approved providers, everybody.

Amanda Kidd: Yeah, I really like that, how it's actually, you're utilising those resources to support each of the various levels of roles within your service. So you've got, you know, resources for perhaps the executive level, the middle management level, the service level, the educator level. So you're able to meet that whole community approach to mental health and wellbeing.

Mel Oake: Yeah.

Amanda Kidd: So that's really great. Thank you.

Mel Oake: No worries.

Amanda Kidd: So we will hear from you again. We just, we'll do it while we're doing another activity. So we're going to go back to the Menti board. Let me just pop that QR code back on the screen. So I will quickly move it over and I'll put that QR code back on the screen and hopefully it will be in the, the link will be back in the chat box for you, for those of you who are playing along at home. So we're going to have a look at some of our questions from our workplace review table, which is from the guide based on the seven principles. So the workplace review table is an activity that is recommended to be done as a team, which helps you to explore your current context, identifying your workplace wellbeing strengths and opportunities that exist. So we actually had Dr. Tamara Cummings from Macquarie University's Educator Wellbeing Research Project join us for a Be You webinar about 2 weeks ago to talk about her research. And she spoke about identifying and directly addressing the problem that you want to address. And this activity can help you to support, help you to do this. So you are identifying your strengths and you're identifying opportunities for growth. So when engaging in this activity with your team, it's really important to ensure that you have created a psychologically safe environment for people to be vulnerable and share and to provide access to support should they need it. So if you could please go to the Menti screen now by using the QR code, clicking the link in the chat box and starting to add to the board about ways that your service creates a positive culture and environment. There you go. And also include ways it could be improved. So it is anonymous. So just having a think. And just a reminder about safety in this space. So please be mindful about confidentiality and privacy and ensure that your comments are quite constructive so. So Mel, if you feel comfortable, it would be great if you could share some of your strengths, your service strengths and any opportunities that your service have identified, what you're considering doing to address those while our attendees are adding to the Menti board there.

Mel Oake: I think we've got a quite a few strengths. I think our main one is the ability to adapt to each educator's needs individually. So what might work for one staff member might not work for the other. As well as providing support through different hotlines and senior leadership team conversations. So the different hotlines that we've got are from Be You, the fact sheet that we found very, very useful. We've got that spread throughout the services. This is for all staff or parents as they walk through most of the areas that we have them placed out to be able to have access to those numbers and knowing that's the place that I need to call. And yeah, so the senior leadership team conversations, just providing those relationships, that positive relationship building to help the staff feel comfortable and safe when they're having these conversations that may be at times, let's face it, hard. I would say some of the challenges that we have, although we have a teamwork policy, I think we need to make a more streamlined approach policy towards educator wellbeing. The teamwork policy covers it very vaguely, but I think having it a bit more specific to us as educators will definitely help in the future. As well, I think that this is kind of in any workforce that trying to normalise mental health and wellbeing, just having the conversations and bringing it to be to the forefront rather than being behind closed doors. And yeah, I think that's probably a big one across all industries.

Amanda Kidd: Yeah. There's some really great strategies there. And I like that you were honest that you know, that you found perhaps an area that you do need to, you know, work towards and that was identifying educator wellbeing as its own focus area. So that was really great. Now did you talk about your safe space? 'Cause you've got this really wonderful safe space. And I heard you sort of talk about the support lines and all of that, and you actually have your support lines in this safe space. So do you wanna tell everyone about your safe space that you created at your service?

Mel Oake: I would love to.

Amanda Kidd: Yeah.

Mel Oake: We love our safe space. So when we're going through Be You resources, we felt that we really didn't have a space to keep those resources as well as the space of our own. So in consultation with our approved providers, our nominated supervisors, and some of the staff, we began to put together our safe space. We began by identifying a room, which did used to be our printer room and it did store all records and things like that. So we cleaned that out and we began the transformation. We asked the staff what they wanted it to look like and what they wanted from it. I have to be completely transparent, there was some hesitation to begin with. A lot of the staff asked how long it will last and what's the relevance of it. The truth was we actually weren't quite sure where it was gonna go and how useful it was gonna be. But we knew it was a space that was going to provide opportunities to start conversations. We actually created this room at the beginning of last year so 2022. And I'm happy to say it is being used every single day. The safe space is used to assist in transitions from home to work, having quiet times, sometimes people wanna have their lunch in there, and for sensitive and meaningful conversations. In our safe space we have two beautiful comfy couches, tea and coffee-making facilities, a diffuser, Be You fact sheets and support guides, positive affirmations plastered on the wall, self-regulating activities. So we've got magazines, we've got puzzles, we've got yoga techniques. And I think probably the most important thing that we have in that room is the lollie and chocolate jar.

Amanda Kidd: It's funny you say that, 'cause that came up in our positive culture and environment, on our Menti board there. There was definitely, you know, lollie jars up there in there and tea and coffee, and bubble teas I saw as well. So that seems to be at the heart for some educators. Yeah, and I think that having that space. And what I really liked when you were telling me about this particular space that you created was that you actually came to that decision to make that space. There was a few of you that came up with that decision. That wasn't just someone with the grand idea and going, we're gonna create a safe space. You actually identified that as a, you know, a need, with I think you said 5 of your staff members kind of came to that decision that that was going to be-

Mel Oake: Oh, yeah. We have 2 action team leaders at each of our services. And so it was the two action team leaders, so myself and one of the other girls and the director, the lead, ed leader, and the approved provider, so as well as some of the staff as well. So it was a very collaborative approach.

Amanda Kidd: Mm-hmm, I like that. And what I thought was really interesting when you were telling me about it was that you went to leadership and you said, this is what we would like to do and leadership were really supportive of it. And you did say at the beginning that there were some staff that were quite hesitant because you know that was money. So sorry, I won't jump to that bit. So leadership actually gave you money for this.

Mel Oake: Yup.

Amanda Kidd: So that you got $500, was it, to make that space?

Mel Oake: Yes.

Amanda Kidd: And that was seen as, you know, quite, there was a bit of a pushback because some of the staff felt that that money could be used towards resources or other things for the children.

Mel Oake: Yeah.

Amanda Kidd: But the leadership were actually really positive towards this and they went, no, this is something we feel is going to really be valuable and we're gonna pilot it in your Kellyville Ridge service.

Mel Oake: Yes.

Amanda Kidd: And it was something that, as you said, it's used every single day.

Mel Oake: Oh, yeah, every day. I think every, by the end of every week, there's no lollies or chocolate left.

Amanda Kidd: But I think it was really nice to hear. So what really struck, came out for me, was things like a transition space that it could be used as a transition space. Because transition, we know is often a really, it's really important for children, but it's really important for educators as well transitioning from home to the service. The fact that they've got this space now where they could have a conversation with someone, they could choose someone to bring into that room and go, I'm really, you know, I've had a really terrible morning, my children weren't listening to me, or I, you know, it was really stressful on the road, the train was late or whatever. All of those spaces and you come in and you're really heightened. So to have a space where you can actually sit and go, okay, I can breathe, I can talk to someone about it. And that's why you have the two couches that were opposite. I think you really thought about that. You had one couch and one chair.

Mel Oake: Yup.

Amanda Kidd: So that it was less, so you thought about how that made it less intimidating to be sitting directly next to someone it allowed. So you were really thoughtful in how, in the design of this particular space and how it would work for your service so.

Mel Oake: Yeah, absolutely. I think it was a definitely a collaborative approach though. I can't take all the credit.

Amanda Kidd: No, I wouldn't expect you to. That's okay. We might have time for one more question. So I'm going to go to our next one. So we're going to now look at this principle. So promote respectful relationships. So having a think about how does your learning community currently support and promote respectful relationships. And what opportunities, so what do we need to put in place to ensure everyone in the learning community experiences respectful relationships, and what gaps exist and how can we address these? So did you have anything to share Mel? Did you wanna?

Mel Oake: Yeah, so we have, through our induction process, we encourage all new staff to create Be You accounts. This will help to break down the stigma of mental health from the onset of their employment. We also use Facebook. We've got a closed Facebook page where resources and fact sheets are shared between all educators, creating a positive forum to help staff feel valued and supported. I think speaking with the approved providers as well as conversation with other staff, we find a lot of Facebook pages quite negative, so we wanted to make sure that this page was positive and everything we need resources are there just for our staff.

Amanda Kidd: Yeah and that's a space, so you, in your wellbeing officer role, you actually get an hour and a half each week dedicated to that role, don't you?

Mel Oake: Yes.

Amanda Kidd: Working away from the children?

Mel Oake: Yep.

Amanda Kidd: And so, I think that space is really nice for you to be able to go away, to plan, to implement, to add resources where you need to support, you know, teams across the 5 services. Now we were having a discussion about your role and you were sort of like, I'm kind of learning about it on the fly. There's no real, you know, it was a new role. You were kind of going through and making, not making it up, but you were trying to navigate it yourself. And you, we talked about how were you going to, you know, support yourself in this role.

Mel Oake: Yup.

Amanda Kidd: So, did you wanna share about that? Was there-

Mel Oake: Oh, definitely.

Amanda Kidd: Yeah.

Mel Oake: So my role is very complex in its layers and it's always evolving. So there's no day that looks the same. I think that there's new initiatives that are coming forward all the time and there's new needs within the workplace that are identified on a daily basis. I think it's important to be able to adapt and change to these to ensure that I have the best interest of all of the services Berry Patch has in mind. I am not 100% sure with my direct role as in I know that my underlying tone is to support educator wellbeing through meaningful conversation and providing resources to accompany this. But I think where my underlying part plus me being me and trying to help everybody and trying to assist all my educators to be the best people that they can be, I think that's probably the biggest part of my role. But yeah, I think that's pretty much it nail on the head. Yeah.

Amanda Kidd: And we talked about using the guide, the new Beyond Self-Care, Educator Wellbeing Guide. We talked about perhaps utilising that as a way to perhaps create a role description and a role, you know, think about your responsibilities from that whole community approach. So it can be a bit of a guide for you moving forward, didn't we, so?

Mel Oake: Yep.

Amanda Kidd: All right. Well, I feel like we probably don't have much time because yeah, it's getting, we're getting on there. But I can see thank you to all of you who are adding to the board. I can see that there's lots of things there. Listening, remaining open, communication, lots of things there. And hopefully we've inspired some of the people out there to yeah, think about these things and yeah. So yeah, it's time to wrap up our conversation and our Menti board. So thank you so much for joining us today, Mel, and sharing your organisation's Be You journey towards a thriving workplace.

Mel Oake: That was a pleasure, thank you.

Amanda Kidd: No worries, thank you. So we are coming up to the end of our presentation. So let's just have a look at what we have discussed throughout the session. So I guess the first one is putting your, I haven't written it there, but putting your own oxygen mask on before supporting others. I think that's always a really key one because if you remember back to that bi-directional influence of educator wellbeing on children's wellbeing. Yeah, we need to be supporting ourselves individually and our whole service needs to be supporting us as well. So, and that's where it leads us to that first key takeaway there, that educator wellbeing is everybody's responsibility. So we all have a role in supporting educator wellbeing in our workplace. So the second one there is a system-wide approach is needed to promote and sustain educator wellbeing. Supportive leaders positively contribute to educator wellbeing and positive work culture. And positive relationships with colleagues and leaders are essential to promote wellbeing. So let me just have a look to see that. So what is your next step? I think after any professional learning, it's always a really great idea to set an intention of what you're going to do next. So perhaps you might explore the Beyond Self-Care: An Educator Wellbeing Guide. Maybe your continue on with the questions from the workplace review table or perhaps you might register your learning community with Be You to chat to a consultant about building a thriving workplace or even having a conversation with a colleague to share what you've learned. I feel like they're all great ways to strengthen and continue your learning. And I could just see Belle, you were asking about Dr. Tamara Cummings. So it's C-U-M-M-I-N-G is her last name, I-N-G-S, sorry. Anyway, so to learn more about Be You and to stay up to date with new resources and professional learning opportunities, please follow us on our socials. We're on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And yeah, register your service. And that is it from me. Thanks for having me and thanks again Mel, Blaire, Susan, and the team at the New South Wales Department of Education. I'll just see if there's, all the questions are answered. So yeah, but I might stay on line for the next three minutes if you do have a question. Otherwise, thank you for joining us and have a lovely, lovely afternoon, And enjoy the rest of your week and the rest of the Roadshow. Lots of lovely thank yous, so thank you. Thank you for joining. Hopefully you went away with lots there. Oh, you're welcome everybody. Lots of lovely thank yous and it says lots of so valuable. How can we? Oh, there is a question. How can we have a Be You support person? So what you'll need to do is register your learning community and when you register your learning community, you'll have the option of, there'll be some tick boxes which say I will be the action team leader and I have the support of leadership. So if you do that, that will create a message to the backend of the Be You to us. So we'll get the message to say that you wanna be a learning community. And then we will just verify that you will be the action team leader or have an action team leader assigned and that your leadership is supporting you to do this. And then we will allocate you a Be You consultant. So yeah, just registering would be the first step. And there should be a registration link in the chat box for you there. Yes, Angela, it has been recorded, so you should be able to replay it at some point. And hopefully yeah, you've got some great information. So we've got one more minute. If you've got any other questions, we're happy to answer them for you. Otherwise it's been lovely having you all. Thank you so much. And I can see Susan has popped in the registration link in the chat box. So yeah, click on that one and register today. That would be wonderful. We'd love to have chats with you all and to support your services. And I hope you're all getting out into the beautiful sunshine in New South Wales. I don't know if it's all across New South Wales, but definitely in Sydney side it is a nice sunny day today. So hopefully you are getting your vitamin D at some point. I think that's always nice. All right, well it's hit 2:30 now, so that is the end of the session and thank you all for joining.

A preview of our ECEC workforce labour market analysis and what we hope to learn from you.

Ellena Washbourn: Good afternoon, everybody. Just gonna wait for a few more people to join, and then we'll start the webinar. All right, I might start then. So welcome everybody. Thank you for joining this ECE Connect session to talk about the department's role in supporting the early childhood education and care workforce. It's so lovely to see so many people here today, and who are interested in hearing about this topic. My name is Ellena Washbourn, I'm the manager for the Capability Uplift team, and I'm joined by Natasha Hudson, Director of Workforce Initiatives, and we are both joining you today from the Early Childhood Outcomes Division of the New South Wales Department of Education. Today, we have an exciting role of talking through what we know about the early childhood education and care sector, what we're doing to help support the workforce, our approaches to designing our initiatives, and most importantly, hearing from you and how we can prioritise our work to ensure the greatest impact for everyone in the sector. You'll also have an opportunity to share your views and experiences in an interactive Menti session. But before we start, as always, some housekeeping. So as we commence, I wanted to mention a few housekeeping items. The microphone, the video, and the chat functions will be disabled during the webinar. The Q&A function will be available for you to ask any questions and we encourage you to do so. And our team, busily working away in the background, will either respond during the session directly, using the Q&A function, as well as Natasha and I having some time at the end to respond as well. You can choose to ask your questions anonymously if you wish, and we'll be using a Menti during the session. So in preparation of that, please have your mobile phone, or another web browser, maybe on another screen so that you'll be available to participate in the interactive components of the session. Also, we'll have automated closed captions that have been enabled during the session for accessibility. So, that's all from me now, and it's my pleasure to pass Natasha to start us off by acknowledging Country.

Natasha Hudson: Thanks very much Ellena, and good afternoon all. I would like to start today's conversation by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the various lands and waters in which we are all joining. We represent multiple areas up and down the coast, and inland. And I would like to acknowledge that I am joining you from Awabakal country that's Lake Macquarie, and I would encourage each of you to use the Q&A function and let us know where you are joining from today. I would like to pay respects to the Elders and ancestors across the First Nations, of the lands and waters in which we join, and in particular as we join on the eve of NAIDOC week, and which commences next week. And the theme for this year is 'For Our Elders'. Elders are viewed as cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, generally hard workers, and those who are loved ones, both within First Nations culture, but I can say within my own as well. And, the role that Elders play in supporting families and communities. And I just pause on that point in thinking about early childhood professionals and the valuable role that the early childhood education and care sector generally plays, for all children and families, but in particular, in valuing and promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander's ways of knowing and being. Both of my girls, they're now in primary school, but they did attend early childhood education and care services, and they both flourished in their experiences during that time, and they continued to remember their educators and friends from that time. They learned Awabakal language, they came home singing songs, "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." They soaked in the cultural significance of birthing trees, as well as were inspired and I can say activated, to promote the erecting of the Aboriginal flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. And I owe my daughters value and respect of First Nations cultures to the educators that they had in their early years learning experience, and I'm continually thankful of them, as well as, and I have not been shy in expressing my gratitude to them of their work and contribution. And as I reflected on NAIDOC week, I took pause in a Wiradjuri word that my colleague and good friend, Kelly Humphrey shared with me recently. For those of you who have been participating in other ECE Connect series, Kelly presented on the First Steps Strategy earlier this week. But Kelly introduced to me the Wiradjuri word, "yindyamarra" and it means to honour, to go slow, take responsibility, and at its heart it's about respect. And so with that in mind, I would like to take pause, and in the spirit of 'yindyamarra', to acknowledge you, and everyone who is contributing to the ECEC sector, the professionals and the important interpersonal and relationship role, learning relationship role that you have with children and families. And that role that you play every day, it's due to you, and your thoughtful efforts, that nurturing and safe environments for learning are created and where children thrive. And I might also consider that you know, of late, there has been a number of challenges which have affected the entire community, including COVID, bush fires, floods. And despite these challenges, so many have continued to thrive, and to deliver quality and positive outcomes for children. And so as a parent myself, I extend my thanks to each and every one of you for the positive legacy in which you're imparting on our littlest learners. They say it takes a community to raise a child. And when thinking about each of our roles, this is the analogy that comes to mind. Each of us, you know, whether it be direct, in terms of the learning relationship, or in a system stewardship role. For example, the ones that Ellena and I are playing, working with the New South Wales Department of Education, we're thinking about the children at the centre, the families around them, and all the services that contribute to child development and a child's learning. When I looked at the the registration list for this session, I can see that there is a great representation across the different service types from family day care, long day care, preschools, and OSHC, be it in a government or non-government setting, community-based setting. We have representation from peak bodies, disability advocates, universities, registered training organisations, as well as representation from government agencies, local, state, as well as federal. There's never been, as far as I'm aware, a time where more attention has been spent and focused on the early childhood education and care sector. And with that attention comes a great opportunity, and also responsibility. And the responsibility is for each of us to take action, and to take action today on things that will shape us, for years to come. And so as New South Wales government, we are committed to partnering across governments with the sector, to grow and develop, and engaged and valued, and high quality early childhood education and care workforce, that is delivering quality and safe services, irrespective of child, irrespective of postcode. New South Wales early years in initiatives will simultaneously consider what may be done now to address immediate needs, like workforce shortage, and what needs to be done for long-term community benefits. We will not be able to design and deliver reforms and programs without you. And it is the shared action of all parties that will make our efforts a success. And, thank you. You might be aware that there are some election commitments related to the early childhood education and care workforce. And for those of you who tuned into the first of the ECE Connect series last week, you would've heard from the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning speak about these election commitments. And in particular for workforce, there are 3. Of the $22 million that has been committed, there is $9 million which has been committed for scholarships. And this is intended to improve the pipeline of ECEC professionals to join the sector. We have $10 million in professional development to alleviate the stress of burnout, and to improve retention, and to enable better access to capability, uplift for existing professionals, no matter where they are, and no matter what qualifications they already hold. And the last component of this commitment is $3 million for research, which aims to improve the availability and efficacy of early childhood education and care, now, and into the future, by understanding service delivery models, and what is needed for a strong workforce pipeline. The election commitments are just one of many initiatives that the department will develop and deliver. And we are thinking about the workforce broadly. We're thinking about it in the context of the children that are served, the communities in which those services are offered, and the regulatory context in which services operate. To be thinking about the incentives or the policy leavers that we might have to contribute. To help us with that, we are relying on evidence, and data, to make informed decisions, and to enable us to support change, and meaningful change. Some interesting insights, which were captured in the 2021 National Workforce Census are on your screen, but I might just call out that the proportion of men to the sector is 8.1, and a particular call out on that figure, is that it is significantly lower than the share of men in the general workforce, labour force for New South Wales. And I'll also call out, that there has been a large increase of staff, in terms of the center-based day care services, between 2016 and 2021, which went to 34%. And whilst the census provides us with a a good snapshot, it is a point in time, and the frequency isn't often, we are very hungry to know more. And so to that end, we are undertaking some work to build our capability, to understand what it is that, not only employers, but also employees are interested in, in terms of having support now, and what they see is needed for the future. There were national consultations that underpinned the national workforce strategy. The national strategy came into effect last year, and with that it, gives us a strong indication of the things that do matter around attraction, retention, growth, as well as recognition. For example, there was a survey in 2021 where nearly 4,000 people contributed to that, and they sought, they called out in particular, the need to improve professional standing under this national strategy. New South Wales is leading 2 actions as part of the national workforce strategy, both relate to professional recognition, and one is around language, and that words matter. And so, the key action under the strategy is for there to be consistent, and contemporary terminology that is strengths-based and is meaningful, both across the workforce and sector, but also within the community, amongst families and parents. To be able to plan well, we need to have a picture of the needs of communities today, and tomorrow. There are changing industries, growing communities, every family might have a different service need, and also giving consideration to the equity needs of every child. We're thinking about what that means for the ECEC workforce. And to understand the workforce, we need to be thinking about career pathways, professional development, opportunities, thinking about motivations. We need to understand broader trends, in learning and in work, flexibility in the future of work. And with this in mind, we initiated a project to better understand the data needs to be able to, to have a robust view of the landscape. And initial insights from this project are showing, are shown on this slide here, but the key factors informed delivery for these services across communities. Key themes from this project, include a need for fuller data, a more robust picture, to allow us to understand the workforce better. We need it to be rich and robust. And what we mean by that is, that we can, we aren't making generic considerations. We're taking a very, I guess, layered and colourful consideration to what it is that is needed. So there might be time-bound need, there might be needs in particular communities, there might be needs for specific skill sets. And so, when thinking about each of these things, we will need to have the data to inform what we need to do best to be able to provide timely, as well as targeted assistance. We know that there are many different experiences in life, and that this can change over time. And so to help us think about that, we know that there isn't an average response. One size won't necessarily fit all. Some of you might be familiar with the upside down triangle there, as it's borrowed from the early childhood development space. But thinking about universal, what is available for all, and then taking a tailored and targeted approach to what we do to support communities, what we do to support particular cohorts of educators, or potential educators. And this model will help us to think about that. In terms of the principles, which are on the left hand side of the screen, you'll see that we have absolutely at the core, children first. And when we think about educators and teachers, it is that they are valued, valued for the contribution, and valued for the legacy that is left. Our approach is both holistic minded, and equity minded. And there's a concept that we think about, that is designing to the edges. But what it, what it means is, if we can take the most complicated, complex circumstance, and spend time really understanding what we could do to make things better, then it may have a ripple on effect, and benefits for many more. So what are the ingredients to ensure that those who need it most are getting the support they need. And ultimately we would, we are keen to be doing all of our work in consultation, and in partnership with this sector. And as I mentioned at the start, in part, we are working in 2 speeds. We're thinking about the things that need to be done now. And so we need to be moving fast to attend to that, and then we also need to be planning for the future. We need to be nimble and equipped to capitalise on opportunities, and to respond to immediate need. But we also need to have an eye to the future, and an eye to the whole early childhood education and care landscape, to see what opportunities for improvement, to enable a sustainable and thriving future. We are very keen to hear from you, so I will pause there. Ellena, I'll throw to you.

Ellena Washbourn: Thank you Natasha, and thank you everybody for posting your questions in the chat, just while we open them up now. Natasha, we've had quite a few coming through, unsurprisingly around paying conditions. Obviously it is in the news at the moment with the multi-employer bargaining happening. So our colleagues have have addressed most of the questions. I'm not sure if all the, if everybody else can see all the questions, I think they can. Natasha, did you wanna just say a few words to acknowledge what's happening for us, in terms of paying conditions of state government at the moment?

Natasha Hudson: Yeah, brilliant, thanks very much, and thank you for the question. So, for those of you who do know, for those of you who may not, from the 6th of June, there initiated a new process where supported bargaining came into play, and so that will have real opportunity, and changes potential for the sector. I think, what is important to know is that wages and conditions are ultimately the responsibility of employers. And that the minimum award is set by the Fair Work Commission, as it relates to this, to those working in the early childhood education and care sector. But as New South Wales government, we are engaged with the Commonwealth, and regularly meet with counterparts in other jurisdictions as well, to have an understanding of what the implications are, in terms of potential change and potential benefit, and also to ensure that we are receiving that benefit here in New South Wales. Thanks Ellena.

Ellena Washbourn: Another one of the themes that came out from the questions was around scholarships. Natasha, I might take this one just to say that Natasha had also mentioned earlier that we, the election commitment is to provide new scholarships whilst we don't have any current live scholarship programs now, we will have a new one coming, later in the year, early next year. And with some design changes, we acknowledge your comment, Chris, about them actually not always being people who are in the sector but about coming in, and about the requirement to have a job at the end of it. So these are some of the settings that we're looking at around our scholarship program. How can we use our scholarships to retain our existing workers? How can we up-skill, really keen to look at that pipeline of workers moving from, you know, certificate III educated to diploma, and into degree, you know, we need to retain people who are in the workforce already, as well as attract, but it's absolutely vital we give opportunities to those who are already there who are keen to up-skill. A number of other programs, if you've seen already, you may have seen our accelerated degree pathway program, where we are partnering with University of Wollongong and ELACCA to offer an accelerated pathway, from diploma into degree. So we are doing things not, you know, we can't do everything all at once, but we hear you, and these are some of the things that are in motion at the moment. Natasha, did you wanna add anything on that at all?

Natasha Hudson: No, I think that's, that's exactly right. And just thinking through the holistic needs, to ensure success through scholarship, the scholarships program. So we're considering, you know, what is it not only, what mentoring supports is, what we're hearing through our consultation and engagement on certain projects, considering a number of insights beyond that around, you know the considerations around the cost of having to be off the floor to undertake the study, and also the time to do that. So all of these considerations are absolutely part of the, the program designs that we are taking into account now. Thanks Ellena.

Ellena Washbourn: Having another look, there is another question. We've got a couple more similar on the lines of like paying conditions. I can probably take one, sorry, bear with me, just having, a multitasking here. We've had a question, Natasha, about the changes from the, resulting from the recent annual wage review, and how does it affect educators? So, oh no, sorry, sorry. That's one of the themes, sorry. About the changes from the recent wage review, so we could potentially address that if that's helpful. I'm happy to say that a lot of you would've heard about this 5.75% increase in the modern awards, which would be applicable to early childhood educators. But you know, while it's welcomed, we know that there is more work to be done, and we've gotta continue to work with the commonwealth to make sure that we, this is in focus, and that we need to continue on this. It won't be done quickly, but then make sure that those the, like the pay and the award rates really reflect the responsibilities of the role. We know, and it was mentioned in one of the questions earlier around the kind of parity and the similar, so the other sector, in other sectors like say, for hospitality or retail for example, the wage ratios aren't comparable with responsibilities that we have in early childhood. So, we acknowledge this, and this will be something we'll continue to support the commonwealth to work through. So it should probably, yeah, that's probably cover some of the themes that came in through the questions. Natasha, there's a couple coming in around, let me have a look. Kim, thanks for your comment about compulsory and best practice training being free. It's a great comment there. Sorry, just scrolling through, Natasha if you wanna grab any while we're in, sorry, just... I think that's most of the themes there. Mary Louise Clifford, I can see yes, your pay for comparable work, your comment there. Thank you for that. I think, you know, just covered that briefly in my last answer. Okay.

Natasha Hudson: Hi. I'm just seeing your, your comment, referring to the services wages bill. So thanks very much for that. And reference to the New South Wales Productivity Commissioner report. I suppose the sum of the comment or question that I, if I'm interpreting correctly, is asking about New South Wales's ratios, the educator-to-child ratios, and posing the question on New South Wales having a different one to other jurisdictions. I think for what we do have open now, and this is under the National Workforce Strategy, there is an action to review qualifications and ratios. And I understand that consultation is open now, and it's led by ACECQA. One of the main intents of that, of that review and consultation is to look at alignment across jurisdictions, to pose the question on it being contemporary, and continuing to give effect to the intent of the National Law around quality and safety. It probably doesn't get to the substance of your question, 'Why is New South Wales different?' But this is an avenue for consideration of it being considered more broadly.

Ellena Washbourn: I think we're getting close to our time for questions, unless someone in our moderator team can tell me otherwise, if we didn't get to your question directly today, we will come back to you after the session. We'll make sure that you are responded to directly, to make sure we didn't miss anything today. Sorry, multitasking is not one of my strengths at the moment, so really sorry if I've missed your question as I'm scrolling through the chat. What we're about to do now is really move to the Menti. So we're really happy to hear from you again, but hear from you in addition to your questions. So, what you'll see shortly is, we'll start running a Menti, and the focus of the Menti is on workforce retention, so those people, you know, people building their early childhood education and care career. We want to hear from you on the important things that matter to you working in the sector. And we've identified, as you can see on the screen here on the slides, 7 themes that influence the experiences of the ECEC workforce. So that's you, and these themes were drawn from feedback that was provided to us by the sector peaks, data from surveys, from academic research and some anecdotal insights that were provided by employees in the sector. Now, we're using these themes to help us focus and organise our efforts when we're designing and delivering initiatives. So we've collectively called them the 7 C's, as you can see on the screen there. Career, capability, care, commendation, connection, capacity, and conditions. And not a single one is more important than the other. We've got them on the screen here, but we will, delve into them a bit deeper in the Menti in a moment. But for example, when we think about career, we are doing some things now as, I mentioned earlier, like the accelerated degree pathway program, looking at how we can make that transition for career, you know, support career progression, for educators in the sector. in terms of capability, you know, a number of you will know about the department's PD, professional development offerings already like the PD in your pocket for family day care, for the preschool multicultural programs, and we've also run the scholarship programs as you know, to support educators to move from their diploma into their degree, as well as a really, a sector-wide offering for fee free training, through Smart and Skilled certificate III, traineeships and diplomas. You know, the connection we touched on earlier, as Natasha said, the Connected Men, Deadly Workplace network is starting to meet, and the next meeting's gonna be in July. So, we're doing some things at the moment around these 7 themes, we really wanna hear from you about what's important. So now we'll move to the Menti. So I'll ask my trusted colleagues to pop it on screen for us. For those of you that haven't used Menti before, you can go directly to, you can use your phone to snap the QR code. When you log into Menti, whether or not you do it through your browser or through your phone and pop in the code there, the 3627 1748. And when you see, when I see most of you logged on, we'll start having a look at the questions. Wow, some great answers there. Nice to see it's a lot of people, colleagues, team, support staff. I'll just let it run a little bit longer, just so I get some more answers in there. The career progression is a great one. The families we work with, a supportive management team, positive culture, professional development, professional recognition. Well these are great. Leadership, great leadership. Respected by families, above award pay. Well, that's super. I mean, I think we've got quite a lot in there now, and it is actually really pleasing to see the responses here, that this is happening now, I hope it's happening now. This is why you popped it in in the Menti there. Natasha, did you wanna add anything or make any comments? I think it's lovely, what we can see on the screen now.

Natasha Hudson: Yeah, just the observation of, yeah, the focus on the people, so the relationship and that connection, be it with the community, with your broader team, the families, children. And you know, just seeing that repeated even as it refreshes, it's really, really lovely.

Ellena Washbourn: So, thinking back to the 7 C's that we spoke to earlier, which do you think we should focus on first? You know, if we have an opportunity to make some changes, to have an impact, to make a difference, what's most important? What should we focus on now? If you could rank them. Sorry, yeah, Natasha.

Natasha Hudson: No, no, if you could, and I think that's a fair point, because none of them is, none of them, not one of them is more important than another, but it's simply for the purposes of this activity, because what we'd like to do next is just explore one in particular. So whatever comes up as that top one we'll explore. And again, it's thinking, when you're thinking about these things, one of the lenses that you might have is for right now, you know, if we applied Maslow's hierarchy of need, what is the thing that you need to attend to first, before we can move on to the next thing. We're seeing conditions coming in first, which, given the comments and apologies I haven't been able to like you Ellena, multitask and read through them all. But I have been able to capture a glimpse of some of them. And it isn't surprising to see conditions number one, particularly in relation to the context, the current environment that we are in, but also in terms of the feedback we're seeing through the Q&A.

Ellena Washbourn: Interesting. We're in a battle for a second and third place it looks like.

Natasha Hudson: So connection's an interesting one. When you think about other sectors, or other areas where you have an opportunity to come together, I think about, sometimes I think about my mom, she was a nurse, and so they had the code of Florence Nightingale. And so it's something that brings them all together, irrespective of where they work, you know, anywhere around the world, irrespective of the entity or service that they work in. It is fundamentally about the care and and support that they offer, which isn't dissimilar to here.

Ellena Washbourn: And I think we had capability flashing and moving between 2 or 3. Oh, are we already moving to the next question? Sorry. Okay, we might just move on. Sorry, we're a bit delayed enough, our comments. No, no, that's fine. Sorry, sorry moderator team. That's okay, we'll keep going with the last question about what do we think could be done. Really keen to hear views of people on the call today around what do they think we could do, which was conditions was that, you know, outstandingly in first place. What could we do? What could we do more of? What could we do to make a difference?

Natasha Hudson: And when we're thinking about conditions, I mean from New South Wales government perspectives, we, you know, thinking about it from our role and responsibility and the leavers that we have, we're thinking about what we can do in partnership with the sector, what role we can play to influence the commonwealth. And so, having an understanding of the things that are most important to you will help us to have those conversations and really advocate on behalf of your voice.

Ellena Washbourn: And we can see here that, you know, conditions is more than just pay. It does speak to, you know, the admin burden some have noted here, less admin burden. You know, this is obviously commonly what we hear. Things like, you know, leadership, good leadership, you know, management support. All of these relate to the conditions that you experience at work. So absolutely, really, you know, really pleased with what we see on the screen here. Definitely talks to what we've been thinking about, what we've been discussing, what we've been hearing from the sector. So it keeps moving, it's very hard me, very hard for me to follow. Yeah, absolutely, again, less paperwork, reducing the workloads, reducing expectations.

Natasha Hudson: The government support. And so that's something that we'll be thinking about. What can we, what role can we play and how can we, how can we play that support role as a system steward, and enabling, in that way. And I think the interesting one, I'll just reflect on another sector, but in a previous life, I played a role in working in the rollout of the NDIS. And so with that, there was thinking about, how do you build the capability of providers who, have typically needed to, you know, they went from block funding to a user pays model. And I won't go into too much detail there, but there was a good contribution to supporting organisations to make a change. And it was particularly around business support, business administration and enabling, you know, better practices.

Ellena Washbourn: I think one of the other things we can call out just from the slide there was around professional development and, Natasha mentioned earlier about our election commitment. So absolutely we think, you know, that does have an impact on how you feel when you go to work, you know, the experiences that you have at work. If you have access to professional development, you know, and we know that it's not always at time that suits you. We know there's some challenges in actually participating in professional development. We are, again, I know you're frustrated by saying we're thinking about it, we're looking at it, but we absolutely are seeing what we can do to support you in your workplace to participate in professional development. What the offering might, you know, what the kind of programs look like that you might be able to participate in. You know, really keen to explore how like, leadership supports, you know, better leadership in services, or support to better develop leader in services, how that can improve kind of working conditions. So, really great to see lots of the suggestions there on the Menti slides. So we'll take all that on board, really rich information for us. Thank you so much for your contribution and we'll then take all this on board as we move forward with scoping and developing our work. It's really important for us to consider. So thank you, and I'll now pass back to Natasha for just a couple more slides just before we let you go for the afternoon.

Natasha Hudson: Oh, thank you, thanks Ellena. And thanks everyone. Just a plug to stay informed, we do have the early childhood careers website or, or page, and series of pages on the website. So welcome you to stay connected that way. We will be regularly updating that with information, new information as it comes on board, and we'll be looking to improve the site so it's more, you know, meeting the needs of those who are using it. So with that, I do... I think we also have, maybe coming up it'll be to share in the chat, if you aren't already signed up to this sector newsletter, we'll welcome you to, to join that so that you can have the latest information as more information, for example, on the election commitments and the programs as they come online, you'll have that information in your inbox as soon as it is available. Thanks Ellena.

Ellena Washbourn: Okay, so that pretty much draws us to the end of the session. So thank you all so much for your company and your engagement today with the Menti and the questions that you've provided. Today's session was part of a broader series, which runs through to the end of the week. So the ECE Connect webinar series, so I think it's tomorrow there's a webinar on the updates to the Approved Learning Framework. There's a session on Start Strong Funding for Long Day Care. There's an assessment and rating sessions, which I think is for family day care. So if you're not already signed up, you know, keep going, there's some more to come. But that we'll really be looking at ways like many, you know, going forward, many ways that we can seek your views and understand your experiences as we develop our program of work. It's absolutely critical for us that we, you know, we hear you and we hear what you're seeing and feeling, and experiencing in the sector. So as Natasha said, register for the newsletter if you don't already have it, that will keep you up to date as when we bring new programs, initiatives online. But lastly, I just wanna acknowledge our fantastic team who worked behind the scenes managing the tech for us and many things today. You know, great job everybody. And you know, on behalf of everyone, just wanna say thank you, and thank you to all of our participants, our attendees today. It's been lovely to have you with us. And that's pretty much all from me and Natasha, so I'll just say it's a wrap. Goodbye. Natasha, any final words?

Natasha Hudson: Thanks Ellena, and thanks everyone for your company today. This is the beginning for us, and we look forward to seeing you again.

Ellena Washbourn: Bye.


  • Early childhood education


  • Frameworks and standards
  • Health, safety and wellbeing

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
  • NSW ECEC Regulatory Authority
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