ECE Connect online - November/December

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

More recordings coming soon.

Assessment and rating

An overview of improvements to assessment and rating and how to use the department's new Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal.

Belinda Wakeford: Okay, I can see the numbers is climbing there. I just wanted to welcome everybody into this afternoon's session on Making Improvements for Assessment and Rating and Planning for Quality Improvement. My name's Belinda Wakeford, and I have the pleasure of hosting today's session. So I'd like to begin by acknowledging that I'm joining from Aboriginal land. Today, I'm on Dharawal Country, and I pay my respects to Elders past and present and thank them for their tens of thousands of years of care and custodianship on the lands and waterways that I'm lucky enough to live and work on. I also pay my respects to the Elders of the lands that you're joining on from today and to all of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, our colleagues joining us online, who work in our services, educating and caring for our children across New South Wales. I'd also like to affirm my commitment to culturally safe regulation, striving every day to do better for our First Nations children and communities. So for today's session 'Planning for Quality Improvement', we'll be focusing on improvements to assessment and rating. We'll hear from one of our lead assessors on the self-assessment approach, and Vanessa Beck from our Continuous Improvement Team is joining us and is excited to share with you the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. As I mentioned, we'll have time at the end of session to answer some of your questions before we wrap up this afternoon. So to get us started, I'm pleased to now introduce you to Rochelle Seabury, our Business Improvement manager, and Rochelle's going to highlight some key improvements to assessment and rating. Hi, Rochelle, welcome. Thank you for joining.

Rochelle Seabury: Thanks, Belinda. Good afternoon everyone. Assessment and rating is intended to influence and positively impact the developmental and the educational outcomes for children. We've been assessing and rating services for some time now, as you would know, and over that decade, we've observed services' commitment to continuous improvement and we promote the quality ratings to families so that they have access to information about quality when they're making decisions about their child's care. After more than 10 years of assessment and rating, we've also been reflecting nationally on how our system can be improved. Our aim is for assessment and rating to be efficient and effective for providers and services. And we want to promote best practice and quality in services every day. We also want to make sure that families have reliable and up-to-date information about service quality. And really importantly, we want to work together with the sector and with our officers to avoid providers and services experiencing unnecessary stress or pressure in the lead up to their assessment and rating. The first improvement to assessment and rating is increasing the use of partial reassessments. This means that instead of the default being all 7 quality areas are assessed, we will increasingly assess a subset of 2 or 4 quality areas. Full assessment and rating will remain for new services and will continue to be used in some other circumstances. We expect that the use of partial reassessments will enable us to reduce the time between reassessments and ensure that we're spending the most time in areas of greatest risk. Now, partial reassessments are well underway in New South Wales. Since October, we've completed a partial reassessment with more than 80 services and we're hearing really positive feedback from their experience. Services are able to nominate one quality area for the reassessment, and the officer selects the remaining quality areas. When selecting the other quality areas, the officer looks at a variety of factors, things like the results of the last assessment, the services compliance history, and what we're seeing in sector trends around the areas of quality that are likely to be increasing or decreasing. The second improvement to assessment and rating is reducing the notice period to 5 business days. As you would know, currently, services receive a letter to notify them that assessment and rating will occur within a 12-week window. We have heard that this 12-week window is stressful for some services, and in many instances, results in substantial preparation for the assessment and rating. Reducing the notice period to 5 days will ensure that assessment and rating is a true reflection of the quality that children are experiencing every day and not practice that has been prepared for assessment and rating. This is a change that's occurring nationally and each jurisdiction around Australia has some flexibility in how they implement it. They could be implementing anywhere between zero and 5 days notice for assessment and rating. In New South Wales, we have made a commitment to implement no less than 5 business days notice. We have heard feedback from the sector that this is a change to assessment and rating that most, some providers and services feel most concerned about. So in response, we are implementing this change in a phased approach. We'll be starting in January with some early adopter providers who have already expressed interest in participating, and we will work closely with these services and providers to understand their feedback and their experience before we implement the 5-day notice for all assessment and rating later in 2024. This diagram gives you an overview of how the 5 days notice works, and we've included some example days of the week to help you visualise it. So 5 days before the visit, the Authorised Officer will call the delegated person and advise of the visit. If your service has been allocated a partial reassessment, you'll also be advised of the number of Quality Areas that will be reassessed. The officer will send a follow-up email to the service and the approved provider confirming the visit date and requesting submission of the Quality Improvement Plan or Self-Assessment. 4 days before the visit, the officer will commence review and desktop audit and prepare for the visit and services can finalise their self-assessment or Quality Improvement Plan. 3 days before the visit, the Self-Assessment or Quality Improvement Plan and the choice of quality area for partial reassessments will need to be submitted by the service. So if you receive a notice call on Wednesday, your documentation would be due by close of business Friday. Over the next 2 days before the visit, the Authorised Officer will review the information you've submitted. And the day before, the officer will call the service to inform them of the Quality Areas that have been selected for a partial reassessment. A follow-up email will also be sent to the service and the approved provider. We'll also be introducing some active and inactive periods for assessment and rating to help services plan. So this slide shows you some key dates. The idea of this improvement is to support services with planning for assessment and rating. It will mean that there are periods annually where no assessment and rating will occur, and we'll publish these dates on our website each year. So we can share a link for you to the website in the chat now. I'll hand over to Alicia, to talk about the self-assessment approach.

Alicia Burke: Thanks, Rochelle. Thank you for sharing so much information about the improvements to assessment and rating. A self-assessment approach is a unique way that your service can show your context. It is a way for you and your team to share your strengths, your goals, and your plans for improvement while demonstrating how you meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework. Self-assessment is essential in driving Continuous Improvement. It helps you identify strengths and areas of improvement on an ongoing basis. It is important to understand that the self-assessment approach is the process which is commonly linked to assessment and rating, which is the measuring tool to test and confirm how the service is meeting the requirements of the National Quality Framework. We know that the element 7.2.1 of the National Quality Standards refers to self-assessment and continuous improvement. However, we learned over time that this self-assessment and continuous improvement process, particularly with the use of the traditional QIP, mostly saw management and leadership teams engaging and preparing these documents just for the purpose of the assessment and rating visit. This meant that over time, the intention of self-reflection was getting lost. For many of you, the New South Wales Self-Assessment Working Document has been a key driver in how you document your quality journey and assists you in being prepared when assessment and rating cycle is upcoming. All services that choose to supply their self-assessment information will not be required to complete a Quality Improvement Plan as part of the assessment and rating process. There's lots of information on our website that gives you quite a lot of detail around the assessment and rating process and cycle. Submitting your self-assessment information provides an excellent opportunity to engage in the assessment and rating process by sharing the unique context and key practices at your service. A copy of our recent June ECE Connect session 'Self-Assessment, a case study and how-to guide' is available on our webpage. And I'll ask the moderators, put the link in the chat so you can refer to that session. It digs deep into what self-assessment is and how it can apply at your service. Later in the session, you will be provided the details also of the New South Wales Continuous Improvement Team. So self-assessment and continuous improvement process is a cycle, as you can see here in the diagram up on your screen. It's very similar to the learning and programming journey. It can start anywhere. It doesn't essentially finish and it just continues. That's the entire process of self-assessment. As you identify something you may have corrected or improved, you then look at something different to implement. It provides an opportunity for you to identify key practices occurring at the service in line with the National Quality Standards, and allows you to identify what you do and why you do it. It also allows you to understand, not just identify but understand the what and the why. It can help the teams see the service with fresh eyes and from a different perspective. And with that, comes greater understanding of the service programs as well as increased confidence in improvement planning and understanding key processes at the service. What we know is that when all staff and educators are engaged in a process together, continuous quality improvements can enhance outcomes for children. It's all about the team effort. The self-assessment creates opportunities for services to support educators to better reflect on current practices at the service, identify improving quality outcomes for children and families, and reflect on practices against the National Quality Standards. It helps you identify unique aspects of the service and practice during assessment and rating. An effective self-assessment process ensures that all services and their team can build knowledge, understanding and effective implementation of the National Quality Framework. Having a look at, oh, there we go. We've got the Menti already. Oh, that's okay, thank you for going back to the previous slide. So as you can see in the picture there are some measures around the service philosophy, making sure you understand where the heart of your drive and passion comes from. Having a look at regulatory compliance, looking at your strengths, areas to improve, and your Self-Assessment Working Document. So over on the next slide, we're gonna go into a bit of a Menti. So before I hand you over to Vanessa, we'll do a quick checking using Menti. For those of you that have attended other ECE Connect sessions, I'm sure that you are familiar with this app, but if you can grab your phone handy and scan the code up on your screen. The code for the Mentimeter is 2354 0777. So if you can do that. And what we're wanting to gauge from you is can you tell us what you're currently using to support your quality improvement journey? Are you currently using the New South Wales Self-Assessment Working Document, a Quality Improvement Plan, or you're here today 'cause you're a little unsure of what to use? Great, I can see lots of responses coming in. Thank you for the Mentimeter on the screen. So I can actually see quite a lot of participants are currently using the New South Wales Self-Assessment Working Document. And we do know that we have quite a high uptake of those services that do opt in for self-assessment. So that is great. Perfect. All right, we've definitely got quite a lot of responses. I do like watching these bounce up and down a little bit and move all around. All right, well, on the next slide, we'll actually be talking a little bit more around our Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. So we might go to the next slide, if that's okay. Fantastic. So for those of you that have been around a little while, you may recall in 2020, we introduced the Self-Assessment for Quality Improvement initiative. As part of that initiative, services can share their self-assessment information with the Regulatory Authority in preparation for assessment and rating. This initiative has been highly successful with more than 85% of services engaging in the process. And what you saw earlier with the Mentimeter, we can see that quite a lot of services are familiar with the New South Wales Self-Assessment Working Document. As a next step, we've responded to sector feedback and excited to launch the new Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. This online portal will support services to maintain a live assessment, Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Plan. It provides access for approved education and care services to easily document their improvement journey at a time that's convenient for you. The portal is user-friendly, web-based system that assists services in completing their Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Plan in line with legislative and regulatory requirements. Following today's session, you will be provided access to the Portal and can start using it. We will be launching the portal sector-wide in late January which will allow services a fair bit of time to be engaged and familiar with the process before we implement some of the improvements to assessment and rating. Great. So the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal is mirrored closely on the current NSW Self-Assessment Working Document, and is an extension of the online self-assessment form which services currently have limited access to 3 weeks leading up to your scheduled assessment and rating visit. So most of you would've received the code and entered all the information in preparation for assessment and rating visit. This portal now allows the information to be there, to be ready to go when needed. Using the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal meets the requirements of Regulation 55 and 56, and it will guide you through the Self-Assessment process and ongoing Quality Improvement. Many of you have engaged with an officer from the Continuous Improvement Team and taken part in the Self-Assessment session. So would be familiar with the intention of the process. If you would like to discuss the self-assessment approach, or quality improvement planning, our team are more than happy to assist at any time. And those contact details will be shared at the end, but also in the chat group as well. Like I said earlier, the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal can get a little bit much to say, is a web-based system that's been designed to look very similar to the system we're currently using. This means that it should look familiar. It is clear and easy to engage with and provides a place to record and document your key practices goals and ongoing quality improvement directions. It contains the exact same characteristics as the current New South Wales Self-Assessment Working Document, so your engagement with the process won't differ. I'm now gonna pass you over to Vanessa, the manager of our Continuous Improvement Team, who is going to step you through the main features of this portal. Over to you, Vanessa.

Vanessa Beck: Thank you, Alicia, and good afternoon everyone. I'd like to say that it's a real pleasure to be able to walk you through the portal. We do get a little bit excited to see it happening, services using it, and it being a really successful way to support the ongoing practice for you. Today is gonna be a very brief overview of the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal being condensed. We've prepared a longer version that we are delivering to currently equipped services as they start to use the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal as a practical tool, and we will be sharing information with you later to allow you to attend one of those sessions if that's something that would help you. Please, we'll share those information, that information with you at the end of the session. So before we go into the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal, we'll tell you that we currently, today, I'll be using the training environment for you. So they don't let me light loose on real ones for very good reason. So we are in the training environment. Not everything will be perfect and things, you know, we take it as it comes. But as you read the information in there, please know that it's mock information that we've made up. It's not taken from anywhere in particular, and it's certainly not a model for you to quickly copy down and put in yours. It's just an example to allow you to see what it could look like and how it can really guide your practices as you go along. So what we're currently looking at, what you are currently looking at, is the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. This is the landing page. Now because we're doing a brief session today, I'm gonna be skipping over a few things I would normally spend more time talking about, which is obviously where that longer session will come in handy and I would very much encourage you to do that. So we're gonna assume you've signed in already today and that sign in information is important. We will share that more in the longer session. But being a brief session, we've already signed in and we are looking at that landing page for our portal. So what you'll notice when you're looking here, we've got one service listed here today. Our service is called 'CIT Training', and so there's one service listed there. Now we are very aware that every service is different, every structure is different, and some providers will have a number of services, other providers will have one service or 2 services. And so, if you would like to add a service for you to be able to look at and work in that portal, you would come up here to the 'Register service' button. It allows you to search for your service and add the services that are connected to you. And I will say, being aware that there are security processes in place to confirm the request of every participant who tries to connect either a service or an educator to be able to access and view your portal. Coming through confirmations, emails that come and confirmations that are required to be sent backwards and forwards to ensure that that information is kept safe. So I'm not gonna walk through those processes but just let you know that you can do that. So you can register more services onto your page and they will be listed below where that service is. There would just be multiple lines. You're also able to add people who have access to your portal, your Self-Assessment Portal. And so through this 'Educators' button on the right-hand side and I will take you in there, you can see that there is a Dashboard that shows all the people that we have added to our account. So all of these people will have been sent a separate sign in details so that they can sign in, keeping in mind that anybody that we add is going to have the ability to come into the portal and add information and update goals and things like that. So a business decision will be thinking around who is it that we want to have access and how we can organise that. So one of the questions I get asked regularly is, "What happens if we have that person and they've left and I don't want them to have access anymore for whatever reason?" You'll notice here on the screen I've got myself at the top there, that I can just remove an educator at any time by clicking on the 3 dots at the end and clicking on 'Remove' and 'Continue', it will take that person directly off and their access to your service's Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal will be removed. Okay, so you can manage who has access through that Educators Dashboard. So I'll just go back to our landing page, and we'll jump into the portal and have a look. So this is the dashboard of their Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. It's arranged into 3 key sections and you will be able to see them underneath our blue banners. And I'm just gonna go through them one by one, do a quick overview so you can see the information in there and some of the features and things that you can do. So the first one, very simple, very clear Service Overview. You can see underneath that banner that there are 3 tabs that allow you to access different information. Your service details and the provider details, both come directly from NQAITS. Okay, so that information, there's that connection with the programs and that information comes directly over there for you. The third tab is your service philosophy where you can cut, copy and paste your service philosophy over to make sure that that document is guiding all of the practice that you're considering. So if I go back to the tab with service details, you'll also notice that on the right-hand side we have the overall rating summary for the service. Now our service, we're very new. We haven't had A&R yet, so we don't have a rating. You can see it's not yet assessed, but for your service, obviously, that will reflect the rating that your service currently has just as a visual there for you. Moving down the page, on the left, you'll see the second section called 'Self-Assessment - Improvement Plan'. This is where you'll spend the majority of your time and this is probably where I'll spend the majority of my time today walking you through. You can see, again, there are 3 tabs underneath that allow you to access those 3 key areas information that you will be adding and changing and updating in your document. So the Law and Regulations, your key practices and your improvement planning. Now you can see that that it's, worked really hard to keep the formatting and view the same so that it's a very simple to use. You have the quality areas down the left-hand side, and down on the opposite right-hand side is the corresponding colour button to open that area for you to be able to work in that area. So remembering that I've ticked Law and Regs, I'm gonna go into Quality Area 2 today. Let's have a look and see what's in here. When I've clicked on that, you'll see, look, this will open all of the relevant Law and Regulations for the quality area that you have selected. As you're reviewing your practices and considering what it is that you're doing, you can mark these 'Compliant' or 'Non-compliant'. And at the bottom, if you feel that your practice may have strayed a little and is in the 'Non-compliant', you can put down there the steps that you're going to do to rectify. Obviously, we need to fix that straight away so you've got those, that information at the base there. Moving back to the top, obviously, we're saving all the time. We have your 'Preview' button. Now the 'Preview' button is across all of the different functions of the document and allows you to save either a version or it might allow you to save a PDF that you can share at a staff meeting or a committee meeting or with your stakeholders. If I click on 'Preview', it will ask me to save it, which I'll do. And it will open it up for me, in a new tab. There it is, okay, so we'll open that one up. Sorry, you can now see my browser but at least I can show you the attachment. So that will open up everything that you've entered in there and you can save that as a version as I said, or share it as a document. So if I go back to the dashboard to see the functionality of our second tab, our second tab is 'Key Practices'. So this operates the same way. I'll click to open 2, and when I go in, you'll see that this is where the functionality of the Self-Assessment Working Document is reflected in the sense that we have 5 key practices for each element. And they have a character limit, which if you have questions about that, my team is very happy to talk to you and support you in how to write within that character limit in a way that is really gonna guide your practice. We're not gonna go there today, but you can see that character limit functionality changes. It will go down as I add more characters just to really help you know how much room you have left and, obviously, being Quality Area 2, I can move between the tabs. I've left 2.2 empty today just to show you that difference between when I click through 2.1 and 2.2 that I can see all of the key practices for the entire quality area in here when I go in. So I can add, I can remove, I can change, I can update and all of those things in here. Of course, remembering to click 'Save', it's so ingrained. I can't help, but mention it each time. This little function up here allows you to open up at the National Quality Standard for the area that you're in just as a way for you to refer back to the language and the words that really make up each element to help you with your planning and your documentation. And of course, you can also do a preview in here. If I was to click on this and open it up, it will open up the quality area that I'm in and it will show me all of those, I've opened up Law and Regulations again. It will show me all of those key practices that I've entered into that key practice, that quality area, excuse me. So I can save it, however, use it, in a way that suits what I'm doing in my service. So I'll scroll back down again on the dashboard and we've come up to our 'Improvement Planning'. So again, functionality is the same. I'll click on 2, let's stay with the theme. And you can see when I open in here, we've entered some goals. These are not real goals, they're just goals we've popped in for you to be able to see what it looks like. Very easy to use, and I'll walk through that with you quickly. To add a goal, you're just gonna click on 'Add Improvement Plan', and you can see in here all the same information that you are currently putting into any goals in your planning documents. So that's very self-explanatory. We have added a status dropdown just as a way in case it's, makes life easier for you to be able to indicate really easily where those goals are up to. I'll show you how we edit this information, which is really easy so that you can change it if it's a goal you haven't started yet, but you're thinking, "I might do that next year. I'm still gonna write it down." So if I put on 'Not yet started', when I come back, I'll know which ones I need to work on, or 'In progress'. It's on hold, something's happening in the service. So let me jump out of here, I won't save that one because we have a couple in here I can show you. Now all of, let's say these 2.1.2 goals at the top have both have all the information in there, but I know, that as I do different things and I progress it differently, I want to add notes and sometimes I wanna change the information that's in there. So I'm on the right-hand side, you can see the 'Action' button, and if I click on that, it opens up each field for me to be able to add, change, take out, and progress that goal. Again, like I said, I can come in here and say, "Well, this one wasn't started but we're ready to go now." I'll just pop it 'In progress', okay? Or I'll put it 'On hold'. I can also change the priority. This was really high-priority when we made it, but actually we've had things come up that are really important. So I'll change that one to 'low' and I'll click the blue 'Save' button on the right-hand side and it will close it all up for me again, okay? Now you can select how many goals you see at one time. As you get more goals, you'll see, the page will fill up and you can do that. And to help you with that, we've created, included a couple of different ways that you can filter to order that information. So when you come in, it's hard to find what you're looking for. You can see the arrows on each column and, you know, they are great for putting your goals in 'Standard/Element' number or 'Priority' level. They do alphabetical or numerical order. The other way that is tends to be more, it's quicker, certainly, and more convenient is our 'Search' bar up here. So it's a global search bar, and as as you start typing a word in, I remember it was something about risk assessments, you can see I haven't even gotten through the whole word yet. It will bring up any goal that has anything related to what you've been typing in there for you to work on. Okay, again, you can create a preview, save it as a PDF, share those documents with people as is convenient. Okay, I'm gonna go back to the dashboard again and I'll share with you our last section. So on the right-hand side you can see we have a 'To Do List' and this is a very new function, and it's created as another way for you to have information about any A&R processes, specifically that need to be actioned. So you will be, obviously, very familiar. You'll be getting an email from us, saying, "Assessment and rating is coming and it's time to submit your documentation." Or it might be that you've had your visit and a post-visit they we're asking you to complete a survey. You will still receive those emails, so we'll make that very, very clear. The emails that you have been receiving, asking you to action a task will still come to you. But now as well, what, inside the portal there is a 'To Do List'. You can see it's very clear with what the action is when it's required to be submitted. Very clear, and the status this one's pending, we haven't done it yet, but it'll change to 'Completed' once finished and this will grey out. So it's very, very easy to see what you have actioned and what still requires actioning. So if we're having a look at this box, it's telling me that, for this service, A&R time, we've been asked to share our 'Service Context and Self-Assessment'. At that point, I'm gonna click on this action and it will open up for me the pages where I start to enter my service context information and share my key practices as I've entered them into the portal. Now what's beautiful about this, and I'm not gonna show you today, because it's quite a long way through the document. But what is fantastic about the portal is when you go into this task you will find that all of the information you have entered into the portal will already be copied into this task for you. So there is at time of assessment and rating, there is no need to copy and paste anything over. It's more a matter of opening up this task, making any tweaks that you would like to make or evaluating or adding it, adding any notes that you want to add. Clicking on the 'Submit' button, that will then send a copy to us and it will transfer any changes you've made back into the portal. So it's very carefully created to, hopefully, save you time, make life easier, and work between the 2 to make sure that that information is shared where it needs to be. And before we leave that, I would like to say to you one of the questions that we get asked very regularly is, "Can the department see our information?" "Can you come into our portal and see what we're writing?" And I'd like to just really reassure you that beyond a couple of our IT designers who created the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal and need to be able to have access to be able to come in if there's an issue with resolving the way it's working. Beyond those couple of people, nobody in the department has access to the portal to your information. Certainly, no operation staff at all will have any access. This is your portal. It's your place to add the information that you really need to drive your practice and to share with your educators and stakeholders. So we do not have access, we don't come in. And when it comes to assessment and rating, using this 'To Do List' and using the task or send us a PDF copy of what you have in there. Okay, the last little part I'll show you is just a couple of little attachments at the top, the dropdowns. This little 'Documents' button here, when I click on that, I don't have any documents at the moment 'cause we haven't been through assessment and rating before. But when you log into your service you will find that in this 'Document' section you'll have access to documents that have been previously shared between you and the department. For example, your draft and final reports from previous visits, your service rating certificate, so that you can access that whenever you need to. If you need to print in your copy, you can do that. So this will keep those documents, those attachments that have been sent backwards and forwards. The second dropdown has useful links, and these are just documents that could be useful for you certainly in guiding your discussion around quality improvement, around your practices and where that quality sits, and how you're going to be reviewing that. And if you click on one of those, they will open up a new tab, and take you to the website that will then share that information with you. The final tab in here is the 'Help' button. We all need a help button and beautifully what this does is open up a guide that's been developed specifically for the portal and it will take you through a range of aspects of the portal to try and answer those questions for you in a way that, hopefully, as I said, answered your questions. And I'm gonna share with you in a moment some further details if you're still finding that you're having difficulties, other ways that you can contact us, okay? So that is our Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. Very excited about it, and hoping that it really is something that provides you with a very helpful tool to be able to guide your quality improvement processes. Moving on from the portal and going back to our slide show, you're gonna share some details with you on how you can access more support. Now many of you, hopefully, many of you have heard about the Continuous Improvement Team. I'm the manager of that team, and I just wanna share with you some of the things that we do and how we're made up in a way to be able to help you if you haven't. So Continuous Improvement Team is made up of the group of experienced Authorised Officers who are, I will say, very keen to help you around your self-assessment processes and quality improvement planning. We provide a range of support catered to the needs of you and your service. These include things like individual support sessions, where we talk about self-assessment and how New South Wales uses self-assessment in a way, such a way to guide your processes and guide that on assessment and rating visit. We do feedback sessions, share a part of your document with us, and we will share feedback on how you are writing in a way that will support that ongoing practice. We also provide ongoing support at any time. So if you contact our team, you'll be allocated an officer and that officer will be the person who you contact in an ongoing way, so you're not having to ring up and talk to different people all the time. And of course, we provide support while using the portal. So part of our team is IT Technical Support and we have a couple of people who are particularly skilled who are working to support services if there are any technical needs or any challenging needs. So please, you can see there that there's a Continuous Improvement Team email and the phone number, which is the Information and Inquiries number. You can ring and ask to speak to someone in the Continuous Improvement Team, and the same if you need that technical support. If you need support around the portal, the Continuous Improvement Team can help you. If you need support in, for example, signing in or there is something technically not working for you, then you can contact those details, and one of us will get in touch with you as soon as we can to try and resolve those things for you and make sure that we can connect you to the right person, the great person to help you with anything that you might need. So thank you for your time today and thank you for listening to me. We are really excited to watch this go live and watch people using it. We're getting some really positive feedback from people who are finding it helpful already. So I believe I'm handing back to Belinda now, who is going to take us for the next part of the session. Thanks, Belinda.

Belinda Wakeford: Fantastic, thanks, Vanessa. So exciting to see the portal come to life and now available. It looks really great, and I can see through the Q and A section coming through that there's a lot of interest from people and some of those features that you've mentioned have come directly from feedback from the sector. So just acknowledging that we've heard that and implemented through the portal. I know that there's quite a few people online today with us who will be just wanting to jump on board and have a bit more of a look and feel to see whether that portal is going to be of benefit and support them in terms of their improvement journey. There are a few questions on the portal, Vanessa, I might ask you directly 'cause there's a lot of interest in there and we do have time towards the end. So one of the key questions I think that came up a few times, Vanessa, was around access to the information that's entered into the portal and whether Authorised Officers would have access to that and whether people had time to update that ahead of assessment and rating.

Vanessa Beck: Absolutely, they're great questions and I can understand definitely where they come from. I will split it into 2 different parts. As far as whether Authorised Officers have access to that information. The only time they have access to that is after you have submitted your documentation and a copy is emailed to us. We are not able to come into your portal to see it or to read it or to see anything. So if you wanna share that information then you have the ability to either create that PDF and email it or to submit it through that process that's inside the portal, the Self-Assessment Portal at the moment, the task process that I was showing you. As far as updating it, absolutely. So if you have gone in and been entering your information into the portal in those key areas that I showed you. When it comes time for assessment and rating, you will receive a task which will be in the 'To Do List'. If you click on that task, you can make any changes that you would like in there. You can tweak it, add it, you can change your goals, you can do whatever you like. Once you submit that, again, it sends us a copy but all of those changes that you've made will also copy back into the portal so you're not having to worry about doing that process twice.

Belinda Wakeford: Fantastic, thank you. I think that was a question that came from Juliet. So great to know that it's the services information and they'll be able to update that before it is submitted through ahead of assessment and rating. Another one that was in the chat, Vanessa, was around a service who has assessment and rating 12 months ago, and wondering, is there any point of them actually getting on board and using the portal since they only had A&R a year ago?

Vanessa Beck: Yeah, and again, I can understand that question. My answer to you would be, absolutely. And the reason is, because the portal and the Self-Assessment Working Document, the process around it is actually not designed to be about assessment and rating. It's designed to be a platform and a process that can support you in your everyday ongoing practice to really see that quality improvement happening. So we will often be talking to services around assessment and rating 'cause that's when people tend to reach out for assistance. But the portal is about you being able to identify, "What are your practices," and coming back to those, "how are they going, are we driving change?" Like things we need to work on. And I would say to you to get involved in the portal now, means that you have a really convenient place. You can sign in and out, you can save things, you can share things. It's a very easy method of really keeping and maintaining that information. And if it does come to the point at some time when assessment and rating does come back in, you're already set up and ready to go to share that information without having to then, at that time, be thinking about the process of entering it all in there, use the benefits of the portal now, and take advantage of that.

Belinda Wakeford: Excellent, so the key message is there, absolutely, to get on board at any point in time and to reach out to your team for support.

Vanessa Beck: Please.

Belinda Wakeford: There was a question about whether someone can register to use the portal without their Approved Provider's endorsement. Can you just touch on that a little bit?

Vanessa Beck: Yes, I can. So generally, the account is set up by the Approved Provider or by somebody in senior management in that sense of being able to decide who can have access to that information. It is sensitive information in the sense that that document is owned by the service and so I would really heavily encourage you to be able to go to one of those people who are in key management and control and have that conversation with them as far as whether you can do that. You would need to set up a Department of Education account and we haven't covered that today because that is, it's not in depth, but we're saving it for our longer session. And, Belinda, I will say, 'cause I meant to say before that we have another session we've planned one in December and all the people who are in this session today will receive an invitation for that to come along and hear the longer version where we will be talking about how to sign in, who can sign in, and how all of those things work together.

Belinda Wakeford: Perfect, I think that sounds like a great opportunity, probably to answer some of those little questions that are coming through. There was a question about, "If someone is online, using the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal, do they need to maintain a QIP as well?" So that might be a key one to answer today.

Vanessa Beck: Great question. Absolutely, and here's the great answer for you. The answer is no, you do not. So both the Self-Assessment Working Document and the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal have been designed to meet the requirements of Regulation 55 and 56, which talk about all of the things that need to be contained in your QIP, being your philosophy, your key practices, and consideration around the quality of your practices, and those goals and plans to improve your practice and move ahead. So because those 2, particularly we're talking about the portal today, because the ability to address those things is already in the portal. It meets requirements of Regulation 55, and I can tell you that you do not need to keep a separate document whether that be a QIP or a Self-Assessment.

Belinda Wakeford: Perfect, that's fantastic. And I know that you mentioned earlier the portal aligns to the Self-Assessment Working Document and we saw from the poll earlier there's a significant number of people online today who are already familiar with that format. So great news that you shared that the information's easily transferable over. So that's great. We did have some questions earlier about saving functions and if I'm in the portal and I've lost something, is there an option to retrieve that information being online?

Vanessa Beck: It is a great question. We don't have backups of your information as such in the sense that this is, it is your portal and it is your information. So I would really heavily suggest considering how you're gonna be saving that information. So I talk a little bit today and again, we've only touched briefly on it because it's such a short session, around saving different versions that can show where you're at different times and certainly in the sense of having that information as a backup if you would then need to come to, need to come back and reenter that information.

Belinda Wakeford: Fantastic, thanks, Vanessa. I know as I said, you've mentioned that there'll be further sessions where people will be able to deep dive into some of those nitty-gritty questions. And I understand that following today's session, information will be sent out to all the participants that will provide information on how to register for those information sessions as well as a link to the portal, which I also saw there was people keen to get hold of that shortly. So keep an eye out in your mailbox, email inbox, over the next week to receive those. Thanks very much, Vanessa.

Vanessa Beck: Pleasure, no problem.

Belinda Wakeford: I might throw, we've still got some time and there was some questions that came through in terms of the partial assessment and rating. So I've got a couple I might just throw to you, Rochelle, if that's okay. There's quite a few questions that came through today about services who are looking to improve their quality rating, perhaps have been working on a quality area, and essentially, if we are only looking at 4 quality areas, is there any impact on a service potentially achieving an exceeding rating?

Rochelle Seabury: Yeah, thanks, Belinda. This is certainly a question we've had a lot when we've been out on the road talking to services. When we're determining whether a service's partial assessment and rating would cover 2 or 4 quality areas, we place consideration on whether the number of quality areas is going to disadvantage the service from achieving Exceeding. So for example, if reassessing only 2 areas is not going to be enough, we would choose 4 quality areas for that service to make sure that they have a pathway to Exceeding. If a service, perhaps, already has some quality areas that are already rated Exceeding, then these quality areas may or may not be selected for the partial A&R. If we don't select one of those areas that's already rated Exceeding, that Exceeding rating actually carries forward to help form the new rating. Also, remembering that services can select a quality area of their choice for assessment. So that could help if a service has been working specifically in one area to improve their practice. But in a nutshell, we've designed the selection of the number of quality areas to make sure that there is a pathway for a Meeting service to achieve Exceeding,

Belinda Wakeford: Excellent, and you did mention that services will also be able to select a quality area, so I see there's an opportunity there. If there's something in particular they've been working on that they'll be able to let the Authorised Officer know that ahead of the visit. So that's great. We did touch specifically on family day care but I did see a question come up before with partial reassessments of family day care services. What will that look like in terms of the amount of educators that have visited and with the reduced notice period? Will be that be the same or there some changes there as well?

Rochelle Seabury: Yeah, thanks, Belinda. The approach to how many educators are visited hasn't changed. So services would continue to be informed about the number of educators that are scheduled to be visited, and will also be able to continue to suggest educators that are considered as part of the visit. In terms of when the 5-day notice period commences, there will still be Zoom calls for educators, and so at the moment, those Zoom calls happen between one and 10 days out from the visit, and we will just work with the services to make sure that there's availability and capacity to schedule that Zoom call within the 5 days. So that will continue.

Belinda Wakeford: Fantastic, thank you. That'll be great. And I also did notice, I think it might've been, Julia, as well in the questions earlier. I think she gave an example. If the nominated supervisor is away, for example, when the Authorised Officer calls to schedule the visit, what will happen in that circumstance in terms of will services need to postpone or, you know, if a key person is away, can you tell us a little bit what that might look like?

Rochelle Seabury: Yeah, sure, thanks, Belinda. During that initial phone call with the officer, there is an opportunity for services to raise whether they've got concerns about the timeline for their visit date. We do really want assessment and rating to reflect your typical practice. So if you feel that something has occurred that's going to impact what typical practice looks like, you know, please do let us know and we would continue to consider those requests as we do now. And there is information on our website about, in our scheduling policy, about our case by case assessment of those kinds of requests. It is really important, I think, to remember that assessment and rating includes many things. And so part of that is the Self-Assessment and the Quality Improvement Plan as well as the observations and discussions at the visit. So if a key person isn't available on the visit day, often they've been involved in developing the Self-Assessment or the Quality Improvement Plan, we can also look to accommodate pre or post-visit phone or Zoom calls with that person to make sure that they're involved and they also have an opportunity to give feedback on the draft report. So it is important to consider all those different elements that make up an assessment and rating, and if they're not there on the visit day, there might be other ways that they can contribute to the assessment and rating. And I'd also really encourage services to think about situations where if the key person is away or there's been another type of disruption at the service, could that, in fact, be an opportunity to demonstrate your high-quality practice and show how your service accommodates practice and continues to deliver really high-quality despite having that key person away or despite having a disruption to the the daily operation. So it could be a really good opportunity for a service as well.

Belinda Wakeford: Fantastic, Rochelle, I think that's a really good point of what happens when a key person is away, does present an opportunity to show what happens during those times and to show that that practice continues and that is part of their every day. So, great. And also good to know that there are opportunities for people to be involved who may not happen to be on the, on the actual day. So thanks very much, Rochelle. I think my last question, I think that we'll have time for, I'm going to ask Alicia. And I think this will be something on everyone's mind today, thinking about partial or full assessment. How will services know if they've been scheduled for a partial or a full assessment and rating?

Alicia Burke: Hi, Belinda, thanks for the question. I was eagerly waiting my turn to answer a few. Look, the service will be notified. Under our current system, it would be quite clear in written documentation sent to the service. So a commencement letter for some of you here today that may might be undergoing the assessment and rating cycle. It does clearly identify if you've been selected for a partial assessment or a full assessment and rating visit. Moving into the improvements around assessment and rating into next year, the officer who contacts you prior to your visit will advise at that point whether or not your service has been selected for a partial visit or a full visit. And I did just would like to acknowledge, there is a lot of changes that have happened within the industry in such a short amount of time and that there are quite a lot of questions coming through about, you know, "Is 5 days long enough to provide the department evidence of what we would like to showcase at assessment and rating and things like that?" We're moving towards these national improvements. It's been agreed upon for lots of states and territories to lessen the burden on services undergoing the process. It doesn't mean that services are not gonna feel uneasy about going through some of the changes, but I just want to put forward that we have lots of members of the Continuous Improvement Team that are happy to support. The release of the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal is definitely a great tool to allow services to feel prepared. So when there is time, you can use that system anytime to be able to update your information. So I just wanted to note there were lots of questions around, you know, "Is 5 days going to be long enough to be able to provide what you need to?"

Belinda Wakeford: Fantastic, I think that's a great acknowledgement, Alicia, and a good reminder that the CIT team is available for services to help, probably to myth-bust some of the information that's out there, and provide some guidance in helping people to move forward. And as you mentioned, the changes are designed to support services through that, through their continuous improvement journey. So I think we've done well to get through quite a few of the questions that have come through. I just really want to say thank you to Rochelle, Alicia and Vanessa for your time today. It was really helpful information that you have all shared and a great sneak peek into the portal itself. As, Vanessa mentioned, we will be providing everybody a link with the, to the Self-Assessment Portal and details on how to register for the online training sessions that are coming up. So you should receive that via email over the next week or so, and our recordings will be made available shortly on our website. So thank you again everyone for joining this afternoon for taking time out of your busy day. I hope you've enjoyed the session and enjoy your afternoon. Thank you.

Funded programs

Learn about the program guidelines for the 2024 Start Strong for Community Preschools.

DANIEL GARLAND: Good morning, everyone and welcome to today's session. Great to see everybody starting to log on. We'll just give you all a little time to join the meeting and to get settled. When you do log in, it would be lovely if you could use the Q&A function to enter what Aboriginal Country you're joining us from today. I'd really like to thank you all for giving up your valuable time this morning. My name is Daniel Garland and I'm a member of the communications team here at the department. I'm joining you from beautiful Darkinjung Country and I'd like to pay my respects to Elders past and present. Shortly, I'll pass you over to Peter Harvey, our director of Commissioned Programs in Early Childhood Outcomes. To begin today's session with an Acknowledgement of Country. But first, just some housekeeping. The microphone, video, and chat functions will be disabled during the session. However, if you have a question, we would really encourage you to submit it via the Q&A function. We'll try to respond to as many of those questions as possible during the session. And we'll also be having a live Q&A component to the session towards the end of today's presentations. If you have any specific questions for your service related to funding, email those through to and we'll pop that email address in the chat also. We'll also be using Menti during today's session, so if you have your phones handy, that would be fantastic. Menti will allow us to capture information live and for us all just to see what you share. In preparation, yeah, as I said, do have your mobile phone handy. We'll be recording today's event and closed captions have been enabled. In today's session, we'll be discussing what's included in the 2024 Start Strong for Community Preschool Guidelines and as I said, focused on answering your questions. The topics that we're discussing for you today have been covered in previous sessions, email communication, or published in the 2024 Start Strong for Community Preschool Guidelines. So what we'd really like today to be about is providing additional information on some of the key aspects of the guidelines and as I said, hopefully getting to those questions that you have. We'll be covering SEIFA classifications and transition arrangements for 2024. 2024 fee relief data collection and changing enrolments throughout the year. Surpluses and refunds, new Fee Relief Declaration and consent forms, transition to calendar year funding, a reminder of key dates, T&C's, payments and accountabilities. We have an update on the Digital Hub, which is really exciting. And we'll be responding to your questions both in the Q&A and in the live chat session. So without further delay, it is now my pleasure to introduce Peter Harvey.

PETER HARVEY: Thanks, Dan and thanks to the 300 or more of you who've been able to join us today. Great to see such strong participation in today's session. Before I step into my SEIFA update, I would like to acknowledge Country and recognise the ongoing custodians of the lands and the waterways where we work and live. Today, I'm coming to you from the beautiful lands of the Darug people and pay my respects to Elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines, and stories. I'd also like to extend that respect to the traditional owners from the lands from which we're all dialing in across New South Wales today. So over the following few minutes, I'm going to be running through some of the changes to the socioeconomic indexes or areas classification, which we'll just call SEIFA for short, that have come into the program for 2024 Start Strong for Community Preschools. So a little bit of history here. In previous funding calculations, the department relied on SEIFA information from 2011 and we recognise that there's certainly been significant geographical and demographical change over that more than a decade since that dataset was created. So given the time that's passed since that 2011 period, we need to make sure that our funding calculations are updated and utilise the most recent available SEIFA data. This ensures that funding calculations reflect the current community circumstances more accurately and that we're providing funding where it's needed most today. In addition to the change from the 2011 to the 2021 ABS SEIFA data, we've also converted the previous 18 SEIFA bands into a more simplified 10 SEIFA deciles. Funding will, as always, be scaled according to need on the basis of that data to support equitable distribution. And this aligns also with some of the arrangements that are already in place for Start Strong for Long Day Care, which some of you may have visibility and familiarity with. In terms of how that's going to operate, each service's SEIFA decile is based on the street address recorded in the ECCMS system or in the National Quality Agenda IT System, NQAITS We know that there's a few ways to approach this and so based on the sector feedback, including the input that we got from services through the ECE Connect webinar earlier in the year around June, we will maintain SEIFA classifications based on service addresses. During the last webinar, we presented the option to consider the home address of children enrolled, but we heard very clearly from services but that wasn't preferred at this time. And as such, we've maintained that approach to utilise the service address. Importantly to note, the maximum funding rates are not changing, so they're still outlined in the program guidelines. This is the way that we use more currency for data to drive funding allocations that support funding for those children who need it most. We recognise that this has impacts for services and so as a part of that, we're putting in place a 12-month transition period. So that will apply for the full 2024 calendar year. We'll talk a little bit more about that shortly as well just to give some visibility to how that's going to operate. Importantly, providers will have received 2 letters from the department in relation to SEIFA over recent weeks. So the first letter included confirmation of your new SEIFA decile and additional information including what's coming in the transition arrangements to support that. And then the second letter, which would've been distributed last week, includes information about funding levels, the SEIFA classification applicable to the service and whether transition is relevant to your service or not and why that might be. The team will also provide a link in the chat for those playing at home to the funding guidelines which detail the new deciles. So if you're looking at kind of absorbing that through written form, that's there and available for you to digest at your leisure, as I mentioned, to help preschool providers adjust to the changes in SEIFA, the department is putting in place transition arrangements for the full 2024 calendar year. So that will be that 12-month period that the program operates on over next year. Importantly, no service will be worse off in 2024 because of adjustments to SEIFA classification changes. What we'll be doing is 2 things. Firstly, new SEIFA classifications will be applied for services that would receive more funding under their new SEIFA classification. Secondly, we know that some services will find that when their SEIFA band is adjusted, the amount of funding that they currently receive will decrease under the new SEIFA decile. So there'll be that 12-month transition period where these services will maintain the funding that they would've received under the existing SEIFA band. So effectively we're not making negative adjustments in 2024 and we will be making the positive adjustments and then provide that 12-month window for services to plan and support and think about what 2025 might look like. We've got a few examples just to kind of run through how this works in practice over the transition period. And these examples are based on funding rates for children enrolled for 600 hours or more. So the first example shows us a service that was on SEIFA band 9 with a funding amount of $7,255 and changing to a SEIFA decile 1 with a funding amount of $7,466. So this service will receive the SEIFA decile amount, so the increased amount in 2024 being $7,466 because it represents that positive or higher adjustment amount. Service B, in example 2 does not have any funding change as a result of the updated SEIFA data and will therefore move through to its decile in 2024 with no impact to funding. Example 3 talks to a service that was on a SEIFA band 10 previously with a funding amount of $6,746 and changing to a SEIFA decile with a funding amount of $6,608. As this service would be receiving less funding when moving to updated SEIFA deciles for the 2024 transition period, this service would continue to receive the SEIFA band amount of $6,746 as the higher rate. I think it's important to clarify that services that receive service safety net funding will not be impacted by SEIFA changes as the total funding amount remains the same. However, their funding letter will still indicate which SEIFA classification will apply to see you've got that visibility and this is based on the higher funding amount prior to applying the service safety net. I'll hand over to Jeff from the team now who's going to talk through some of the other pieces of the 2024 guidelines starting with the fee relief data collection. Over to you, Jeff.

JEFFREY WONG: Thanks very much, Peter and thank you to the 390 or so people participants joining us today. In this next section we'll be taking a quick look at what the 2024 fee relief data collection is going to be asking of providers and where it fits into the overall program structure. We'll also be looking at a couple of examples of how reserved fee relief funds are categorised and how reserved fee relief funds can become surplus funds in 2024. So as a reminder, if a service has experienced a reduced overall number of enrolments or if they have some enrolments claiming fee relief elsewhere, then the service will have an amount of fee relief funding that cannot be expended. As such, these funds must be reserved until an eligible enrolment arrives who wants to claim fee relief. As it's been previously mentioned, the program guidelines specify that reserved fee relief funds are required to be returned to the department. As refunds can be very cumbersome. The department is planning to offset a services reserved fee relief funds against their fee relief payments in late 2024. So this is where the fee relief data collection comes in. It's going to be a mandatory process and provided as a SmartyGrants form that providers will need to fill out for each of their services. In the SmartyGrants form, we'll be asking you to note how much fee relief your service received in 2023, how much fee relief your service expended in 2023, and how many enrolments claimed fee relief in each term. So for the first 2 questions, how much your service received and expended, you can refer to your funding letters for the exact amounts that you've received. Or you can also refer to your services accountability or acquittal documents in ECCMs to get exact figures for how much your service received and expended as well. As for the number of enrolments claiming fee relief, this is to support the amount of fee relief your service expended. So an accurate estimate is preferred. Those of you who were at the July webinar may have seen something similar to what's on this slide. This is just to show where the fee relief data collection fits into the overall process. As you can see, the fee relief data collection will occur in early 2024 and the ensuing offset flowing on from this will occur in late 2024. Furthermore, if you direct your attention to the top square in the far right, you'll notice that there's a secondary option aside from just the offsets. Eligible services may receive a one-off top-up payment to assist with fee relief related deficits. As we've heard, some community preschool services in the sector have had a different experience and have accrued a deficit by providing more fee relief to their enrolments than they were funded for. This may be due to an increase in overall enrolments. Services who have a deficit will be able to note this in the fee relief data collection and eligible services may receive a one-off fee relief topup payment in late 2024 as opposed to other services whose fee relief funding will be offset to assist with this deficit. We'll also be using data obtained from the annual preschool census and if possible, the financial accountabilities and acquittals to assist with information checking to ensure that the data is as accurate as possible. The department will be looking at this data more closely after the fee relief data collection occurs and more information will be provided at a later date about deficits and top-up payments. And of course, services that have experienced a significant increase in enrolments may be eligible for a funding review under the program's funding review guidelines. You can get more information about these guidelines under Appendix 1.1. This process of course adjusts your program payment as well, not just your fee relief. So here we have a visual representation of how things are projected to work in 2024 with offsetting fee relief reserved funds. With services who have reserved fee relief funds at the end of 2023 carrying this amount into 2024 with them. Again, to reiterate whatever amount you note for your services as reserved fee relief funds in the data collection will be offset in late 2024. So next, we'll be looking at a couple of examples of how enrolments changing throughout the year and how changing enrolments can impact your reserved fee relief funds and how reserved fee relief funds can become surplus funds. So you can think of an enrolment fee relief allocation divided into terms as we've established. If an enrolment place is vacant for a whole term or if the enrolment is claiming fee relief elsewhere, the fee relief funds allocated to that place are reserved and must be returned at the end of the program period via an offset. So that's what this visual is demonstrating here. In 2024, you will only have reserved fee relief funds at the end of the program period, i.e. at the end of 2024 if you had vacant enrolment places or children claiming fee relief elsewhere for the whole term. In our second example, let's look at what happens if an enrolment leaves partway through a term. If an enrolment leaves partway through a term, you must reserve the remaining fee relief for that enrolment place for that term just in case another enrolment arrives and wishes to claim fee relief. At the end of the term, if no new enrolment arrived to replace the enrolment that departed, the reserved fee relief for that enrolment place can be considered surplus funds. So for the example we're looking at here when the enrolment left after week 5, the fee relief for that enrolment place in the following weeks was reserved. At the end of the term because no new enrolment came to replace the one that left, the reserved fee relief from weeks 6 to the end of the term can now be considered surplus fee relief funds instead. The previous example also applies in reverse. That is to say if an enrolment place is vacant to begin with, then becomes filled partway through a term. When an enrolment arrives in a term and starts claiming fee relief, the reserved fee relief funds from the weeks prior to the enrolment arriving in the same term becomes surplus funds immediately rather than at the end of the term. So in the example we can see here, an enrolment place was vacant at the beginning of the term, so the fee relief was reserved. Then an enrolment arrived at the beginning of week 6 and started claiming fee relief. At that point, the reserved fee relief for the enrolment place from weeks 1 to 5 became surplus fee relief funds and can be expended according to the spending rules in the program guidelines. I'll also note that any unspent surpluses may be considered in the surplus and refund trial or within your acquittals, which we're going to be talking about next and I'll pass over to Sonja to cover this in more detail.

SONJA HERRMANN: Thank you, Jeff. Over the next couple of slides, I will provide a few additional details on the surplus and refund process that was published as part of the program guidelines earlier this year. Details on surplus and refunds are also included in the 2024 program guidelines. Have a look at section 5.6 of the guidelines for further details. In general, we encourage providers to expend all annual Start Strong Funding in accordance with the spending rules. However, we do understand that sometimes, providers may still have a surplus at the end of their reporting period. Services are allowed to retain surpluses under a particular threshold, but you can still return the surplus if you wish to do so, of course. As outlined in the table as well as the program guidelines, the threshold is currently set at 10% or $30,000, whichever is the higher amount. And if your surplus is over 10% or $30,000 of your service annual funding, these funds may need to be returned to the department. Where services that have a surplus above the threshold have an operational need to retain the surplus, they can submit a form requesting to do so. Outlining how they will spend the surplus in line with the program objectives, spending roles and expenditure timeline. At this time, we anticipate for this surplus form to be completed through SmartyGrants, a platform many of you are familiar with. The department will consider these requests to retain surplus and will advise providers of the outcome. So more information as well as the SmartyGrants form will be provided to the sector in the coming months. So please keep an eye out for our communication on this. Services currently completing their acquittals, so the financial accountabilities through ECCMS, may have already seen new fields added in regards to the surplus in refunds process. These details have been included as we are trialling the new surplus and refunds guidelines and we just want to see how you fill in the forms and how that would work in practice. As part of the trial, the department may be in touch with you to go through the submitted accountability statement and potential surplus. As such, please keep in mind you need to keep the acquittal forms as accurately as possible. Should you have questions about the accountability process or the form, please reach out to us. For the details on the current financial accountabilities and contact details will be provided a bit later during the webinar. So before we look at some examples, please note that the department will review these guidelines and surplus thresholds annually to ensure alignment with program funding objectives. Now let's have a look at 2 examples to make this all a bit clearer. In example 1, we have a service who received $380,000 in program funding under Start Strong from the department. Noting this does not include other incomes such as fees charged to families, donations, or other funding streams. It may include surplus fee relief as surplus fee relief can be used for operational expenses in the same way as program payment funds. However, and this is important, it does not include your reserved fee relief. So 10% of $380,000 is $38,000 as we can see in the table. At the end of the reporting period, service A has a surplus of $27,000. Since this is below the 10% threshold, this service may choose to retain all of the surplus without having to fill in a form. Instead, they will indicate their wish to retain the surplus in the financial accountability form. In example 2, we have service B that has received Start Strong program funding in the amount of $460,000, which leads to a surplus threshold of $46,000. At the end of the reporting period, service B has a surplus of $52,000 which is above the 10% threshold. If service B wishes to retain the surplus amount above the threshold, so the extra $6,000, they will be required to submit a form outlining their needs to retain the surplus. The accountability form in ECCMS provides options to indicate the service intention regarding their surpluses. Next, I'll provide some quick information about the new consent and Fee Relief Declaration forms. The 2024 Start Strong Community Preschool Fee Relief declaration form has been updated and is available on our Start Strong website alongside updated child and staff consent forms. The Fee Relief Declaration form is completed by families to indicate the service or services that their child is enrolled at and whether the family will be claiming fee relief from your service or another community preschool or long day care service. All families are required to complete the new Fee Relief Declaration Form for 2024. So the 2023 form should not be used for next year when it comes to fee relief. This is different to the consent form. So if your service has asked families to complete the consent form and use the previous version, that is absolutely okay. You can continue with these completed forms. However, you should use the new consent form for any new enrolments or where details need to be updated. For example, where a child has moved to a new address. The same applies to the consent form for staff, meaning new staff consent form should be used for new staff members at your service or where details of a staff member have changed. The team will place links to the forms in the chat for you to access this includes declaration form, the consent form for the child and the consent form for personnel. One final note on the Start Strong for Community Preschools Fee Relief declaration form which has been updated following sector feedback, we clarified that the 'office use only' box is an optional section. It has been included for services to complete at their discretion and service can complete it if they would like to provide additional information for their own internal administrative processes. This section is not mandatory. So thank you for everyone who provided feedback regarding the form. That concludes my part. I will now pass to Fabian who will be looking at the shift to calendar year funding.

FABIAN JAIMES: Thank you, Sonja. Our next topic is the transition to calendar year funding. As you know, the Start Strong program has been operating on a financial year basis since its launch in 2017. We are now moving to calendar operation as this aligns with the preschool year, the preschool reform agreement, as well as other programs such as the Disability Inclusion program. We also heard from the sector that this would support their forward planning. The transition period finishes this year and Start Strong for Community Preschools will be delivered on a calendar year basis from the 1st of January, 2024. Once in 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 census will determine your next 12 months' worth of funding. For example, the 2024 annual preschool census will determine your full 2025 calendar year of funding. Now on this slide, you can see how the next year of funding will work. The January to June, 2024 payments will be the final round of funding where backdated funding adjustments are included. Then from July to December, 2024, we will fully, on the new process with funding entirely determined by the August, 2023 census. No backdated funding adjustments will occur. Funding details for 2024 have been outlined in the funding letter which we sent to providers last week on the 30th of November, 2023. Now I'm going to talk about the important dates to write down in your calendar. Thank you very much to all of you who have already accepted terms and conditions in ECCMS And I want to remind you that the deadline to accept terms and conditions is the 8th of December. So this Friday. All the providers who meet this deadline will receive their program payment for the first quarter of 2024 from mid-December. The fee relief payment correspondent to the first term of 2024 will be made in late January to provide us who accepted the terms and conditions. If you accept the terms and conditions after the deadline, then you will receive your payment within the first quarter of 2024. On the 9th of November, the Performance and Assurance Team sent an email informing that the accountability form from the 2022-2023 financial year is ready in ECCMS. Please note that this corresponds to the Start Strong for Community Preschools program and the Mobile Preschool Funding program. The competed accountabilities need to be submitted by the deadline, which is the 15th of December, 2023. You can access the financial accountability return guide by visiting the link in your email or simply searching it in our website. And the team will also pop up the link in the chat. If a service receives funding under more than one program, please be careful to allocate the right proportion of salaries and other expenditures into the different programs in order to avoid duplication. If you need help with our your accountabilities, please contact our team by emailing Or calling our regular number, which is 1800 619 113. And now I will hand over back to, Sonja.

SONJA HERRMANN: Thank you, Fabian. Now I'd like to hear a bit from you. We've got 2 questions in our first Menti of the day, so please get your phones out and scan the code on screen or open a browser window and go to where you can use the number on screen to get to the questions. So the number is 7194 1845. So you can join with your phone or on a separate browser window, just go to I'll give you a couple of minutes just to get in there. And I can see there's lots and lots of questions coming through the Q&A, so that's excellent. We've got, you know, the team ready to respond to them. Here's the first question. and I think that may also link to all of your questions, you know, 'cause I know there's a lots to get through today. So is there anything we've gone through today or included in the 2024 program guidelines that you'd like to have more information or clarification about? We can see yes, everything. The surplus bit. Yes, you know, we are looking at, you know, what could we do in addition to the guidelines, any supporting information. It could be, you know, examples, case studies, these kind of things we're looking at. How to measure a surplus. So the acquittals, the accountability form will certainly help with that. Lots of questions on surplus, that is good to know. As I said, we'll be trialling that. We'll see how we go with the acquittals of the accountability forms through ECCMS and we'll certainly provide more information to all of you. The funding calendar year new process, that is good to know. We do have something lined up that we'll be sharing soon with you all. What else do we have? There's lots coming through, that's excellent. Just please keep it coming. Yes, I understand there is a lot to get through. It is complex. Guidelines that print out clearly from website. Yes, we are intending to have a PDF version being added so you can actually print a copy. The July, December acquittals. So depending on your reporting period, so we've got services and providers on a calendar year acquittal period, and we've got others on a financial year and that determines your acquittal timeframes. More help with documentation surplus when we'll be paying for accountability trainings, accountancy. There's a few things coming through. That's excellent. Thank you for sharing. For the support for changes around surpluses, acquittals and SEIFA levels. So we see lots and lots of accountability surplus and SEIFA and we'll answer some of the other questions during the Q&A, I can see there's a question on CPI. Fabulous. All right, let's move maybe to the second question. So now we want to know how do you prefer to get your information from the department? We've provided some options but you can also let us know through the Q&A if there's anything else. So we've got, you know, webinars, it could be visuals on the website, newsletters, anything else you may prefer. So feel free, if you have anything else that we don't have an option here, you can put it in the Q&A feature. So webinars seems to be the most preferred option so far and we usually run at least 2 so during the ECE Connect series and sometimes, we do run extra ones where there's a need. That is good to know. Some video clips might be helpful. Newsletters, glad you're all reading those. And yeah, department website, we'll try and get more information on that as well for you too. Maybe untangle some of the complexity around the Start Strong program. Excellent. So webinar is still the winner at almost 50%. And there I think there might be something coming through the Q&A feature which is fantastic too. So yeah, if there's anything that's not on there as an option you think it could be really beneficial to you, please put it in the Q&A and we'll take note of all the feedback we get. Excellent, thank you. I will now hand over to Jason Turner, the Director of Digital Programs who will provide you with an update on the Digital Hub.

JASON TURNER: Hello, everyone and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I'm pleased to be able to give you an update on the Digital Hub and the upcoming activities for 2024. So everything we do in Early Childhood Outcomes is about supporting our youngest learners through universal access to high quality services to really build that better future for all children and we can't do that without you. So as a quick recap for services that are not familiar with how the Digital Hub has come about, it's a technology enabler for the New South Wales early childhood education initiatives, which we are committed to delivering including the national preschool enrolment and attendance measures and it aims to improve data and digital capabilities and support program changes to ensure the best experience for end users and make it easier for services to access funding and support for our youngest learners. It'll initially underpin outcomes for around 48,000 children enrolled in Start Strong across community preschools and then expand further across the sector. We do recognise that the existing funds management system, so the Early Childhood Contract Management System or ECCMS as it's known, is not an expandable technology platform that will be able to support the initiatives into the future. So we're developing a new system which we can support all users effectively. The Digital Hub program is delivering a comprehensive set of digital tools in the form of a new system for data collection, and for the funding process including the Start Strong and we'll focus on the community preschools first. The program will also provide accompanying supports for the sector as we progressively scale. The data being collected will inform outcomes reporting for policy programs as well as other decisions and also fulfil the state's requirements for commonwealth reporting, especially under the Preschool Reform Agreement or the PRA. And I'll describe the data collection activity in a little more detail shortly. It'll also be used to calculate the funding position of early childhood education and care services and this information, along with the steps involved in the funding process, will be managed by the department and by providers in the new funding management system which will eventually replace that existing ECCMS system. But the new funding management system also create greater efficiencies for services as well as the department when it comes to managing the funding lifecycle. And because the data will be collected centrally, it will reduce the administrative load and requirement for services to enter data manually into multiple systems. So now I'll just move on to explain how we're looking at collecting the data. We all know that data quality is important and key in data multiple times in different places introduces additional errors and increases the administrative burden. So this journey of the data from services to the Digital Hub shows how the information will flow from the childcare management software systems being used by services. It'll be important to ensure that the data is up-to-date in that childcare management software system and services will capture that data from enrolment forms and track attendance using the software as they do today. Now we do know that some services don't have a software system as yet, and I will speak about this a little bit further shortly. The department will establish a secure data transfer mechanism to collect that selected data from the childcare management software and put this into the Digital Hub. We've actually already started engaging with several software companies and that's progressing well. So all that services will need to do is ensure that the data is captured and up to date in the software and the collection mechanism will work automatically. So services will able to view the data captured within the Digital Hub and also have an opportunity to verify it and the data will be used for that program funding, policy making and reporting which will all contribute to improving outcomes for children's early learning journey. One of the core aims with the Digital Hub is really to alleviate that administrative burden on services staff by reducing the need to report information to the department manually. So to do this we've opted for the data collection approach I've described, we will collect data from the services through that childcare management software system. What this means for your service will be different depending on where you are in terms of adopting software within your practice. So for services using paper processes, we recommend choosing a childcare management software system for storing your enrolment and attendance information. And ideally, we would hope that services can adopt technology and be ready for 2025. For services already using an industry-based childcare management software system but are using more than one system for enrolment and attendance. We do recommend that you combine into one of those CCMS systems which will hopefully cut down the cost for you, but certainly make it easier for your staff to manage data as you'll only need one software system for those key activities. And in the coming slides, I'll speak more about what support we'll have available, which will hopefully ease or support the technology adoption journey for services. We will look to progressively roll out the data collection and the new funding system from 2025 onwards. There will be detailed communication leading up to any onboarding activities, so services will be fully aware and engaged in the process ahead of any changes. But for now, we're in the process of setting up pilots to test what we're building and this will be largely undertaken during 2024 so then that the system will be ready for 2025. And importantly, next year, we'll also be offering a range of support for services which are not yet using the childcare management software systems. And I will explain that a bit more in the next few slides. Now due to the large volume of services across community preschool but also long day care, we're not able to shift everyone across the new data collection and funding system at the same time. So we've prioritised the community preschool as the place to start. So you'll hear more about our rollout plans next year with plenty of advanced notice so you can be prepared for you when your time arrives. The progressive rollout will also happen for the different funding programs and grants managed by the department. So after Start Strong, that'll be followed by the next prioritised program which the department will identify. So the couple of next steps we recommend you consider in 2024 so you can get ready for the Digital Hub data collection and the new funding system. So we're asking you to consider your technology needs and recommend that services select a childcare management software system to help you manage enrolment and attendance data. And if you're already using a childcare management software system, consider how data is input and those processes for keeping the data up-to-date in that system. So from Term 1 next year, the department will provide support and assist you to be digitally ready for the new Digital Hub, including having a technology help desk and also a dedicated support team available. Now I did want to acknowledge the feedback we received during a survey we conducted earlier this year into the attendance capture methods used by community and mobile preschools. Now we do know there are some key challenges facing services which don't use technology and these also include poor internet reliability, taking the time for staff to learn a new system, and also the diversity of skill and language across different communities. So these insights were a key benefit for us doing the survey but also an added benefit from that survey was also learning from services which had recently adopted technology what's actually helped them make that transition. So you'll see on this slide some suggestions for services to consider which may assist with your technology journey. So for those services that do experience poor internet reliability, we recommend seeking a software system which has an offline capability so you can access and update the data while it's offline and it will then synchronise with the main system once you do have that connection. If staff training is a challenge for you, look for a system which is intuitive to navigate but also offers set up and training to get started. And we do know that some companies will come out to you even in some of those remote locations. Now if you are concerned about how your community will respond, you might look to adopt software as a back of house function with your team first before adopting that parent portal or the digital attendance capture. So these are all the solutions we learned from services which have shifted to using that childcare management software recently. Before we move to a Menti question, I do want to just summarise on the support available for the services for next year. So in February, when preschool goes back for Term 1, we will have a technology help desk set up and more detail will be available for the number to call. So you can speak with someone about your technology questions. We'll also be publishing support material such as checklists, tips and guides throughout the year and that will start with a new webpage for the Digital Hub and a technology adoption guide. So during the attendance capture survey this year, we also received feedback that financial support was a factor for some services when it comes to adopting a childcare management software system. So that feedback has been provided to the departments and the teams are currently in the process of exploring options related to this. All right, we'll now run a quick Menti just to check in to see how you are feeling about the new Digital Hub and I would like to introduce Anne Adams who's our change manager on the Digital Hub program to take us through the survey.

ANNE ADAMS: Yeah, thanks very much, Jason. Hello, everybody. I think I've spoken to some of you earlier in the year when we were doing a survey and may have spoken to over the phone. So the question here, I believe you already have it open, is what excites you about the new Digital Hub? So you've heard a lot of information today from Jason, so oh we've already got stuff coming through. Wow, you guys are right on it. Less admin. Yes. So that is the idea. By using technology they'll certainly be a lot less manual reporting to the department. Nothing excites you, oh that's a bit of a shame. Time efficient, good, saving time, all in one space. Yes. So you'll have your data be able to access your information all in one place. Less manual data inputting, that's correct. Potentially not having to do census. That is a potential we're looking into at the moment so it's good to know that that would help some services. So thank you for that. Us not having to do as much will be a great improvement. Thank you. We think so as well. Yet another change, it is another change and we are very conscious of that. So from next year when everybody comes back, after the end of year break, there will be a support process in place. You'll be able to contact the department and we can have a conversation with you about how this change is going to impact your service. Early retirement. There's a few of us looking forward to that. One-stop shop, yes, absolutely. You're feeling overwhelmed, please reach out. We do have a mailbox for Digital Hub. I will post that into the chat so that you can absolutely reach out and we can discuss some of your needs in your service. Efficient, cannot wait, that's great. Too complicated for our small service, less than 20 children. So again you might like to reach out to the Digital Hub mailbox, we'll post that for you. Hopeful easier system. We hope so as well. That's what we're doing. We're understanding from services, how they've engaged with the current system so that we can make improvements to the new system. Everything in one place. Less paper, a bit concerned about lack of internet access. Again, we will have some information available online. We're working on a webpage that will help services to understand how they can address some of those needs. Better efficiency and support offered. Yes. Exhausted, can't take on another thing. I'm hoping that the upcoming break will help to refresh some people as well. No more ECCMS. So some people are looking forward to that. I think the people in the department are on the same page with you there as well. So poor internet, yes. So please do reach out to the Digital Hub, we'll be able to provide you with some guidance and information around how you can adopt technology in a way that will work for your service. Everyone is different so we understand that. Okay, so there's certainly plenty coming through there. I think maybe we might leave it there. There's a lot of feedback and information for us so thank you so much, everybody. And I think maybe we might hand it back over to a facilitator now. So thank you.

DANIEL GARLAND: So that concludes our presentation for today. I'd like to thank you all so much for your time. We know how valuable it is and we really do appreciate you being with us today and asking your questions and sharing your thoughts. Thank you to our presenters also. I think we did a pretty great job of getting through the chats in terms of the questions, but if we have missed anything, we'll look at that and we'll circle back via email. Please do complete the ECE Connect online survey that will pop up in your browser after the session concludes. Your feedback is really important to us and helps us to shape future sessions. Also thank you for your patience as we move through this period of change. On behalf of the Department of Education, we hope you all have a wonderful break and recharge at the end of the year and we are looking forward to a great start to 2024. Thanks again for your time and we'll see you again soon.

Discover the program guidelines for the 2024 Start Strong for Long Day Care.

MURRAY BURKE: So I thank you for joining us all today. Welcome. All right. So we might commence if that's okay. So we will have a team helping other people join if they're experiencing connection issues. So let's kick off. So thank you so much for everybody joining us today, particularly recognising how busy everybody is. So today I'm joining you from the lands of the Burramattagal people here in Parramatta and I acknowledge all the various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands you are joining us from today. I recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the ongoing custodians of the lands and waterways where we work and live. I pay respect to Elders past, present, and emerging as ongoing features of knowledge, songlines and stories. And I also acknowledge and pay our respects to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues joining us today. We all strive to ensure every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 'jarjum' in New South Wales achieves their potential through education, and Start Strong for Long Day Care 2024 is a key program to support that outcome. Thank you, Stephen. So we'll just do some housekeeping today. So to confirm, this presentation will be recorded and we'll be publishing this as soon as we can by hopefully the end of this year. The recording will end at the end of the presentation, so the Q&A function won't be recorded itself, but the Q&A function at the end of the session will form the basis of a follow-up information package. The microphone and camera functions are disabled during the presentation. We're using 2 Menti's today as well. We want to hear from you. Menti allows for live collection of information for us all to see. And in preparation you can use a mobile phone or we'll put the Menti link when we get there in the Q&A function. The chat function is also disabled. We're using the Q&A function today for you to submit questions. You may find that many of your questions will be answered during the presentation and we encourage you to ask questions during the Q&A component. However, we do have a very friendly team on board from the Long Day Care team today to respond to questions as you put some of them into the Q&A function. We won't be able to answer all of your questions today, but we'll certainly try to answer some of the key themes that are coming through and answer those during the session as we can. Today we're covering the principles of the 2024 Start Strong for Long Day Care program. And what that means is unfortunately, we're not able to answer service specific questions during the Q&A. You're welcome to contact the department using the contact details at the end of the session and we'll be posting our email address and other web links in the chat function shortly for you. So the Frequently Asked Questions webpage is now live and as are the 2024 guidelines. The guidelines and the frequently asked questions are highly informative and easy to read and there's lots of information there on timing of payments, service eligibility, spending rules, fee relief, transition to school statements and much more. So shortly, we'll post those links for you and you're welcome to have a look at the FAQs today. Once the presentation today's finished, a survey will appear at the end and we'd encourage you to take a few minutes to share your thoughts so we can continue to develop content that's beneficial to the professions and the sector needs. So for those who are just joining us, I'll introduce myself again, my name is Murray Burke. And I've just commenced in the new role of Manager Preschool Funding and looking after Long Day Care and I'll be presenting and facilitating the session for today. I will take this time if it's okay, to introduce some other key speakers today and who you'll be hearing a little bit more from later. So Peter Harvey, who's the Director of Commission Programs in the department.

PETER HARVEY: Hi, everyone. And thank you, Murray. So Peter Harvey, I'm as Murray mentioned, the Director of Commission Programs, which gives me the absolute pleasure of delivering the Start Strong program not only for Long Day Care but across our other providers in community preschools and other parts of the sector as well. Really keen today to hear your questions and really kind of looking forward to seeing what those kind of themes are and as always the team's here to support. So, thank you.

MURRAY BURKE: Thank you Peter and Jason Turner who is our Director of Digital Programs.

JASON TURNER: Good morning, everyone. My name's Jason Turner. I'm the director of digital programs. And my team and I are responsible for implementing the enabling technology to support the early childhood initiatives. So I'll be giving you an overview of the work we are doing on the Digital Hub a little bit later in the presentation and looking forward to providing you with information on that.

MURRAY BURKE: Thanks, Jason. And Caitlin Anear who has also been working and managing the Long Day Care function is now the Manager of the Flexible Initiatives Trial. Caitlin.

CAITLIN ANEAR: Wonderful. Thank you, Murray. Hello, everybody. My name's Caitlin Anear. And as Murray said, up until very recently, I was the manager for Start Strong for Long Day Care and I'm here to help with any of the questions that might come up towards the end.

MURRAY BURKE: Thank you, Caitlin. So Stephen, next slide please. All right. So the overview of today is really about reflecting on 2023 and looking forward, so shifting our lens to 2024. So today we'll be looking at an overview of the Start Strong Long Day Care program and we'll be covering things like, well, what's staying the same? Bring some comfort to you, what has changed and what's new. Before we do that, let's just do a very quick overview of the current 4 funding streams of the 2024 Start Strong for Long Day Care program. And that's our next slide. Thank you. Alright. So as you can see there are four program streams. So the 2024 Start Strong program will commence on January 24 and your support is critical in delivering quality and affordable preschool to children. We know that approximately 2/3 of children attending preschool in New South Wales do so in a Long Day Care setting. So your support is highly valuable and we thank you sincerely for all that work you're doing supporting families and children. The aim of the program is to provide funding to deliver affordable quality preschool education to children age 3 and above who are enrolled in eligible Long Day Care services in New South Wales. Funding is provided for children in the 2 years before school and incentivises enrolments of 600 hours per year. Evidence shows that this level of participation in a quality early childhood education program in the 2 years before school is associated with better outcomes for children. So there are 4 streams there. I'll just quickly review those and we are going into the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment in a bit more detail today. So as a quick overview, the 4-year-old program payment and the 3-year-old program Trial Payment, formerly known as the Trial Payment, enable services to do a variety of things to improve the quality of the preschool program provided to children by supporting capability uplift of early childhood teachers and educators, to attract and retain early childhood teachers and educators, to purchase educational resources and program development and to reach out to your communities to offer and to promote quality early childhood education. The 4-year-old program payment is provided per enrolment for eligible children in a service. Children who enrol for 600 hours or more per year will receive the full rate of funding of $960 per enrolment plus loadings of up to $480 where applicable. Children enrol for fewer than 600 hours will receive $643 per enrolment plus loadings of up to $322 where applicable. All this information's in the guidelines and FAQs as well. Loadings for the program Payments are provided for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and/or if the service is located in a geographic area with a high level of disadvantage as determined by the Australian Government. Providers receive one amount of loading per equity enrolment and again all the payment tables are in the guidelines. Moving on to the 3-year-old program Trial Payment, that payment is provided per enrolment for eligible children in a service. 3-year-old children enrolled will receive $468 for each 3-year-old enrolment and up to $235 of loadings, again provided for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children or if the service in an area of a high level of disadvantage. The 4-year-old Fee Relief Payment and the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment enable services to improve affordability for families of eligible children by reducing the cost of early childhood education. The 4-year-old Fee Relief Payment is calculated as an annual flat rate allocation of $2,110 per enrolment for eligible children. And then the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment, again, we'll go into this in a bit more detail shortly, is calculated as an annual flat rate allocation of $500 per enrolment for eligible children. And this builds on the existing fee relief delivered through Start Strong. I'm also pleased to advise in terms of funding allocation letters, the vast majority of those letters have now been sent. So please check your inboxes. We've got a small amount to send today. But basically if you check your emails for the last 2 or 3 days, you'll see a funding allocation letter for your provider and service. All right. So let's quickly do an overview of what stays the same. So a lot of the elements of the program in 2024 are similar to what you've seen before. Now as we said, if you wanted to ask questions, you're welcome to put those in the Q&A. You might find that we answer a lot of your questions as we go. As you become familiar with the 2024 guidelines, we would like just to bring you some comfort that a lot of the program stays the same. So this includes service eligibility, child eligibility, the methods that we calculate funding, the loadings for the equity enrolments that we mentioned before, transition to school statements. Data reporting and submission remains consistent. The financial accountability process remains the same as do the program objectives and the outcomes as well as the acceptance of terms and conditions. I'll come back to terms and conditions, they have been released and in a moment I'll talk to you about what we need you to do to release funding for 2024. So we might go to what's changed. So here are some of the changes in 2024. The first change is regarding the declaration and consent form. So this form was adapted. We'd heard from services about the form and we are using this now for all fee relief including for 3-year-olds. And this has been available for you since October. So families of 3-year-olds must complete these forms to receive fee relief. Technical specification has been updated as well to better support services with recording data for fee relief, invoicing requirements and reporting. So thank you for your feedback. We incorporated as many of your suggestions as possible in the technical specification. The new features provide clarity for software providers as well and those providers are now able to adjust their software to support services with fee relief reporting. The 2024 version of the technical specification is available on the website and I might ask the team at this point to start to pop in some links in the functions to the guidelines, the technical specification if that's handy and the FAQs. The technical specification is found in Appendix 3 of the guidelines and services are encouraged to update their technical specification as soon as possible with their software providers to ensure the service can meet the software requirements for fee relief invoicing and reporting starting 1st of January, 2024. Transfers is another area that has changed. So there has been some changes to the transfer process to improve the experience for providers. An approved provider is transferring a service to another approved provider. That transferring approved provider must now not transfer unspent funds to the receiving approved provider. Any unexpended funds, reserve funds or surplus funds need to be returned to the department. This allows the department to have greater visibility on the funds that may be available to transfer to the new provider. And again, you'll see more information about that in the guidelines and the FAQs. We've also aligned the program Payments and the 3-year-old trial payments spending rules have been aligned as well. To assist services in budget planning, fee relief and program Payments, the payment schedules are bi-annually. So the 4-year-old program payment and the 3-year-old program Trial Payment will be paid in two instalments from January 2024, for the period January to June 2024, and from July 2024, for the period July to December 2024. Fee Relief Payments will be made to services who accept the 2024 funding agreement, sometimes known as the terms and conditions by the 8th of December, tomorrow. So we have sent out a reminder to everyone to accept their terms and conditions. So this is a friendly reminder to go into the Early Childhood Contract Management System, otherwise known as ECCMS to accept the funding agreement which will allow services to receive the first Fee Relief Payment for 3 and 4-year-old children from December 2023, and January 2024. And this will assist services to provide relief to families from the first day that you open in 2024. Similarly, the 4-year-old Fee Relief Payment and the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment will also be paid into instalments. So again, from December 2023 for the six months, sorry, from the January 2024, period and then from July 2024, for the October to December 2024, period. We expect the first instalment of the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment to be made over December 2023, and into January 2024, subject to the finalisation of those program arrangements. And you can see in the guidelines, Appendix 1 will tell you much more about the calculation and payment of the funding and the guidelines. I will touch upon just a small change as well. Socio-Economic Indices For Areas called SEIFA, is basically a measure of socioeconomic disadvantage determined by the Australian Government. So not the state government but the Australian Government. This has been updated in the program to reflect changes in 2021 to socioeconomic disadvantage. This only affects a small number of services in the 2 most disadvantaged deciles in New South Wales. So let's have a look at what's new. So what's new for 2024? And the main component is the introduction of the 3-year-old fee relief. There will be a separate slide on this. In September 2023, the New South Wales Government announced several budget initiatives to invest further in early childhood education and care. And one of the initiatives is a 2-year-trial of $500 in fee relief per child for families with children who are 3-years-old. This initiative is made possible through the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund, which is making an initial investment of $100 million in 2023 and 2024, to trial and test a range of solutions to improve the supply of an equitable access to affordable quality early childhood education and care. The 2024 guidelines now includes the details and the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment and spending rules and families who have eligible 3-year-old children can nominate your service for the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment using the new 24 declaration and consent form. From January 2024, the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment like the 4-year-old Fee Relief Payment is to be offered to families as a weekly reduction to their session fee or gap fee after the childcare subsidy has been applied and allocated across the services total number of operating weeks for the calendar year. So the guidelines and the FAQs as indicated, quite clear information on those requirements and we also have examples for you to have a look at of how to implement the guidelines within your service context. To assist services in navigating the guidelines, we've made some improvements so it's more accessible this year. They can use index buttons to travel through those guidelines. Another area that's new for 2024, is around the area of surplus funds and invoicing requirements. A surplus may have surplus funds from the 4-year-old and 3-year-old Fee Relief Payments. When a family's gap fees have been reduced to zero in a regular billing period. And the approved provider can send, sorry, must spend surplus funds to cover any additional charges imposed on the eligible child such as levies. Remaining surplus funds from the 4-year-old Fee Relief Payment may then be used to reduce the fees for children that are three years old and not yet four years old, sorry, 4-year-old children at the discretion of the service, for example, children's or families with greatest need. And we'll have a look at a case study around that shortly. Remaining surplus funds for the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment may also be used at the discretion of the service for other children, again, for children or families with greatest need. The spending rules have been streamlined and clarified. So for example, the fee relief will have no impact on the amount of Commonwealth childcare subsidy families receive. And there is a case study in the frequently asked questions on the webpage for a practical example about how the fee relief can be calculated. So let's have a look a bit more detail about three old fee relief in 2024. Thanks, Stephen. So from 2024 as we said, $500, one slide before that. Thanks, Stephen. The one that says 3-year-old fee relief in 24. That's it. Thank you. So there's $500 per child of fee relief per year, which is available to 3-year-old children attending eligible preschool programs in Long Day Care centres. And this does build on the existing fee relief delivered through Start Strong. And to be eligible children must be 3 years old and not yet 4-year-old on or before the 31st of July in 2024. So the child's birth certificate, sorry, birth date, must be on or between the 1st of August 2020 to the 31st of July 2021. The spending rules reporting and acquittal requirements are aligned with those for existing fee relief for 4 and 5-year-olds. The declaration of consent form was adapted to enable services to use for all fee relief including the 3-year-olds and as I said, has been available for you since October and families of 3-year-old must complete these forms to receive that fee relief element. Just like 4-year-old Fee Relief Payments, families can only access fee relief at one service at any given time. At each service the child is enrolled, parents, carers or guardians must complete the declaration and consent form to nominate which service they'll access the fee relief from. So let's see how 3-year-old fee relief may work in practice. We've just come up with a quick case study where we might talk about a best practice scenario. And we using a service called Wattleseed Early Learning to help us today. Wattleseed Early Learning is a long day care service is situated in regional New South Wales for the purposes of our case study. So Wattleseed is very well connected to the community and is one of the few services available for families in the local government area. It has a large number of 3-year-olds on their waiting list for 2024. And several of these families have been asking the service about any financial help with their fees as this would influence whether they could afford to send their child to Wattleseed and for how many days. The service would like to be able to support these families. So Wattleseed subscribes to the department's newsletter and has read that eligible enrolled 3-year-olds will be eligible for fee relief in 2024. The service understands that families may be entitled $500 per child per year. And as Wattleseed is open for 50 weeks of the year, families would be entitled to receive $10 per week to offset their weekly fee. So best practice Wattleseed decides to share the fee relief for families in a flyer for their waiting list families and uses the department's template letter for families and consider possible questions for their waiting list that families might ask. Wattleseed sends an email to all the waiting list families detailing the fee relief, next steps and an invitation to attend an online meeting to discuss their questions or at the service and walk them through the process of how to get the funding, what it will mean to their fees each week and how to complete the enrolment and declaration and consent form. Wattleseed also sends the flyer to the local community centre and library to ensure that all eligible children and their families can access information about 3-year-old fee relief funding. Feedback from families at the meetings and catch-ups was positive and families felt more comfortable in budgeting for their child's enrolment at Wattleseed. The families complete their enrolment form and declaration and consent form and they nominate Wattleseed as the service they wish to receive fee relief from. And in addition to supporting the families with fee relief, Wattleseed has communicated with their software providers on the changes to fee relief, invoicing and data reporting. And the provider has confirmed that the software has been updated to meet the new technical specification requirements for invoicing and data reporting and the service will be able to invoice correctly from January 1st 2024. All right. So at this stage I've been doing a lot of talking and thank you for listening. This is where we'd really like to hear from you. What we thought we'd like to hear from you about is how you're using your program funding. This is a nice way to hear from you and also for you to share your experience with other services participating today about what are the things, some of the things you've been spending your program funding on. So we're using the Menti function and you can access the Menti function from your phone. You can scan the QR code as you can see there in the slide. Or if you prefer you can join Menti online from another device at and you enter the code at the top of the screen. And that code is 5221 2000. So we'll just keep that there. I might ask the team to post the code in the function for us, the chat function, so it remains visible. And then shortly the team will start to show us your responses and we can talk about some of those. As we said, this presentation is being recorded and will include the Menti responses as well. So you'll get a chance after this presentation to see all the creative ways and services are using their program Payments. So some really interesting ones coming up already. A lot of comments there about using program funding on wages and staffing for early childhood teachers and educators. There's some interesting ones there about sports lessons, music lessons, an Aboriginal language program, very important for a lot of services with nearby aboriginal communities. Excursions is coming up as a nice program spend. Learning resources and staff training. Wellbeing for staff, very important aspect, particularly at this time of year. We recognise how busy everybody's been for this year. There's some nice responses there on play support, equipment, learning resources. So some nice themes there coming through. So thank you for that feedback. Employee Assistance Program. Thank you for that. That's very strong related to staff wellbeing and wellness. All right. So thank you so much for that. Some really creative responses there. What we might do now is quickly go to a second case study and we are getting close to getting to the end of this presentation so we can start to look at your questions and answers. But let's look at a case study to see how a service may use surplus funds and program payment funds to support a disadvantaged family. And we understand that this is a common question we've been getting from services. So again using our Wattleseed Long Day Care situated in a New South Wales regional community. So as a best practice we understand that the Wattleseed director received a phone call from the coordinator of the local community hub who wanted to know more about the service and how the service could assist disadvantaged families in need short term and families experiencing financial distress. And specifically, a family who'd reached out to that local community hub. Wattleseed found that under the spending rules the service could use surplus funds to assist the disadvantaged family or the family struggling with financial hardship and reduce their gap fee to zero. Wattleseed understands it that can then use the remaining surplus funds from the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payment to reduce the fees for children that are 3 years old on or before the 31st of July 2024, for children and families with the greatest need. Wattleseed can also use remaining surplus funds from the 4-year-old Fee Relief Payment to reduce the fees for children that are 4 years old on or before the 31st of July 2024, to assist children and families with greatest need. Wattleseed completes the declaration and consent form for its new family, as families of children whose fees are reduced using remaining surplus funds must have submitted a declaration and consent form. Wattleseed arranged a meeting where the director, the family and the local community hub coordinator came together with the hub coordinator acting as an interpreter. The director explained how under exceptional circumstances the service could help the family with their fees and the director advised the family the next fee invoice would look different and include a separate line on their statement and the funding would apply straight away. So we hope that those two case studies have given you some insight as to best practice and as examples that you might be able to reflect upon for use in your service. At this stage of the presentation, we're also really keen to hear from you as well. 2023 like 2022, has been a very busy and impactful year and we do recognise all of your support in terms of your supporting your own service, your staff, your families and children. We are keen to hear from you as well, about how do we best support you in times of change like this, but also more generally, how do we best connect with you to support you through 2024. And again, we'll be using the Menti function as an opportunity to hear from you for the department to hear from you directly, how do we best support you? What do you need from us that might help with 24? So we'll just have a look at some responses there. So there's some comments there about paperwork, so administration. Some comments there around reporting, the best way to report back to the department. Have more than one webinar. Thank you. Yes, we're certainly hearing from the profession and the sector that webinars are an effective tool and we'll certainly be looking at ways that we can connect more regularly with you in 24. Response or a dedicated help desk for Start Strong. We do have a team in the Long Day Care team. We are experiencing a high number of inquiries. We are attempting to respond to those as quickly as we can. A clear outline of how to allocate funds. Thank you. So our Frequently Asked Questions will provide some information for you there. And again, you are welcome to put some of those questions in the Q&A and we can talk to some of that at the end of the session. Again, some questions there about administration. So we'll certainly have a think about ways that we can reflect upon some of that and look for improvements. Transition to school statements. Thank you. So that's a an interesting and informative reflection. The transition to school statements may be experienced by services in different ways. Templates of documentation the departments wants for audit reconciliation and reporting purposes. We heard something similar to that in our ECE Connect series for community preschools so it's interesting and correct that we're hearing some consistent messages there. More training. Have support people in the funding team who can support services in a reasonable timeframe. Thank you. Provide clear detail, or payments relate to a payment confirmation. Thank you. So we've got some case studies in the FAQs and the guidelines that hopefully will give you some of that information. Okay. So similar themes there about how we can connect with you in better ways. Okay. So as we said, we'll be using the Menti to reflect back to you. So all of this information will be captured and sent out as part of the presentation. Thank you for taking the time to reflect back to us today. So let's have a quick look at getting ready and what is happening for December 2023 and what's coming up. So as you can see there, what's happened so far. So in October 2023, the 2024 Start Strong for Long Day Care guidelines were released and the new declaration and consent form was put on the website as well. In November 2023, we updated the 2024 Start Strong for Long Day Care guidelines including the fee relief data reporting technical specification document. What's happening in December 2023? Well, as I said, happily, the vast majority of funding allocations have all been sent to services. There's a small cohort that we're hopefully progressing through today. The 2024 funding agreement including terms and conditions has been released. And as we said, please keep a lookout for that in your inbox. If you're able to accept that by the 8th of December, tomorrow, it does mean that we can relief, provide the first fee relief instalment in December. If you're having problems accessing the ECCMS, the database, the management system, please email us so we can assist you to accept the 2024 funding agreement. So what's happening next? What do you need to do next? Become familiar with the guidelines is a great place to start. And as I said, the Frequently Asked Questions are a really accessible way to have a look at your common questions and some common responses. Communicate available funding for eligible children to families. You can start to issue returning families with declaration consent forms and then you can just check that they're complete and start to determine which 3 and 4-year-old children are eligible for fee relief in your service. You can contact your software provider and request actioning of the software updates for fee relief, invoicing and reporting. And the department contacted all those software providers yesterday with the updated requirements. And as I said, accept the 2024 funding agreement including the terms and conditions in ECCMS. So let's look forward now to 2024. So how do we get ready for 2024 and what to expect? So from January 2024, the 3-year-old Fee Relief Trial Payments and the 4-year-old Fee Relief Payments to services continues. The 3-year-old program Trial Payment and 4-year-old program payment to services will continue as well. And we'll be collecting the theory relief data submission for the July to December 2023 period. What do you need to do in January 2024? You can continue to issue new families with declaration and consent forms for completion. You can apply fee relief to families' invoices. If you haven't accepted the funding agreement by the 8th of December, tomorrow, you can still accept by the 31st of January 2024. It just means that the initial payment will be later than the December payment and you can start to prepare your fee relief data submission. So thank you so much for joining me today. That's bringing me to the end of the overview that we were hoping to share with you. Shortly we'll be going to our Q&A. However, right now I'll pass you over to Jason Turner, the director of digital programs to share with you updates to our new and exciting Digital Hub project. Thank you, Jason.

JASON TURNER: Thanks, Murray. And hello, everyone. It's great to have the opportunity to speak with you today. And I'm pleased to be able to give you an update on the Digital Hub and the upcoming activities on that for 2024. So as we know, everything we do in early childhood outcomes is about supporting our youngest learners through universal access to high quality services to build that better future for all children. And we certainly can't do that without you. So as a quick recap for the services who are not familiar with how the Digital Hub has come about, it's a technology enabler for the New South Wales early childhood education initiatives, which we're committed to delivering, including the national preschool enrolment and attendance measures. It also aims to improve data and digital capabilities and support program changes and aiming to obviously provide the best experience for end users and just make it easier for services to access funding and support for our youngest learners. So it'll underpin outcomes for all children in our communities, starting with children enrolled in Start Strong and then it will expand from there. Now we do recognise that the existing funds management system, the Early Childhood Contract Management System or ECCMS, is not an expandable technology platform that would be able to support initiatives into the future. So this is why we're developing a new system which can support all users effectively. The Digital Hub program is delivering comprehensive digital tools in the form of a new system for data collection and the process of allocating funding such as Start Strong. So we do have 3 streams of work that are currently running and that's to provide a holistic approach for implementing the Digital Hub as well as the necessary supports that we're providing across the sector. So the program has started with a focus on community preschools first and then we're taking a structured and scaled approach with support for the sector to adjust with changes over time. The product we're delivering will start with data collection from services via the Childcare Management System software, which will be then dropped into a centralised data management pool in the department. And I will describe the data collection activity in more detail shortly. The data collective will inform outcomes reporting for policy program and other decisions and also fulfil the state's requirements for Commonwealth reporting. It'll also be used to calculate the funding position of early childhood services. And this information along with the steps involved in the funding process will be managed by Early Childhood Outcomes and also providers in that new funding management system and eventually replace the current ECCMS system, which we recognise is not based on that contemporary technology. So the new funding management system will create greater efficiencies for services and also the department when it comes to managing the funding lifecycle, including changes to the funding position of services. And because the data will be collected centrally, it'll reduce the administration load and requirement for services to enter data manually into multiple systems. So I'll just now explain how we're looking to collect the data from the services. So we certainly all know that data quality is really important and keying data multiple times in different places introduces additional errors but also increases the administrative burden. So this journey of the data from services to the Digital Hub shows how the information will flow from the childcare management software systems that are being used by services today. And it'll be important to ensure that the data that you capture as services in those childcare management software systems is up to date. So the services, you'll capture data from the enrolment forms and track attendance using the software as you do today and we'll receive that information into the Digital Hub. We do know that some services don't have a software system as yet. I will have a a discussion about that shortly. So the department will establish a secure data transfer mechanism to collect selected data from the childcare management software and put this into the Digital Hub. And we have started engaging with some software companies and this is progressing well. So all the services we'll need to do is ensure that data is captured and up to date in the software and that collection mechanism will work automatically. So services will be able to view the data that's being captured within that Digital Hub and also have an opportunity to verify it. So the data will be used for program funding policy making and obviously, reporting as I mentioned earlier. And it'll all contribute obviously to improving outcomes for children's early learning journey. So one of the core aims with the Digital Hub is to alleviate the administrative burden that I spoke about earlier, particularly on services staff by reducing the need to report information to the department manually. So to do this we've opted for the data collection approach that I've described where we'll collect data from the services through to the childcare management software systems that's being used. So what this means for your service will be different depending on where you're at in terms of adopting software in your practice. But what we will say is, it's highly recommended that services start using a childcare management system for enrolment and attendance information. And ideally, we would hope that services can adopt the technology throughout 2024 and be ready for 2025 for services already using childcare management systems but who are using more than one system for enrolment and attendance, we would recommend that you combine into a single childcare management software, which can hopefully cut down the costs around the licencing to you but also make it easier for your staff to manage data as you'll only need that one system for those key activities. So we'll look to progressively roll out the data collection and the new funding system from 2025 onwards. There will be detailed communication leading up to any onboarding activities. So Long Day Care services will be fully aware and engaged in the process ahead of any changes. Now due to the large volume of services across the community, preschools and also Long Day Care providers, we're not able to shift everyone across the new data collection and funding system at the same time. So we have prioritised the community preschools as a place to start and there will be plenty of advanced notice as we begin the rollout plans for long day care. So you'll certainly be prepared for that. So from February, we'll also have a technology help desk that's been established to support services and providers with inquiries. And we'll be communicating those details of the help desk early in the new year. So I do thank you for your attention today. We certainly look forward to supporting you to transition to the new Digital Hub when the time arrives. And I'll hand back to you now, Murray.

MURRAY BURKE: So let's have a look at some questions. But in the meantime, here is a slide that will actually give you some links to the email addresses for the Start Strong Long Day Care team at And for the Digital Hub, And a link to our frequently asked questions. So we've got some questions coming through. Again, we'll use this question and A, to build an information pack for you. And team, the recording does stop at the Q&A session.

PETER HARVEY: Thanks, Murray. Very well facilitated. I think we've got through a huge amount of content in a really short time. So thank you for your work there and thank you to all of the services that have joined us today. I know it's an incredibly busy time of year. We know we've got funding letters out there that you're all having a look at that you are looking at enrolments for next year and working with families. So just great to see that participation today and really pleasing to see so many questions coming through the Q&A function. I know the team's been responding to those in the background. So hopefully that gives you clarity over some of those pieces of the guidelines that you're asking about. And that's also really valuable for us as well to think about how we can clarify our communication in 2024 and anything that we can do to make those guidelines clearer next year. So again, thank you for your time today. I really encourage you to have a look at our FAQs on the link on screen. There's a wealth of information there. Usually if you've got a question it gets pretty common that someone else may have had it before and you may find that answer there but if not, absolutely get in touch with the team through the mailbox and the other channels that are already in place because we're here to help. Back to you, Murray.

MURRAY BURKE: Thanks, Peter. And finally, Jason, if there's any closing words for you today.

JASON TURNER: Look, thanks, Murray for that. Look, I really appreciate everyone's time to hear more about the Digital Hub. As we say, we will have some further information coming out in the new year. We'll also be developing a website with some details around that as well, which will have some guides and some other elements around supporting the journey around technology. So really looking forward to speaking with you further in the new year.

MURRAY BURKE: Thank you, Jason. So thank you to Caitlin, Jason, Peter, and our 2 teams today. There's been a team busily working through the functionality to support the slides. So thank you Stephen and team, and our long day care team who have also been busily answering your questions during the session today. Have a peaceful and happy end of year. Please have a well deserved break. Take care and we'll see you again in 2024. Thank you for your time today.

Hear the latest on how health and development checks have begun rolling out in ECEC services across the state.

DANIEL GARLAND: Hello, everyone, and welcome. I can see lots of people starting to log on, which is just wonderful. We'll give everyone a minute or so to join and get settled in. Acknowledge that the weather is a little bit dreary today. So many of you will have lots of children needing to be indoors. So a special thanks for fitting this session in with those challenges. It would be lovely as you join, if you could pop which Country you're joining us from in the Q&A. I'd like to thank you all for giving up your time to be with us here today, for this Health Development Check session. My name is Daniel Garland, and I'm a member of the comms team here at the department. It's great to see so many of you starting to log on and joining from various different countries. Today, I'm joining you from the lands of the Dharug people, and I would like to pay my respects to Elders both past and present. And to extend that respect to all of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this session today. Shortly, I'll be handing you over to Lauren Anderson, our Director of Early Childhood Development, to begin today's session with an acknowledgement of country. But before that, just a little bit of housekeeping to run you through. The microphone, video, and chat functions will be disabled during today's session. However, we would love you to use the Q&A function to submit any questions. We'll try to respond to as many of those questions as possible during the session. But if we do miss anything or if there are really specific questions, we will circle back to you after the session. We'll also be recording today's event, and closed captions have been enabled. It is now my great pleasure to hand you over to Lauren Anderson, our Director of Early Childhood Development.

LAUREN ANDERSON: Thank you so much, Dan. And I'd like to start by acknowledging that I'm on Darramuragal land in Sydney's North, and pay my respect to elders past and present, and acknowledge all the different Aboriginal lands you are all dialling in from today. It's a real privilege to be in this position as director of Early Childhood Development in the Department of Education, and every day get to look at how do we make sure that every kid in New South Wales, including our Aboriginal kids, get the best start in life and the access to the services they need, which brings me to why we are here today, the Health and Development Check in Early Childhood Education and Care Services program. Thanks so much. As Dan said, thanks so much for being with us today, especially those in the Sydney region. We've had a couple of days of rain, and I know from my own kids' childcare centre that that causes all sorts of chaos and stress in an already very difficult operating environment with difficult, very cute, but difficult stakeholders every day. So the Health and Development Checks in ECEC is a partnership between New South Wales Health and Department of Education. It is a true partnership, and we've got a number of members of both sides of the team here today, and I'm really proud of this team and how well they've worked together in delivering this program so far. Keep it up. We know many children in New South Wales and not getting their 4-year-old health and development check, and about 2 in 5 children are also starting school developmentally off track. Regular health and development checks are important to give families crucial insights into how their children are tracking before they start school, and ensures children and families are getting the support they need as soon as possible. So on the next slide, we've got a bit more about the program. So the health and development check in Early Childhood Education and Care program builds on existing services where parents and carers can access their child's health and development checks. This can be at their local doctor, the child and family nurse, or their local Aboriginal Medical Service. By offering these checks in ECEC services, we are aiming to increase the number of children completing the checks, and getting the support they need. On the next slide, just goes through some of the, what you look at in terms of the checks. So health and development checks in ECEC will be available to all 4-year-olds who attend participating early childhood education and care services. So this includes department preschools, community preschools, and the big one, long day care services, as well. This is a free program and is opt in for both families and for services. Checks in ECEC services may include listening and talking skills, social skills and behaviour, gross and fine motor skills, learning, thinking, and problem-solving skills, and how their bodies are growing. This program has been designed over a long period, and through numerous consultations with the health and the education sector, families and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, we don't take that lightly how complex a program this is in terms of both the health side and the LHDs, and all they have on already, but also, the impact this can have on ECEC services where you guys are already short staff, and have a lot on and a lot of requirements that you have to meet. The program has now moved from the design phase into the delivery phase. We have taken what we have learnt from these consultations that were taken over a year period, and developed a model that can be tailored to on-the-ground situations. We'll continue to test and learn and refine as the program roll out progresses, and we're doing that already. There's so many different factors to consider in this program that we're already sort of getting feedback from those services that have been able to have checks already, and understand from health and from ECEC services, how to continue to improve this program. While progressing roll out across the date, we'll continue to work towards providing a reflective tool to improve cultural safety in undertaking this program. Grant funding to help ECEC services to participate in the health and development check program. And training for ECEC educators to provide specific developmental support for children. So as I said, we've already kicked off, and we're now rolling out across 6 local health districts. This includes, this is the green stars, Illawarra Shoalhaven, Hunter New England, Mid North Coast, Nepean Blue Mountains, Southeastern Sydney, and Southwestern Sydney. Roll out will continue over the next 6 months with additional LHDs coming online later this year and early next year. To start, LHDs are rolling out to a small number of ECEC services, and each of them is at a slightly different stage of the implementation. The number of services engaged in health and development checks will increase as the program progresses with the program being offered across all of New South Wales by the end of 2024. As the program is being rolled out, the project team, which is as I said before, both Health and Department of Education, will participate in site visits to ECEC services, which will provide an opportunity for both health and education services to share feedback and insight, and enable a refinement of the program. And a key focus of that refinement is absolutely making this work for ECEC services. The local health district teams will contact services to let them know that they're able to offer the health and development check, and then they will work with services to find a time that is convenient for that service. Teachers and educators will be asked to assist with collecting consent forms and preparing families and children for the check. And for those that are part of the sort of warm leads or early adopters for this program, you would've already received the comms collateral around that. So when you opt in, we send you a big pack of communications that helps you sort of prepare for the check. Health professionals will complete the check and provide families with a report after the check. Referrals will be provided if they're required. Additional support, training, and resources including participation funding will be available to ECEC services very soon. Information for families will also be available to support ECEC services. We have a local reform and commissioning team in our early childhood outcomes group of DoE, and that's really our regional presence. So they have different regions across the state that they manage in. They will also be offering local implementation support on the ground as the project continues to roll out. And that's really important to us for DoE that you've got a direct line to us both through the local reform and commissioning and through us through sessions such as this that we'll continue as the program rolls out to make sure that the services have multiple opportunities to feedback in terms of how the program is going, and refinements that might improve it. So next up, I'm talking about the cultural safe approach or tool that I spoke about earlier. A cultural safe approach in ECEC services is one that should be respected for the cultures of all children and families, and acknowledge the power imbalances that exist between providers and families. It is also about creating an environment where children feel safe, valued, and respected, as well. A culturally safe approach in ECEC services involves building relationships with families and community, which includes taking the time to get to know the families and their cultures and build trust. Involving families in decision-making about their children's care. Being aware of your own cultural biases. And being inclusive using inclusive language and practice, and celebrating the diversity of cultures and backgrounds represented in your ECEC service. The HDC team, I'll just go back one slide. Thanks. The HDC team are building an interactive reflective tool designed to help ECEC services reflect on their own practices, and identify areas where they could improve their cultural safety in supporting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids, families, and communities through the health and development check process. Since we kicked off, we have generated resources for ECEC services and families. Over 70 services have expressed their interest in being involved, and we've started to build good relationships between our local reform and commissioning team and LHDs. We've seen successful roll out of HDC in many services, which is fantastic. We've also learnt a lot from the process, as I said, this is a key focus, especially while we're in this initial roll out period. And always love hearing suggestions from the sector on how the program can be improved. Since we've kicked off, we have generated resources for all ECEC services and families, and over 70 services have expressed their interest in being involved. We've started to build good relationships between our local reform and commissioning team, that team I spoke about before, that's our regional presence. And LHDs, and we've seen the successful roll out of HDC in many services. We've also learnt a lot from the process so far, and always love hearing suggestions from you on how the program can be improved. In response, so far, we've already started to make changes to the support materials to make them clearer, and strengthen their ability to support. We've had feedback on the systems and what order things should happen in, and building local relationships and creating a grant for the ECEC services to help with participation. So next year in 2024, funding will be available to support ECEC services participation in the program. And I should say, for those services that might have already participated in the program, you'll still be eligible for this funding. Funding will be available to use to assist services with staffing, space requirements, and capacity building around child development. So if you're keen to opt in to our health and development check program, here are some of the key messages to take back to your team and your families. Regular health and development checks are important to give families crucial insights into how their children are tracking before they start school, and ensure children and families are getting the support they need as soon as possible. This program will see free health and development checks made available to all 4-year-olds attending, participating early childhood education and care services, including department, community, and long day care services. This program is free, and will be opt in for families and services. And we have a website where we have further information, as well as an email address for each of the LHDs we're rolled out at the moment, which can help with opting in.

DANIEL GARLAND: Just some questions about opting in, Lauren, if you wanted to clarify that a little bit more.

LAUREN ANDERSON: In terms of how to opt in, Dan?


LAUREN ANDERSON: Yep, so you can opt in through your local health district. So I think we've shared the link to the landing page, and so that has the list of all the LHDs that we're rolled out to at the moment, but keep an eye on that, because that list is on track to expand by the end of this year. You can use the link there to go direct to the LHD and tell them that you wanna opt in, and then they'll get in contact with you, and set up a time that works for you in terms of when to come out and do these checks. And the other thing to take in mind, we've also I think shared the email address for us, which is the And you can also get in contact with us if you wanna opt in or you have any difficulty in terms of knowing what your LHD is, or you don't feel like you've heard from the LHD in enough time. That's another way to get in contact, and we'll pass you on to Health and work with you to make sure that you are able to opt in. At this stage, we are not in family day care services, but it is something that we've been talking about internally and looking to in the future. On the whole, it was sort of like with all government programs you're trying to work out, where can you access the most 4-year-olds, and at the moment, it's those groups that we've had at the moment, but we're definitely not ruling out family day care services for any possible expansion in the future, and is a very live conversation at the moment. How long will the screening take? Andrea will probably answer some of this in the next chat, but it depends on a number of things in terms of how many kids you have, but what I've heard so far from those services is a couple of hours, and I think not dissimilar to the steps program in terms of how long, because I know many of you'll be familiar with that and how long it takes. Laura, I've just seen your question pop up. Why wait until 4 years old? 3, absolutely. 4 years old at the moment is a critical point in that lead before school, that time before school, and getting connecting people with services, in that lead up to starting school. And again, a live conversation about in the future would we consider 3-year-olds. At the moment, when you look at the data of enrollments, we don't have as many 3-year-olds in pre-school or long day care settings at the moment as 4-year-olds. And also, the 4-year-old check was the one of the lowest in terms of development checks. People seem to be still getting their 3-year-old checks. I know my team across Health and Education are madly answering in the chat, as well. So anything we can't answer today, we'll come back to you directly on after the session. Like I said, I can easily ramble about this program, so I will stop, and go back to my script. So really happy and excited and I thank her a lot, Andrea is from the Illawarra, Shoalhaven LHD, and she's one of the first 6 LHDs to roll out health and development checks. I've said it several times, but thank you, Andrea, for coming along today, because you are an extremely busy woman with many programs on the go at the moment, and we thought it would be a really interesting perspective and sort of make this program a bit clearer about how it's working in practice by having an on-the-couch session with Andrea today, to provide an overview of how HDC is rolling out in the Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, and sort of we'll provide some insights from questions and interactions she's already had with ECEC services, which are probably some of the things you were already thinking. And I'll hand over to Maja from my team who will be running the hard questions on the couch with Andrea, so thank you both.

MAJA O'DELL: Thanks, Lauren, channelling all of my daytime TV hosting skills, so thank you, everyone. And I firstly just wanted to acknowledge that I'm coming from Gadigal land today, and I just wanted to pay my respects to all elders past, present, and all of our emerging leaders, as well, and any, importantly, any Aboriginal people on the call today, as well. So welcome, Andrea, it's so good to have you on the couch with us today.

ANDREA CUADRA: Oh, thank you so much. I am a little bit nervous, I'm gonna say that out loud, but it'll be okay.

MAJA O'DELL: I'll make it easy, I'll make it easy, no hard questions today. So the first thing I'm just gonna ask Andrea is could you tell us a little bit about your program and about your role in your LHD?

ANDREA CUADRA: Yep, so well, my name's Andrea Cuadra. I'm the project manager for the Brighter Beginnings team in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. Our aim has been to implement one of the strategies that were identified through the first 2,000 days framework that's been showed to help improve outcomes for our children, to give them the best start in life. And that's providing the universal screening. Specifically for my Brighter Beginnings team, that means providing the health and development checks across the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District to the 4-year-olds within their early learning centres. The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District spans from Helensburgh in the North to North Durras in the South. And we have approximately 220 early learning centres in that area. Our team is based specifically in Wollongong, and we provide outreach services, but part of my role has been around planning what our service model looks like and the roll out of that service to our pilot sites. But what we've realised very early on is that we can't do this alone and nor should we, so we have been working really hard to work with teachers and educators to be able to build some partnerships, as well as with families and other services around us, so that we can develop hopefully a service that's really meaningful and helpful to the community.

MAJA O'DELL: Thank you, so my next question, Andrea, is what does your health and development check team look like?

ANDREA CUADRA: Yep, so currently, we have a child and family health nurse. We have an occupational therapist. We're recruiting to a speech pathologist. We have an admin, and we have myself as the project manager. Our team provides the health checks that include the height, weight, BMI, and also oral health checks. And developmental screening is for our program provided as a 2-tiered approach. So we have a primary screening which is completed using the carer and educator information and secondary level screening that's completed with parent questionnaires and/or speech or occupational therapy screening where it's needed.

MAJA O'DELL: Great, and so how many ECECs have you conducted the checks in already, Andrea?

ANDREA CUADRA: Yep, so we started doing our checks in June of this year, and we've gone into 14 early learning centres so far. The trick though to it has been that we've been modifying our model of care with the learnings that we take away from each clinic, so we're still working on finessing and refining our model with each clinic that we do.

MAJA O'DELL: Yeah, that's really, really good to know. And how do you choose which ECEC services you offer your checks to?

ANDREA CUADRA: Like most LHDs, we've have many early learning centres with 4-year-olds. So we've started offering checks in Illawarra region first, and have targeted the areas with the most need. And we use the AEDC data to have a look at the areas with the highest developmental vulnerability, and we've focused offering our pilots to those areas. But along with that, as part of our piloting phase where centres have contacted us, and shown interest in being part of that, we've also provided services in those centres, as well. And at the moment, we're feeling ready to start providing and offering services down to the Shoalhaven area, as well, so we'll be covering the whole of our district. We're offering services through the whole of the district for next year.

MAJA O'DELL: Great, that's really exciting. And have you had much interest with ECECs coming to you?

ANDREA CUADRA: Yes, so we have had centres contact us to let us know that they're interested, and that they're wanting to participate in the health and development checks. And all of the centres that we've contacted in terms of our piloting sites have all been very happy to come on board, and be part of that process, understanding that it is pilot clinics that we are running.

MAJA O'DELL: And so I think a lot of people will be interested to know, what have ECEC teachers and educators been asked to assist with, and, you know, what have they been assisting with in those checks?

ANDREA CUADRA: Yeah, so I suppose the biggest part for us is really for educators to promote the service to their families, because it is a new service, we really want the word out there that these checks are available within the centres. So that's, I suppose, first and foremost, the first task that educators are doing for us. We also then provide the centres with our paperwork, which includes a consent form and a developmental milestones checklist initially. And so the educators have been distributing those to families and collecting those, and handing them those back to us, so that we can then start our process and get them registered. The developmental milestones that we use is the "Learn the Signs. Act Early", which comes from the Blue Book. So most families would be aware of their Blue Book, because this checklist asks questions around a child's development, including their social emotional development, their cognitive development, their movement and physical development, and also their language and communication development. This checklist is used as the questions asked or milestones that are achieved by 75% of 4-year-olds, and can help to identify children at risk of developmental vulnerability. As part of this, I suppose, initial screening, though we also have contact with educators and make time to talk to them about what their concerns are for each of these children that we have consent for. So that's another component that the educators play a significant role in. We then have our secondary level screening, where teachers and educators distribute additional parent questionnaires to specific families, where we feel that we need more information to be able to provide holistic recommendations for these families. We're using the ages and stages questionnaires for development and for social emotional skills for the children who we think are at risk of developmental vulnerability. And then when these are collected by the centres and provided to us when we turn up to provide the face-to-face clinic. So educators have a very big role for us as part of this service. And then on the day that we, so that all happens before we actually visit, and then on the day that we visit, educators play a role in terms of providing identification for each child that we have consent for, making sure that we're seeing the right child, supporting us and the children to actually participate in the health and development check, as well, and providing that supervision.

MAJA O'DELL: Right, and so it definitely sounds like there's that, you know, partnership there is critical to the success of the program, really.

ANDREA CUADRA: Absolutely, and before we start, we have a discussion with the directors and educators around what's feasible and what's not, and where we can support in all of those areas.


ANDREA CUADRA: In terms of just answering the question of how long the health and development check, for us, it's because we do a lot of our developmental screening before we actually attend, if we do need to do speech or occupational therapy screens, and that'll happen on the day, as well, but when we go, it's essentially the health screen that needs to be completed, so it's fairly quick. Usually, it take, you know, between one to 2 hours for us to see all the children depending on how many children we've got.

MAJA O'DELL: Okay, good, that's a handy to know. And what have been some of the learnings from the process so far?

ANDREA CUADRA: Well, we've learnt a lot so far. We understand completely that families and educators are the experts on these children. We go in to complete a check, and we meet that child once, perhaps, twice. But the information that's given to us by the families and by the educators is vital for us to be able to provide recommendations or provide any strategies that might support the families and the educators, so that's been a big focus on what we do. We've also sent out surveys to our families and our centres to understand the supports that will best suit the needs of the community within our LHD. Some of the information that we've gotten from that is that families within our LHD or our local health district, sorry, are after written programs for them to be able to use at home with their children, and have strategies for them to implement. Teachers and educators have varying needs according to what they're telling us, and that varies between wanting education to help them support the children in their services, wanting support to have difficult conversations with families and how they go about that, and having programs that they can work with to support children within their services. So each centre for us has had very different needs and requirements around how we can best support them, and we're still working on finessing this component of our check, as well. We've also had anecdotal feedback from the centres that having the actual health and development checks completed is opening up conversations for educators with their families to talk about their concerns with children or families to talk to them about any concerns they might have had. So that's been a real positive that's come out of it for some of the centres we've spoken to. We, from the information we've gathered, both centres and families are requesting support around supporting children's social emotional needs and development. So that's been a really key theme that's come out. And also, some of the services are also looking more around the speech and language communication, so wanting some more education around that. But the biggest theme for us really, around what families and centres would like is some more support and information around social emotional development. And from a service perspective, I suppose the biggest thing for us is that a greater number of children that anticipated have required additional support. So far, we've had 46% of the children that we've screened, we've provided strategies for families and for educators, and 53% of the children that we've actually screened, we've made referrals, or have recommended referrals to other services. You know, whether that's speech pathology, or OT, or Life Start, or GP, or audiologist, those sorts of things. So we've taken a lot out from our learnings.

MAJA O'DELL: And as you said, the program both for yourself and sort of at a state level will continue to be amended and adapted, and, you know, improved as we have these learnings, and we sort of test it in the real world.

ANDREA CUADRA: Yeah, yeah, that's right.

MAJA O'DELL: And how do you provide families with feedback on their child's health and development?

ANDREA CUADRA: So once the health and development check has been completed, we provide a letter on the day just to advise families that their child has been screened, and to await some written information. Then once clinicians review all the information that we have for each particular child, we develop recommendations and write a report for each child that we've screened, where a child has proceeded to a secondary level screening, and families have completed additional parent questionnaires for us. Our clinicians will contact families directly to talk through the outcomes and any concerns that may have come from that or any referrals. And at that point, our clinicians are able to support families to make referrals to particular services, or to give them more information around what services would be appropriate for them to contact. And we also talk to families around any strategies that they might be able to implement, as well. So following that then the Brighter Beginnings team also puts together a summary of outcomes for each early learning centre, and that gets sent through to each centre, so that they have the information that we've gathered, which supports them in planning for the needs of the children and the teachers within that centre. And we liaise with each of the services around how to best support them in the centres.

MAJA O'DELL: That's great, that's good to hear. And my final question is have you been getting feedback and what kind of feedback have you been getting from ECEC teachers and educators on the program so far?

ANDREA CUADRA: Yeah, so, so far, the feedback has been very positive regarding our processes and the way in which we work in partnership with all the services and the outcomes of the health and development checks. And like I was saying before, some of the services have said that it has actually supported them to have conversations, open conversations with their families around their concerns for their children. This is all anecdotal to date, but we are due to send out a survey to get some feedback formally around what centres and families are feeling around the health and developed checks. And that'll also inform how we modify our model of care for coming into the new year. We've also had a couple of centres that have said that, you know, collecting and distributing all of that paperwork and supporting families to complete the paperwork does take a very a long time, and we do acknowledge the time and the effort that that takes. They have, you know, have noted that the benefits of the health and development screen kind of outweighs the time and effort it does take, but we are listening to that feedback and we are looking at digital options for all that paperwork, which may, you know, may be a preference for some of the families, so that's a bit of a work in progress.

MAJA O'DELL: Good to hear. Actually, I did have one more question. And that's just, and I think people, you know, this is one that comes up a fair bit around referral pathways. So what is the referral pathway like?

ANDREA CUADRA: Well, so we've liaised with a lot of the services in our local health district to identify the appropriate referral pathways for children with health and/or developmental needs, where we've found gaps in services. So for example, in the preschool age range, there's not a lot of, or there's no health service to support children who are outside a healthy weight in terms of their BMI. So we are working with our teams to develop programs that we will be able to offer families in the near future. So we are looking at, I suppose having options for families to be able to access services across all their needs. We, unfortunately, aren't able to influence wait times for local health services, or private services, or anything like that. But what we have been doing is working with the families and centres to provide those strategies that might be able to help and support in the interim, while they are awaiting services.

MAJA O'DELL: Yeah, and that's really important, and that sort of links to some of the things we're doing in the wider program, as well. So that's, yeah, that's good to hear that we're, yeah, as people can say, working towards to solve the similar problems.


MAJA O'DELL: So I think that's the end of our questions, Andrea, but I'm just going to check in. There might be some questions coming through. I don't know if there's any sort of questions we can answer, I can put to Andrea from the Q&A at the moment or maybe...

LAUREN ANDERSON: Probably, just a couple we wanna recap on, 'cause there's definitely been a couple of themes. So first off, thank you, Andrea for that, and it's just really useful I think for everyone to hear sort of the other side of the story in terms of this program from an actual LHD and how you guys are rolling out and what you are finding. There was a question in the chat earlier for all of us in terms of when we talk about refining, what are we doing, and Andrea touched on that, sort of talking with centres at the moment. We're absolutely in the first phase of this program, talking with centres about how did this program work for you? What was the hardest part? Any insights from ECEC services that have been part of the checks in terms of ways that we could streamline, what would work better for them, how to engage, did they get the right information, those sorts of things, and we've had that feedback already. So from the DOE side, we've updated our communications that goes out to ECE services as they opt in, and there's new LHDs come online to make sure that we're explicit in areas that weren't explicit before, things that we hadn't picked up on, and just providing a little bit of extra information in terms of what you need to do to get ready for the check and sort of as easy as possible to move through the process. But as Andrea said, we do recognise that there is an ask of services in terms of conducting this program, and that is absolutely one of the reasons why it is an opt in program. The other thing that questions we've had is around the age is not eligible for 3-year-olds at the moment. At this stage, it is only eligible for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds if they've not already had their 4-year-old checked, and are enrolled in a participating DOE preschool, community preschool, or long day care service. The other one we had was about do you need to have Medicare to get the check? You don't need to have Medicare to get the check. However, the usual processes, such as paying would occur for any follow-up services that were provided, but people without Medicare can be part of this program. Other things we've had just so great to hear a number of you also been on there saying how great it is to see this program, that you're really interested in it. As I said earlier, a number of you said you've opted in, we'll work with you if you feel like you haven't heard from your LHD, feel free to email us at the and we will make sure that that is followed up. I know, which is super exciting, that a number of LHDs have been inundated with requests to opt in, which is absolutely fantastic, and we appreciate so much from services how quickly you've got behind this program. As Andrea said, many of the LHDs are also looking at digital ways to streamline the consent process and report process. I'm just checking the questions if there's any other ones here that I can answer, but thank you also to my team that are tearing through them. A number of questions about family day care. This is a really interesting one, and we don't want to be excluding family day care from important programs like this. The purpose of programs like this is to make sure that we're getting 4-year-olds their health and development check. And the reason we're rolling out this program is because we have the evidence that only sort of 10 to 30% of kids are getting their 4-year-old check. As you can imagine, it drops off considerably after that 2-year-old check, and the 3 and 4-year-old checks have really low participation rates at the moment. We are working with your the family day care peak at the moment discussing some of these issues that for a number of programs, family day care aren't included at the moment. That is a work in process, and we do hear you that you feel cut out from some of these programs at the moment. With something like health and development check, this isn't a new program or process either. So please, for those services that can't participate at the moment, one of the things you can do is talk to your parents, and advise 'em about how important these checks are. So there are checks from age 2, 3, and 4, their health development checks, and parents are often not aware of this. So if your service is not participating or unable to participate at this time, then please that's something you can do if by encouraging your parents and families to participate in checks through other ways, so that can be through, as we said earlier, through GPs, through family and child nurse at a family and child centre, and you can find them, if you're not sure where they are, on the health website, you can look them off. And also for our Aboriginal families, the Aboriginal medical service, as well. But this is just creating another pathway for families to get their check. It is not a new check in any means or a new program. I saw a question earlier about wanting to know more about the kinds of things that they check. A great way to see that is if you look at the Blue Book online, and it's got the 4-year-old check in there, and it can tell and it goes through some of the things to be looking for at that age. So the LHD will share with you all that information once you check in, but once you opt into the program, but if you're interested in learning more about that in the meantime, that Blue Book is a great resource for that, which we are in the process of digitising. Dan, can you see any other themes that we should answer that were kind of the big ones that jumped out?

DANIEL GARLAND: Yeah, no, I think you've covered off the big ones, Lauren, maybe just a little bit about the supports that are coming online next year.

LAUREN ANDERSON: Yeah, so we're exactly as we've sort of highlighted today, we're very aware that it's a big ask on services. We know that you have to have an educator with the child while these checks are being undertaken. And that can often impact on ratios, and especially, in a workforce constrained environment already. We hear that loud and clear, so we have a grant program opening in the new year, and that you'll be advised of that through our usual ECE Connect email each week when that is online, and some of the things that you can use that apply for that funding for includes support staff to be able to check in. We don't want you guys to feel like this is a huge burden. If you need extra rooms, or a bus, or to travel to undertake these checks, because your service might not be big enough, that's another way that funding can be used, and also for further education and for educators to be able to learn more about health and development is in there, as well. And also, I've forgotten, what's the last one, Maja? If you to get services in, as well. So if you wanted to engage non-government organisations, Speechies, OTs to come into the service to do group therapy or anything, or to work with your educators to understand, sort of understand further some of the supports that children may need in the centre to get them more developmentally on track, you can use the funding for that, as well. Again, that grants program is for one year to start with, it's for the first year. And again, it's another one where we wanna see and hear from services, how they used it, what was most useful of it, how did the funding stretch to be able to look at what does that funding support look like for the future. But it's a grants funding program specifically designed for ECEC services to be able to participate in this program as easily as possible. So put the slides back up. And I think we've got one final slide that has all the contact information. From me, a huge thanks to everyone for joining us today. Again, as we've said throughout, we really know what it means for sort of an hour out of your day, often in an extremely busy service. And at this time of year, when there's lots of end of year things happening, as well. We really appreciate your time and your questions, 'cause your question is just yet another way we refine the program and understand what are the things that are front of mind for services when they're looking to opt in to this program. Huge thanks to Dan, Maja, and Andrea for helping me through this program with making sure that people didn't just hear from me. And then you'll see on this final slide, if you want more information or to contact your local health district in regards to the program, please visit our website either by using the webpage or the QR code there on the slide. And also, as I said, you've got our email address there, as well, which is the education team, which is the And we're happy to answer stuff on there at any time if you have extra questions about the program, if you haven't heard back from your LHD, if you're not sure what LHD you're in and you want helps working that out. If you have feedback on the program, I know there was someone there who was a Speechie who wanted to get into contact about some of the resources, I encourage you to email us there, and we'd love to have a chat with you. So please use that for everything and anything in terms of this program. We're only gonna make this program better by listening to you guys, and understanding how it's working in practice, and we've tried to make it as flexible as possible to ensure that it can be tailored to the needs of your services as it rolls out. Dan, over to you.

DANIEL GARLAND: Thanks so much, Lauren. I'd also like to thank our presenters today, Lauren, Maja, and Andrea. Thank you so much for your time. But most importantly, thank you to all of you for joining us today. We know how valuable your time is. As we've indicated, we've been trying to get through as many of your questions in the chat as possible, and I think we've done pretty well. But if we have missed anything, we will circle back to you via email. Shortly, after the session closes, we're gonna pop up a survey about ECE Connect Online. We'd really appreciate if you could take the time to complete that. Your feedback really helps us to shape future sessions. Once again, thank you so much for your time, and have a fantastic day.

Quality and compliance

Learn about the October changes to the National Quality Framework and what they mean for services.

Louisa Coussens: So thank you very much everyone for joining us for this session on the National Quality Framework October changes and what they mean for you. My name is Louisa Coussens and I manage the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support Team here at the Department of Education, and I'll be presenting today's session. I want to begin by acknowledging that I'm joining you from Aboriginal land. Today, I am on Darkinjung country, and I'd like to pay my respects to Darkinjung elders, past and present, and thank them for the many tens of thousands of years of care and custodianship of the lands and waterways that I'm lucky enough to live and work on. I also pay my respects to the elders of the lands that you are all joining from today, and to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues joining us online, and those of you who work in our services, educating and caring for our littlest learners across New South Wales. I'd also like to affirm my commitment to culturally safe regulation, striving every day to do better for our first nations children and communities. So here is an overview of what we plan to cover today. We'll start by framing the changes for you. I'm going to introduce my director, Yasmina Kovacevic, who will provide us all with the background to these changes. I think this kind of scene setting can really help us to contextualise the large body of information that we've all had to wrap our heads around this year. I'll briefly recap the July changes before we move to the guts of today's session, which is obviously the October changes, what are they, and crucially, how do they look in practice? I'm really pleased to be able to introduce two officers from the quality practice and regulatory support team to you today. Penelope and Kaitlin who are experts in practice. Between them, they have many years experience both within the Regulatory Authority and within the sector working in services just like you. And Penelope and Kaitlin will be our expert panel today, answering questions about these changes. And finally, we'll end with some links to useful guidance and resources to wrap up today's session. Before all that though, I'll go through some quick housekeeping. As you may have noticed, the microphone, video, and chat functions are disabled for this presentation. We encourage you to ask questions throughout the session using the Q&A function. We have officers behind the scenes ready to answer questions that come in, and we'll do our best to answer as many as possible. As you are submitting questions through the Q&A function, if you see a question that you would also like answered, you can vote for it and we'll prioritise the questions with the most votes. The panel will be answering both questions that have come through prior to the session and as many of the most popular ones that come through today's session as we can get to. This session is being recorded for any of our colleagues who are unable to make it today. I'd now like to introduce you to Yasmina Kovacevic, Director of Regulatory Strategy Policy and Practice to provide an introduction today and set the scene for the information that's to follow.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thank you, Louisa, and good afternoon everyone. I'm really excited to see those numbers now climbing over 600 participants. We hugely respect the time that you've set aside. We know it's challenging, but it's so important that you hear about these changes. So I'm Yasmina. I'm the acting director of Regulatory Strategy, Policy, and Practice in the Regulatory Authority. What does the regulatory authority do? Let me just tell you in one succinct breath for the benefit of those that are new to the ECEC sector, the New South Wales ECEC Regulatory Authority basically has very important oversight across safety and quality in your services. So our work spans the full range of activities and decision-making in your space. So from the very first decision to enter and become a provider or open and operate a new service, the various changes that you might come across or need to deal with in the management and operation of your service, ongoing compliance and monitoring, and of course, quality ratings and the quality assessment and rating journey. You may not all know about this, but we also respond to incoming complaints and incidents of various type, and they of course do occur across all service types in New South Wales. And this important range of functions means that we have great data at our disposal about your performance about the things that you find most challenging. And we use that data, we look at those knowledge gaps and we look at those areas where you are most challenged to ensure that we bring to you the most relevant topics and guidance. It's important as a trusted regulator that we communicate the why as well as the what and how. So let's look at the 2019 NQF Review. Well, that's involved a national process. Governments from every state and territory, the Australian government and ACECQA. Regular review of the NQF ensures it is current, it is effective, and it is fit for purpose for what it is intended to do. Regular reviews like this are actually very common across other regulatory regimes or industries, and it's important to have regular reviews to make sure that what is contained in the NQF reflects the changes and innovation across the sector, but also broader society. These changes and these reviews are important for services providers and also the beneficiaries. So your service users, children and families. The 2019 NQF Review has involved two rounds of national public consultation. Really, really important to highlight that. It was a huge undertaking. But the feedback from you in the sector, families and the communities broader have informed these government decisions. This 2019 NQF Review was limited to the particular issues that were raised at the time, and we know that there are current challenges that you may well be experiencing. We know that they persist and there are other bodies of work, both within this department but across government, that are currently underway to examine and tackle those important pressures and challenges. So for today's session, Louisa and our key speakers will be focusing on the most recent NQF Review, and you see there the 2019 one. We want to make sure that each and every one of you know about these changes. It's important that we hear from you, your needs are important to us, so please make maximum use of that Q&A as Louisa outlined. I want to rest assured that we've done our best in ensuring you have ready access to information to guide you in the compliance against these changes. So in 2022, education ministers agreed to the changes. That's an important thing to highlight. So all that has already been agreed and the document is publicly accessible called the Decision Regulation Impact Statement. For those of you keen to read it, it is accessible. I believe we can add a chat if someone's taking note. And also what we decided to do nationally is implement the changes in 3 rounds. What do you need to do as a result of what you're about to hear from Louisa and the speakers? Well, that depends on what role you carry in the sector. The thoughts that come to mind are for approved providers and service leaders and those perhaps on management committees, PMCs, you may well need to have meetings, review your Policy and procedures, and discuss how you're going to embed these changes in your services. And of course, a lot of this would've already happened and taken place. If you're an educator working directly with children, your role in navigating this change would be different but supportive. So you would look at your practice, potentially new routines, adjustments to your own service level checklists or other supportive tools that you might have to make sure they mirror new or updated policies and procedures that have been designed and updated by your management. So there you have it, just a quick snapshot of the context. And this is the last tranche of changes coming out of the NQF. That's something I'd like to mention always. So we're almost there, home free. I'll hand back to Louisa. She's going to take you on this journey of the changes and what they mean for you and what you may need to do differently as a result of those changes. Back to you, Louisa.

Louisa Coussens: Thanks very much, Yasmina. So as Yasmina said, the first round of regulatory changes from the NQF Review came into effect earlier this year on the 1st of March. And these related to the regular transportation of children in centre-based services. So if you work in a centre-based service and provide or arrange transportation, you would be aware of and already complying with these new regulations. For anyone who's new to transport, we have resources on our website as does ACECQA that will help you understand these requirements in detail. The second round of approved regulatory changes came into effect on the 1st of July this year. And I'm going to briefly recap the main changes from this July round now. Again, there's guidance available on ACECQA's website and ours to help you implement these requirements. So the purpose of me recapping these now is to remind you about these July changes and to say if you don't know the details of these yet and they do apply to you, then we will have some links later on in the presentation that you can follow for more information. So the first change I'll mention is around short-term staff replacements. Hopefully this helps some services to know that primary teachers can replace Cert III and diploma or working towards educators for 30 days in any 12 month period under certain conditions. The next is around family day care educator qualifications, and the change here is a tightening of requirement, namely that family day care educators must hold at least an approved cert III level qualification before starting work in a family day care service. And there's a 12 months transition period for this one. Persons with Management or Control. This one is just that the definition of a PMC has been expanded to capture people who have authority or responsibility for or significant influence over the planning, direction, or control of activities or the delivery of a service. And next, approved learning frameworks. You'd all know by now that new approved learning frameworks are in place and we are currently in a transition period, which means that both the new ALF and the previous ALF are acceptable. But this transition period comes to an end at the end of January. So fast approaching. And lastly, the excellent rating now lasts for 5 years rather than 3. So the third round of regulatory changes came into play from the 1st of October 2023, and it's these changes that we're going to cover in today's presentation. Before we jump in though, we'd like to ask you a couple of questions to gauge how people are feeling about the October changes. So just a very quick Menti, two questions, and these are anonymous. So for anyone who hasn't done a Menti before, just letting you know, we don't know who's answered. It's really just to give everyone here, I guess, an understanding of how our colleagues across the sector are faring with these new requirements. So if you can, take out your phone, scan the barcode with your camera, and a link should appear which takes you to the first question. Otherwise, you can go to in your browser and pop in the numerical code that's on the slide here. And our first question is, "How confident are you feeling about the changes?" So you might be feeling unsure and attending today's session to learn more. You might have a moderate understanding or sense of confidence and your looking to gain more confidence. Or you might be feeling highly confident and just wanting to make sure that you've ticked all the boxes. All right. And I can see that most of you are feeling moderately confident. Well, that's great to see. And some of you are not feeling very confident at all, and I completely understand that. There've been so many changes this year, but hopefully we can address that for you today. And some people are feeling very confident. That's also great to see. Okay, we'll move to the second question. And the second question is around how relevant do we feel these October changes are to your service? So you might feel that they're really relevant. You might think there are some that actually are not relevant at all. So yeah, I can see that most of you feel that these new changes are gonna be really relevant to you in your operations. Okay. And a few of you feel that they're not relevant and that's understandable. There will be occasionally a Policy or procedure that does not apply to every service context. And certainly in these October changes, we did have a significant number of changes that were only for family day care services. We'll get to all that in a moment. That's fabulous. Thank you very much for taking part in that Menti. Now let's dive into the changes. Now, I don't know about you, but I personally find it quite hard to try and memorise a heap of regulatory requirements by looking at a list of regulation numbers. I think it's much easier to think of the changes in themes. So that's what we've done today. You can see on this slide that we have regulation numbers. And you'll see that on the other slides that we come to. And look, this is something that we must do as part of our responsibility to you, but we get it. You don't go about your day-to-day work thinking in regulations or sections of the law, whether you're a provider or an educator. You're thinking about the activities you are doing, you are thinking about areas of practice. So while we have the numbers and the codes there on the slide, our starting point today is always going to be the area of practice. So first cab off the rank today is the new requirements for safe sleep and rest times. And the changes are, we now have a list of things that must be addressed in your service's, sleep and rest policies and procedures. And those things are, how children will be protected from any risks, how the sleep and rest needs of children will be met, how the health needs of children will be met, how requests from families will be considered, adequate supervision and monitoring, how sleep and rest practices in your service align with current health guidelines, induction, training, and knowledge of staff, the location and the arrangement of sleep and rest areas, safety and suitability of cots and other equipment, management of potential hazards in sleep and rest areas, and the management of the physical environment, so things like the temperature, the lighting or ventilation. Communication of the sleep and rest policies and procedures to parents. And in the case of family day care services who provide overnight care, management of risks relating to that overnight care. Each service must now conduct a risk assessment to inform these policies and procedures. And this risk assessment must be conducted at least once every 12 months or sooner if your service becomes aware of something that would affect children's safety during sleep. And lastly, bassinets are now prohibited on all service premises. And in the case of family day care services, what that means is that bassinets are prohibited in the approved areas of the family day care premises. These next changes also speak to new requirements around policies and procedures. This one is policies and procedures for the safe arrival of children travelling between services. Now, the purpose of this Policy and the procedures and risk assessment that go along with them is to address the risk to children during those times when children move to, from, and in between one service or school and another. In developing these policies, services need to be clear and to specify who's responsible for children during these periods of travel. Consultation with other services and with families will be an integral part of this Policy development. The first new regulation here helpfully defines for us what's meant by education or early childhood service, and that is a school, an education and care service, a children's service, or any other service which provides education or care to children. Then we have some requirements around the type of consultation that needs to take place in preparing the policies and procedures, for example, with parents or with the other education or early childhood service. We also learn that a risk assessment must be conducted for the purpose of developing the safe arrival of children Policy and procedures. And we're told what must be considered in this risk assessment, namely, the age, developmental stage, and individual needs of the child, the role and responsibilities of the following people if applicable. In the case of a child who leaves the service premises to travel to an education and care service premises of another education and care service, the nominated supervisor of each service, the child's parent, an authorised nominee named in the child's enrolment record, and a person authorised by the child's parent or an authorised nominee named in the child's enrolment record. We must also consider the role and responsibilities of the service, the care of which the child is entering or leaving, the communication arrangements between the service that the child is leaving and the service the child is entering, including any communication arrangements if the child is missing or cannot be accounted for during the child's travel, the procedures to be followed by the service, if the service has identified that the child is missing or cannot be accounted for during the child's travel. Given the risks posed by the child's travel, the number of educators or other responsible adults that are appropriate to provide supervision, the proposed route and destination, including any proximity to harm or hazards, the process for entering and exiting the service premises and the pick-up location or destination as required. And lastly, the procedure to be followed by the service to ensure the child leaves the service premises in accordance with Regulation 99 4b. So a lot to consider in this new Policy, procedure, and risk assessment. The next group of changes relates to emergencies and evacuations in services located in multi-storey buildings. The first of these changes gives us a new definition of multi-storey building, and this is now defined in the National Quality Framework as, a building with more than two stories. The ground floor is considered the first level, and each split level is considered their own level as well. Our second change here is for centre-based services that are in multi-storey buildings and that also share that building with other occupants and don't have the ability to exit directly to an assembly point from their same level. If this is your service, then there are some additional things to consider in your Emergency and Evacuation Procedures. And these are, all possible evacuation routes from each storey on which the premises are located, the evacuation routes that are proposed to be used in an evacuation, how all children will be safely evacuated from the premises, including those that can't walk, the stages in which an evacuation will be carried out, the identity of the person in charge of an evacuation, the roles and responsibilities of staff members during an evacuation, and any arrangements made with other occupants of the multi-storey building in relation to the evacuation of that building. Next, approved providers of all services must make sure that risk assessments are reviewed at least once every 12 months or sooner if a service becomes aware of something that would impact children's safety during an evacuation. And then as soon as practical after reviewing the risk assessment, any required updates to the Policy and procedure must be made. This next one is specific to family day care, and we now have an additional matter to be considered by family day care providers when they're assessing residences or venues under Regulation 116. If the residence or venue is in a multi-storey building shared with other occupants, the approved provider must now also consider whether there is direct egress to an assembly area and must conduct individual assessments of each storey on which the family day care residence or venue is located. Now for all service types that are in multi-storey buildings, ACECQA has defined what's meant by direct egress in their fact sheet. And what they say is that direct egress means the ability to move and directly exit to an assembly area that's at the same level as the education and care service and is outside the premises and away from the building. So this doesn't include travelling through sets of stairs, including isolated stairwells, busy occupied areas, traffic or other hazards or obstructions. The next theme we have called child safe principles, and the first two of these changes are quite straightforward. Firstly, family day care coordinators must complete child protection training. And secondly, approved providers must advise volunteers and students who participate in your service of the existence and application of child protection law and their obligations under that law. These next changes may feel a little less straightforward. So what we have here are some more changes to requirements around policies and procedures. The first one here is policies and procedures relating first to providing a child safe environment and these must now include a culture of child safety and wellbeing and safe use of online environments. The second one is policies and procedures relating to complaints handling. And these must now include a child-focused complaints handling system and management of complaints relating to harmful sexual behaviours of children. I think we're going to touch on some of the practicalities of these requirements in our panel session in a moment. I know we've been receiving questions from services about these over the past few weeks, so I know there's some clarity being sought by some of you in the sector on these changes. Lastly, related to the child safe principles, a new requirement for a record to be kept of the Working with Children Check number and its expiry date, or the current teacher registration number and expiry if applicable for all volunteers or students who participate in a centre-based service. I'm now going to touch on some more family day care-specific regulations. The first one I'm sure you'd all be doing anyway, it's now a regulatory requirement that if a family day care educator becomes aware of anything within the residence or venue that might pose a serious risk to children, they need to be letting their approved provider know. And this is things like renovations on site, for example. Family day care educator assistant duties. Escorting is now included in a family day care educator assistant's duty. That is escorting a child to a nearby school, another education and care service or children's service or the child's family home, for example, by walking. And next, we have some changes that are designed to help families choose a family day care service or educator. There's a list of information that needs to be displayed at each family day care service and each residence or venue of that service. The full list is in Regulation 173 a, and it's things like provider name and number, quality rating, any waivers, also a diagram of the venue, hours of operation, for example. And the information must be clearly visible. Again, please refer to the regulation itself for the full details. And additional information for educator register. In addition to information that currently needs to go into the educator register, the provider must now include details of any educators who are operating above ratio. And please refer to Regulation 153 for the details. In terms of swimming pools, approved providers of a family day care service must now conduct monthly inspections of any swimming pool or water feature or potential water hazard at each family day care residence or venue. And regulation 116 sets out the requirements for pools located in family day care services to have swimming fences that comply with participating jurisdiction requirements. And safety glass. So lastly, any glazed area of a family day care residence or venue that's accessible to children and is 0.75 metres. So 3 quarters of a metre or less above floor level must be glazed with safety glass if this is required, in any other case, must be treated with a product that prevents glass from shattering if broken or is guarded by barriers that prevent a child from striking or falling against the glass. And ACECQA has a fabulous resource that details all of these changes for family day care services. If you haven't discovered it yet, we'll put a link in the chat for you. Next, a change that relates to centre-based services. So this is a change to the prescribed information to be notified to us at the Regulatory Authority. In addition to existing reasons, an approved provider must now also notify the Regulatory Authority if a centre-based service has any change to the ages of children being educated and cared for by the service or any change to the nature of education and care offered by the service. And now first aid qualifications, I think these will be quite welcome changes. I know we've had questions over the years about first aid qualifications, and we certainly welcome some more clarity in this area. Essentially, these regulations now tell us when a first aid qualification is considered current. An approved first aid qualification is taken to be current if, in the case of emergency life support training and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training that forms part of the approved first aid qualification, the training was completed within the previous year. In the case of any other training that forms part of the approved first aid qualification, the training was completed within the previous 3 years. And an approved anaphylaxis management training and approved emergency asthma management training are taken to be current if the training was completed within the previous 3 years. Lastly, some regulations to protect the privacy of personal information contained in prescribed records. So regarding disclosing personal information, approved providers and family day care educators, before disclosing any personal information to a parent of a child enrolled at the service or family day care service, must obtain written consent of the person to whom the personal information relates. And a person who has given their written consent may withdraw that consent in writing at any time. Confidentiality of records kept by the approved provider or the family day care educator. Well, the approved provider and family day care educator must ensure that information kept in record under the National Regulations is not divulged or communicated, either directly or indirectly, to a person other than a parent of the child to whom the information relates. That brings us to the end of that section of our presentation. That was an awful lot of information. I hope that helped, hearing it all in one go, split up into practice areas in that way. But I know what you are really here for is our discussion about practice. So we are now going to turn our attention to what some of these changes look like within the service context. As I said at the start, we've accumulated some questions over the past weeks and months related to these changes, questions that have come in from the sector, either through our Information and Enquiries team or from other ECE Connect sessions. And we've seen the same questions coming through over and over again. So we want to make sure that we address these commonly asked questions today. We'll also be answering other questions that are coming through to us today that we have time for. So I'm delighted to introduce you to our panel members today, Penelope Stone and Kaitlin Doherty, both Senior Policy Officers in the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support team. Thank you both for joining us. Starting with you, Penelope. Would you mind telling us briefly about your role here at the Department of Education?

Penelope Stone: Hi, everybody. It's absolutely wonderful to be here, and thank you all for being here too. So I am a Senior Policy Officer in the quality practice and regulatory support unit. And in a sentence, I manage programmes and projects that aim to support the ECE sector in areas of need through knowledge and capability building and things like this where we can hopefully turn the regulation into some plain English for you and make it more understandable.

Louisa Coussens: Thanks, Penelope. And Kaitlin, do you want to tell us a bit about your role at the department?

Kaitlin Doherty: Thanks, Louisa. Hi, everyone. It's great to see such a big turnout to this session. As Louisa mentioned, my name is Kaitlin Doherty, I'm a Senior Policy Officer in the team alongside Louisa and Penelope. We develop educational tools and resources to support the sector in implementing the requirements. So very excited to have this panel and answer some of the questions that are coming through in the chat.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Kaitlin. I might start with you actually, Kaitlin, with a question about the Sleep and Rest Policy and Procedures. And question relates to out school hours care services. Do outside school hours care services still need a Sleep and Rest Policy?

Kaitlin Doherty: Thanks, Louisa. So I did see this question coming through the chat. So thank you Jackie and anyone else that asked this question. So yes, new Regulation 84 guides services in the delivery of their Sleep and Rest Policy, which is a required Policy under Regulation 168. So we've received a number of questions regarding how this should be implemented for OSHC services that do not offer sleep and rest periods daily, like other service types do. It is a requirement for all service types to have this Policy in place. So it's important to look at how this regulation might apply in your context. So as an example, there might be a child that is just finishing preschool and your OSHC service might offer vacation care, or a child is just starting school and they may still require, or they might arrive at your service after a big day of school and they may require a quiet place to rest. So it's important that you consider the children in your care. You regularly review your Policy as children's needs change. Your Policy might meet children's needs that are different in January compared to the end of the year. So while we appreciate an OSHC service is not going to have a cot to meet the standards of a suitable sleep and rest environment, there should be a designated area that provides opportunities for sleep and rest for OSHC children. And also when considering how you will supervise and monitor sleep and rest, your policies should clearly guide educators on where and how the supervision and monitoring of children in this space will occur. So it should be specific to your service. And while Red Nose is the National Authority on safe sleep and rest for infants and young children, referring to the safe sleep recommendations and resources found on Red Nose's website might be useful for you when considering the individuals sleep and rest needs of the children in your service.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Kaitlin. And I know I just want to acknowledge that with all the changes and with all of the workforce challenges that we've experienced across the sector this year, all of these requirements are probably feeling quite overwhelming. So I hope that we can help you today with some answers. I know that things like policies and procedures, there will be times when some services think or feel, sorry, that perhaps the Policy is not relevant to their specific situation. Penelope, I might ask you this question relating specifically to the Safe Arrival of Children Policy and procedures, is that one that every service needs to have?

Penelope Stone: So yeah, this question has come up quite a bit on the chat function today as well. So great to be able to answer this live and hopefully, we'll answer it for all of you here. So the Safe Arrival of Children's Policy requirement and risk assessment requirement is specific to children who travel between services, between an early education service and another education service. So Regulation 102 gives the definition of what constitutes as a education service. And these are things like a school, an early education service, a children's service, or any other service which provides educational care to children. So if the children that arrive to your service aren't travelling between another education and care service, there isn't a requirement for this risk assessment. However, we would strongly encourage all services to look at how children are arriving to your service, even if they're coming from home with parents or in the variety of ways in which children will arrive at an early education service to have a look at how they're arriving and have a look at what processes and procedures you have in place for when that child doesn't arrive. So just things like when do you make the phone call to the parent to just check if they're coming in today? At what time do you do that? Knowing that this is a complicated area given that children's attendance can vary between family to family. And this is where that conversation with your families about how they get into care and even alerting them to those situations on days when the routine may change and a different person is dropping the child off, to let you know, to let the service know that that's happening so that you are able to respond if a child doesn't arrive. So hopefully that answers the question there.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Penelope. And yes, again, thinking about workload and pressures across the sector. Kaitlin, I'm interested to hear from you. If you can give us some information about what might prompt an earlier review of, say, the safe Sleep and Rest Policy than the minimum annual requirement?

Kaitlin Doherty: Yes. And actually, just before I answer that, Louisa, there was a question in the chat that I saw come up regarding sleep and rest risk assessments and how often they need to be, sorry, no, it wasn't how often. It was whether you need an individual risk assessment for every child. And I wanted to just clarify first that the sleep and rest risk assessment can be used across the service. So you should consider individual children's needs. So there might be children in your care that have specific medical needs, for example, that can be considered as part of your risk assessment for safe sleep and rest. But you do not need to have an individual risk assessment for every single child. And then just to go back to your question that you asked, Louisa, what might prompt a review of your risk assessment? So you might consider things like a new child being enrolled in your service with specific sleep needs. That could be an example of a time where you might need, If a serious incident has occurred at your service related to sleep and rest, that would also be an important time to look at your risk assessment and see if there are any potential weaknesses in practice so that you can implement some control measures to prevent the incident occurring again. You might have an enrolment from a new family that have a specific cultural preference or a need for a safe sleep, a need for their child that you haven't considered previously, that might be a time as well to have a look, or you might have received some input or feedback from the staff or families or someone else familiar with your service that might be a risk you haven't considered yet. I'm sure everyone is probably familiar with Red Nose's website for resources. And also there is further guidance on ACECQA's website on sleep and rest, and I'll just pop the links to those in the chat so it's easy for you to access those resources as well.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Kaitlin. Penelope, I might come to you for the next question. This is one that we've had come through a couple of times previously. I don't know if it's something that's been asked today, but Penelope, can you tell us what needs to be included in Emergency and Evacuation Procedures for services in multi-storey buildings?

Penelope Stone: Sure. Sorry, my mute button didn't come off then. Yes, of course. So the emergency evacuation brings changes for multi-storey buildings. There have been some changes in that way. So the Regulation 971C sets out the requirements that need to be included in the Emergency and Evacuation Procedure for services in multi-storey buildings that don't have direct egress to evacuation assembly points. So this is for the services where you can't walk straight out the door to your car park or evacuation where you do have to go up or downstairs or through hallways, fire exits, all those sorts of situations. So services now need to consider all the possible evacuation routes and have these documented for each floor that the service is located on. So the evacuation diagram needs to clearly include these possible evacuation routes and all the procedures have to detail how the children, including the non-ambulatory children, so children in cots, babies who can't walk yet, how they're all going to be evacuated from the service safely? So some of the considerations that will now be required in your development of these procedures and in your review of the Policy and the risk assessment and the procedures that we hope you're all out there reviewing now because it is a really, really important part of practice to be able to get your children safely out of the building. So some of these considerations will be possibly the stages in which an evacuation may be carried out. So rather than all the children and all educators going to the same set of stairs to exit, do you put two possible exit points and can you utilise those two exit points and emergency evacuation routes safely? You'll need to consider the identity of the person in charge of an evacuation. Also consider how this will work if that person's away. Or if you're nominated supervisor is the person in charge of emergency evacuations, what happens when they're not there in a real emergency scenario, who takes that role? So have all these things considered as part of your preparation of procedures. The roles and responsibilities of the staff members, in the same way, ensure that everyone understands what their role and responsibility is, but also have a backup plan for if that staff member is not available on the day. The Policy also, it needs to clearly outline what arrangements have been made with other occupants of the building as well. So in multi-storey buildings, quite often you will be sharing those spaces and possibly those evacuation routes with members of the public, an office next door or a shop down there on the lower story. There's so many scenarios where interactions with other people will come into play here. And your Policy needs to outline how that works. So are you using one set of stairs while the office next to you is using a different set of stairs or are you all using the same set? And you will need to consult with the people in your building about this and work out which way is the safest for you to get you and the children to the emergency assembly point. They will look different for every service. All these considerations will be very different for every service. But the Emergency and Evacuation Policies and Procedures should highlight the processes clearly so all stakeholders involved, including families who may be on the premises at the time of an evacuation or a real emergency. So you wanna make sure that everybody is across these procedures. But the most important change in regards to today's was that requirement to ensure that your evacuation routes and procedures for each storey that the service is located on, clearly demarcates what those routes are, which stairwell you're using, which exit you're using, and who's responsible for all actions in that period of emergency.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Penelope. I might just take a sharp right turn to one of our other themes, child safe principles. And Kaitlin, I don't know if you can help us today consider what needs to be included in these policies and procedures related to the child safe principles that I've touched on earlier, and where people can find more information perhaps to help them with the Policy review.

Kaitlin Doherty: Yes, I did see a question in the chat asking for some examples of how to implement the Child Safe Standards. And so this is related to that. So Louisa spoke about the child safe principles, so that's the national version. The Child Safe Standards are very, very similar. That's the New South Wales specific version. So I'll focus on the national principles today because that's what's been embedded under our National Quality Framework because we work under a national framework. So there are a couple of changes to the existing regulations. Regulation 168, I mean, to do with two policies in particular. So providing a child safe environment now has some additional things included that you should reference as part of your providing a child safe environment Policy. Those things are promoting a culture of child safety and wellbeing within your service, and the safe use of online environments at the service. So the focus of this Policy is to ensure that processes are documented, that ensures service is always providing children with a safe environment. So it now explicitly includes the online environment as part of that. So the Policy should outline the expectations of behaviour such as the roles and responsibilities of different people within your service to uphold children's safety and wellbeing, which you likely already have as a part of your Policy already. And in promoting a child safe culture, the Office of the Children's Guardian, as well as us as the regulatory authority, we've released some resources that will support you to consider ways you can do this, and there will also be more resources coming out of the next six months to help you. So I'll pop a link to two resources in the chat, but there are some really specific examples included in those resources of ways that you can implement these changes. The second part, so we know technology has become increasingly important for services, so it's important to consider online risks in your service. The new amendment requires a specific focus on online environments. So it's important to consider when providing a child safe online environment. A preschool service, for example, with no accessible TVs or iPads for their children, may have different considerations to an OSHC service that has an open iPad activity space. So you must consider the ways that content is viewed and how online safety is managed, depending on the different environments where technology is used within your service. So you might consider screen time for children, appropriate use of technology and devices, including children's devices, particularly for OSHC services, privacy and ethical sharing of images of children, online data control and management, record keeping, security controls, and how staff use technology with and around children. The second, So I spoke about two policies, that was the first one, providing a child safe environment. The second change to Policy requirements is dealing with complaints. Sorry, I'm just noticing the chat is not working right for people with the links. So we'll also circulate this information following the session as well for anyone that's not able to access these.

Louisa Coussens: We will do that. Thanks, Kaitlin.

Kaitlin Doherty: Yeah, so sorry. Secondly, the complaints handling Policy, having robust reporting processes in place at your service will increase the likelihood that children will report abuse and may discourage abuse from occurring in the first place. So a child-focused complaints process is one of the new requirements under Regulation 168. And this makes sure that the safety of children is put first. So children are safer in environments where they understand that there are clear rules around the behaviour of adults and it is explained to them in age and ability appropriate ways. So if this is a topic you are interested in learning more about, we do have another session on the 4th of December and I'd really encourage you to come along to that session if you're available or to tune into the recording, which will be published on our website following the event. But in the interim, there are some other links. I'll pop them in the chat in case some people are able to access them, but we will also circulate them after the session.

Louisa Coussens: Great. Thank you, Kaitlin. Yes, I'm sorry if the links aren't working in the chat, we'll make sure that we follow up with that. And Penelope, I'm gonna come to you and I can see that this is something that's coming through in the chat today that there is just so much to do. And with all this talk about reviewing risk assessments, updating policies and procedures, it just seems like a lot, right? So what do we actually mean when we talk about a review of a risk assessment or a Policy or procedure? Can you just give us a few tips about what that might look like, please?

Penelope Stone: Sure. I mean, as we know, there are regulatory requirements to review. So we have particular policies and your own risk assessments throughout regular intervals, some of which are actually time-specified as annually. But look, when it comes to reviewing these policies, so you've done a risk assessment that has informed your Policy, and your Policy is what you're using to keep children safe. That's how you are teaching your educators, your staff, everybody else in there. And this is what's guiding the practice to keep children safe. Reviewing those risks and that Policy is a really important part of keeping children safe because things change, right? We know that things change. Children grow up, their needs change, their personal situation change, the actual context of the service might change. You might have physical changes, there could be staffing changes. There's so many changes in early education and care, and it's these changes that can really affect the risk and how that's managed. So with the Policy reviews that you are required to do, we're not talking about a comprehensive redevelopment of a document or of a Policy. We're talking about looking at the situation. So for instance, the transport Policy. So you've got one in place and it's been working fine, that's great. You've had no incidents, fantastic. The New Year's coming up, you've got new children coming, and extra school bus is going to be dropping off one or two children to your service next year. Wonderful time to review your transport risk assessment. Look at those changes, look at the impact it has on your practice. It doesn't mean you have to change the practices that are already in there and the risks that are already identified. If they're still relevant and current and applicable to your service, then they remain in place. And that's when you look at the management strategies you have for the risk, make sure that they're still relevant, current, and serving the need in keeping the children in your care safe. So the reviewing of policies really is something that's very specific to your service. It can be led by one person or it could be a team effort. And in fact, it probably encourage your staff and educators to be involved because being involved in those discussions and being part of those discussions and identifying risk and how you manage it, this is what everybody needs to do in their day anyway. So it is that having their involvement in the review process and in any amendments or changes to the Policy will help ensure that this lands better in your service. That people understand what their requirements are.

Louisa Coussens: Thanks, Penelope. I'm sorry I jumped in then, but I've just got one eye on the time and I wanted to just get to one more question because I've had a little look to see if we had it coming through on the chat. I know it's something we've had come through heaps through our Information and Enquiries team. And Kaitlin, if we could just get the final word from you today please, on this prohibition of bassinet, what do we mean by a bassinet and what do we mean by prohibition? Are we saying that they can't come onto the premises at all?

Kaitlin Doherty: Yes. So this measure has been introduced to ensure that every child in education and care services is safe whilst attending the service, including during sleep and rest. So unlike cots or portacots, there are currently no mandatory Australian safety standards that govern the use of bassinets. So while there isn't a specific definition of a bassinet under the NQF, ACECQA has listed some of the common design features and characteristics to help you identify bassinets. So some of those things include that they're generally smaller than a regular cot size, their shape may be basket-like, the structure may have handles, they could be easily carried. And of course, there's a range of terms to describe bassinets. So they may have other names including a Moses basket, a co-sleeper, a cradle, bedside sleeper, carry cot, etc. So it's important that all services follow Red Nose's recommendations when it comes to safe sleep, and ensure that all of their sleeping environments meet Australian Safety Standards. So bassinets must not be found in the approved areas of the service. So for center-based services, bassinets shouldn't be kept on the premises. And for family day care environments, they mustn't be kept in the approved areas of the residence. And I did see another question come through that said FDC services allowed to use portacots. ACECQA has released new guidance on this saying portacots should only be used for temporary short-term arrangements. So according to the ACCC guidelines, portacots are designed for brief temporary use, and they're more susceptible to wear and tear. So if you are using a portacot in your FDC environment, because this question was specific for FDC, please ensure that there's no wear and tear, such as visible tears, and it must meet mandatory Australian standards.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you. Thank you very much, Kaitlin, and thank you both Penelope and Kaitlin today for answering some of your questions. I know there are many, many more and we'll review the questions that have come in today and figure out how best we can address those, whether it's through a frequently asked questions or direct responses to those of you who've taken the time to ask us the questions. So thank you very much. I'm going to just move quickly to tell you about some future sessions that we have coming up. There we have them on the screen there. So we have one on exploring risk in early childhood education and care settings on the 29th of November, and we'll cover some of the new requirements in this session. And the next one, emergency management, we'll be running on the 30th of November. And lastly, embedding the child safe requirements. So changes under the National Quality Framework related to the National Principles of the Child Safe Standards. And we're very excited that we will be welcoming a colleague from New South Wales Health at that session. So if you still have questions about those particular changes that Kaitlin has talked about today, then I would recommend you coming along to that session. I'm going to hand back to Yasmina to close our session for us today. I'm sorry we've gone over a couple of minutes. Thank you very much for joining us. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to speak and to hear directly from you about your questions related to these changes, and I look forward to seeing you at one of our future sessions later in this series. Thank you, Yasmina.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thanks, Louisa. I will just thank everyone for their valuable time. Your presence in these information sessions is absolutely paramount for us. I wanna thank the team. I think you nailed it with the blend of information. It's always a challenge. We have one hour, we try and pick off the most important, most crucial messaging. But keep in mind those upcoming sessions, and I can see the numbers dropping. Thank you for all your questions, and I wish you a good afternoon. Thank you.

An exploration of new regulations under the National Quality Framework related to embedding the National Principles (which are very similar to the Child Safe Standards). A content warning is advised.

KAITLIN DOHERTY - So I'd like to start today's session by respectfully acknowledging the traditional custodians of all the lands on which we live, work, and come together today, including the lands of the Burramattagal clan of the Darug Nation, where I am presenting from today. I extend my respect to Elders, past, present, and emerging, as well as to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals here with us today. I'd like to pay respect to Elders, past and present as the ongoing teachers of knowledge, song lines and stories, and acknowledge their important role in educating our littlest learners here in New South Wales. My name is Kaitlin Doherty, and I'm a Senior Policy Officer in the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support team at the New South Wales 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 New South Wales Regulatory Authority, it was most likely the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support team that developed it. We are your walking talking guides for putting the law and regulations into practice. Today, we have representatives from the QPRS team, the Regulatory Policy team and Communications team, as well as from New South Wales Health, who will be monitoring the Q&A box and responding to any questions raised throughout the presentation. I'm pleased that we are bringing you this session today on Embedding child safe requirements changes under the NQF related to the National Principles. The purpose of today's session is to discuss the new changes under the National Quality Framework related to bringing closer alignment between the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, which are very closely related to the Child Safe Standards. I'm very excited for you to soon meet our guests, Cathy and Donna, who will talk about the available supports that will help you meet your new requirements under Regulation 168. Today we'll talk about the new regulatory requirements, with a particular focus on the new changes under Regulation 168, related to providing a child safe environment and complaints handling processes. I will begin by outlining the new changes, and the bulk of this session will be focused on a presentation about children exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours, in response to a number of enquiries that we have received on this topic. We trust that you'll find this information useful to assist you in reviewing your complaints handling policies and procedures to comply with the new requirements. Due to the nature of the content of today's session, I'd like to pause for a moment and encourage everyone to please take care during the session. There may be content covered that you might find upsetting, and if you're impacted by anything discussed today, please feel free to step out of the session if the content is too much for you. We also encourage you to access any of the free confidential supports available that are listed on this slide, and we will also provide this information again at the end of today's session. So I'll just do a little bit of housekeeping before we start. So the information we are sharing in this session is broad, so that it is useful for all service types and participants. If you have any service-specific questions, please contact the Information and Enquiries team, either via email or phone. These details will be shared during this presentation if you need them. I really hope we have some providers in the audience today, as you are the ones responsible for ensuring these new changes are embedded within your service or organisation. So once the presentation is finished, you'll be sent a survey. We'd love for you to take a few minutes to complete the survey so we can continue to develop content that is beneficial to the sector's needs. The microphone and camera functions have been disabled for participants during this presentation. However, we encourage you to please ask us questions through the Q&A function in Zoom. We will be responding to questions in the chat during the session. We will also be posting links to resources via the chat, so please keep an eye out for these during the session. And due to the nature of the content being discussed during today's webinar, we will work between our 2 agencies, the Department of Education and New South Wales Health, involved in this presentation, to confirm following the session if the recording will be published on our website. We will also be providing you with the link to the self-paced module that covers lots of similar content to today's session that's published on New South Wales Health's website. So during this session, we please ask that you refrain from taking photos of slides that include images of children, and there may be some questions that we won't be able to get to today, but it will be fantastic to see them coming in. The questions we receive during these sessions help us as the regulatory authority to structure our advice and support for you. Any questions that we don't manage to answer during the session today, we will make sure that you receive answers or guidance that helps you answer the questions, after the session. I'll now hand over to Yasmina, our director in the New South Wales Regulatory Authority.

YASMINA KOVACEVIC - Thanks, Kaitlin. I think we're in business. I can see my image up on the screen. Good afternoon everyone. I'm super excited to see we are almost, we are heading to the 300 mark, and of course I'd love to see even more than that in our participant group. I'll start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that I'm on today, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my deepest respects to their Elders, as the knowledge holders, past, present and emerging. I'm one of the directors in the New South Wales Regulatory Authority, and the Regulatory Authority has a very, very important oversight function across safety and quality. We're focused on upholding public trust and confidence in the ECEC sector. We do this for the benefit of you, those that run the services and the providers that own and operate, but ultimately the benefit of children and families right across New South Wales. The topics we're bringing to you today, as you heard Kaitlin outline, they're so important. I know the sector has been asking for more guidance on precisely the themes that will be covered by our expert speakers. Before we get to that though, I'd like to let you know some exciting news, maybe less exciting for you. It's very exciting for us, and we need to let you know that that this is happening. We have also as a responsible regulator, affirmed our public commitment to child safety and Child Safe Standards through our own action plan, as you can see on that slide. It's publicly available, that's important to let you know, on our website. As the regulator, we're committed to upholding children's safety, upholding the Child Safe Standards. We safeguard against risk of harm to children. And while this is separate to what we will be talking about today, this plan outlines the strategies we will take to support awareness raising of the importance of child safety, building capability of services, and supporting implementation of the Child Safe Standards within our own regulatory authority workforce as well. So as one of the actions in our plan, we're working closely with the Office of the Children's Guardian. You may not know this, I thought I'd tell you about this today to support you to implement the Child Safe Standards at your end. How are we doing that? We're co-funding and developing a suite of resources free of charge to you, to all in the sector in fact, and this suite of resources will be delivered in the first half of 2024, and I bet you're pleased to hear that. These resources will include things like e-learning modules that you can use at your leisure, I guess at the best time that suits you. Podcasts, animations, videos, tailored to your specific service type, centre-based, family day care, outside school hours care, all of it's covered. So my advice to you today is take advantage of these resources as they're released. Kaitlin's been our key person working closely with the OCG on this. I wanted to let you know also that the journey of achieving child safe organisations is actually a collective effort, and we are on that journey together with you. So for now you'll hear about, you'll hear more from me later on in the presentation, but for now, I'll hand back to Kaitlin. There's a lot to get through. Sit back, immerse yourself in this highly informative session. Thanks Kaitlin.

KAITLIN DOHERTY - Thanks Yasmina. So speaking of the Child Safe Standards, many of you will likely be familiar with the Child Safe Standards as the framework that we use here in New South Wales. So just to avoid any confusion during the presentation today, the purpose of this slide is to confirm that the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations that we will be talking about today, are very similar to the Child Safe Standards. So the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, which I'll refer to as the National Principles, embed the Child Safe Standards recommended by the Royal Commission. The National Principles aim to provide a nationally consistent approach to creating organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing. The New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian considers any service that is implementing the National Principles to also be implementing the Child Safe Standards. So this slide shows an overview of the changes to the law and regulations, and updated guidance, that brings closer alignment between the National Principles and the National Quality Framework. These changes were introduced from the 1st of October this year. So as you can see, there have been updates to Section 162A, related to child protection training requirements. This now extends to FDC coordinators, as well as nominated supervisors and persons in day-to-day charge of the service. Under the National Regulations, Regulation 84 has been updated, regarding awareness of child protection law requirements, which now extends to volunteers and students at the service, as well as nominated supervisors and staff members. For Regulation 149, volunteers Working with Children Check details must be included on staff records. And Regulation 168 on services policies and procedures, there are new requirements for content included in your child safe environment policies, and complaints handling policies. And then in terms of the updated guidance, there are some updates to the guidance on record keeping requirements to support child protection. So these changes align with the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. So collectively these changes aim to enhance the safety of children, and reduce risks of harm and abuse occurring in services. So during today's session, the focus will be on the changes to Regulation 168, which is in the purple box on your screen. The changes in the green boxes, which are under Section 162A, Regulation 84, and Regulation 149, are all fairly straight forward changes. Your organisation will likely already have the systems in place to make a smooth transition to implementing these changes. We won't be focusing on these changes today, as they are largely related to existing requirements related to child protection awareness and Working with Children Check requirements, that now extend to some additional people who may work in your service. The focus of today's session, as I mentioned, is under Regulation 168, which is in the purple box. This is related to complaints handling processes, and in today's session, specifically we will be focusing on managing complaints that allege a child may be exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours. This is an area we have received enquiries about post the 1st of October changes under the National Quality Framework, and we thought it would be most helpful to focus this session on addressing this topic. There are some other changes under Regulation 168, as I mentioned previously, and these changes relate to covering the creation of a child-safe culture, and the safe use of online environments in your policies, and ensuring complaints handling processes are child-focused. And finally, in the orange box, the updated guidance regarding record keeping requirements, these changes are being made in response to the recommendations from the Royal Commission, and it has been recommended through the Royal Commission that organisations engaged in child-related work retain records relating to child sexual abuse that has, or is alleged to have occurred, for at least 45 years. The changes also reflect and incorporate guidance on existing best practice from governments and state and territory authorities. The changes aim to strengthen whole of service awareness of child protection laws and individual reporting obligations, including resources related to child protection reporting. They also aim to enhance and appropriately maintain the record keeping practices of all employers and employees, including volunteers, in relation to actual or alleged incidents of child abuse, to ensure that the relevant records and information is easily accessible to survivors. Good record keeping practices include storing records identified as relevant to child safety and wellbeing, including child sexual abuse for 45 years, ensuring the records are clear, objective, and thorough, that they are maintained in an indexed, logical, and secure manner, and they are retained and disposed of in a consistent manner. There is a great information sheet on this found on a ACECQA's website, that I encourage you to access, if you haven't already. We have dropped a link to this resource in the chat, so you can access it there. Now ACECQA has released updated guidance on the changes under Regulation 168. There are resources, including the updated policy and procedure guideline documents, that you can see on this slide that show you, these changes, sorry, these updated documents align with these changes. And so there is one relating to providing a child safe environment, and another on dealing with complaints. We'll also pop the links to these documents in the chat for you to access as well. So some of the considerations for promoting a culture of child safety and wellbeing, and the safe use of online environments, includes thinking about how all children attending your service are provided with a child safe environment, both physically and online, through the creation of a child-safe culture. It's also about thinking about how children's wellbeing is paramount, and how children will be actively involved in decision making, to provide an environment that encourages them to reach their potential. How the management team, educators, and staff are made aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect, is also another area you should consider as part of your policies, as well as ensuring that all times reasonable precautions and adequate supervision ensures that children are protected from harm and hazard. You should consider what procedures are in place to effectively manage incidents, and also how nominated supervisors, educators, staff members, volunteers, and students who work with children, are advised of the existence and application of the current Child Protection Law and any obligations they have under that law. You can also use the Child Safe Standards, and the resources available on OCG's website to further embed this. There's additional guidance that can be found on the Australian Human Rights Commission website, the National Office for Child Safety website, and also our website in the section on Child Safety. The links to those web pages will be also added to the chat. So considerations for complaints handling policies for child-focused systems, and matters relating to the management of a complaint that alleges a child is exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours, includes describing how children's safety, health and wellbeing is the key priority. In line with regulatory requirements, you can discuss notification processes to the relevant authorities, such as the Regulatory Authority, the Reportable Conduct Scheme, child protection, and criminal matters, that should be reported to police. You can include how family's feedback is welcomed into all aspects of the services operations, including any complaints they may have. You can also think about how complaints are viewed as an opportunity to enhance the quality of the services practices and the process of reflecting on each complaint received, and the processes to respond to complaints and concerns which are child focused. So we have received enquiries related to the management of harmful sexual behaviours in children, and the next section of our session will be focused on this topic. This will hopefully provide you with further considerations for your policies and procedures, to effectively manage complaints or incidents of this nature. Before I hand over to Yasmina to introduce our guest speaker, I wanted to also mention the approved provider's reporting requirements in relation to children who may be exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours, as this question may come up during the session. In the situation of a child exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours at your service, the approved provider, in consultation with the relevant staff, must consider the specific situation in accordance with the National Law and Regulations. The national law requires the approved provider to ensure adequate supervision to protect children from harm and hazard at all times that children are being educated and cared for by the service, and that the educators are aware of, and enact their responsibilities under current Child Protection law. Approved providers need to consider whether this situation may have caused any risks to the health and safety of children. And they should consider if any concerns or complaints have been raised about an incident, or whether there has been an allegation of physical or sexual abuse of a child or children, whilst they're at the service. If you are ever unsure of the specific nature of the situation and what you need to do in response, regarding your reporting requirements, please feel free to contact our information and enquiries team, and this team will offer advice and referral to further support. We will include these details in the chat. I'll now hand over to Yasmina to introduce our guest presenter for the next part of today's session.

YASMINA KOVACEVIC - Thanks, Kaitlin. That is great advice and guidance for our participants. I'm sure they will agree, and also the sharing of those policy development guidelines that ACECQA produce, please, please take advantage of those if you haven't already. So before I also introduce the guest speakers, I wanted to make sure that you get maximum benefit out of the content you're about to hear about and see. The upcoming presentation, as you heard Kaitlin speak to, is intended to elevate your understanding and insights, but it will however have a specific focus on this topic of child to child sexualised behaviours, including what is considered a normal part of development, child development, and potentially what is potentially problematic or harmful. This is really important for you to know, because it'll help you with what to do, how to respond to particular behaviours or events. The content of the first part of the presentation involves some slides that are not instructional directly to you. Those slides will aim to broaden your knowledge base on what is age appropriate, in terms of the development journey of the child, and it doesn't prompt you to do something specific or do differently with the child. In other words, you don't need to prompt children to do things you will see and learn about in the upcoming slides. These expert speakers that are about to take the stage, they'll provide guided advice on potential responses in their presentation further on, and I'll hand to them in a moment. And also you, you heard Kaitlin mentioned, and intentionally emphasise, the role of the provider. It is so, so important how you position your service and guide your staff. Of course that must align with the current policies and procedures within your organisation, and those changes that you saw on those slides earlier, the requirements around notifying and reporting are so important. We can't over emphasise those. Of course, your policies and procedures will clarify roles, responsibilities for workers in your organisation, and required responses by those individuals. All of that should of course be articulated and very easy to understand and follow. In keeping with the OCG Child Safe Standards, all organisations must also ensure the rights and safety of all children and young people in your services. So that's enough from me. You are now going to hear more about this topic, and the guidance across this topic, from our guest speaker Cathy Want. She's the Manager at Rosie's Place. We will also have Donna Roese, Manager of Integrated Violence, Abuse and Neglect from New South Wales Health's Education Centre Against Violence. So Donna will be supporting Cathy by moderating the Q&A. She'll be responding to any questions that come through from you. Thanks, Cathy, over to you.

CATHY WANT - Thanks Yasmina. Hello, welcome. Great to see the numbers on the board of so many people. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that I am sitting on the wonderful Darug land, and I wish to pay my respects to Elders, past and present. Rosie's Place sits more on the plains of the Darug land and moves up to the lower Blue Mountains, before it goes into Gandangara country, and certainly east, in terms of the beautiful Parramatta River. And Donna is here with me. This is actually a partnership between Health and Early Education. And I'm a contractor with New South Wales Health, under Donna's portfolio, and also in my work at Rosie's Place, I am Manager, but also a Counsellor. And Donna and I have a very long history together as educators, but also practitioners in this field of responding to children who have displayed problematic or harmful sexual behaviour. And that's the term that is used. Next slide please. One of the things that you will hear a lot and talked about a lot in this area of work, is children and their development. And obviously for your roles, you would be more well versed in this than I am. And certainly you would have the wonderful privilege of witnessing children's exploration and curiosities and the questions that they ask, and the whys of why is this and why is that? And they're asking in that natural learning and joyful curiosity. When we're talking here about development, we are specifically focusing, not on sexual development in terms of separating it from all the other layers of child development that occur, because it's all one child, it's all one person learning and growing. What often happens, is children's sexual development, which is not sex, but sexual development, encompasses the exploration and curiosity about how their bodies work, why people look differently, why touching certain parts of their bodies feels good, and helps them calm down, and a lot around their sexual identity. And with that, we would hope that from an early age that children are also learning about the ethics of respect and dignity and safety. So it's so much more than when we just talk about child sexual development. The next few slides just going to go through when we are looking at this area of, you'll hear me say PHSB, which is our abbreviated problematic and harmful sexual behaviour. And I'll talk a bit about the continuums of this behaviour. So when I say PHSB, I'm actually talking about children's sexual behaviours. There is a mythology that children may actually be asexual, and by that, that they have no interest in terms of their sexuality and their development. However, what the research tells us really strongly, as is quoted in the Ey & McInnes article, is that through exploration, through looking, watching, learning, modelling, listening, children are learning about sexual development and sexual identity. And this is just a quote around that development. I don't think I'll go into it. You've probably all read it. What I would like to say is 2 things, as a continual caveat to hold. When we are talking about children under 10 who have normal sexual development, and normal sexual curiosity and exploration, we will also at times see children where their behaviours will move to a more concerning level. And that's what we talk about as problematic and possibly also harmful. However, what does not change in any of that behaviour, is that children are children. The other caveat on that is not only are they children, they should never be, and can never be placed in the same category of adults who sexually harm. Very, very different. And so they're probably the 2 main points I'd like to hope that you hold as we go through this material. I'm really familiar with working with children who display this behaviour, as is Donna, and their families. So I hope that in my ease in which I talk, that I'm certainly not in any way seeming to disrespect children, or seeming to minimise problematic or harmful sexual behaviour, because we know that that behaviour makes sense. What that means for us is that when, no matter who sees it first, in what we call early responders, who is concerned about there's a pattern here that seems to be happening for a while, or that's not okay that those 2 kids just came out of the toilet, like what's going on? So there's that adult need to be interested, to trust your instincts, your sense of "this doesn't feel okay", then to consult, and as was so strongly said at the start of this webinar, is you've got your mechanisms, you've got, you know, your supervisors, your managers of services, you've got your policy and procedures, you've got your Child Safe Standards. If you hold those things, then that should give you more confidence to say, "Okay, I can step in and I can be curious about this." That is not to investigate, because that's not my role ever is not to investigate, but it is my role, or any early responder role, to try and have a conversation to see what's just happened, what's going on? If not you directly, then someone needs to speak to the child or the children involved. This is a duty of care in a workplace setting, and in a child safe organisation. So we're not saying that everyone sitting here in this audience must undertake that, but someone has to get a bit more understanding of what has occurred and what might need to be the next step. Okay, thank you. Next slide, please. So you would probably know most of this in your roles, but just knowing and watching children and seeing them, we divide child sexual exploration and development into years. This is a bit unfair, because we know that there are going to be differences. There are going to be differences between one 4-year-old and another 4-year-old. There may be cultural differences, there may be differences in lived experience, in terms of what they consider normative, because of perhaps what they've observed or what they've seen. And children who may be quite affronted and quite distressed when they see something that another child might sort of think, "Well, what was that? Why was that a problem?" But if you go through this list, what you're seeing, what we would consider expected or normative behaviour, is usually a comfort in themselves. And this is the wonderful thing about children, is that comfort in their bodies, comforts in how their eyes, nose, ears, heart works, as well as their vaginas and their penises and their buttocks. And so as they're sort of moving into getting an understanding of the social mores about this, they're going to be a lot freer. And this is where adults need to come in and give them a lot of correction, or so say, "Ah, you don't sort of do that in front of other kids." That's more a private thing that you might do when you go to the toilet, or you know, or stuff like that. So when we don't tend to use the word masturbation with children as young as this, unless it may be something that is moving up more into that problematic, but certainly touching their genitals feels good. And most of that is around self-soothing, self comfort, just as they suck their thumbs or hold their ears or stroke their hands. However, we also have to be wise and realise that when children touch their genitals, there's going to be perhaps a stronger bodily experience. Therefore it feels good. And one of the earlier writers, Jane Gilgan, in this work talked about, well, once the toothpaste is out of the tube, once kids learn that, "oh this is good", then it's really hard to put the toothpaste back in, and this is where they need, you know, direction and guidance. Okay. Alright, next slide please. So we've only kept it 5 to 9, because we're talking here about children under 10. When we're talking about 5 to 9 year olds, we are moving from that more sensory stage to exploration and getting an information and getting an understanding. And this is a an age of lots of questions, why, why, why, why, why? How come? What if I do this? What happens then? Why is that? So, we call it the why phase in our work here. The behaviours that are developmentally expected in terms of their sexual development, is they're getting an increased sense about privacy. So shutting toilet doors when they go to the toilet, or coming out, but their pants are pulled up, they're not pulled down. Again, the touching of their genitals. Masturbation may progress to getting an understanding that this is something that needs to be done in private. However, with masturbation, we would always see that if that is a patent behaviour, and it seems to be continuous, despite efforts to redirect the child, to get them to move into other things, then we're starting to get into problematic and possibly concerning. And that's where we may need to start to look at patterns of behaviour. They get very curious about other children's genitals, looking at them, touching them. Show me yours, show me mine. You'd be very aware of this. They get curious about sexuality, they get curious about boys and girls and babies, or where do they come from, and relationships and sexual activities. They may use lots of swear words, and I think we have to be realistic and know that the vocabulary of what we might call swear words has increased greatly. However, for kids, they often don't see that if you say one word, that it's actually harsher and more concerning than saying another word. What they might see is a reaction. And if that reaction is one that scares them, they may stop. If it's a reaction that actually creates a bit of alarm, and they may giggle at that, so they're going to be responding to how adults react. We also know, sadly, that children as young as these ages have access to mobile phones and internet. Now, when I say sadly, I absolutely get and appreciate that the use particularly of internet, the use of games, educational games and activities, the internet to have conversations with extended family members who may be overseas or living in the country, the internet to be there to give parents a bit of peace and quiet in those turbulent times of night, are positive. But we also know, and we can't hide the fact, that young children are very clever now at understanding how it all works. I have a 6-year-old and a 5-year-old grandchildren, and both of them are pretty well versed on how to get into my phone and how to search Google and the internet. So this is something that I've noticed in my work that's different over the years, is internet and mobile phone invasion into children's lives. We also know that not only do devices have an impact in terms of unsafe places that they can go, we also know that it impacts on their brainwaves and can actually increase anxiety, increase the amygdala going off, tired eyes, lack of rest. So not going into sound sleeps. So again, if we talk about the development of children holistically, then we need to be mindful that the internet is also impacting on them physically and emotionally and cognitively. Okay, just quickly on the terminology, and I'll keep my eye on the time. The common terms, the New South Wales Government has recently released some formal resources and papers. Problematic sexual behaviour, so we talk about normative or expected or typical sexual behaviour, but again, always be a bit loose about that, based on the differences between children and the differences between families. But problematic is there's a concern, it's inappropriate, either in where, when, how, who with, all of those questions, but there's no overt intention to harm another child. It may be more the context, and as I said, the what happened and what was said and what was done. Harmful sexual development or sexual behaviours moves further along continuums to being not only inappropriate, but may cause harm to the child themselves, or to others, including another child, a young person, and adults. And they're sort of the 2 main definitions that are held. Problematic and harmful is then collapsed together as the umbrella term to talk about sexual behaviours that we would see as a level of concern, at least initial concern, that then with further exploration may be appeased and may sort of settle. The reason we say under 10 at this point, is simply because of the legal factor that children under the age of 10 are not seen to be legally responsible for any behaviour that may be considered more in a criminal area. So that's why it's under 10. We here at Rosie's will see children a little bit older, up to about 12, If there's children, it's very rare that children between the ages of 10 to even 14, very rare that they will be criminally charged with behaviour. However, some children will be. There is a movement by the governments already happening in other states to move the criminal age of responsibility up to 12, and then possibly to 14. So that's why it says under 10. Thank you. Okay, so as I've said before, we do not situate children or young people with sexually harmful or concerning behaviours any way into adults who sexually harm. So we would never use words which you'll probably hear elsewhere, perpetrators, sex offenders, sex abusers, they're not the language that we use. So the term children who have displayed problematic or harmful sexual behaviour, past tense, because it's observed, it's understood that it's occurred, it's highly possible and likely that children will move away from that behaviour with adult intervention and guidance. And so that's why it's past tense, who have displayed problematic or harmful sexual behaviour. And also we say they have displayed, because we don't say that these children, we don't associate, it's a bit like when we say, we don't say disabled children now, we say children with disability. The same here. We do not have a sort of totalizing description of children as, you know, children who have sexual behaviour problems. So we always say who have displayed the behaviour, so that we can dislocate it from them. I might move to the next slide, because I feel I've already answered that. Thank you. Okay, the term 'drivers of PHSB' you might hear in other ways, such as risk factors, or other areas that may be in the child's lived experience, in their social environment, that are very strongly connected, particularly with what we would see as harmful sexual behaviour. So we're just going to have a quick look at those. Okay. Let's move on. So sexual abuse of children who have displayed PHSB may be a factor. However, the dominant thought not very long ago was if they're displaying this behaviour, they must have been sexually harmed themselves. Yes, children who have experienced sexual harm will display or can display these behaviours, particularly really little ones, where they're mimicking what has occurred to them. But most children who have been sexually abused do not go on and display concerning or harmful sexual behaviours. And many children who have displayed PHSB will have no known history of sexual abuse. So one of the tensions for workers is that fear that if I speak to this child, will I get a disclosure that they're also being sexually harmed? And the evidence would say they may. However, it's not an overriding factor. There is, however, a very strong connection, particularly with children who display harmful sexual behaviour with what we call cumulative harm. So abuse, neglect, domestic and family violence is a very strong correlation, and parental drug and alcohol abuse. So the generalised stats are between 35 to 50% of children under 10 who have displayed PHSB, have experienced sexual abuse. But the same number have also experienced physical, emotional abuse, neglect, and have witnessed domestic family violence. That's why I said the behaviour makes sense, because they're often a sign that other things are happening in that child's life. And certainly for me as a Counsellor, that's where you start to get into the harder territory. This is an infographic from a wonderful resource, which is research based by Castello and Backhouse in 2019. And it also lists similar correlations between PHSB and associated factors. Poverty, losses, and family stresses again, further add to the picture. Donna, can I just check, is there anything in the chat at this point, or will we leave it till the end? Because I'm talking, I'm not reading.

DONNA ROESE - No, I'm covering the chat. It's okay Cathy.

CATHY WANT - Okay, but just come in when -

DONNA ROESE - Yes, no, so far so good.

CATHY WANT - Okay, one of the drivers you need to look at is sexualisation of gender and how it also portrays gender identity and also portrays the behaviour of if we sit in binary positions of male and female, the differences between how young identified females are portrayed, and identified males are portrayed. And I also, even though it's not the point of this presentation, but also absolutely will acknowledge that we need to also look at sexualisation of gender and for children, including children who may identify as non-binary. Thanks Donna. And technology, which I've already talked about. So I won't say any more of that. Technology however is huge. I would probably be pushing it up further to the top of the table. One of the things around why technology is so influential, there's a paper written many, many years ago by a Senate standing committee, where it talked about technology. Access to pornography, sexualisedmaterial we've got to accept it's in the, what the Senate committee called the wallpaper of children's lives. And children will see it and they'll be interested in it. However, if they've got enough adult guidance around them, they will be taught to understand it, to know that this is not okay and appropriate, and they will be redirected. Because of the correlation with children who are really struggling in other lived experiences of their life, it often further leads them to seek solace that way than with people. And that's one of the traps and a very strong connection to PHSB. Thank you. Okay. One of the other things is that when we are trying to hold children who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour, we also have to never minimise the harm that another child or an adolescent or an adult has experienced, or been subjected to by that behaviour. And this is where it can start to get into, well it was only a child, the intention of the child was not to do any harm, but for the child who experienced or was subjected to that behaviour, harm has happened. So we have to hold both. So it's not about shaming or demonising any child who has displayed the behaviour, but nor is it about minimising or reducing the fact that harm may have occurred. Many, many times, depending on what's occurred, the child who has been subjected or witnessed that behaviour will not experience that they've been harmed. They might be embarrassed, they might think it's weird, they might feel uncomfortable, they might want to talk to an adult about what they saw or what happened. They may not actually believe or experience that another child actually intentionally harmed them. But there are certainly children who will experience that, particularly when there is a pattern of behaviour that has occurred, and that they are targeted by that behaviour and targeted by that child. Thank you. Okay, we also in our public health model look at not only continuums of behaviours, but also continuums of responses. And so anything that you read about PHSB in a public health model, is that there are tertiary responses, which we would see as specialist counselling responses. And that's where there is a level of risk where there needs to be ongoing support and counselling for the child and the family. Secondary is where we are looking at possible risk factors. So some of those drivers that I spoke about earlier, if there is also an observation of behaviour that is seen to be sexually inappropriate, but there is also information known about that child, including other behaviours that are of concern, for me that would increase my level of concern for that child. Then there are, in the wonderful world of education, primary universal interventions, giving children knowledge, understanding, guidance, giving them a language that they can talk about what happened to them. If children don't have a language to describe things that have happened, then they're not going to be able to disclose clearly. So that's where primary universal sits. And I guess it's then where then do early educators sit in that role, and what are your policies and procedures and workplace roles and responsibilities about that, compared to say to the role of families and the role of other people in children's lives. Thank you. So secondary level is your level. It's my level. I'm a tertiary responder. I'm also a secondary level responder. It's the role of primary schools, high schools, childcare centres, nurses, GPs, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, anybody who is meeting with a child and a family and becomes aware of, either by observing or a child disclosing harm, or a child who's displayed the behaviour, saying, "I keep doing this and it's a bit weird, but I can't stop." You are an early responder. You are sitting at a secondary level response. And this is why so much now is coming out to support you as workers in this. The other thing that's really important to know, is that secondary level intervention is seen as the most significant intervention to support the child to move away from the behaviour. And that means that that child would not need to move on to a tertiary level response. Other supports may need to come in that are more family related, but secondary level, hate to say it guys, you are sitting right at the most critical part of PHSB. In saying that, what we're also aware of, and Donna and I are certainly aware of as trainers, and also sitting in my service and taking referrals, there's a great deal of anxiety and lack of confidence of doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, making a mistake, underreacting, overreacting, being seen as weird, being seen as on one level sort of promiscuous yourself in your views around sexual, or very, very the other way. And we all hold personal views and beliefs and ideas about what's appropriate and what's not appropriate behaviour with children, in terms of sexual behaviour. So what we need to do, particularly in our workforce, is we need to have common understandings of where you as a worker need to cross that line and go, "I'm actually worried about this child," or, "I've seen something. I don't know if I'm overreacting, I don't if I'm underreacting, but I need to have a conversation with someone." For as a first port of call, that's an incredibly important step. Rather than going, "It's just me. No one else is taking any notice. Something's wrong with me, I'm just going to let it go." Or, "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, we need to do something. This is out of control." So we're trying to sit in the middle of noticing and seeking to understand what's occurred, documenting and reporting to whoever we need to. Whoever in that chain of reporting makes the decision about whether or not it's managed within the organisation, or whether or not a report needs to be made to the helpline, then that person holds that responsibility, as well as consultations with Child Wellbeing Units, with whoever staff is there that sits in welfare roles. So the only thing I can say about not being confident, is you are not on your own, but you'll stay on your own if you hold it within yourself. Always, always share and have a conversation. There is no harm happening to have a conversation to colleagues, to someone else in your organisation. If you are sitting up the higher level of conversations, you may be asked or suggested that your role is to have a conversation with children involved, to have a conversation with the parents, to have a conversation with child protection. So again, find out where your role is, where your responsibilities are, and then work out, okay, this is what I need to do. But please do not hold it to yourselves, or do not feel that if you just speak to the child in terms of, "Listen, that's not okay, stop doing that". If there is a sufficient level of concern for you, it is worth reporting. And when I say reporting, it's worth having a conversation and then seeing where it goes. And it might be, well you've interrupted the behaviour, you've redirected the child, this is a one-off incident, there's been no further incidents, no previous incidents, let's just see what happens. But maybe we'll have a conversation with mum and dad, or mum or dad. That's what you need to do in your organisation. Thank you. You would probably be familiar with Traffic Lights. It is from Family Planning Queensland. Now a bit like the child development that was in the earlier slides, the traffic lights is an example of what we call a screening tool. So it has 3 colours, like the traffic lights. The green is what we would see as normal, healthy, typical sexual behaviour. The yellow is more in the problematic, so there's an element of concern here, and the red is this is very concerning behaviour. There's lots of resources, if you don't already have them in your organisation, that you can access from TRUE, which is Queensland Family Planning. There are also other screening tools available. Health is currently developing a further screening tool that very much parallels this, but hopefully is a bit simpler. As a screening tool, it's not there for you to go, "Okay, this is yellow". It's there for you to just look at, "Mmm, there's sufficient concern for me to then move and report, or have a conversation and not to dismiss". The other thing we need to be really aware of, is all children, including children who sit in the red, will sit across, or some children will just sit in the normal, and they might do a bit of an exploration and then they're redirected back. "Okay, okay, that's not good. I won't do that again". But when we're talking about children in the red and the yellow, they don't just sit in red and yellow, and therefore they're unsafe all the time, or they've got huge issues and problems, they will move across continuums. What you are looking for are patterns of behaviour, repeated incidents. You're looking at affect, lightheartedness versus secrecy or anxiety. You're looking at if a child's approach and symbols, it's just going on there, and there's an affect of shutdown, shame, which is different to, "I'm being naughty," and you'd see that with children that you're working with in all sorts of other behaviours. It's looking at the whole picture, not just the behaviour itself. Thank you. So I think I've spoken to that. So yeah, we have to be very, very careful that tools do not give us the idea that this child sits here and that's where they need to stay. I would say that children who are sitting at the harmful end definitely would need further exploration. Sometimes problematic is the context in which it's occurred. You know, it's not appropriate at this point in time, the language connected to it. You don't use words like that. If the child's redirected and also gets some guidance about why it's not okay, the behaviour ceases. It may be that, "Okay, let's just see where this child goes with this behaviour". So really we don't ask why. We ask what happened, when did it happen, where did it happen, and who with. We don't ask why, because we don't know the answer to that. I don't know the answer to why. So really important, we just go get an idea of what happened, who did what to whom? When did it happen? Was the child alone or were others present? Is it only directed at one child or to themselves or to other children? Did someone see what happened? Who's letting you know, someone telling you? Or have you actually observed it, or has another member of staff observed it? Is this the first time, or is this a behaviour that's repeating? Regarding what the situation is in terms of the where and when and what, just work out where your level of concern is. And again, always, always consult with others. The 2nd question right after the all, is really a conversation more at those high levels, or other levels within your workforce who might need to find out a bit more about what else do we need to know and how can we find this out, and who do we need to speak to? Thank you. Oh, this is big. It's only big because it's really important that, when we are looking at continuums of behaviours, we need to be looking at certainly, as we said earlier around children's normal development, that children are going to be different physically, cognitively, their sexual understandings, their social emotional layers. We know that children are uniquely different. We need to, if it's directed only to themselves and their young children, it usually is most likely that it is self-soothing. As children get older, it may also be self stimulating. So it's inappropriate, but not necessarily harmful. If it continues and the child is preoccupied with that behaviour, it's then moving to a concerning level of harm. Children with intellectual disability, as well as children with autism, very high, statistically, in this group. And that's where we are fitting in the relational context of their developmental stages, understandings, language, self soothing behaviours, social awkwardness, social anxiety. So again, this bundle that's surrounding children. However, we also must not just, which is a mistake all the time, "Oh it's because they have a disability or autism that they're behaving this way." It may be a driver, but we can also think are "Mmm, are there other things that might be happening around this child that's also causing the behaviour to continue?" To be honest, in my work, even with harmful sexual behaviour, there are some children who will show a degree of aggression. There may be children who will show coercion, like, "Don't tell, keep it a secret, if you don't let me do this, or if you tell someone, I won't be your friend". So it's often in the child's world that those levels of coercion will occur. However, that's not to say that there are some children who will also show quite physically and verbally aggressive behaviour towards another child. And they're the children that differently would be moving up more into that higher level of concern. Okay, thank you. Sorry, I'm just keeping a look at the time. It's going so quick. Okay, so again, same questions. For all of these different contexts, same questions. What's our current level of concern regarding the relational context? Is there enough information or do we need to find out more? Who's going to do that? Is it our role and responsibility or someone else's? So it's just the same patterns of questioning, curiosity, and then working out a plan of what to do. Thank you. The social context is something that you may not know. We often don't find out about it until we start to do counselling. And the social context is what we would call the child's lived experiences, which are those driving factors that I talked about earlier. Your organisation may hold some information that should raise the level of concern, just in terms of the child's safety and current wellbeing. But again, with the social context, what do we know? What needs to be found out, and who's going to do it? But we can't ignore the fact that the social context surrounding children who display PHSB, is a highly significant buffer against the behaviour continuing, but also can be a driver of the behaviour. Not only continuing, but perhaps moving to higher levels of concern. Thank you. I realise I've got about 4 minutes. Let me think. Okay, next slide please. Just those same questions over and over. Okay, so what I said before, responses. This makes sense. It's not okay, it's of great concern, but we've got to work out what is this behaviour about. The safety and wellbeing of all children is paramount. Always. We need to always hold that children are more than the behaviour they display. So children who have displayed PHSB, particularly harmful behaviour, need to be accountable and take responsibility for that behaviour, particularly when it caused harm to another. That is within their cognitive and emotional development. But they certainly shouldn't be on their own to ever sort this out. That's where adults need to absolutely come in. And they also need to be seen as still children with lots of other parts about them that are important and matter. When we talk with children, it's really about just seeking to understand. That's all it is. The other point that's really important, and I might finish on this, is when we're talking about immediate safety, if you're in an organisation and the behaviour has happened in that organisation, in that setting, you need to have an immediate safety plan. That may be in your existing policies, or you'll certainly get guidance from many of the resources that Kaitlin talked about when we started. But there needs to be a safety plan. It can be things... So 2 little ones I see, it's not in early education, it's at an OOSH after school. The behaviour only happened at the OOSH. It happened once. And so in contact with the parents, all parents, a decision was made, safety plan was put in, not over the top, just line of sight supervision. One child goes to the toilet, because that's where it occurred, that's where the 'where' was, then they take turns. It's not super surveillance, it's just line of sight supervision and making sure for a while, only for a little while, that there's a bit of separation of the children. In terms of the 'what happened', there was a curious touching of another child, in terms of only asking, not actually touching the child, of asking to touch a child. The other child said no, came out and then reported it to one of the OOSH supervisors. However, some behaviours will be more than that, and therefore the safety planning needs to be greater. In devising a safety plan, if it's particularly up at the red level, we're needing to look at working out a safety plan, reporting, documentation, documentation, documentation. The other point, and I'll just say it really quickly, that came to my mind when Kaitlin was talking about documentation, as a sexual assault worker, we see many children, who were children, who now come to us as young people and adults. Therefore, their memories about what actually happened is often very vague or even forgotten. Documentation within organisations, and the redress scheme for victims of institutional responses to child sexual abuse, is all that they have. So documentation is really critical. It's also critical because it's looking at patterns of behaviour. So if you have changes of staff and rosters and behaviour's not documented, you're going to miss out on those patterns. The patterns of behaviour is one of the red flags that's going to move us up further to the behaviour. I might stop, because I know we've only got 5 more minutes, and I think I've covered most of everything. We were just going to finish with some questions, if there were any.

KAITLIN DOHERTY - Thank you so much, Cathy. That was a really informative presentation. I think Donna has managed to respond to all of the questions that came through in the chat, so I just wanted to thank you again. Cathy and Donna, thank you for joining us today during this session. I can see from the questions that were coming through the Q&A function, that the people that we have in the audience today found this very informative. We have lots of comments from people thinking deeply about this topic, so thank you very much Cathy and Donna, and thank you to everyone who has participated in this webinar today. Thank you for your engagement and the questions that you've sent through. I hope that it was helpful for you to meet the new requirements. As I mentioned earlier in the session, please do take care, and if you need to, please reach out to any of these support services that are listed on this slide. Please feel free to take a photo of this slide if you like, and we'll also put the details in the chat. And finally, thank you for joining and listening in today. We've covered a lot of territory, and I hope you've come away from this session with some new tips and resources that you didn't know about, and some strategies that you can take away and implement at your service. If you do have any other questions following this session, please reach out to our Information and Enquiries team. The details are listed here on this slide. Thanks again everyone. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.

Take an in-depth look at the MTOP V2.0 Principle – Equity, inclusion and high expectations.

AMY BIRUNGI: Hi, everyone. Welcome to today's session on My Time Our Place Version 2.0, the Framework for School Age Care in Australia, looking at Equity, inclusion, and high expectations. My name's Amy Birungi, and I'm the Director Centre for Excellence in Early Childhood Quality and Transitions. And I am going to be opening the session and then handing over to Jackie Bradshaw, who's the Manager Approved Learning Frameworks and Assessment for Learning. And Alicia Burke, who's the Manager, Continuous Improvement Team in the Statewide Operations Network, to take you through the updated Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations. But let me start this session by acknowledging that wherever you join this meeting from today, you do so from Aboriginal land. I have the pleasure of joining you today from the Dharug Land, and I'd like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Dharug Land, the Burramattagal people, and pay respects to Elders past and present. And acknowledge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues that are joining us today. It's great to have you join us around this principle because we know that this principle is important to ensuring great outcomes for all students and children, but especially our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learners across the state. Just a little bit of housekeeping for this webinar. So the microphone, video, and chat functions will be disabled throughout. The Q&A function will be available. If you have any questions throughout the session, there is a team of moderators with me who'll be responding in the chat throughout. And if time permits, we may be able to respond to some questions at the end. The session will be quite interactive, as we are really keen to hear from you and draw on your experiences and knowledge. To get your engagement and interaction, we'll be using Menti during this session. So in preparation for that, please have a mobile phone or other web browser available to participate in those interactive components. The Menti will remain open until next Tuesday, the 12th of December if you would like to add any further comments or feedback after today's webinar. The session is being recorded and will be available on our website shortly. And automated closed captions have been enabled during the session for accessibility. So prior to this session, we asked you to tell us what you'd like to know about the updated Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations. And I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who submitted questions. They have been particularly useful to us as we've developed the presentation for today, and we've tried to answer as many of them. But there were some topics that were raised that we may not have time to delve into. But the information that you've provided will help us shape future sessions so that we can answer the questions that you have. We're going to explore this principle by looking at examples of practice, hearing from your own experience through Menti, and providing some practical advice about how you can include the principle in your everyday practice. It is important to note that this principle is quite broad and should be adapted to suit the needs of each individual child and service. As we only have one hour and it will go quickly, today we're only going to provide you with an initial overview of the principle, but we encourage you to keep an eye out in 2024 as we plan to have additional supports and resources available about the My Time Our Place Framework and the different elements. So by the end of this session, we hope you have strengthened your understanding of the My Time Our Place Version 2.0 Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations. We hope you have ideas and provocations to think about what it could look like in your practice for your service, practical ideas for next steps on how to implement this principle in practice, and practical examples from the field on how you could embed the principle in practice. So to kick us off, we're gonna start with a Menti. So if you'd like to scan the QR code on the screen, or alternatively you can open a web browser and enter the code that's at the top of the screen. This is anonymous, so your name will not be captured against your response. But what we'd like to ask you to begin with is how well you understand the Principle: Equity, Inclusion, and High Expectations. And you've got 5 options. One, 'this is new to me'; 'I understand it a little bit'; 'I understand it quite well', 'It's familiar to me'; 'I understand it very well' and 'I'm confident in applying it'; and 'I understand it extremely well' and 'Can teach it to others'. Thanks for that feedback. I think that gives us a good starting point. We will be checking in with you at the end of the session to see how your understanding's changed, but for now I'm going to hand over to Jackie who's going to get us started. Thanks, Jackie.

JACKIE BRADSHAW: Thanks, everyone. Thanks, Amy, and thanks everyone, it's great to be with you today. My name is Jackie Bradshaw, I'm the Manager of the Approved Learning Frameworks and Assessment for Learning, and this afternoon I'm actually joining from Darkinjung Country. So as Amy said, thanks so much for joining us. It is a busy time of the year, so we really appreciate you coming along this afternoon. And as she mentioned, it is a big principle for us to consider. So this will just be the start and a broad overview, as she mentioned. So let's jump in and take a closer look. On the next screen here, you'll see that this is a bit of a refresher. And if you were able to attend our session back in June, you'll know that we unpacked the different components and the updated version of My Time Our Place Version 2.0, and if not, we will pop that link in the chat so you can go back to that recording and take a listen. So in this session, we are going to take a closer look and a deeper look into My Time Our Place, and we're just going to focus on that one Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations. It's really important, though, to call out and remember at this point in the presentation that all of the elements of the framework are connected, and interwoven, and overlap, and that while today we're only going to be taking a look at that one principle, it's important that as educators, that we draw on all of these in our work and remember how they're connected. And we'll explore that a little bit more in the session. It's also important to remember at this point as well that the principles underpin the contemporary theories, perspectives, and research and evidence into children's learning, development, and wellbeing. And that these underpin the practices that you can see in the middle of the screen, and that together, these assist us as educators in supporting children and young people to make progress towards the learning... Sorry, the outcomes. So having this deep understanding of the principles and practices is crucial for us to engage children and young people in learning through play and leisure that promotes confident and creative individuals and successful lifelong learners. And that's actually the vision of the updated My Time Our Place Framework. And so this is why it's a really good place for us to start to unpack the framework as we will be today. It's also important to remember that this is one of the updated principles and it actually expands on the current principle of high expectations and equity. So much of this might be quite familiar to you, but it is that opportunity for us to reflect on our own understanding and think about how our values and attitudes align with this principle. And it might be even that we challenge some of our thinking as we do this. It's also really important to remember that this is actually also one of the guiding principles in the National Quality Framework. So again, we can see how they all come together and link. So equity, inclusion, and diversity is one of the guiding principles of the NQF, as well as viewing children as successful, capable, and competent learners, which, again, we'll touch on as we go through this session. So what are the changes to this updated principle? You can see them on the screen, and as I mentioned, it's where we see inclusion coming into this principle now as well. So this is about all children and young people having the right to participate in quality and inclusive school age settings, regardless of their circumstances, strengths, gender, capabilities, or diverse ways of doing and being. There's been considerable growth in our understanding and research around inclusion and how we can use this to create inclusive environments. And it's a real opportunity to celebrate diversity of children and young people's lives. It draws on that new knowledge and evidence and helps us as educators enact inclusion for all children. So what we're going to do today, as Amy said, we're hoping to keep this nice and interactive, and one of the ways that we might be able to do this in our own setting as well is to think about each of the components separately and then bring them back together. So today, we're going to do that. We're going to explore each of the components of this principle step by step and then bring it back together. And to start, we're going to jump back into Menti, and I'm going to ask you to consider and pop into the Menti. 'What does equity mean to you?' Just wait for some responses to come through. So fairness, that's great. Yep. Fair. Equal access and respect. Everyone being given an opportunity. Equal rights and justice. Absolutely. This is great. Some great responses. Acknowledging disadvantage and reacting and responding to that, that's great, good to see. Every child and young person getting what they need to succeed and having those opportunities. Understanding that we are all different. Absolutely. Some great responses coming through, and I can see there that it's not the same for all, which is a great way for us to jump onto the next slide, and you can keep putting your responses in if you'd like. And really, let's take a closer look at what equity means. So as we saw in your responses before, equity means fair, not equal, and not the same. So it's really about providing every child and young person a fair and just opportunity to thrive. And it's not about that one-size-fits-all, it's about understanding that it's also access and participation. And you can see that on the screen in this image that if we were just to give everybody the same bike, so access to the same bike, not everyone would be able to participate. And so we need to consider those two things together. It's about understanding everyone's individual needs and ensuring that they're provided for. Again, we can see that on this slide here as well. It's actually really closely linked with critical reflection as well, which is actually another one of our principles, which I mentioned earlier, how the principles are all interwoven. So it's encouraging educators to challenge practices that might inadvertently contribute to inequity and discrimination. So educators can intentionally plan for and create these inclusive environments, and they can do that by adopting flexible and informed practices, and making adjustments to ensure that each child and young person can have that meaningful participation and that genuine engagement. So it's really about asking ourselves: How do we include? Rather than: Can we? On the next screen, we'll take a closer look at the next component of this principle, and I'm going to ask you to now tell me: 'What does inclusion mean to you?' I'll give you a moment to get your responses in there. 'What does inclusion mean to you?' So support, yep. Considering the different abilities and planning for those. As well, being open to all. Giving everyone an opportunity to participate at the level that works for them. And supporting each and every child and young person. I really like the call out of the safe environment here as well. That's really important. Everyone being included, no matter of their experience. Seeing their capabilities, absolutely. So we can be thinking of children as capable and competent. Providing those resources and materials as well, including them for who they are. Adjusting and adapting the routines as well and providing those opportunities. Some excellent responses coming through here. Again, this is great. Understanding the differences and supporting those as well. So it's really about us thinking about belonging. Again, a key part of our frameworks as well, and the dignity and rights of children and young people. And I like the call out there of not being biased. So let's take a look on the next slide at inclusion. And what we can remember here is that it's really important to value, respect, and welcome each child and young person, as well as their family and taking into account their social, cultural, and linguistic diversity and thinking about them holistically. The NQF and similar to our framework uses terms such as each, and every, and all children and young people. And that's really important. So this is not about just some children and young people, this is about each, and every, and all children and young people. So it's about us taking some really deliberate actions to shape our curriculum and our routines and our environments to ensure that, as we saw on the the previous slide, that all children and young people can actively and meaningfully participate and engage in the experiences. It's also about us identifying and addressing some of the barriers that children and young people may face. And so that could actually include both attitudinal and practical challenges as well. So this could arise from factors such as disability, family diversity, cultural and linguistic diversity, neurodiversity, even down to... That some children and young people in their families experiencing trauma as well, trauma and adversity, and how do we ensure that everyone has access and participation. So it's also about ensuring that they have access to resources to really engage in the program as well. And also, through that valuing of diversity, it helps children and young people become those active members of their community, which is really important. Inclusion is actually supported when educators actively engage in the process of self-reflection and critically reflect on their practices. And this can also mean thinking about how they contribute to the inequities or discrimination. And some of those conversations in a school age setting can actually be shared with children and young people in your setting as well. And so a really great place to start would be to really know, and I'm sure you do this in your normal practice as you go already, but to really know and understand each child and young person in your setting and their families. So what are their strengths and their interests, and how can you consider their cultural diversity, for example? We can use that, then, to plan and implement our curriculum as well. On the next slide, we'll take a closer look at the third component of this principle and consider high expectations. And so what does high expectations mean to you? Again, I'll give you a moment to pop your responses in. So yeah, we could think about quality when we're thinking about high expectations. Yep. We could be thinking about children being successful. Critically thinking, yep. Expecting the best. Absolutely. Recognizing each child's strengths. And I like that what's needed for our children and future leaders of our world as well. So thinking about our children and young people as active citizens within our community. We can be thinking about children and young people achieving and seeing children as capable and competent. We can be thinking about their individual needs and also autonomy and agency, which we know is covered in our frameworks as well. And again, we'll take a closer look at this as we go through. And having those opportunities to excel as well. On the next slide, we can see high expectations in a little bit more detail. And so as we saw on in your responses, it's really about considering children as capable and competent. And setting those high expectations for their learning, no matter what their circumstance, strengths, or cultural backgrounds or abilities are. And so this can be done by really valuing and celebrating children and young people's individual strengths and their funds of knowledge that they bring to the service, and celebrating, and collaborating, and listening with children and young people during that process as well, and believing that they have the capacity to succeed, regardless of those diverse circumstances. If we think of expectations as being defined as that strong belief that someone will achieve something, then high expectations for all children then means thinking and believing that children will achieve their full potential. And we can do this as well by crafting those play and leisure experiences in our service with children because we know that in our settings, children are active participants and can make good decisions and have those abilities to really shape what happens in our service as well. And it's encouraging them to engage in their interest, but also challenge their thinking as well. And again, as I mentioned, being empowered in decision-making and having that autonomy within their service and their setting as well. So that sense of agency. And our role as an educator in this is crucial to supporting their self-esteem and that sense of agency that they have. Now, as I mentioned, we were going to take a look at all of those components and then bring them back together, and that's what we can see on this next slide. So on this slide here, you can see the full Principle, Equity, and inclusion, and high expectations, and how they come together. And so, as educators, we are committed to equity when committed to equity recognize that all children and young people have the right to participate in our settings, regardless of their circumstances, gender, capabilities, or diverse ways of doing and being. It's about us adopting those flexible and informed practices and making those adjustments so that children and young people can participate and engage in the program. When we do this, it supports wellbeing and positive outcomes for the children and young people that we are working with every day, and it allows for that meaningful participation. So all of these concepts that we've been looking at in this last little part of the session. Educators engage in critical reflection, and as I mentioned before, we can actually engage children and young people in those conversations too, which we know is important in our school age setting to challenge practices that contribute to the inequities and discrimination, and then we can use that to make our program decisions that really support genuine participation and inclusion. So it's about us striving to provide all children and young people with equitable environments, and experiences, and the resources required to do this as well. By developing their professional knowledge or our professional knowledge and skills and working in partnership with children and young people, as well as their families, the communities, the teachers at the schools where our outside school hours care settings are often located, and other professionals, we continually just strive to provide and find those equitable and effective ways to support children to reach those outcomes and to flourish. So what does this mean for our practice? We're going to take a bit of a look now at a couple of components of the framework, and then soon I'll be handing over to Alicia, which she's going to take you through some real practical examples here. So on this slide, you can see, as I mentioned, the different components of the framework. And it's a reminder here that the principles and the practices come together as part of this when we're thinking about it. And then on the right-hand side of this screen, you can see some of the outcomes. And we've picked out these because they're particularly important when we are thinking about equity, inclusion, and high expectations. So one of the ways that you might, again, if you want to do a little bit more of a deep dive in the framework as you're exploring it and becoming familiar with it, is you might like to do a bit of a word search on equity, inclusion, and high expectations and see the different components where it pops up in the framework. It's a great way to see how the framework interconnects. And in that, you would see that it links with critical reflection. It also links with other principles around sustainability and our practices around play, leisure, and intentionality. And also the principle of collaborative leadership. So we know that in our settings, in our OSHC settings, that children and young people can be really active leaders in this space as well. And so we can draw on that as we go. In the framework, when we think about the outcomes, they have actually been expanded to provide some additional points of evidence for us to think about what it might look like for children and young people, and also what is our role as an educator in this to support children to work towards these outcomes as well. So on the next slide, we've taken just one example here, and this is, by no means, more important than some of the other the learning outcomes that we've seen on the other slide. It's just one we've picked out to take a closer look at. And what you can see here on the screen is what it might look like for a child or young person, which when we look at the screenshot of the framework, we can see on the left-hand side, and we've just made a couple of these slightly larger for you to be able to see. And then also, we can see what is our role as an educator to support children to achieve these outcomes. And so if we are looking at this particular example here of children and young people becoming aware of fairness, we can think about this. For example, if we were to think of children playing a game of soccer, for example, where you may notice as an educator that some children are being excluded from that game, and how do we actually get and support children and young people to actually understand what is fair in this circumstance? And so there could be a few ways that you might go about that. It could be, as it says here on the screen, considering how you can draw their attention to that issue of fairness and what might they need to consider, and getting them to reflect on that and provide suggestions on how to make both the environment, but also this particular experience more inclusive. So really challenging their thinking in this as well. And another way you might do that is providing some of those materials and resources to help them challenge their thinking in that. So as I mentioned, that's just one example of how we can draw on the framework to guide our practice when we're working with children and young people. But right now, I'm going to actually hand over to Alicia, who's going to take a closer look at some more examples and provide you a little bit more information. Thanks, Alicia.

ALICIA BURKE: Thanks, Jackie, for sharing all that valuable information. As Amy mentioned earlier, I'm currently the relieving State Operations Manager within Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services. So we tend to be referred to as the New South Wales Regulatory Authority or the Operational team. So some of you today may have seen me at your service or we may have had staff out there. So look, before I continue, I just wanted to do a bit of a pulse check to see what you're thinking and hearing. So we do have a few short true or false questions that are coming up. So I'm sure that you are very aware of Menti 'cause we're using it quite a lot in today's session. So I will go through a little bit of a trivia. The only downside is there aren't any prizes, but we're really interested in your responses. So if you can answer the question. Question 1, the principle 'Equity, inclusion and high expectations is a new principle in the My Time Our Place Version 2.0.' Okay. Well, the answer to that question is false. So Equity, inclusion, and high expectations is not a new principle. However, it has been renamed to include a focus on inclusion, recognizing that all children and young people have the right to participate in quality and inclusive OSHC settings, regardless of their circumstance, strengths, gender, capabilities, or diverse ways of doing. So there's been considerable growth in research and understanding how children respond to inclusive learning environments and practices of young children. The revision draws on some new knowledge and evidence-based practice to strengthen inclusion where educators enact inclusion for all. So it just has been renamed and strengthened. It isn't a new principle. So we might move over to Question 2. 'Does the Principle, Equity, inclusion, and high expectations relate only to Quality Area 1 Educational program and practice?' Answer 'yes' or 'no'. So do you feel this principle relates only to Quality Area 1? Great, well, yes, everybody is correct. So the answer is no. The principles, practices, and learning outcomes of the My Time Our Place interrelate with many areas under the National Quality Framework. The purpose of the My Time Our Place is to guide and enrich children's participation, and we know that reflects across the National Quality Framework, National Quality Standards. The My Time Our Place guides educators in their professional decision-making and assist in planning, and implementing, and evaluating high-quality programs and practices in the service. You should also be considering how staffing arrangements are reviewed and support this principle. So moving to Question 3. 'In reference to the principle 'Equity, inclusion, and high expectations' what statement best reflects the concept of 'equity'?' Response A, 'all children and young people have a right to participate in inclusive leisure settings'. B, 'educators nurture children and young people's optimism, happiness, and sense of fun to support friendships and interactions'. C, 'educators make reasonable adjustments to optimize children and young people's access'. And D, 'all of the above'. We'll look at that. I think everybody's got the right answer there. So correct, it's all of the above. All of those statements reflects the concept of equity, as Jackie has previously discussed. Right, Question 4. In reference to the principle 'Equity, inclusion and high expectations' what statement best describes 'high expectations'?' 'A high quality service provision'; 'children and young people seen as active citizens'; 'children and young people seen as active decision makers'; and D, 'all of the above'. I do feel we need some prizes. There are some very quick responses, which is fantastic. It means that lots of the information that Jackie has shared earlier is being reflective and correct. The answer is D, valuing children and young people's contributions to their learning journey is what supports high expectations. It's how are these children going to be active participants in their world? And I recall earlier there was a statement around how do we give those children choices, children and young people. Our fostering choice for children and young people to guide their own expectations and support concepts of high expectation is something that is quite common in this OSHC settings. So we're gonna go to the lucky last one, Question 5. So in reference to the Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations, what Quality Area best relates to inclusion? Would it be 'Quality Area 1, educational program and practice'; 'Quality Area 5, relationships with children'; 'Quality Area 6, collaborative partnerships with families'; or D, 'all 7 Quality Areas'? I think that was a trick question. It was just a reverse of the earlier questions. So a majority of participants have... or all participants have actually put the answer D. So it does relate to all seven Quality Areas. It's intertwined. Understanding inclusion and how each child can be given opportunities to explore, engage, and facilitate their participation is something that is evident across all Quality Areas under the National Quality Framework. They're interconnected to highlight the how and the why behind educator practice to facilitate the best play and leisure experiences for children and young adults. So we're gonna go into a little bit of a case study or a scenario. On this slide and the following one, you're going to see some images and supporting documents around the children and young people from diverse ranges of backgrounds and settings. As you look at these images and listen to the scenario I'm about to share with you, use the information we've discussed during today's session to think about how you can ensure children and young people engage in learning through play and leisure in an equitable and inclusive way. Seaside Outside School Hours Care is a hypothetical before and after school care service located on the grounds of a large public school. The staff spend time getting to really know each child and young person, their family, and aim to build a strong and long-lasting bond with each child and young person that attends. The introduction of the updated My Time Our Place Version 2.0 has been embraced by Seaside educators as an opportunity to examine their philosophy and practice. After reflecting together at a recent staff meeting, the staff have chosen to focus on the new My Time Our Place Version 2.0 Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations to critically reflect on the principle in their pedagogy, programming, and recreational environments. The staff began reflecting together on their philosophy to relook at how it aligns with the principles, practices, and learning outcomes of the My Time Our Place. As they do so, they consider whether policies, and procedures, and practices support the philosophy, and also review the Disability Discrimination Act, Racial Discrimination Act, and the Code of Ethics as a team. So you can see lots of those supporting documents there. Being in an Outside School Hours Care environment, children and young people are usually comfortable and confident to share with you their thoughts and ideas about how they wanna spend their time and what they may need. However, there is such a strong role for educators to consistently promote access for all children and young people. The team at Seaside OSHC are encouraged to see their commitment of Equity, inclusion, and high expectations reflected in their service, while also noting the unique context of OSHC services, and in particular, access to resources. As many of you would know, you may be restricted in what you can access depending on the local environment in which you're located. One way the educators at Seaside Outside School Hours Care have done this is empowering children and young people to share in the planning and programming. This is to allow staff to ask children to join in reflections. And recently, they have had a whiteboard which says, "How do we, at Seaside Outside School Hours Care, show that we value and include each person's unique abilities?" Sarah is five and she attends Seaside Outside School Hours Care two afternoons a week. Sarah has a developmental delay that impacts her verbal, physical, and social abilities. She requires support for fine motor activities and can often get frustrated when children or educators misunderstand her attempts at communication. During a recent reflections, the educators have realized their support of Sarah's participation in fine motor activities have sometimes inadvertently created barriers to her full engagement. They've failed to communicate the high expectations they have for children and young people. They work to ensure the support they offer is encouraging Sarah's independence and her interactions with her peers. Lately, which can be commonly related to a lot of OSHC services, there has been a key interest in skipping. The educators worked with a small group of children recently to introduce a skipping club. Sarah has told the educators she never gets to do skipping at school because she doesn't know how to, but would really love to join in the skipping club at Outside School Hours Care. The educators then facilitated some amazing conversations with the children and discovered working with children to identify how all children can be included in this activity would be of benefit. The other educators gathered the children together, created a question on the whiteboard, and some of the suggestions that came through was potentially having a rope game, like the snake rope, where they can jump across the rope. Having a skipping buddy or potentially using a trampoline to help with jumping. So the children thought of some wonderful ideas to help support all children's inclusion in skipping club. So again, Mentimeter that we have up on the screen. There's only a few more Mentis in here, I promise. But we really would like to hear your feedback. So we have the following question: 'How are educators in this scenario committed to the principle 'Equity, inclusion and high expectations' and considering their next steps?' So having a think about Seaside Outside School Hours Care, and how do you feel those educators are committed to Equity, inclusion and high expectations? Have they considered how Sarah can be supported to share her views about her own capabilities? Sarah's five. And what might be some potential biases the educators need to address? Listening to all voices and implementing changes to support all children. Fantastic. Reflecting on practice, encouraging children in the process. Like I did say earlier, Outside School Hours Care is an amazing opportunity to be guided by the children. They're very forthcoming in telling you exactly what they would like, exactly what they can do, and it's roles of educators to facilitate those next steps. And I like the idea working with the children to come up with the ideas because it is surprising how often children will recommend something that you hadn't considered, and it's a brilliant idea and it could really work and address it. Critical reflection. Right, so there are lots of ways that the educators at our hypothetical Seaside Outside School Hours Care have really considered the Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations. So lots there. So moving on to the next slide, I just want you to keeping in mind the last scenario. I'd like you to put yourself in your service now. Remembering that reflecting is important when thinking about the Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations. We've heard in the scenario that the team reviewed the updated My Time Our Place Framework, and then reflected on this alongside the service philosophy and policies and practices. Now remembering OSHC environments can provide a natural way for children to co-contribute to their environments and allow great choice for decision making to maximize the availability of resources and experiences. And quite a lot of that came through in the feedback earlier, asking children to come up with the ideas. They're quite resourceful. How do educators look at applying a strength-based approach? How do we know what children and young people want to do, can do, and how do we facilitate those new opportunities? How do we ask children what they want from their time? Are there unique ways for children to be reflected in the resources provided? Do you offer resources and activities that represent various cultures, genders, gender roles, backgrounds? We saw from the images in the scenario, there was a variety of activities available to children and young people in accessible ways. How can I support children's empathy and kindness? Encourage children and young people to understand and respect one another's differences. As Jackie mentioned earlier, encourage children to really know each other. Encourage them to be supportive and kind. The fabulous thing about Outside School Hours Care is that children and young people have the opportunity to develop friendships with large groups of children and young peers. They're not just isolated to classroom friendships. It's a great environment for those older children to help support younger children and for general friendships to follow. How can I ensure that different abilities are acknowledged appropriately? Is some reflective questioning for educators. And how are all children and young people supported to feel capable and competent in their participation? Lots of these questions can be used to help support your educators in understanding and reflecting on the My Time Our Place Version 2.0. If you're in search of valuable resources, you can take a look on the ACECQA website, as they've provided practical materials to assist you in applying the revised principle. And I've seen in the chat group lots of our colleagues in the background who are moderating have put some great links to resources. So please do click on those and bookmark them so you have it available. So where to from here? The Principle of Equity, inclusion and high expectations is not about getting children to fit in to your program, but really looking at children and young people as individuals and what they bring to your program, and how you, as educators, can reflect this in your practice. What can you start scaffolding now? Rather than feeling overwhelmed, look at your current practices, what you're doing now, whether it be in programming, routines, physical environments. What are you doing to maximize each child's opportunities to succeed? Each child's opportunities for complete participation? How are you applying that strength-based approach? How are you working with children to ensure their voices are reflected? What are you doing to support a why-not mindset for children? If a suggestion is made, how are you facilitating being able to bring that to life for children and young people? Recently, a group of young children approached a nominated supervisor of a service and asked if they could have a few more options around outdoor play. They were slightly restricted due to the physical premise of the service. So they did need an extra staff member to be able to have more options during outdoor play. The nominated supervisor actually asked a group of children to work together and develop a staffing proposal. So it gave the children the opportunity to really put their voices forward and really consider what this was going to do for their service. So understanding that high expectation for that group of children, putting that idea and thinking, "Well, how can we do it?" The children all worked together to identify potential staff salaries, and wages, and how long under the awards the educator would need to be present, what that would mean in benefit of all children and young people attending the service. The group of children were invited to present this idea to the committee, and the approach was supported for a period of three months. So part of that was actually giving back to that group of children and young people, to ask them to evaluate the program. Did it work? Did they get the outcome that they had intended? And so giving children and young people the responsibility to consider the impact of decisions in the real world provides such a great tool for the future for them. There are so many examples of practice that I could share that you could all share with each other, I'm sure, and there are about 1,000 ways to meet this particular principle, but it wouldn't be as good as the knowledge that you hold around your families, educators, and community context. I know many of you are probably preparing for an action-packed vacation care period, which I'm certain is probably about 10 days away, if not less. But maybe you could consider looking at the My Time Our Place Version 2.0 in those staff meetings, in those pre-vacation care meetings. Could be a great opportunity just to have a little chat and see where you're up to. But it is a reminder, continue to do what you do to support children and young people, and taking baby steps to understanding and implementing the full scope of the My Time Our Place Version 2.0. So look, I understand we've covered quite a lot in the presentation and given you some practical examples that we hope you can use in the context of your service. We know that everybody is at different stages, so please use the resources that will benefit you. If you're thinking, "Oh, I'm new to this. I'm not really sure where to start." It's great because there is time now until early 2024. So it is a good time to become familiar with My Time Our Place Version 2.0, download it, have a read of it, reflect on your current practices and what that means for you. If you've had chance to become familiar, then why not take some of the examples from the questions we've asked you today and include those in your service staff meetings? Might be a great opportunity for all educators to engage. And if you are completely familiar with the My Time Out Place Version 2.0, then it's a great opportunity to dig a bit deeper, really unpack some of your common practices that you do at your service and how it relates to the framework. And if you're very familiar with the My Time Our Place and confident that you are fully prepared to use it next year, you might like to use this webinar and other resource materials to spark some conversations across different networking groups as well. So no matter where you are in understanding the My Time Our Place, it's important to remain up-to-date and current. So we recommend, like I said earlier, there's lots of links that have been provided in the chat group. Please click on those and bookmark them so that you have it for future reference. Keep an eye out on any future ECE Connect sessions from the department. And you may also like to attend some external training on the framework as well. We're in this journey with you, we're here to support you as well. So I might open up now for a bit of a question and answer. We do have a little bit of time, so I will hand over to Kathy to facilitate if we've had many questions. I haven't been able to multitask both looking at questions and talking, so we'd be grateful for you to share what's been coming up.

KATHY DRYDEN: Thanks, Alicia. I can tell you that because we had so many excellent questions come in before the session and we had lots of quizzes with lots of people getting everything right, we haven't actually had any questions come through. So if anyone's got a burning question that they would like to ask about implementing this principle in their service, now is your time.

ALICIA BURKE: Let's see. It could be some light entertainment, singing, and dancing.

KATHY DRYDEN: Oh, we have one for you.

ALICIA BURKE: Fantastic. Who is it for, myself or for Jackie?

KATHY DRYDEN: Oh, it's actually saying, "Thank you so much. This has been really informative. See, brilliant presenters, great information. You've answered everyone's question. Really informative and practical. So many takeaways and will really support philosophy reviews. No questions, thanks very much."

ALICIA BURKE: All right, well, if we don't have any questions that are currently open, we might go to the next slide. I promise there is only two more Menti slides, Mentimeters to go. So look, we do just... This is an anonymous question, so if you'd like to please join in and share with us. But we would like to know, based on what you've heard today, 'how well do you now understand the Principle, Equity, inclusion and high expectations?' So I know we asked you at the start, but we would like to know, from listening to Jackie, and myself, and Amy, how do you feel now?

KATHY DRYDEN: Alicia, we have a quick question here. Just wanted to ask how to encourage staff to reflect as we're going through these questions. How would you get your staff to reflect on the principles?

ALICIA BURKE: That's a really good question. And I did mention just towards the end there, would it be a good opportunity to use some of the questions we've asked you today and take it back to your staff group. How are you applying a strength-based model at your service? What does your service environment look like? Have you considered inclusivity in that? And I do understand with Outside School Hours Care, sometimes the opportunity to meet for long periods of time doesn't always happen. But is there ways that like the educators at Seaside worked with that group of children, can you have some reflective questions for staff, little Post-It notes that they can go and put their understanding and unpack a little later? So definitely using the questions we've asked. There's also, in the My Time Our Place Version 2.0 Fact Sheet, there's some reflective questions as well that you can take from there and utilize. But any of the questions we've asked you today would be great to start asking educators. Great, so it's always nice to see that participants have enjoyed listening to the information. There was so much content that we shared with you today. But I'm really excited to see that there are a number of services that do feel really comfortable, and also acknowledging those services that still need a little bit of time and a little bit of support to understand the full scope of the framework is fine as well. And the lucky last Mentimeter that we have. To finish today's session, we'd really like to hear your final thoughts. We'd like to know: 'What additional support can the department provide to the sector to assist you with the implementation of this principle?' So all the information that has been pre-submitted and used from this Menti is utilized by both my team and Jackie's team to facilitate topic conversations for next year, for future ECE Connect sessions. So if you feel comfortable sharing, that would be fantastic. And Jackie, just confirming. Is this Mentimeter open until a set timeframe?

KATHY DRYDEN: Yes, open until next Tuesday. So there's still opportunity to provide that feedback, particularly on this response if you wanna give your suggestions about other ways that we can support you, absolutely.

ALICIA BURKE: Fantastic. So, yeah, there's a little bit of time to respond to that question, and the recordings will be made available after the session. And if you haven't already, it would be a good opportunity to go on our website and have a look at the recording from the June session. It was a taster to start with the updated My Time Our Place, but that recording is available on our website.

KATHY DRYDEN: And Alicia, just... If our participants can have a look, there's a PDF being dropped into the chat right now. If you wanna jump on that link with a lot of links for resources that we've mentioned throughout, but a list of links that you can actually access right now.

ALICIA BURKE: Yeah, I can see quite a lot's been shared in that chat group. So like I said, if you haven't already, please jump in there, bookmark those resources that are available. Always direct yourself to ACECQA's website or the department's website. But again, I'd just like to thank everybody for attending today's session. We know that it can be really tricky to take time out of your day, and I'm sure a lot of you are watching the clock in anticipation for that bell to be ringing. So really enjoyed spending some time with you today going through the My Time Our Place Version 2.0, and we will give you back a few moments. So thank you for attending today, and we look forward to spending time during our next session.

Take a detailed look at the EYLF V2.0 Principle – Equity, inclusion and high expectations.

- Well, welcome again everyone. My name is Amy Birungi. I am the Director of Centre for Excellence in Early Childhood Quality and Transitions and it's my honour to be able to open this session today. I would like to start by acknowledging country. I'm joining you today from the land of the Bidjigal people here in Southern Sydney. I get to live, learn, work, play and raise my family on Bidjigal land and I would like to thank traditional custodians for their care of the land, sky, and waterways that enables us to enjoy this beautiful part of Sydney. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands from which you all join from today and extend those respects to elders past and present and acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues on the call today. It's really important that we come together around this Principle of Equity, inclusion and high expectations because keeping these things in mind will ensure that we are together delivering culturally responsive early childhood education and care. So there's a few housekeeping things to note for this webinar that you'll see on the screen. The microphone, video and chat functions will be disabled throughout the webinar. There is a Q&A function available if you have questions throughout the session and there is a team of moderators who will be able to respond to the chat as we go on. If time permits, we may be able to respond to some questions at the end, but we'll see how we go. We do intend for this session to be quite interactive as we're keen to hear from you and draw on your experiences and knowledge. We will be using Menti throughout the session, so in preparation for that, please have a mobile phone or another web browser available so that you can participate. The Menti will remain open until Thursday the 30th of November if you have any further comments or feedback that you would like to provide us with. The session is being recorded and will be available on our website following the completion of the session. And automated closed captions have been enabled during the session for accessibility. During this session, we will be digging in deeper to the EYLF V2.0 Principle of Equity, inclusion and high expectations. Prior to this session, we asked you to tell us what you'd like to know about this updated principle and we would like to say thank you to everyone who has submitted questions. We have taken your questions and comments into consideration as we have developed the presentation today. It is a big topic so we know that we won't have time to go into everything, but any information that you would like that we maybe haven't covered, we're hoping to support you with in future sessions and resources. Today we're gonna explore the principle by looking at examples of practice, to hear from you through Menti, and to provide examples of how your commitment to this principle might be demonstrated each day in your context. It's important to note at this stage that the principle is quite broad and should be adapted to suit the needs of each individual child and service. We only have a short time with you today, so we are going provide you with an initial overview of the principle, but we ask you to keep an eye out in 2024 as we will have additional supports and resources available, not just about this principle, but other elements of the EYLF V2.0 to support you with your implementation. So by the end of this session, we hope you have strengthened your understanding of the Principle Equity, inclusion and high expectations, we hope you have some ideas to think about what it could look like in your practice, in your service and some thought to next steps for you, how you might go about implementing this. Today you're gonna hear from 2 of my colleagues, Jackie Bradshaw and Kathy Dryden, who bring incredible knowledge and expertise to the space, so I will be handing it over to them shortly. But what we'd like to know from you, first of all, is your level of understanding about the Equity, inclusion and high expectations principle. So the question that you'll be asked is, how well do you understand the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations, and you've got a couple of options to choose from there. 'This is new to me', 'I understand it a little bit', 'I understand it quite well', 'It's familiar to me', 'I understand it very well' and 'I'm confident in applying it'. And 'I understand it extremely well' and 'Can teach it to others'. You can see the responses slowing down but I think it's great to have this feedback from you and I know that this will help our presenting team going forward. So, thank you for joining once again. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the session and at this point I'm gonna hand over to Jackie.

- Thanks, Amy, good morning everybody, and thanks so much for coming along today and giving up your time to be here for this session. We really appreciate you joining the session and as Amy said, it is a big topic, we are hoping to unpack that as much as possible and really respond to the questions that you popped into the survey earlier when registering but there may be some parts that we can't, but we do hope that you find this session really beneficial as well. So let's jump in and take a closer look at the principle. And if you attended our session earlier this year in June, you will remember that we did unpack all of the different elements of the updated EYLF V2.0, but if not, we will pop that link into the chat so you can actually go back and have a look at that in your own time later on after this session as well. Now in this session, we are going to start to take a closer look, and in particular we are focusing on that principle that's circled on the screen, Equity, inclusion and high expectations. But as we do that, it's really important to remember, and we covered this earlier in the June session, just about how all of the different elements that you can see here on the screen are interwoven and overlap and in today's session, while we're only taking a look at one principle in particular, it is important that as teachers and educators we remember that we draw on, and we should be drawing on, all of these to guide our work with children in every day. It's important to remember that principles underpin the practices and the principles reflect, contemporary theories, perspectives and the research and evidence concerning children's learning, development, and wellbeing as well as early childhood pedagogy. And as I mentioned, they underpin the practices that you can see on the screen and these together support us in assisting children to meet the learning outcomes as well or to make progress in relation to those learning outcomes. So you can see how important it is that we think about these as interconnected, but for today's session we are going to break it down and take a look just at that one Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations and so having a really deep understanding of these principles and practices is really crucial in us making curriculum decisions to promote children as confident, creative individuals for successful lifelong learning, and that's actually the vision of the Early Years Learning Framework and so that's why it's a good place, I think, for us to start when we're thinking about unpacking this framework. Let's have a closer look at the Principle. This Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations, is actually one of the principles that have been updated in the updated version of the framework, but it is actually expanding on the existing principle of high expectations and Equity, which you might be really familiar with already. So as we work through this, you might be quite familiar with all of the terms and different components of this principle. It's also an underpinning guiding principle of the National Quality Framework, and again, you'll be really familiar with that and it's been in place for quite some time. So as we work through, you might actually recognise that you are already engaging in a lot of this practice or reflecting this principle in the work that you are doing, but this is a real opportunity to re-engage with the updated frameworks and take a closer look. So on the next screen you'll see what some of the changes are, or the rationale behind the changes that are coming into place and so what this is doing is really celebrating and making visible the diversity of children's lives and the children that we're working with each and every day. It recognises the considerable growth in research and understanding relating to inclusive environments for children and it draws on the knowledge and the evidence base and how we can strengthen inclusion in our early childhood education and care settings and so that we are really think thinking about inclusion for all children, and we'll take a closer look at the importance of that being for all children and not just some as we work through this session today. As Amy mentioned, we are gonna try and keep it really interactive and so to do that today we're going to try and break down this principle into different components and look at the individual pieces that make it up and then bring it all back together later in the session. So again, we're asking you to jump into Menti and tell us what does equity mean to you? So you might take a couple of minutes to type in there, what does equity mean to you? So Equity, it might mean that we are thinking beyond being the same and thinking about what children need for that access and participation as well. Fantastic, thank you very much. So what we might do is take a closer look now at equity in a little bit more detail on the next slide. And so what we have here is that equity actually means fair, not equal and not the same, and we can see that in the image here on the screen as well. So we can see that on the left hand side of this image, with all of the children sitting that are here on the left hand side have been given access to a bike but they can't all participate with that and so equity actually means, as I mentioned, it means fair, not equal or the same, and so on the right hand side of that image, you can see children have been given what they need to be able to access and participate, that meaningful participation for all children and you can see it again in the dot points there on the screen that making adjustments ensures access and meaningful participation for all children. So this is remembering and thinking about that not one size, essentially, will fit all. It's about recognising and understanding each child's individual needs and uniqueness and ensuring that they are provided for so that all children can participate. It's important to understand that equitable early childhood education and care requires us to think about both access and participation and how they go together and how this is really strongly linked to critical reflection, which is another one of the principles there. So this is about us, as educators, challenging our practices and our thinking that might actually inadvertently contribute to inequity and discrimination. It's about us, as educators, intentionally planning for and creating inclusive learning environments that adopt flexible and informed practices, and as I mentioned, making those adjustments to really ensure that there is that genuine and meaningful participation by all children. You might have actually seen a similar image where we have children standing at a fence and not every child can see over that fence to watch the game that's actually happening. So in the first image in that picture that we've seen possibly in different training sessions is that each child has been given the same size box and they still can't see, not all children can see over the fence to that game. So then in the next image, they've actually been given the box, actually, of varying heights so then they can see over that fence, which is fantastic, but there's actually a third image in that one that I'm thinking about, which actually is where the fence has been removed altogether. So that barrier has been removed and all children can actually participate and watch that game and so that's that thinking about what do all children need to be able to see this? What are their individual needs and how can we make that happen? So it's thinking about how can we include children rather than asking ourselves that question of can we actually do this? It's about how can we go about this? We'll drop some more links in the chat for you to think a little bit more about that when you have some time back in your services and with your colleagues. On the next slide, we're going to take now a closer look at the next part of this principle. And so here we are thinking about, what does inclusion mean to you? And I'll give you a moment again to pop some words up, all your thoughts around what does does inclusion mean for you. Okay, so that sense of belonging, absolutely, which is really crucial to our framework. We know that it's one of the key things, that sense of belonging. Again, we're seeing fairness and that children have those opportunities. Where, looking here, that every child has input into the program and that sense of belonging and being able to participate as well. That safe environment as well. I can see diversity coming up on the screen, which is really important when we're thinking about all children here as well. And again, I'm really liking that we're seeing the words, every child, everyone, all children, because that is what we're talking about here. Not just some, not just this child but not that child. It's all children. And I like that we can see on here as well, belonging and included to all aspects of early childhood education and care. So this is really about thinking about fostering that diversity, recognising children's uniqueness and that's great, thank you. So on this next slide we will have a closer look at what inclusion is as well and some of what we can think about here, and as we've seen in your responses, it is about valuing and respecting and welcoming each child's individual, social, cultural and linguistic diversity, their learning styles, their abilities, their disabilities, their gender, their family circumstances, this is about thinking about all children. Their geographical location. It's thinking about all of that in our curriculum decision making and our curriculum decision making processes, I should say. The intent is that we are ensuring that all children have experiences that are recognised and valued and that they have equitable access to resources and participation and that they've got that opportunity to demonstrate their learning and their individual ways of being and doing as well. So it's really asking us to make those deliberate actions in what we're doing in our curriculum, in our daily routines, in our learning environments, to ensure, again, and you'll hear this coming through in our conversation, that genuine active and meaningful engagement and participation in all of the experiences. It's also about identifying and addressing the barriers, which we heard in that earlier slide as well, that children may encounter. And so these barriers may actually be both attitudinal as well as practical challenges that might arise from factors such as disability or family diversity or cultural and linguistic differences, neurodiversity as well, and so how do we actually think about those barriers and remove those so children can actually participate in our experiences in the service. It's really about understanding and knowing each child and family, and I know that we do that in our work every day, we get to know the children and the families and their needs and think about their strengths and their interests, their learning styles and their cultural diversity and how we actually include that in what we are doing as well. So really learning and understanding and knowing our children. In the NQF, and we've seen it, again, in your responses that you've put on the screen there, the terms such as each child, every child and all children are commonly used throughout both our Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Framework and we saw that on the screen in your responses and that's what we're saying, this is about all children, not some, and not these children over here, but not those children over there, all children. This is about recognising the rights of every child to participate and that links very closely with the UN Rights of the Child as well so it is all coming together. This is about children becoming active citizens as well, respecting diversity, embracing diversity, and helping children to be connected to our community. On the next slide, we'll take a closer look now at the next component of this principle, which is high expectations. And again, this is probably really familiar to you from the original version and we're asking the same question here. Tell us, what does high expectations mean for you? We'll see some results coming up in a moment. We might be thinking about children being capable and competent. I can see here that it's about getting the best out of each child. Again, we're linking to those other aspects of inclusion here when we are thinking about that. Thinking about each child achieving success. Having those really high expectations. Seeing children as capable is part of that. Thinking about, I can see some theories, a theorist going up there as well, how do we extend children to be successful and move on their learning trajectory? Thinking about their strengths as well and what each child needs to be successful. Absolutely. And thinking about their individual needs, strengths, absolutely. So let's have a look a little bit at, again, closer to what high expectations means and so this is, as I mentioned, the third element of this principle, and again, it highlights that all children are seen as capable and competent and we set those high expectations for all children in their learning no matter what their circumstances are. So this is really understanding and valuing children's individual strengths and their funds of knowledge that they bring to the service that we actually believe, as teachers and educators, that children have the capacity to succeed regardless of their diverse circumstances or abilities. We can see here on the screen as well, it's about crafting those learning opportunities with as well as for children. So that with is really important because this is recognising children's agency and their ability to make decisions about things that are important to them and in their world. So really recognising that sense of agency. And when we as teachers and educators hold those really high expectations for children, it's linked with their self-esteem and that they will really grow into that expectation as well. So really thinking about how we can support children to achieve their full potential as well. So this means, as teachers and educators, we need to advocate for those highest expectations for every child and it does also mean, as teachers and educators, we need to recognise that children will experience learning and development differently. And so again, coming back to those earlier concepts that we have been talking about, it is really about thinking about what does each child need to be able to reach their full potential and be really successful in their lifelong learning as well and that sense of agency. So now that we've actually broken down the different components it's really important for us to bring that back together as one whole principle and think about how this all works together, and you can see this on this slide here. So again, this is where, as teachers and educators, if we are committed to Equity, we recognise that all children, and as I've mentioned this is not some, we don't add an exception here, this is all children, have the right to participate in an inclusive environment in an early childhood setting regardless of their circumstances, their strengths, their gender, their disabilities, or those that are experiencing barriers to learning. This is about all children. So educators need to nurture children's optimism, their happiness, their sense of fun, and support children's friendships and their interactions with others. It's really asking us, as I've mentioned before, how they're interconnected, the different principles, so in this it's really asking us to critically reflect and challenge our practices that may contribute to inequities and discrimination and think about that when we're making our curriculum decisions to ensure that there is genuine participation and engagement and children are included. To support inclusion, we recognise and respond to those barriers, as I've mentioned earlier, that some children may be facing, and whether that is through the attitudes or thinking that we might have, like I said, it's about challenging those, it could be thinking about those practical barriers as well that some children may be facing. It's about holding those really high expectations and viewing children as capable and competent in their learning to provide all children with equitable and participatory environments and experiences that promote learning, development and wellbeing. On the next part, we're going to start to take a look about what this might actually mean in practice for you in your context, and as I've mentioned, it's such a big topic, but what we are hoping is that this can be applied to a range of contexts and thinking about all children as we work through this. So on the next slide you will see how we can think about when we've got the Early Years Learning Framework and we've got this Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations, and as I mentioned earlier in the session, we need to think about the principles and the practices, which is why we've got that there, before we think about the learning outcomes. We often jump straight to those learning outcomes, but we really need to think about what is guiding the work that we're doing, what are the principles that we need to be thinking about and the practices. And as I mentioned, that this principle in particular links strongly with critical reflection and one of the ways that you might like to see how some of these actually connect is if you've got the online version of the updated framework you can actually do a word search on say equity and see whereabouts in the framework that comes up and then you could dig deeper into that and have a closer read and consider how that all works together. So that could be just one way that you might like to start to explore this in a little bit more detail and then think about the conversations you can have with your peers as well. If we have a look here on the screen, you can see that through that we can see with some of the learning outcomes where this principle is particularly important. So when we're thinking about children being connected to their world and their sense of identity, we can see that in Learning Outcome 1 and 2 there's strong links here. On the next slide you will also see here how we can think, and we've got a snip here of the framework, how the framework actually shows us what we might see children demonstrating and doing, some examples of what they might actually be doing when they're thinking about fairness, for example, and this is just one example. It's important to call that out, that this is just one example and it's by no means more important than the other examples in the framework. This is just one that we've pulled out here as well. But then on the right hand side of that column there you can see that, as an educator, some of the examples or ways that you might go about supporting children to become aware of fairness as well. So when we think about really young children, we might be thinking about what does this look like for them, but if we were to think about that very first point, appreciate the connection amongst people, it might be that we can see young children in those back and forth interactions and that awareness that they're having with another child, turn taking, sharing, going back and forth with their teacher or educator or family member as well. So it's that back and forth interaction that could be what we might start to see, children when they're thinking about their connection with others around this as well. If we were to think about learning outcome one, which it was on the previous slide, where we're thinking about children's strong sense of identity, we can think about their autonomy and how they're developing that, and again, in young children, we'll certainly see their autonomy developing when we're thinking about, can I do it, or I can do it, sorry, you often hear them saying, "I can do it, I'll do that." I can do that when they're getting dressed or feeding themselves, and again, as educators and teachers, how are we setting those high expectations and allowing them those opportunities to learn and work through that. So, this is just a couple of examples and ways that you might be able to use the framework to think more deeply about this Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations. And now I'm going to actually hand over to my colleague, Kathy, who will, again, take it into the next part and think about a little bit more about what this could look like in practice. Thanks, Kathy.

- Thanks Jackie and good morning everyone. I'd like to acknowledge that I'm coming to you today from the lands of the Dharug people and before we get started, we just wanted to do a bit of a pulse check. We did ask you beforehand to put in some questions for us. So we wanted to see what you're thinking, what you're hearing, what you're understanding. So we have a few short, true, false or multiple choice questions and we'll unpack each one as we go. There are no prizes, but you do get to spend the next 10 minutes with me. So question one, the principle of Equity, inclusion and high expectations, is a new principle in the V2 Early Years Learning Framework? 'True' or 'false'? Okay. Interesting. Okay, the actual right answer is 'false'. Equity, inclusion and high expectations is not a new principle, however, it has been renamed to include a focus on inclusion, recognising that all children have the right to participate in quality inclusive early childhood settings regardless of their circumstances, strengths, genders, capabilities or diverse ways of doing and being. The revision draws on new knowledge and evidence-based practice to strengthen inclusion in early childhood settings whereby educators can enact inclusion for all. We might move on to the second question. Question 2, does the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations relate only to Quality Area 1 Educational program and practice, 'yes' or 'no'? Fantastic. We've got some quick responses to that one. So the correct answer is 'no'. The principles, practices and learning outcomes of the EYLF interrelate with many areas of the National Quality Framework. The purpose of the EYLF is to guide and enrich children's learning and we know this reflects on all quality areas under the NQF. In fact, it doesn't just happen when you get your notification for assessment and rating, it should be the same practice every day and we should be seeing it in all your practices across all quality areas. Perfect, thank you. Question 3, in reference to the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations, what statement best reflects the concept of equity? A: 'all children have a right to participate in inclusive early childhood settings' B: 'educators nurture children's optimism, happiness, sense of fun and support children's friendships and interactions with each other' C: 'educators make reasonable adjustments to optimise children's access, participation, and engagement in learning' Or D: 'all of the above'? Well done everybody. See, Jackie's information she provided to you previously was very, very clear. Great work. Okay, question 4, in reference to the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations, what statement best describes high expectations? A: 'high quality service provision' B: 'children seen as active citizens' C: 'children are active decision makers' Or D: 'all of the above'? This is really great. Everyone is right. The answer is D. Valuing children's contribution to their learning journey support high expectations to develop each child as active participants in their world and citizenship. Fostering choice for children to guide their own expectations and where to next supports the concepts of high expectations. Okay, last question. You're doing really well. In reference to the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations, which quality area best relates to inclusion? 'Quality Area 1 Educational program and practice', 'Quality Area 5 Relationships with children', 'Quality Area 6 Collaborative partnerships with families and communities', Or D: 'All 7 Quality Areas'? I think we sort of gave it away in question one, but that's not a problem. And the correct answer is D. Understanding inclusion and how each child can be given an opportunity to explore, engage and facilitate their learning appears across all 7 Quality Areas under the NQF. They're interconnected and highlight how and why behind educator practice to facilitate the best learning experiences for children. How the environment is arranged to encourage participation by all and the intentionality of educators to focus on supporting children to engage according to their current ability. Well done everyone. I hope we answered a lot of those questions that were asked prior and maybe answered at the end if we haven't covered everything. So what we're going to do now is take you through a bit of a scenario. We often get asked about, what does this mean in practice when we're out in the field. So on this slide, and the following one, you'll see images of supporting documentation and children from a diverse range of backgrounds and settings. As you look at these images and listen to the scenario that I'm about to share with you, use this information we've discussed today to think about how you can ensure all children can learn together in an equitable and inclusive way. How would you support the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations to ensure all children can learn in inclusive environments? So our hypothetical centre is Growing Gum Trees Early Learning Centre. It's a centre located in a neighbourhood with a rich tapestry of cultures and languages. The centre prides itself on providing equal educational opportunities for all children regardless of their background, their family circumstances. And they spend a lot of time getting to know each child and family that they work with. The introduction of the updated EYLF V2.0 has been embraced by the educators an opportunity to examine their philosophy and practice. After reflecting together at their recent staff meeting, the staff have chosen to focus on the principle of Equity, inclusion and high expectations and to really critically reflect on this principle in their pedagogy, programming and learning environments. The staff begin by reflecting together on their philosophy to re-look at how it aligns with the principles and practices and the learning outcomes of the EYLF. As they do so, they consider where their policies, procedures, and practices support their service philosophy and they also take time to have a look at other documents, such as the Disability Discrimination Act, the Racial Discrimination Act, and the code of ethics as a team. Thank you. The team are encouraged at the many ways they can see their commitment to equity, inclusion and high expectations reflected in their centre. To continue their reflections, they decide to write a reflection question on the staff whiteboard each week. The question for week one is, how can I ensure different learning styles and abilities are acknowledged positively and supported appropriately? They look at this through the lens of 2 new children that have started at their service. Sarah is 3 and attends the service 2 days a week. She enjoys participating in all aspects of the preschool program with a particular interest in outdoor play and natural environments. Sarah has a developmental delay that impacts on her verbal, physical and social abilities. She requires support for fine motor activities and get a bit frustrated when children or educators misunderstand her attempts at communication. As the educators reflected during the week on their focus question, they realise that their support of Sarah's participation in fine motor activities and in communication had sometimes inadvertently created barriers to her full engagement with her peers and they'd failed to communicate the high expectations they have for all children. They have to work to ensure that the support they offer Sarah is encouraging her independence and her interactions with her peer. The second child, Carmelo, is also three and has recently begun at the service. His family are new arrivals in Australia. Carmelo speaks languages other than English in his home and he can understand a limited number of words in English. Carmelo's family live in an apartment with his mums and his mums were particularly interested in enrolling their child at the service because of it's lovely big outdoor area and beautiful gardens. Carmelo prefers to observe other children from a distance, but is growing in confidence and has begun to show an interest in engaging in group activities. The educators observe this interest and using the learnings from their recent reflections, make adjustments to their learning environment and program to ensure Carmelo is able to engage and participate in the program with his peers. So, with the Menti, again, we are going to do a little bit of a reflection on this and share our thoughts. Oh, we're gonna go. How are educators in this scenario committed to the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations in considering their next steps? Adopting their ways of teaching and including all children, perfect. They're engaged in critical ongoing reflection. They take time and look at possible barriers and rectify this, that's so true. They're engaging in critical reflection. They're looking at each child, they get to know each child very well. Observations are ongoing and they're adapting lots of reflection. They're doing it together. Yes, and they're doing it through a child's lens. Reflecting making changes in the best interest of the children and they're considering all the children. Team effort, love a team effort. Teamwork makes the dream work. They're adopting, they're reflecting and they're changing. Educator's belief in their practice. I like that. And sharing that information and using the information that they've got. Everybody's on the same page. Lots of discussion, lots of reviewing. Some great ideas there. Providing for all the children. Adjusting continuously. All of these are great, great, great reflections and they're ensuring that everyone is considered. And not rushing, that's a really good point. Just not rushing, taking their time to really, really get to know the children and the families and they know a lot about those children and the families. Considering individual needs. Being culturally responsive. Perfect, and being purposeful. That intentionality is really coming through in the practice. What we're gonna do next, following on from our previous scenario, put yourselves in your own centre. Remembering that reflecting, as we've said before, is important when thinking about the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations. We heard and we saw things in the scenario where the team reviewed the updated EYLF and then reflected on this alongside their service philosophy, policies and practice. They also use reflective questions and as educators in our own service, so thinking about your own service. Are the unique ways of children's doing, being and learning reflected in the learning materials that you provide in your service? Do you provide a wide range of books, toys and resources that represent various cultures, abilities, gender roles and background? As we saw in the images from the scenario, there was a variety of learning materials available to the children in accessible ways. The educators had also taken time, as we said, to get to really know the children and their families and look at their interests and goal. How can I support children's empathy and kindness in my service? Encourage children to understand and respect one another's differences. As mentioned earlier by Jackie, encourage children to get to really know each other and then encourage them to be supportive and kind. Role model these values by teaching empathy, kindness in your own interactions with children and encourage children to ask their peers how they're feeling. As we've heard so many times, you can't be what you can't see and what you role model to the children is really going to be important. How can I ensure different learning styles and abilities are acknowledged positively and supported appropriately? Again, modelling positive acknowledgement of different learning styles and abilities also supports growing children's empathy and kindness. I would say out of the nearly 300 people in this webinar today, we all learn differently. We all learn differently by reading, we're visual learners, all children are gonna be different in how they they learn and we have to respect that. During the scenarios that we looked at, educators that actively engage with children outside, they facilitated inclusive play with all the children, they encourage interactions, cooperation, and understanding amongst all of them, regardless of their abilities. Are all children supported to feel capable and competent within the learning environment? Walk around your setting and take note of the images on the walls and the picture books. Do they show a balanced view of contemporary Australians? Are they inclusive or exclusive of bias or stereotypical representations? Can all children access the same areas meaningfully and participate with their peers? And use the resources that you find through this training in your meetings and in training and training new educators to support them in your context. Encourage that critical thinking. Engage in critical analysis and reflection of your teaching methods. Am I saying one thing and am I doing something else? What are the children seeing? Adopt a fresh perspective on your own practice to promote some growth and stay updated with the latest research and best practices in promoting equity and inclusivity in early childhood. If you're in search of valuable resources you can take a look at the ACECQA website as they provide practical materials to help to assist you in applying the revised principle. There will be links coming into the chat. Thank you, my wonderful team in the background, where you can get further information. So where to from here? As it's been mentioned previously, 2023 is still the year of immersion but the end of the year is fast approaching. I drive my staff constantly with the countdown to the end of the work year. And February, 2024 is fast approaching, it'll be here before you know it. I acknowledge that some of you are all over this and I also acknowledge that some of you are just trying to get through the end of the year. So you're all working at different spaces and as we saw previously, some of you might be just seeing this for the very first time. So where do I start? And you're probably going, what does she mean? And as I've said, some of you haven't started or you're just starting to have a look at it. I've put the quote up here, the opposite of belonging is fitting in. This is a quote from Brene Brown who I believe she took from someone else anyway. While it's mostly referred to in the workplace, for me, it truly encapsulates our vision for children's learning. And as Jackie said before, go back to the vision statement. What does the vision statement say about Belonging, Being and Becoming? The principle of Equity and inclusion and high expectations is not about getting children to fit in to your service, but really looking at children as individuals and what they bring to your program and how we as educators reflect that in our practice. So what practices are you doing now that you can build on? This is where I'd like to quote another inspirational woman, Julie Andrews, and say, let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start, and don't be worried, I'll not start singing for you. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, look at your current practices and what you're doing now, whether it be in programming, routines or physical environment, are we using this to maximise opportunities for each child's learning? I was talking to an officer the other day who had been up to a service and it was a really interesting conversation and it's a perfect example that fits really nicely into this space. The service was really resisting using iPads for a very, very long time because they felt that every child had access to an iPad. But they recognised that technology played a huge part in children's learning so they were really intentional around how they were going to ensure that it was introduced as part of their program. They knew that it was important to the connection to the world and at first they assumed that everybody had access to an iPad or a phone, or something like that, but as they started talking to the children they realised that they didn't. The educators were very deliberate and thoughtful in how they could ensure all children had access to technology in the program. But at the same time, they wanted to be quite intentional in the teaching around cyber safety. They drew on the strengths of the more tech savvy educators and as children in the group. And what they found was that the educators increased their learning probably more than the children did and the children very much leading their way. The confidence, skills and learning that came out of this was for everyone and many assumptions around capabilities were dispelled and what the educators found from this, when we look at the view of high expectations, that the barriers to teaching children the new things and their intentionality to teaching children new things were actually the assumptions that the educators had of the children's capabilities and knowledge. There are many examples of practice that I could, and even if I gave you a prescriptive list of a hundred ways to meet this principle it still wouldn't be as good as the knowledge you have about your families, educators, and community and the context of your service. Again, to quote Julie, when you read you begin with 'a, b, c'. So there's no better place to start than having this conversation with your staff. What do we do well? What do we do, what practices reflect the outcomes that we want? What should we start doing and what should we stop doing? The next thing is I say perfect timing. And you're all gonna say, "Is she kidding? "Does she not know how busy we are at this time of the year?" Yes I do, but I also know that you will be reflecting on the families that are leaving, the new families that are coming in, or how much all your little learners have grown and changed and how you're gonna have to make adjustments next year to meet their capabilities and what they need for further growth. So what needs to change in your policies and practices for 2024 to reflect the EYLF V2.0? Is it a language change to illustrate what we are already doing? Is it professional development for our educators? Or again, with Julie, starting at the beginning, what does your philosophy say about your service and how you want people to see your service? Is it still fit for purpose or is it back in 2019 with Version One? And one thing that's great when you look at the technology and the webinars and the resources we've been able to provide you is that we couldn't have done this for you in 2019. So even we are more connected. Every small step you take, every change you make, I feel like I'm gonna start saying, I'll be watching you, but I won't. Every conversation you have will build your knowledge and confidence in the understanding of the application of the new frameworks. But unlike 2019, we will keep having this conversation. We will be here with resources and we'll ensure that you have access to all the resources you need as we move from 2023, transition, immersion into 2024, business as usual. So, next steps. We've covered a lot in this presentation and trying to give you a lot of practical examples that we hope you can take away in your own context. As we said, we know that everybody's at different stages. You might want to use this webinar once the webinar goes up to use as a training tool for your staff. But as I said, reflect on your philosophy's alignment with EYLF practices, reflect on your policies and procedures, look for future series. We will continue these series into next year. So the feedback that we will get from you at the end of this will actually drive our practice and what we're going to provide you for next year. Use the resources on ACECQA's web page, anything that we send you through our ECE Connect Series and newsletter. And as you said, we already have some services that are very, very familiar. Some people are very, very, very confident. I've heard of many discussion groups and things from the officers that are coming out, even services that are using TikTok, although my idea of a TikTok is a biscuit with a nice icing on top. But I'm thinking TikTok and "Sound of Music" might not be a bad mix. So no matter where you're at in your understanding, it's always important to keep informed, keep updated, keep that information coming because it will be coming for you, I'll rephrase that, it will be coming out next year. We've also got our Continuous Improvement Team that we've heard a lot about. You don't need to talk to our Continuous Improvement Team just because it's A&R time. If you're looking at the principles and practices and you wanna have those reflected in your self-assessment, contact our Continuous Improvement Team. I'm hoping someone will drop those contact details into the chat as we speak. So, we are, oh, pretty much bang on time. We've got 2 minutes left and I'm being told by my moderators in the background we don't have any additional questions. So, oh, they've all been answered. So Alicia, have we got anything else?

- Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing all the information and I can't help but sing along a little bit to all your little catchphrases there. So I got a little bit of my beat this morning. We don't have any open questions at the moment. So the content and the interactive components of that Mentimeter have been really great. Really good to see everyone's responses to trivia. A little bit disappointed, no prizes. Next time we'll see how we can hand out some virtual prizes. But yeah, there's currently no open questions at the moment.

- What we're going to do is we've got 2 Mentimeters coming for you and as we said, the Mentimeters will be open. Okay, here we go. Back to the first question. Based on what you've heard today, how well do you understand the Principle - Equity, inclusion and high expectations? I understand a bit better. That's fine. That's what we said, small steps. I love the fact that people are confident, that they understand it extremely well and can teach it to others. There are some fantastic things popping up on Facebook with some great ideas. So keep having that conversation. You know where to go, where to learn more and that's really important too. If we haven't answered all your questions today, it's really important that you know where to go to get those resources. Fantastic, I'm glad that we've answered all your questions and we haven't left any loose ends. Okay, the next Mentimeter, we've already started, what additional support can the department provide the sector to assist with effective implementation of this principle? Simplified information to share. More video content to show to educators. Not sure, and that's fine. Have a think. As Jackie said, the Mentimeter is open until next Friday, so have a talk to your staff and if there's something that they need then put it out there. More sessions like this. Yep, I think we're already onto that. Brand new service. Brand new services, start from the beginning with a new team and that's what we know there are new services developing. We will give everything for you as much as we possibly can and more training for the teams like that. More sessions, there are more sessions planned for next year. We've heard you loud and clear that we want that. We've gone back out on the road in person this year. We may be able to go out in person next year. We are trying to do both so that we can get the numbers and cover as many services as we can. Thank you for that. We might just close it up so we can get you away on time. Thank you. Okay. Thank you for attending the Connect session today and sharing your knowledge and expertise. We really, really do appreciate your time. We know how hard it is, especially this time of year, to give up some time in your day. Please feel free to join us on Wednesday the 5th of December at 2 o'clock for our next session on the "My Time, Our Place, "Equity, Inclusion, and high expectations." In the meantime, we encourage you to continue with your journey. If you have any questions specifically relating to your service, you can email us on, that's gonna drop into the chat, and you can email that through to us if you have any questions whatsoever. And just make sure that you know the subject is about the ECE Connect sessions and that will either come to myself or Jackie. Again, thank you for your time and we are going to be actually a little bit over, but we'll let you get on with your day and we thank you everyone. Thanks everyone.

- Thanks everyone.

Learn about the development of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework.

Stacy Parry: Yaama maliyaa. Hello friends, and welcome to the third webinar on the department's development of an Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework for the early childhood education and care sector. My name is Stacy Parry. I'm the manager of the Cultural Safety Team within the New South Wales Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority. I'm also your host for this online session. Today as a collective, we will embark on a journey that is not just about understanding Aboriginal cultural safety. It's about hearing the heartbeat of the future, the voices of Aboriginal children. As a collective, we will explore the essential dimensions and core ingredients to creating culturally safe environments for Aboriginal children and families whilst recognising that the foundation of cultural understanding and respect is laid in the experiences of our youngest learners. Our focus today extends beyond policies and procedures. It delves into the collective responsibility we have in safeguarding the cultural fabric that embraces our children. As we seek to create and maintain culturally safe spaces, let us remember that for the child, culture is not an abstract concept. It is in the air that they breathe, the stories that shape their dreams, and the nurturing embrace of a community that cherishes and understands them. Before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge the traditional and the ongoing custodians of the varied countries that we meet virtually across today, and pay respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all mob joining today. I am on Darkinjung Country here on the Central Coast and pay respects to the Darkinjung Elders past and present. Here is what we know. The value and impact of high quality early childhood education and care on the educational and developmental trajectory of our youngest community members, particularly for Aboriginal children, is profound. Quality early childhood education lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning, providing essential skills, and a love for knowledge that lasts a lifetime. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, culturally sensitive early childhood education ensures a rich exploration of heritage, language, and traditions, promoting a strong sense of identity, In the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culturally safe early childhood education and care embraces respectful and inclusive practices, acknowledging and celebrating diverse cultures whilst ensuring a sense of cultural safety for all. Recognising the great opportunity and responsibility entrusted to the early childhood education and care, educators serve as responsible stewards, guiding children towards a future that values diversity, equality, and respect for one another. And I would like today to acknowledge that it is our collective responsibility to provide quality early childhood education and care so that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thrive. Your microphone, video, and chat functions will be disabled during this webinar. However, we encourage you to use the question and answer button at the bottom of your screen to ask questions. You can type your question into the question and answer, and you can see and vote on other people's questions, which you would like answered with a thumbs up button. We will try to prioritise your questions and answer those during the webinar. If we don't get time to answer your question today or you have a service operation question, please reach out to our information and inquiries team, who are available to support you with other questions. You can contact them on 1-800-619-113 or by emailing That contact information will be made available in the chat. We will also be using Menti during this session. Please have your phone or other web browser ready to scan or enter the code on the screen when it comes up so that you can participate in the interactive components of the session. This session is being recorded and can be accessed on our webpage after the event. The web link will be placed in the chat. The Cultural Safety Team within the New South Wales Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority have developed protocols, setting the expectations around how we as a Community of practice will work together in a culturally safe and responsive way. The Cultural Safety Team ask, as a member of this Community of practice, that we do come together today to listen, learn and share ideas. We acknowledge and prioritise First Nations peoples, communities, family, and their contributions and connections with each other. We value each other, our differences and our contributions, and we support one another to grow and learn. This webinar has been developed to provide an opportunity to come together as a community, share information, and hear about the progress made developing the first ever Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework for the early childhood education and care sector. This webinar is for all staff, management, boards, and volunteers from the sector. And on behalf of the department, I warmly welcome everyone that is participating today as it shows your commitment to cultural safety for Aboriginal children and families, but to the education of all children about Aboriginal Australia. In this webinar, we will explore the co-design process of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework. The New South Wales Regulatory Authority's determined and committed to creating real change for Aboriginal children, peoples, and communities and is working differently in order to do this. You will meet and hear from our co-designers about the co-design experience. Co-designers were selected for their knowledge and expertise and lived experience. And through co-design, the first outward-facing document has been developed, the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool. This tool outlines what is most important for Aboriginal children and their families and some practical tips to address these needs and enhance cultural safety and Aboriginal education. This tool is aligned to the National Quality Standards and National Law. You'll hear about the next steps and the next part of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework journey, and you'll also have the opportunity to tell us what types of support and resources you will need to deliver or to continue your culturally safe journey. I ask everyone attending this session to lean in and together embark on the cultural safety journey regardless of where you are at on that continuum. Let's open our hearts and commit to ensuring the needs of children are not just considered but are at the forefront of our collective efforts. When we understand and address the needs of our youngest learners, we pave the way for a cultural landscape that flourishes with resilience, understanding, and a deep sense of belonging for generations to come. The Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework aims to support uplift within the early childhood education and care sector by providing clear expectations, standards, and guidance to support services to develop, maintain, and improve cultural safety, encourage best provision and maintenance of culturally safe and responsive environments for Aboriginal children, their families in every type of early childhood education and care service. Family day care, outside school hours care, community preschool. We also would like to increase the participation of Aboriginal children in ECE services and enhance understanding and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures benefiting all children and supporting reconciliation efforts. The key audience of the framework are providers of early childhood education and care services in New South Wales and their staff, and systems influencing New South Wales early childhood education and care. The primary beneficiaries of the framework are Aboriginal children, families, and their communities, but the other beneficiaries are all children, all families and communities who will gain an enhanced knowledge of Australian history through better understanding Aboriginal peoples, their cultures and their histories. The framework is a part of the department's response to closing the gap. It is in accordance with the guiding principle of the national legislation, that Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued. It complements the updated approved learning frameworks by strengthening cultural responsiveness, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and increasing all children's knowledge and understanding of First Nations people. And it supports the National Quality Standards. I would now like to invite Toni Ross, a proud Gomeroi woman and the Policy Officer within the Cultural Safety Team at the New South Wales Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority to discuss the co-design of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool as a key deliverable of the co-design process. Toni will be joined by 2 of the co-designers today. Over to you, Toni, to introduce the co-design experts and the co-design process.

Toni Ross: Thanks, Stacy. As you said, I am a Policy Officer with the Cultural Safety Team, a proud Gomeroi woman who's joining you today from Tamworth, New South Wales. For the co-design of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework, the Auckland Co-Design Lab methodology was utilised and applied during the co-design process. It focuses on working with families and communities, to elevate their voices, to build capacity, share power and influence, learn from each other, and remove barriers of participation. This approach uses lived experience alongside other forms of data and evidence to solve problems. We would like to recognise the Co-Design Working Group, which consisted of 14 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, for sharing their knowledge, wisdom, and lived experience throughout the framework's co-design process and trusting us with their stories. It's been an absolute privilege to share this journey with the Co-Design Working Group who are deeply passionate about and committed to ensuring Aboriginal children access culturally safe early childhood education and care settings. Without their participation and contribution, the Co-Design Framework would not exist. We have 2 of the co-designers joining us today. We thought it was important for the sector to hear not just from the Cultural Safety Team, but to hear from real grassroots people who invested their time and early childhood education expertise in developing the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool. Let's introduce you to the co-designers joining us today. I would like to introduce you to Rachel Kerry, Chief Executive Officer of Cages Foundation, and Vanessa Hextall, General Manager, Risk and Quality Services Development, Junior Adventures Group. Let's start with you, Rach. Can you please introduce yourself to the audience, who you are, where you're from, and your role within the sector?

Rachel Kerry: Thank you, Toni. I would like to just acknowledge country. I'm coming to you from Gadigal land from my office on beautiful, beautiful Gadigal country today, and acknowledge the Elders past and present. I actually live on Bidjigal land, so down the road a bit. So my role, Cages Foundation brings a really unique perspective. So Cages Foundation is a family philanthropic foundation that funds in the early years with a focus on First Nations children and families. So we basically fund early years services. So I've had the privilege of working really closely with a real variety of services, mainly Aboriginal led services, but other services, mainstream services that are working with Aboriginal children and families really well as well. And I've been doing this work for, oh, about 10 years now. So a very different sort of helicopter perspective of the sector.

Toni Ross: Okay Vanessa, it's your turn to introduce yourself.

Vanessa Hextall: Thanks, Toni. I'd like to acknowledge as well the Wangal people of the Dharug Nation from where I'm presenting today. And for me, I guess I was born and raised in southwest Sydney, New South Wales. And I do come from a Argentinian heritage. I have over 15 years experience in the education sector ranging from long day care and outside school hours care, also teaching vocational education training in high school and registered training organisation settings. So I specialise in compliance and risk management. And for right now, the voice of the children of our 5 to 12 year olds in the sector.

Toni Ross: Okay, so when you both came to participate in the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework co-design process, what were your expectations coming into that initial workshop, Rachel?

Rachel Kerry: So I'll be really honest. As our role, 'cause we do a lot of work in collaborations and therefore co-design, I came in with a high level of cynicism. My past experiences, I'd become a bit of a sceptic about the effectiveness of co-design. It often felt like the end goal was determined and the co-design process was there to justify the end goal. So I had pretty low expectations and I was a little bit cautious. But I also really believed in the objective. So I thought needing to understand cultural safety more and using a co-design methodology was actually something that I believed in. And then I also had the advantage that I was familiar with KOWA, who were the facilitators of the first co-design session. And KOWA Collaboration are a First Nations owned business that do great facilitation and evaluation consultants. So I had seen the way that they work particularly with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander people before. And that kind of made me feel a little bit excited that this group had chosen someone a little bit different to the usual suspects to kind of undertake this work. So I thought, yeah, let's give it a go. And that's how I sort of, my expectations coming into it.

Toni Ross: Okay Vanessa, can you reflect on your expectations coming into that initial workshop?

Vanessa Hextall: Yeah, look, absolutely. I think for me initially I felt unsure that I was the right person to attend and wasn't sure how I was going to be able to contribute to such an important piece of work. But despite my uncertainties, I recognise the significance of having representation from Junior Adventures Group in the room and being a voice for our OSCH services, particularly in the early childhood sector. So I was interested in identifying opportunities that, you know, could be used to inform and influence culturally safe practices within our organisation, and then be able to lead in the OSCH environment. But my strategic approach to participating in the co-design workshop was to contribute and learn actionable insights that could benefit our organisation and the OSCH sector with the cultural safety journey.

Toni Ross: Thanks, Van. The final question for you both is I'd like you to inform the sector about the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework learning journey and how it has influenced your organisation's cultural safety journey. Rach?

Rachel Kerry: Yeah, look, I can't speak highly enough. You know, the team and the Aboriginal people that were in the room as part of the co-design group, I just felt really privileged, actually, to have learnt so much in, you know, a journey personally, but also from an organisation perspective. It's really important at Cages Foundation that when we are funding, that what we fund and the models of funding are really aligned with the objectives around positive outcomes for First Nations people, so children and families. And I can see that, you know, Cages is already really funding a lot of community led, so Aboriginal controlled services, who I guess cultural safety is inherent in their structures and their governance. But also acknowledging that there are limited places in those services, and that people also want choice. So mainstream services also provide an incredible, will play an incredible role for families and children. And you know, even though the framework might not directly solve all the issues, it really is an opportunity for children and families to have culturally safe settings and for the department to demonstrate a commitment to that and for services to kind of take the rhetoric around a commitment into action in really tangible, doable ways. And that's, I think as a funder, really important to see 'cause you see where it's done well, but you also see where it's well intended but maybe people don't know how to step it out. So, you know, there's really practical utility to the tool. And I think, you know, the overarching goal of creating culturally safe settings for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to flourish is absolutely front and center. But I just can't tell you how, in our experience, where we've funded amazing partnerships between mainstream organisations that have really engaged well with community, how everyone, all non-indigenous staff, non-indigenous families are a huge beneficiary as well. So to me that is also a massive opportunity for services to engage with.

Toni Ross: Thanks, Rach. Vanessa, can you inform the group how being part of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework has influenced your organisation and their cultural safety journey, please?

Vanessa Hextall: Yeah, look, for me, this was definitely a professional and personal journey itself. And my reflections from participating in the co-design of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework was insightful and has resulted in a significant shift in my perspectives and organisational approach. Since the workshop, I've initiated conversations with our educational leadership teams and demonstrating a need, the commitment and understanding of cultural safety from leadership down to our frontline services. This approach ensures that cultural safety is embedded at all levels of our organisation. And a major realisation is the recognition of the responsibility and the importance of cultural safety, particularly for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and staff at Junior Adventures Group. We acknowledge an understanding of the impact of cultural safety on the wellbeing of the workforce. And since the workshop, I understand the importance of continuously learning about Aboriginal culture and histories, and the positive impact that it can have on cultural safety, on our organisational practices. And so I guess for that, not only for the practices of all children and families, Junior Adventures Group has committed to create an inclusive and culturally safe environment by utilising the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework.

Toni Ross: That's amazing insight for everyone online today. And you know, I hope that the sector can see how, simply as being part of this and seeing the framework, you have come away and started to commence or expand on both your organisations' cultural safety journeys. Thank you.

Rachel Kerry: Thank you, thanks Toni.

Vanessa Hextall: Pleasure.

Stacy Parry: Thank you Vanessa, Rachel, and Toni for sharing the co-design process. And we hope the sector has enjoyed hearing from the co-designers and the initial steps towards cultural safety within their organisations. A very, very, very big thank you to all co-designers, KOWA collaboration and focus groups for sharing their wisdom and co-designing the first, the very first Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework for the early childhood education and care sector. The Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool is the first sector-facing resource, and will be available free to access on our website early next year. This resource will support the ECE sector to enhance cultural safety and increase knowledge for all children about Aboriginal Australia. I will now unpack some of the key elements of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool. Please remember that this reflective tool will be available early next year, and I would strongly encourage you to check the website and get your hands on the tool. Historically, the voices of Aboriginal children have not been listened to. In the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool, the voices of Aboriginal children accessing early childhood education and care are centred and they are elevated. The voices of Aboriginal children, their stories, their truth telling will support services, providers, and systems within the early childhood education and care sector to create culturally safe environments, opportunities to share culture, and to increase understanding of First Nations peoples. Aboriginal cultural safety in early childhood education and care is realised when these 5 core needs are addressed. Please listen to the voices of Aboriginal children as I read these core needs. My language, community, and country are known, honoured, and cared for. Building trust and culturally safe relationships is important to me and my family. My culture is seen, heard and valued. Your values reflect my people's way of knowing, doing, and being. Your policies are designed with my people. Cultural safety, when seen through the lens of our children demands a profound understanding of their unique needs. We advocate for an approach that recognises and responds to the distinct cultural, emotional, and educational requirements of Aboriginal children. From education that embraces their heritage to environments that foster a sense of belonging, our collective advocacy seeks to create spaces where every child can thrive. The Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool is underpinned by processes of self-reflection and critique. From the perspective of Aboriginal children, it explicitly defines what culturally safe practices are needed for Aboriginal children and families and communities to feel safe to participate in early childhood education and care. Let's explore 2 of the core needs to create culturally safe and responsive environments for Aboriginal children and enhance every child's knowledge of Aboriginal peoples' histories and cultures. Aboriginal cultural safety in early childhood education and care is realised when collectively we, as early childhood education and care stakeholders, address the core need, my culture is seen, heard and valued. To address the core need, my culture is seen, heard and valued, here are some of the behaviours we should see. There is input from Aboriginal people on educational programs. Yarning with Elders, knowledge holders and community and Aboriginal staff occurs at early childhood education and care services. Inviting Aboriginal people to participate in decisions about the early childhood education and care service occur. And these are some of the behaviours that we shouldn't do. Make assumptions about me, my family, or my culture. Not know, value, or respect my people or culture. As early childhood education and care stakeholders, we must advocate for Aboriginal children, their families and their culture. And we must call out racism and start anti-racism education really early in early childhood settings. Not provide Aboriginal employment pathways or have no Aboriginal people employed in our early childhood education and care services. And use my people's cultural knowledge without permission. Please don't be concerned if you find yourself in the 'shouldn't do'. The Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool will move you towards culturally responsive and safe practices. That core need coming from Aboriginal children, that my culture is seen, heard, and valued, is a call to action, a commitment to creating a society where every Aboriginal child and family can proudly declare, I am seen, heard and valued and my culture is seen, heard and valued. In attending to this core need, we weave a stronger, more inclusive tomorrow for all. Aboriginal cultural safety in early childhood education and care is realised when, again collectively, we as early childhood education and care stakeholders address the core need, your values reflect my people's way of knowing, being and doing. So if we're addressing this core need for our Aboriginal children, that means we should be looking at knowing the rights of Aboriginal children, recognising their connection to country or countries. I've seen in many of the early childhood education and care services that I've visited mob trees where all children are represented on mob trees. And they are identified as a Gomeroi person that lives on Bundjalung Country. And it's a really nice way to be able to recognise Aboriginal children and their connection to country or multiple countries. Other behaviours that we should do in order for values to be reflecting Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing is including learning about Aboriginal cultures in the educational program. And making sure it's the Aboriginal culture of the local area. And as I visited ECE services, whether it be at Kooloora or Briar Road, on the central coast or out at Menindee, using the knowledges or local people's knowledges has helped immensely all children to understand local Aboriginal people in a contemporary context. You should encourage Aboriginal children to identify. And respecting Elders and local knowledge holders. These are some of the behaviours that we shouldn't do if we are making sure that Aboriginal people's ways of knowing and being and doing are included. We should rely less on tokenistic resources and reading materials to teach about Aboriginal cultures. That may mean making sure, again, that you bring in the local area, the local community groups, the local organisations who are able to teach more about the local history, the local people, and the contemporary culture that is now very evident in all communities across Australia. Have a lack of respect for my culture and define what success looks like for me and my people. Sometimes there is a myth or a misconception that Aboriginal people don't quite have those high expectations of their children and that is absolutely not the case. We know from our many visits that Aboriginal families have very high expectations of their children. So get to know what those high expectations are, understand what that child likes and dislikes and how that's going to create and how that will help them support their future outcomes. The core need, that your values reflect my people's way of knowing and being and doing, is a commitment to understanding the protocols for working with mob. Learning about the concept of deep listening and creating environments where relationships are prioritised above all else. And remember, don't be concerned if you find yourself in the 'shouldn't do' as the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool will move you towards culturally safe and responsive practices. And that is why we are on this journey together. In attending to this core need, early childhood education and care stakeholders meaningfully embed, celebrate, and respect Aboriginal peoples and cultures, thus assisting all children understand Aboriginal people's histories and cultures. I will now hand over to Yasmina, who is the Director of the Regulatory Strategy Policy and practice, who will talk us through some of the strategies to use the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thank you Stacy. Yaama, and good afternoon everyone. It's great to see that we have near on 300 participants. We really value your attendance to hear about this really, really exciting work. Before I move to what you see on that wonderful slide, I'll acknowledge that I'm on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation here in inner Sydney, and I pay my deepest respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I am a proud, dedicated ally of this work and of the Cultural Safety Team. And on a personal level, I am of Croatian and Herzegovinian heritage myself. So you've just heard from Stacy about this reflective tool. She only just showed you a snippet or a snapshot of it. There is more detail and more really, really useful and empowering content in the reflective tool. And rest assured, it's going through final design components before we can launch that and bring it to you across the sector. But you could hear from what Stacy outlined, and I could see some of the comments and questions, it is going to be super, super useful whether you are starting your cultural safety learning journey or indeed, you're continuing on your trajectory of success. We also heard from Vanessa and Rachel and I thought it was really important to reflect on how this work came about, and you could clearly hear that it's been a true collaborative co-design journey. And genuine, not perhaps developed, you know, in isolation by a select number of individuals perhaps that don't have deep connections to cultural safety. That is not the case here and we are super proud of that. You also heard from Toni earlier around the reflective tool, and the information about the sector experts, that the co-design group was comprised of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal ECEC and related experts. And I thought that was really important for you to know about as well. So you're probably wondering, what's next? As a core audience group, you know, this reflective tool has you as the key and core audience in mind. How can you best engage with this important resource on cultural safety? And what is it that you next need to think about or perhaps do? So you already heard it will be available early 2024. It's going to be free of charge to you, produced for you, your colleagues, your teams, your valued staff. We want to see this reflective tool land and launched at provider levels. Whether you have a management committee or board or you're a smaller provider, it does not matter, it is for everyone. And we intentionally started this conversation quite early and ahead of you receiving the actual reflective tool. And the reason for that is, exactly as the slides suggests, we really want all of you and all of us to think, discuss, identify, learn, unlearn where it's necessary, and ultimately act. We don't want to rush you, and we are learning that that is not the right way forward on the cultural safety learning journey. It's not a desired outcome of this important work to rush ahead to immediate solutions. So if we move to the next, no, I think we're staying on, no, sorry, we're staying on this slide. Pardon me, that's on me. So when we talk about thinking, we really would like to invite you to deeply consider the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework and sit with it. Think about your thoughts and ideas. We'd love to see you encouraging individuals to engage in critical thinking about their own belief systems and assumptions related to culture and cultural safety. And we know that it won't be the same for everyone. People are on their own journey, and some people have had very little exposure or insights or understanding, and others perhaps more. Engage in reflection around how personal perspectives might influence your interactions with Aboriginal children and their families. An open-minded approach is what we'd love to see in an understanding of cultural differences and their impact on you and your community. And also to think about Aboriginal culture as perhaps different but excitingly different, fascinatingly different. I would also use the words awe-inspiring, deep, and ancient old cultural knowledges, but also the contemporary knowledge that Stacy mentioned. Then we want you to start the discussions or continue your discussions if you are already on your cultural safety journey. And I'll never forget this advice that I received from an Aboriginal Elder when they said to me, "Yas, listen to understand, don't listen to respond." And foster an open and respectful conversation about cultural safety within a group or community. Create that space for sharing diverse perspectives around cultural safety, and encouraging active listening and empathy to understand different viewpoints and cultural nuances. Facilitate the exchange of ideas and the co-creation of strategies to promote cultural safety. The third element on the slide there relates to identifying where you're at on that cultural safety journey. And you will be able to do that with the reflective tool. And this may also involve recognising and acknowledging the existence of cultural stereotypes or perhaps some systemic issues that you might identify within your setting. And as Stacy said, that's okay. That is what the reflective tool is intended to support you with. Encouraging individuals to identify areas where cultural safety may be compromised, whether it's at an individual level or organisational level. And of course, moving your practice and behaviours upward, as that reflective tool portrayed, into the positive and supportive behaviours. Also aim to pinpoint specific challenges and barriers that diverse cultural groups may face in accessing ECEC settings. So then we moved to learning. And of course, the learning phase, by then, rest assured, we plan to launch an Introductory Toolkit. That is the next big, big resource that comes after our reflective tool. But learning can also start now. It involves actively seeking knowledge about Aboriginal culture, history and perspective. And I like what Stacy said about keeping it local, within your local communities as a starting point and building those relationships slowly, with trust and genuine intent. Encouraging a commitment to ongoing education in your service, or if you are a member of a board or management committee, the self-improvement journey around your cultural competence. And promoting an understanding of the impact of events and societal structures on different cultural communities. There's also this concept of unlearning and the reflective tool will really support you in that. Of course it takes time, effort, and energy and willingness and true intent to move to the unlearned domain. But if we look within, we all have some elements of unlearning to do. It does require us as individuals to examine and challenge preconceived notions and stereotypes that may have been ingrained over time. It also involves a willingness to let go of some outdated, perhaps, beliefs or attitudes that hinder and prevent, in some cases, cultural safety. Unlearning also acknowledges the need for a continuous true self-reflection and commitment to personal growth. The final graphic on this slide is obviously the one to act and do. From the reflective tool, you'll be guided on how to action cultural safety in your setting. And as I mentioned earlier, parallel to your journey of learning, unlearning, and moving towards acting and doing things that move you towards cultural safety, we in the Cultural Safety Team will be progressing the development of the Introductory Toolkit. Very exciting times. So by integrating all of these elements, engaging in open discussions, and ultimately taking meaningful actions, you as individual educators, as service leaders, or you might be a service provider, we can collectively work towards creating environments where all children benefit from growing their understanding about Aboriginal people, rather, and their fascinating and rich cultural heritage, ways of being, doing and knowing. So this slide, it just aims to inform our sector on what's ahead. So we are currently in this phase 3 mode of development. It is heavily a development phase for the framework. And as you heard, the reflective tool is the first product that we are launching outward to the sector. Obviously that's not discounting the important outward messaging. We've held several webinars and brought to you this exciting work. However, the reflective tool around cultural safety to inform your learning journey is the first and very important resource we really want you to embrace and do your best to familiarise yourself with it as it launches at year end in 2024. The other work that's happening in-house, we're completing an evaluation model. We want to make sure that what we're doing moves forward in the right direction, that it stays true to those objectives that you heard Stacy talk about earlier. And also the Introductory Toolkit, that is super exciting because not only are we selecting the right types of tools, we are going to map them to the relevant quality elements that you already need to demonstrate evidence of practice against. And it will also have strong linkages to the national guiding principles under the National Law. So what we are doing really here is putting forward a toolkit that responds to the reflective tool, and that supports and empowers you on your cultural safety journey. So this slide is basically reaffirming that we have a lot of work underway, and you can see the in progress references. And that is currently in progress. There is so much to do. But the key takeaways from here are those, I guess the 2 important milestones for the sector, one, the cultural safety Learning Journey Reflective Tool, early 2024. And the second very, very important milestone is the Introductory Toolkit of the Cultural Safety Framework. And that is something that the sector will be able to engage with directly and will be directly relevant to how you demonstrate your service's practice against the National Quality Standard. A lot to do there, but the team is working hard. The tools and resources will be culturally appropriate, not tokenistic, not symbolic. They will be genuinely helpful, and they will provide support and guidance for your individual cultural safety journeys, recognising that you will all be on your own trajectory. We do want to get this right. I also want to again repeat that I know that many of you are already doing great things, and that is so inspirational to see. These resources and tools are an extension of that great work you're doing. And that great cultural safe practices, we know that they're already happening in many cases but there's also more to be done. So moving on, just a moment, sorry. So right now we're stepping up our engagement with the sector through webinar sessions like this one. We will ultimately be enabling you to deliver culturally appropriate and responsive services. And just a reminder of that core beneficiary, I thought it would be really important to highlight that again. The core beneficiary of this work is all Aboriginal children and their families and communities. And the broader beneficiary of this work maps to all children, all children that attend early childhood education and care in New South Wales. So that's really exciting. We can't wait to share all these resources with you. I'll wrap up now, but I'll hand over to our key executive sponsor, the Executive Director of the New South Wales Early Childhood Regulatory Authority, Shane Snibson. Shane is our truly our executive champion. He has maintained strong and unwavering support for this really important work. Welcome, Shane.

Shane Snibson: Thanks, Yas. Appreciate that lovely, warm introduction. I'd first just wanna start by acknowledging the traditional lands that I'm on today, land of the Dharawal people, and pay my respect to Elders past, present and emerging. Yeah, usually I might present early and give some context or some introduction, but I've sat back today and listened. Considering all the information provided, I think it's important for the sector just to hear the genuine, authentic steps that the department's taken to get to this point. I also think secretly, I'm not one to stick to scripts, so I think sticking me down the back of the presentation just mitigates the opportunity for you to muck up the timeframe of all the speakers, so I can see why that's happened. I think it's really important for the sector to hear from subject matter experts rather than me for a long period of the session. And that's happened today. And I hope you've got a real sense of the cultural authenticity and integrity that's been maintained. As a self-confessed institutionalised public servant over 25 years, we are always in a hurry to deliver the deadline. We like controlling the narrative. We like mitigating the risk in government. And I must say that to generally commit to the co-design process has meant we've had to let go of some of that, and felt a bit different about it. But you know, for true, authentic co-design, you need to hand over some of that design and responsibility to get a better product in the end. And it's obviously taken us a while to get there, but that just reaffirms that it's grounded on genuine community consultation, genuine listening. But it hasn't been easy for us to consider that. And I think the fact that we felt uncomfortable is probably a testament that we are doing things a bit different or trialling things a bit different. Obviously today part of my role is to invite you all as sector representatives to champion this work. I know a lot of you already are. And I also know a large number of you are really keen to do more and are just seeking some reassurance and some guidance and some support to make more progress. I also tend to take a bit of a simple approach to things that can be quite complex. And I think for mine, listening to today and hearing what's being said, it is about reaffirming, just start with yourself and think about where you are at around your open mind, your open heart. Where do you sit with being open to growing your own cultural understanding and responsiveness. And you know, as someone who's not Aboriginal personally, as someone who grew up potentially with prejudicial views in a family and an education setting when I was young, I have had to have an open mind to grow and see the value in this work, but it is possible, and through true value it can be done. And I think the other simple place when I look at the framework is, I've heard really clearly about being genuine and authentic about what we do, but also about local context is important. And one of the key things we heard early on when we consulted with community is that context is important. The needs of community and mob vary place to place around the state. And a really simple way for me or for you to think about how well you are going with that is just ask yourself or go through the exercise of if you have artefacts or artwork in your foyer or somewhere displayed, and if someone came into your service and asked you one simple question, tell me the story behind that, what would your answer be? How would you answer that? And if you can talk about, you know, something along the lines of, well, we engaged with a local group, one of our staff is Aboriginal, they got us on, we spoke to an Elder, they come and did a presentation, we did something with the children, this is now what we've produced. If your story is around something like that, then for me that really espouses the genuine and authentic and local connection piece. So I think, you know, in a simple way to judge where you might be and what your opportunities might be looking forward is just, yeah, take yourself through that question and answer in your foyer, what's the story behind that? How do you answer it? If it's a bit awkward or a bit uncomfortable or you think lacks some genuine local connection, maybe there's some opportunities to do some deeper thinking. I wanna reassure you, though, that cultural safety is not about extra work for your service, but it is around supporting you around where you put value. And I know that there's really strong commitment and purpose for children and in the work we do that really comes through really strongly wherever I visit. This is really a true test around, is that commitment unconditional or conditional on certain things? So that's a really good test for that. We know that this is just the start. The Cultural Safety Framework does require some additional support and tools to help support familiarisation, and over time, growth. and hopefully what you've seen today can give you a sense of comfort and confidence that we're making good strides and good steps forward. For us, for the team, for Stacy and Toni and I to effectively support you and support growth for the children that we're there to support, we do wanna hear from you around how we accomplish this. We've obviously got some ideas around what tools we think will be important. But there is some sense of wanting to hear from you to help inform that. So I think now's a good time to head to the next slide where there's a Menti, Stacy, I don't know whether you wanna help me with this, it's not my strong suit going through this sort of thing.

Stacy Parry: Thank you, Shane. Okay, let's complete a Menti. We are super keen to hear from you guys about what support you will require to commence your cultural safety journey. So if I can get you to scan the QR code or go to and enter 86429846. And just write some key words about some of the support that you will require to commence the cultural safety journey. Some ideas that you might include is like, what resources you may need, what guidance you would like, what you would like access to, what enablers you need to deliver culturally appropriate and responsive services? Oh, here we go, what support do you require? Not just providing resources but constant mentoring by someone. I love that idea. And we have investigated community of practices. Networking. Auditing tools. So as part of the work, we have found a culturally appropriate auditing tool, a tool that can be used to support educators and providers and services, ECE sector stakeholders as to what is a culturally appropriate resource. We would love to start a RAP and reaching out to an Aboriginal Elder to support us. I would strongly encourage you to do this. And the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework will support you and will complement RAPs and will complement your implementation of the approved learning frameworks. And reaching out to local Aboriginal people is absolutely supporting the best education for all children. Lots of professional development opportunities through the department, family day care, and local Elders. That is in person and online. Having monthly events where local groups can meet and discuss cultural safety. Absolutely fantastic idea. Information reference, local contacts. Yes, some communities do have contact books of their local Aboriginal organisations and knowledge holders. There are a lot here coming up around networking and sharing of resources, visits to other services, 100%. You know, and these are great practice ideas just across the board, but in terms of Aboriginal culture, we know that there are stellar, standout services of excellence across family day care, across long day care, across community preschool. So why not showcase the excellence that is out there by being able to network, by being able to showcase and promote. Thank you for all of these responses that have come through. Please know that this is wonderful input. And also know that this information will help us to provide the resources that we are currently developing. I would like to thank everybody for participating in this activity, but also participating in this session today. Please know that this input is important to us and we'll absolutely be using it for the next steps. Remember the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool will be out on our website early next year, so look out for that. I just would like to say a big thank you to everyone that has attended today. And we had numbers get to 255. And this does demonstrate the interest and support for creating culturally safe and responsive environments across the sector. And it's also exciting, as it demonstrates the National Law guiding principle that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' cultures are valued.

Toni Ross: Stacy, you can't see this slide, but I'll jump in and save you here. The next slide, we're asking the sector to take a short 2 minute survey about the webinar today. This is your opportunity as part of that survey to register for your copy, sent directly to you, of the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework in Term 1 of 2024. So we strongly ask all those in attendance to register to receive the first copy of the resource. As we said, we provided information in the chat regarding Information and Inquiries. The phone number and emails have been provided to the sector. And of course, Stacy as the manager, the main thing is a huge thank you. We actually climbed to 295, which yay. And a huge thank you to everyone, to our co-designers, to our champion executive, to our director who has been upgraded from ally to champion by the co-design working group. This is just an incredible journey that we are so privileged to be on. And we want to help increase the knowledges of Aboriginal histories, cultures, and people, to the benefit of all children, not just Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. So we'd like to thank you for coming, and that's a wrap.

Stacy Parry: Thank you. Please complete the survey after the session. The survey that you will be sent will ask you for your email, so that way you can register and you will get an email with the Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework Learning Journey Reflective Tool. So please complete the survey. It will be sent to your email.

Explore the risk mindset and how to control risk in your service environment while looking at real scenarios. A content warning is advised.

Louisa Coussens: My name is Louisa Coussens. I manage the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support Team here at the New South Wales Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority at the Department of Education. I'm joined today by my colleague, Sarah Hunter. Sarah is an Authorised Officer, a Senior Field Officer, at the Regulatory Authority and has many years experience working with services like you and is an expert in putting the National Quality Framework into practice within the various service contexts that you all represent. I'd like to begin today by acknowledging that I'm joining you from the lands of the Burramattagal people. I'd like to pay my respect to Elders past and present, and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the webinar today and working across our sector. Before we get into the content of today's session, I'll do a little housekeeping. As always, the information that we're sharing with you today in this session is intentionally broad so that it's useful, we hope, for all service types and all participants. If you have any service-specific questions, we encourage you to contact our Information and Enquiries Team, either via email or phone. And these details will be shared at the end of today's session if you don't already have them. Once the presentation is finished, you'll be sent a survey. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey. This will help us to continue to develop content that's beneficial for your needs. The microphone, camera, and chat functions have been disabled for this presentation. We encourage you to ask us questions using the Q&A function. We'll try to answer as many questions as we can. Inevitably, there'll be some questions that we won't be able to get to today, but it's still fantastic to see them coming in. We're using the up voting facility today. So if you see a question someone else has asked that you would like answered, you can vote for that question and that will move that up the priority list for us. We'll be using Menti during this session, so please have your phones ready. Also, this session will be recorded and published on the department's website. I would just like to advise that some of the content for this presentation may be sensitive for some people at times, so just a forewarning about that today. Thank you. I'm excited to bring you something a little different today. Risk is perhaps not inherently an exciting topic. Important? Absolutely. Exciting? Maybe not so much. But we really wanted to bring you on a bit of a journey with us today. Rather than just talking at you, we are keen to bring this concept of risk to life. You'll be hearing, as I said, from one of our most experienced Senior Field Officers, Sarah Hunter. As we often do in our sessions, Sarah will be talking through the key things that you need to consider in a range of practice areas. Today, that's transport, sleep, outdoor environments, and active supervision. Then Sarah will be bringing these to life through scenarios or case studies and encouraging you all to take part in a bit of interactivity using Menti. We hope you like this approach. We'd love to hear from you afterwards about what you thought. But first of all, I'm gonna pass to Yasmina Kovacevic, our Director, is gonna talk about what we mean by risk management. Thank you, Yas.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thank you, Louisa. And I'd like to confirm that while risk isn't commonly thought about as an exciting topic, I think we've been challenged to make it exactly that in this presentation. I'll start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that I'm on today, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to the Elders past, present, and emerging. As government-imposed responsible regulators for safety and quality in ECEC, we maintain a zero tolerance for critical harm coming to any child while they attend an ECEC service. Now, I'm certain that we share this position with all providers, dedicated educators, and staff. Safety of children must come first and must remain a continuous focus for us collectively. So understanding risk in an ECEC setting is vital to child safety, whether you're an employee working with children, a service leader, or a provider that owns and operates their service. Everyone is invested in maintaining child safety and also upholding the reputation and integrity of your service in which you work or the one that you operate. In an ECEC setting, there are many risks that you manage and accept, and this is part of children's development. And there are also many risks that need to be eliminated and tightly controlled. These types of risks are unacceptable because they are likely to cause very serious harm to a child. So we will unpack this further on with our keynote speaker, Sarah, and then Louisa. So risk is inherent in what we do on a daily basis. What is crucial is how you identify and manage that risk to ensure children in your care are safe and protected at all times. Risk management is likely something you already do. Generally, in life, you do a lot of risk management, but in the service setting, not only in your practice and actions, but also in the creation and review of policy, procedures, and the various instruments that address specific risk within your service. Now I'm hoping we have some provider representatives. At a provider level, you'd be discussing organisational risk, how this links in with your service setting risk. It's vital that you have effective governance at a high level, risk management, good oversight, and reporting of the service level risks that you'll hear about from Sarah. This approach will maintain good risk culture and open reporting across all layers of your service. Analysing the most common areas of non-compliance, for example, in your service, identifying the likely cause to strengthen future safeguards. This is vital and should be in place at your leadership level. Informing your management of concerning patterns, increasing frequency of a particular risk, informing your management of a near miss event, where a child could have been seriously harmed, these are all really important elements of good risk culture. Managing, understanding, reporting risks upward, but also across your organisation, this should be everyone's business. So why are we bringing this topic to you? Well, the obvious answer is we are mandated under national law to inform and guide the sector, so this is a vital topic, but also because there are legislative requirements that need to be met by you. The national law and regulations require risk minimisation principles and practices. And the law and regulation also includes specific requirements around these instruments across areas of practice, and you'll hear more about that from Sarah. The law and regulations also delegate explicitly to the Approved Provider and Nominated Supervisor responsibility to ensure policies and procedures are both in place and followed. Harm to a child can occur in any setting. And as an Approved Provider, educator, or any other staff member in an ECEC, you all have a responsibility to be aware of risks, know how to manage and minimise them to protect the children in your care. Not having appropriate risk management instruments obviously creates heightened risks to children's safety as something harmful or preventable is likely to have been overlooked. Risk assessments and risk management is a requirement under national law. Failure to meet this requirement is also an offence. So why is this important in your role? We're going to the second pillar on the slide there now. Risk management, what is it and why is it important? Well, effective risk management supports everyone to be safer, more protected through identification and minimisation of risk. It takes a preventative angle on operating your service and working with children. Effective implementation of a policy and a procedure assists everyone to know how to manage those risks, ensuring everyone understands what needs to be done to minimise and control those risks to children. Moving to the next one, what do we mean by risk assessment? Well, this involves seeing and reviewing your own context and environment, thinking about the things you see, manage, do differently to ensure a safe environment for every child. ACECQA and the Regulatory Authority have available templates free of charge to assist you in conducting these risk assessments across your specific activities. But remember, it's important to note that each risk assessment needs to be adaptable to your specific context. What is a risk for some services won't be for others. And even if the risk element is the same, your service may have different ways to manage and control that risk. Let's move on to the best practice pillar on the slide. Let's think about best practice in risk management. There are numerous best practice supports already available to guide, practice, and implementation of policy at your service. Later on, we'll look at some of those through scenarios relating to specific risk areas within services such as yours and discuss some of those practices that can further support you. Let's focus now on the best outcomes that arise out of effective risk management. Well, this is our collective goal, best outcomes for children, best outcomes for educators, for providers, and for our sector. Harm to a child is obviously prevented. The reputation of services and providers is upheld. And obviously and importantly, the service is operating lawfully and in accordance with national law and regulations. So best practice will lead to best outcomes for everyone. Now enough from me. I'm now going to hand over to Sarah Hunter, who's going to discuss some specific risk areas with our next speaker, Sarah Hunter. Sarah is an experienced, expert, rather, Senior Field Officer. And there's a lot in that title. She works within the Regulatory Authority, and she's the person that is out there having direct contact with services and providers. She has a wealth of practical and regulatory knowledge and experience. So I'm so pleased to hand over to Sarah.

Sarah Hunter: Thank you, Yasmina, and Louisa as well. All right, we're gonna first start with looking at safe transportation. So we're gonna look at some of the specific risk areas within service delivery. And I understand that some of you don't transport children as part of your daily practices. However, there still are benefits from looking at different risk strategies. Some of them may be to be able to inform other activities that you do conduct as part of your practice such as excursions. There are many known risks involved while transporting children. A critical risk of a child being left on a vehicle is the reason behind recent regulatory change. With risk assessments, best practice, and record keeping at the point of embarking and disembarking designed to support the practice to ensure that no child is left on the vehicle. Our national regulations set out a change of legislative requirements designed to keep children safe, particularly around the practice that involves a level of risk. While looking at Regulations 102 to F inclusive, it applies to regular transportation. Consideration to these risk points could be included on risk assessments that are required for excursions and also possibly looking at the safe arrival of children's risk assessments when transportation in vehicles is being considered. Regulation 102E and F specifically looks at requiring a person other than a driver to be present when children embark and disembark a means of transport with a record to be kept immediately that accounts for each child. The inclusion of this two person check in this instance is a risk management tool to minimise the risk of a child being left behind. It's using dual supervision to minimise the risk of a child being missed. Active supervision throughout all forms of transportation is crucial to safe practice. This means that there's no distractions to have children in sight and hearing distance, utilising where possible multiple staff. If you are the driver but still supervising, how does this work? Have you considered the scenario within your risk assessment? A risk assessment must be completed prior to transporting children as outlined in Regulation 102C and considers the number of educators or other responsible adults required to provide supervision during transportation. If you have seat belts fitted within the vehicle, things to consider may be who checks the seat belts of the children as part of your safety supervision when there's more than one educator present? Are there any children that have medical conditions that require medication such as an EpiPen that may need to be taken while transporting? What steps are in place to ensure the medication and action plans are taken with you? Having clear and regularly reviewed routes and risk assessments for transportation will assist in daily practice, but also when changes to routes or drop-off locations occur, has there been consideration for an alternate route in the case of roadworks, increased traffic, weather conditions such as you may use a bridge that is regularly flooded during any rain and an alternate route is needed. It's important for you to know and consider what to do if a child does not turn up at a designated pickup location. Who do you call? Who's responsible for making that call? How do you check on the welfare of that child at that point in time? Disruption to routine can be and tragically has been a factor in children being left in vehicles or unaccounted for. It's important to call this out as a warning to be prepared and have disruptions to routine covered in risk assessments and prepare procedures to address them. It might not catch all of them, but it does allow you to be prepared for more probable and likely events. For example, it may be the responsibility of only one person at the service to check that children have disembarked at the service. What if that person's absent or they might required as part of ratio on the floor due to staff absence? Having multiple people trained to fill each role will ensure consistent safe practices that are not rushed and occur the same time, every time. As mentioned earlier, some of the identified risks discussed may crossover into different risk assessments like transportation, excursions, and the safe arrival of children. Depending on the situation, the responses to those risks will differ. For example, disembarking on an excursion at the Opera House will require a different and likely, additional risk measures than disembarking children at the front gate of a service. Protecting children from harm and hazard is the intention of the national law and our regulations with specific responsibility, a legislative requirement. Without going through all the transport regulations and law in a big list, I'd just like to call out a few to note. So looking at Regulation 102A through to F, these regulations require specific documentation, records, and actions to be taken when you're transporting children for the purposes of regular transportation. An assessment with specific inclusion, a risk assessment is required by Regulation 102B and C, authorisations for transporting children is required under Regulation 102D. 102E and F stipulate the action and the records that are required for embarking and disembarking children from vehicles at the service. Regulation 102AAC, although it does not sit solely within transport, it's important one to mention, as the risk assessment that is required for the safe arrival of children should include any transport scenarios that children may use to arrive at the service, whether it's managed by yourselves or by a private company. All services that have children travelling between an education and care service and another children's service or school must have a safe arrival of children policy, a procedure, and a risk assessment in place. This could be for a child who attends an OSHC and travels to and from school or a child who attends a family day care service and you drop them or pick them up from school each day. Further information about this new regulation will be available in a recording of the National Quality Framework October Changes, the ECE Connect session that was delivered on the 20th of November and will be available on the department website shortly. All right, so we're just gonna go into a bit of a scenario. So I'm gonna read out a scenario that relates to an OSHC, but if you're able to just get your phones ready and then we're gonna head into a Menti poll next. So this one relates to an OSHC. There's a Nominated Supervisor, William. He's preparing for the afternoon session of OSHC at a service located on the grounds of a local primary school. 67 children are expected to arrive. Majority of the children attend from this on ground school. However, there are 16 children that attend from another local school who arrive on a service that's been arranged by a bus driven by an educator. And then we also have another one child who's dropped off by a family friend in a private arrangement. On his way to work that day, William noticed that one of the roads accessing the school is closed for roadworks. It was a little annoying as it was meant he had to detour and park in a different spot. He was a bit late, so he just jumped right on in getting the educators to classrooms and the gates to collect children. As staff arrive, he sends one staff member to the gate to meet the family friend and the child, another staff member off to meet the children at the classrooms. And he heads to the front door of the service where he has a clear line of sight for children getting off the bus at the school gate, which is about 20 metres down the path. The bus is late today and by the time it arrives, other children have already settled into the afternoon routine. Children hop off the bus, they head straight down the path to where William is standing. The bus driver drives around the corner to park the bus. The Nominated Supervisor marks children off on a roll as they walk through the door. A child does not show up who should be there. The Nominated Supervisor calls the parent and confirms the child is home and the parent had sent a message through earlier that day. So if you've got Menti up, you can take a scan of the QR code or the password I think is there as well. And we'll go through and answer the first question. 'So what could the NS have done differently in planning for the afternoon?' 'He could have reviewed the transport risk assessment for any impact the roadworks may have had.' 'He could have informed his staff about possible disruption to bus routes.' 'Nothing, he turned up on time', or 'he could have ensured that he had all current attendance records and expected arrivals and was able to communicate this to all staff?' Let's have a look where most people are going into. So it's multiple choice. There's not... Well, there is one wrong answer and I'm pleased to see that it's got a zero at this point in time. Yeah, so it's right. He should have informed his staff about the possible disruption to the bus routes 'cause he experienced that himself. So he had first hand information. All right, next question. 'Did William complete all the required checks?' 'No, he needed to check the bus to make sure no child was left behind.' 'No, he needed to see and record each child as they disembarked, then checked no one was left on the bus.' Yep. That's correct. He needed to see that each child as they disembarked. Yes, he should have left, he should have been standing at the gate rather than at the door. It should have been much, much closer. Okay. So we as a Regulatory Authority have guidance and support available, as do ACECQA and New South Wales Kids and Traffic. Regulatory guidance notes, sample templates, practice videos are all available through the department webpage, Transporting Children Safely, and ACECQA has information sheets and guides to assist in understanding of all regulatory requirements and changes relating to transport. And I highly recommend having a look at the department website, the Transporting Children Safely, which does connect you with the New South Wales Kids and Traffic links as well 'cause they've produced in conjunction with us, some really great resources for with templates and so you're not having to recreate the wheel or know where to go for accessing templates and things as well. So yeah, please, they're really, really useful. All right, our next one is onto safe sleep and rest in ECE, which I know is always a hot little topic. Like transport, there are many risks associated with sleep and rest. Safe sleep means that all potential dangers 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. Safe sleep means reducing the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy, SUDI, including SIDS, and fatal sleeping accidents, and reducing the risk of injuries or harm to children during sleep and rest times. It's important for us to talk about safe sleep and rest as sleep and rest times can present serious risks to children. Some sleeping arrangements are not safe and can increase the risk of harm. My colleagues and things that I've seen firsthand, I can assure you that we continue to see examples where safe sleep and rest requirements are not met or inadequately implemented. Supervision is top of this list. Active supervision is crucial to risk minimisation. Being able to see and hear children throughout any sleep and rest period allows you to be alert to any change in a child's sleeping pattern, their movement, and position. Phone and iPad distraction is not conducive to active supervision even if it is for programming. Being aware may save a life. From our Safe Sleep Regulatory Priority program, we know that cot rooms being maintained to facilitate supervision is an issue. Regular physical cot checks by educators are recommended. The timing of these will depend on your circumstance and service context. It's about considering any potential risks and deep knowledge of the children in your care. For example, if you have younger children or children with medical issues or children who are starting to roll over, you might shorten the timeframe between your checks. These things increase the risk to a sleeping child, therefore practices should be changed to keep them safe. And when you're doing your physical checks, you need to ensure that you're actually checking each child. Is their chest rising and falling? Can you see the colour of their skin and lips? Check the environment. Do your cots comply with Australian Safety Standards? Do you have evidence to support this also? Are there any cords or blinds that are accessible to children? What is the bedding that you are using? Are there any loose items in your cots? Is the cot room also being used for storage of items, making access difficult or items being stored on top of cupboards that could fall if not? Are there potential strangulation risks? Are there teething necklaces, pacifiers, dummies? These all pose potential choking and strangulation risks to sleeping children. Ensure you discuss the reasons why these add risk to children as they sleep with families in your discussions about sleeping routines. Ensuring you understand your service policies and the reasons why certain practices are not recommended will help you to explain this to families. It's an opportunity to educate and improve safety across a child's life. And can I just also add to that point that a lot of the times, a practice that we may see during our visits are not in line with the policies and procedures. So it's always best to go back and that use your Safe Sleep and Rest Policy as a starting point for your practices. Do your practice and your policy align? If they do, fantastic. If not, then you need to go back and revisit, is it something that you've changed? Is it something that you, you know you used to do but you no longer do because you've had a change of staffing or the children have gotten older, you no longer have children, you know, in cots they've all transitioned to beds. But you should still be doing all those safe, you know, sleep practices and adequate supervision whether they're in a cot or in a bed, whether that cot's in the room or it's in a cot room or whether they're in a large space as well. So please, just making sure that your policy aligns with recommendations from Red Nose, and then your practices align with your policy as well, so. All right. Safe sleep and rest practices fall under your legal obligation to protect children from harm and hazards. These practices involved in the everyday and in the development of policies and procedures support those everyday practices, which fall under multiple NQS quality areas from the physical environment, children's health and safety, as well as governance and leadership. To quickly refresh our knowledge of relevant regulation and law relating to safe sleep, we need to look at the recently new regulation, Reg 84A to D, which pertains to sleep and rest requirements and was recently updated in October of 2023. Approved providers, Nominated Supervisors and family day care educators need to provide a safe environment that meets each child's needs for sleep and rest. Part of this is conducting and regularly reviewing a risk assessment for sleep and rest and ensuring service policies and procedures are current, that they're relevant and meeting the safety needs of the children and educators using them. Regulation 84 sets out what your service's sleep and rest policy must include, while Regulation 84 , setting out the requirements for a safe sleep risk assessment and what it must consider. So there's such things such as environment, bedding, hazards, lighting. Remember these are the minimum requirements to include in your policy and safe sleep risk assessment. If there are additional strategies and steps that you have in place to support children's safe sleep and rest that align with recommended best practice, ensure that you include these in your policy and risk assessment too. These documents, as I've said, are there to guide and support your daily practice. Regulation 84 came into effect from the 1st of October, 2023 and refers to bassinets being prohibited in all early childhood education and care service premises, including centre-based and family day care services at any time during which children are being educated and cared for. These bassinets are unsafe for use in ECE settings and can and have led to serious incidents. The prohibition of bassinets in ECEC services is expected to reduce risks and ensure that children are kept safe during periods of sleep and rest. There are no Australian standards for bassinets, unlike for cots. There may be some questions about what a bassinet is, and if something is regarded to as a bassinet, for instance, prams with a capsule attachment. ACECQA provides information on this on their sleep and rest legislative requirements webpage. But just so we are clear, a capsule attached to a pram is not a safe sleeping environment within an ECE service. As mentioned before, Section 165 is all about the adequate supervision and what is considered best practice. Supervising children during sleep and rest periods involves being present, conducting cot checks and sleep checks to ensure the physical signs of breathing are present. They are part of, but it's also about making risk-based choices within your service to the needs of children in your care. And then Regulation 168 is about the requirement for a safe sleep policy and a procedure as informed by your service specific risk assessment. All right, I think we have another scenario. So if you wanna get your phones out and ready for the next screenshot, I'll read out the scenario. So an educator, Miriam, she enters the cot room and places an eight month old child, Harry, in the middle of the cot on their stomach. Harry has a dummy in their mouth, which is clipped to their top. Miriam explains to the trainee, Hassan, that this is so it doesn't get lost if it falls from the child's mouth while they are sleeping. Miriam places a sheet and heavy blanket loosely over Harry, covering his body and mouth, then closes the blind, explaining to Hassan that Harry needs complete darkness as they exit the room. Miriam and Hassan return placing three more children into cots. One child, Mohammed is awake. Sarah asks Hassan to give Mohammed his bottle of milk as he lies in his cot, explaining that his mother said he won't go to sleep without it. Hassan leaves the room with three children asleep and Mohammed falling asleep as they drink from their bottle. The educator, Miriam sits in an armchair on the opposite side of the room from the cots and uses an iPad to write up the events of the day on the service's online platform. An alarm on the iPad rings and a notification flashes. Miriam clicks checked on the notification as they look up briefly from what they are doing before returning to the documentation. The alarm continues to sound every 10 minutes and each time Miriam looks up, clicks checked on the notification, and then continues with her documentation. Okay, so the Menti there and the code. And the first question is, 'What should the educator have been checking when the alarm sounded on the iPad?' Should she have been doing 'physical checks of sleeping children from the side of the cot looking at the rise and fall of the chest, colour of the lips and skin',' 'nothing, she's still working', the 'temperature of the room', or 'having a look at Instagram'? Excellent. Yes, definitely, she should have been doing physical checks. So even though she's still sitting in the room, lifting her head up away from the iPad and doing a check like that is not enough. You need to actually be physically getting up, going to each child and physically seeing the rise and fall of their chest, the colour of their lips, that they haven't gotten themselves tangled in the dummy, in the dummy chain. You know, or even gotten a leg out the side of the cot. So yeah, no. Perfect. All right, next question. 'What could Sarah', sorry, it should have been Miriam, 'have done differently when placing the baby in the cot?' Should she have placed the baby on on his back with his head face and uncovered, removed the dummy clip and dummy, removed all loose items, ensure the baby is appropriately dressed for the environment, she should have held him to sleep, nothing, she was doing what the child was used to, or nothing, she had other children to get ready for bed? Oh, here they come, I think. Yes, beautiful. I do love that. Lot's wrong here, I totally agree. Place the child on his back, correct, feet to the end of the cot, remove the dummy chain. Yes. Yes. Remove the dummy clip, put the child... Yes. Almost everything. Agree. Love it. Excellent. Perfect. Wonderful. Excellent. All right. And I think we might move on to the next question, the last one. 'Was the lighting in the cot room adequate?' This is another one that comes up quite frequently about the lighting in the cot room. Sometimes I've walked into cot rooms and couldn't find where I was going. So it looks like at this point, 'no, the room should be bright to allow supervision and the physical checks of sleeping, rest, and children.' Correct. When you're going into your cot rooms to check, you shouldn't need any other artificial light, no, from a phone or an iPad, or you know, tripping over yourself. You should be able to walk in and still see each child sleeping and the colour of their lips and skin without needing any additional light. And if it's not, then you need to maybe just go back and revisit the lightness in there. So things that were covered were, yeah, around active supervision, those physical checks, Just because you're sitting in a cot room still doesn't mean that you are effectively supervising. It's about knowing each child, where they're at, what they're doing, and how often you're checking them. Yep, being aware of strangulation and choking risks with dummy chains and teething necklaces, all those things should be removed. And yeah, doing that overall safe sleeping environment. And again, you know, if a parent's requested you to do a practice that they do at home, but it's not in line with your practices, getting out your policy, getting out some resources, and having that conversation with families to support them in the practices that you undertake within the service, so. All right. I think we may have some further resources to share with you. So as the New South Wales Regulatory Authority, we've released guidance and resources to support you all to meet your regulatory requirements that are related to safe sleep and rest. The resources can be found on our Safe Sleep webpage on our website. And a link will also be posted in the chat for you. The resources include a regulatory guidance note on children's safe sleep and rest, policy and procedure guidelines that can also be used to help you inform your own service policies, and may also help you to develop your safe sleep risk assessment. All right, our next topic is looking at outdoor environments. It's a bit of a shift from cot rooms to outdoor spaces. These environments hold so much opportunity for learning and exploration, but with that, does come risks. Within a service environment, fencing is a common cause of non-compliance in services. Instances such as gaps in fencing that allow children to get through or under, having equipment or structures that are too close to fencing, allowing children to climb up and over, or even just the fence itself being designed with steps for children to climb. All these pose a risk to children and their safety of being within the care of the service. Pools and water hazards on service grounds are of course required to meet all fencing requirements in line with the Swimming Pool Act and its relevant legislation. Gates and entrances to car parks may be part of your service's fencing. These areas are also regularly risk managed to ensure safety of all children and families in these high risk areas. Things to consider are, where do you have your play structures? Is it scalable? Have you also considered fall zones? So if children are running and tripping, that they're not going to crash into the play structure. Supervision of all environments, of all environments plays once again a crucial role of the safety of all children as they explore and engage with the world around them. It's the active supervision of being there, seeing, listening, knowing where children are at all times around you. But there is also an element of pre-supervision here where is a check, where a check is conducted regularly to ensure the fencing requirements are being met and that all escape routes are eliminated. Some of you may have questions about the balance between risky play and unsafe risks. Risky play is supervised, planned for experiences that challenge children in many ways, developing capabilities through challenge and determination. Appropriate, acceptable risks need to be determined within your individual contexts and in consideration of the abilities, ages, sizes, and personalities of the children in your care. Risk for some children may not just lie in the physical environment. So just a regulation refresh. Just looking at Regulation 104, it outlines that you must ensure that any outdoor space used by children at the service premises is enclosed by a fence or barrier that is of a height and design that children preschool age or under cannot go through, over, or under. And for more detailed advice on recommendations, Kidsafe is a great place for that information. Regulation 115, premises design, this is having the consideration to visibility across and through rooms and into any space used by the service to provide education and care to children. Regulation 116A, although this specific regulation relates to the inspection requirements for pools and water hazards at family day care venues, the accompanying Regulation 116B and C require reports and compliance with the relevant legislation as well. And then, one we all know is Regulation 103 that looks at your fencing, gates, and perimeters should be regularly reviewed and risk assessed feature of your daily service. Any maintenance required should be managed quickly and any additional risks the work may pose be risk managed accordingly. All right, so our next scenario relates to family day care. Melanie operates a family day care service from her home and is very excited for the children to arrive as she has installed a new cubby house over the weekend. It is a bit bigger than the previous one, so she's pushed it against the fence to ensure that children still have plenty of room to explore the rest of the outdoor space. Four children under the age of five are dropped off by their families. And once everyone has arrived, Melanie and the children head outside to play. The children all quickly spot the new addition and they begin playing in the cubby house. As the morning progresses, the children move to other experiences in the outdoor environment. Three-year-old, Osher, remains at the cubby house. Melanie is sitting at a table talking to Moana as they do a craft experience. Osher is on the outside of the cubby house and using the side window to access the fences horizontal beam, he climbs onto the roof of the cubby house. Osher is standing on the roof of the cubby house with his hands on the top of the boundary fence when Melanie notices him and helps him down to the ground. So get your phones out, let's have another Menti. So looking at the first question, 'what should the educator have done before setting up the cubby house?' And there's multiple answers. 'It's her house, so she can set up wherever she wants', or 'conduct a risk assessment for the new equipment?' Either way, I suppose we can test my knowledge and I would go with conduct a risk assessment for the new equipment. Considering that it's new and it's unknown, it's a different size, having a look at the best way to set it up. And again, for me, I would've gone directly to Kidsafe to look at their playground spaces and looking at fall zones and fall heights to make sure. Oh, there we go. Yes, 'review the family day care residence risk assessment' and 'conduct a thorough risk assessment on the equipment and service premises.' Yes. Perfect. And yes, it is her house and she can set it up wherever she likes, but as long as it's done safely. So we just need to do that risk assessment first to look at the different areas. So all right, now that we've seen that working, what's the next? 'Where should the cubby be positioned?' 'Right in the middle', 'there should not be a cubby, it's too risky', 'a safe distance away from the fence, so children cannot scale or climb it', 'an outdoor environment risk assessment should have determined the most appropriate and safe position'. Perfect. And the last one, 'what else could Melanie have changed on the day to ensure Osher was safe and protected?' She could have 'positioned herself to be within sight and distance.' Well, hopefully, she didn't take the day off 'cause she was very excited by the new cubby house. 'Assessing the cubby is a high risk, is in a high risk area, should provide alternate outdoor activities', and 'she could have spoken with the children about any risks.' Agreed. Anytime you are introducing new equipment and thing, or even beforehand, it's about, you know, having those conversations with children as well, engaging them in their conversations about, you know, what would you like? How, where should we put it? Why? And then having those conversations about, you know, risk and risky play and still engaging in risky play, but being safe and things as well, so, and getting children to contribute to your risk assessments. Allow them to play in it. They're the ones that are gonna be using it and scaling it and climbing it. So getting them involved in the risk assessment of any new equipment or existing equipment is a great idea as well, so. Yeah. So yeah, looking at again, and again, you know, if you do have new equipment out there, you know, maybe have, you know, ensuring that you're keeping an educator close by so you can monitor and support children's play. It's again, you know, supporting children and their individual needs. And some children will get on your equipment and use it capably and competently the first time. Others, it may take two or three occasions. So again, it comes back to about knowing your children and the spaces. So some further resources. As mentioned, ACECQA provides information on fencing and pool fencing on their webpage under quality area three, with the guide to the NQF, providing further information under section four, Operational Requirements. And then Kidsafe also provide guidance on fencing requirements and play equipment. All right. I think our next area is looking at supervision in its own right. Okay, distractions such as phones, conversations with families during arrivals and departures, reporting, documenting, and the unexpected all pose risks to our ability to actively supervise children. Consider routines, transitions, and staffing to support the day-to-day activities. For example, during pickup, a family member may ask for help to find their child's missing shoes, hat, sock, or bottle. Consider a process to ensure these things are already in a location and accessible, ready for pickup time. After the active supervision is being engaged, knowing weak points in visibility, correcting those, and managing with risk assessed plans. We understand the pressures of documentation in your roles, however, this poses significant risk to your attention. The physical environment plays a role a service may like to take into consideration, matters such as exterior gates and fences, the height, location, and visibility through furnishings, toilet and nappy change facilities, sleep and rest areas, and areas where children eat, they're set up and location of high risk activities, the use of windows and partitions and outdoor equipment to name a few. Visibility is important. We don't have windows to cot rooms blocked with posters or curtains. If there are viewing windows between rooms into nappy change rooms or children's bathrooms, they've been designed to enable and support supervision practices within the service. Please keep them clear. Supervision of staff, volunteers in each other is so important to ensure everyone is supported within the service. This also relates to child safe practices and the child protection practices within your service also. Some of the regulation refresh is looking at, again, Regulation 115. So it's about how the design of the environment, as mentioned, looking at your windows and keeping them clear so they're not obstructed. Your policies and procedures, Regulation 123, so it's not just about supervision, it's also about managing your ratios. They work hand in hand. It's about being actively present within the sight in hearing range, working directly with children and not engaging in tasks that take your attention away. And then Regulation 122 as well. All right, our final Menti. Happy Campers is a 39 place long day care service that operates from a location that was converted to a service from a home. All staff members complete a comprehensive induction before they commence working, including repeat reading supervision policies and procedures, and discussing the supervision maps in each environment. The preschool room has 20 children aged three to five with two educators. The toddlers has 15 children, two to three with three educators, and the nursery has four children with two educators. They have an additional educator to cover breaks and programming. Each room has direct access to the shared outdoor environment. Educators complete indoor and outdoor checklists each morning before they arrive and begin to, before children arrive and begin to access the environment. When outside, educators put on high-vis vests, so they're easily identifiable. Educators interact with children in small groups, and supervision is a topic that is discussed each month at the staff meeting. And they also have risk assessments around risky play and water experiences. All right, what's our first Menti question? 'What has the service put in place to support appropriate supervision of children at all times?' Okay, have we got any answers for the start Menti. Oh, there we go. What has Happy Campers put in place? 'Staff induction', 'effective design', 'effective regular risk assessments' and 'policies and procedures'. Perfect, they're doing all the all the right things to support positive supervision and engagement with children. All right, next question, because I'm conscious of the time as well. 'What do you think is the biggest distraction to your work when supervising children?' 'Programming', 'Phone/iPad' 'Parents', 'Unexpected events'? Yes, phone and iPads are a unexpected addition, but when we are using a lot of that for our recording now, it's a balance. Great feedback. Thank you. So ACECQA provides numerous supports for supervision guidance, including fact sheets through quality area two guidance. We also have provide a lot of guidance on active supervision through our webpage with an exciting new offering that's just been published, developed by Gowrie New South Wales for OSHC services and educators. There's a whole toolbox of resources and information to assist you in improving your supervision practices within your service. All of these are tailored for OSHC environments. Many of the learning and ideas could be easily transferred into other ECE settings as well. A link will be posted in the chat for you to access this resource. And I'll now pass you back over to Louisa. Thank you.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you very much. Thank you, Sarah. That was fabulous. So informative and some great practical tools. So we've seen and discussed some common risks that you may see in your work in services. Risk management is a continual process and a collective responsibility. Providers, you have a crucial role in upholding good risk culture in your service. But ECEC staff thinking about risk in these themes that Sarah has presented on today is useful and a really effective way of approaching this topic. So thank you so much again for joining us today. I hope you've learned a lot and we look forward to seeing you at our next session. Thank you.

Discussion on the intent and objectives of emergency management, the consequences of poor preparedness, and a look at proactive approaches to best practice.

Louisa Coussens: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us. It's great to see you all here. Thank you for joining us for this afternoon's session, Emergency Management, Be Prepared. I'm going to wait a little more time just to give people an opportunity to hear us from the start. I am very mindful of you all taking time out of your busy days. I know you're all pulled in many different directions, and we do appreciate you giving up your time to spend with us and hear this important information. So I won't keep you waiting much longer. I'll just maybe give another 10 to 20 seconds. You can see the numbers are still climbing nicely. An important topic, particularly at this time of year and as we're heading into some particularly warm weather. Great to have you with us. Thank you very much as always for joining us. We do enjoy presenting these sessions to you. We love receiving your questions and your comments. All right, well, out of respect for your time, those of you who have joined us from the very beginning, thank you so much, I'm going to make a start. My name is Louisa Coussens, and I manage the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support Team. Thank you again for joining us for today's session, Emergency Management, Be Prepared. Today, we will talk to you about the regulatory and legislative requirements around emergency management, as well as some additional things for you to consider depending on your service context. We'll talk a bit about the reason behind the requirements and help you to understand how to put them into practice. I really hope that we have lots of providers with us today. These requirements are after all your responsibility, and it's important as decision makers of your service that you understand today's topic and that you are putting in place the plans and procedures that will ensure staff and children's safety during emergencies. I'd like to start today's session by respectfully acknowledging the traditional custodians of all the lands on which we live, work, and come together today, including the lands of the Darkinjung people, where I'm joining you from. I extend my respect to Elders past and present, and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with us today. Thank you for your enduring care of the lands, waterways, and skies for countless years. They have always been and will always be yours. For millennia, indigenous communities have lived in harmony with and thoughtfully cared for the land, a practice deeply rooted in spiritual connection. I acknowledge and honour today the ancient tradition of firestick farming, a vital part of land stewardship. Our heartfelt respect goes to these communities who have shared invaluable knowledge across generations, teaching us harmonious coexistence with the land. Firestick farming showcases remarkable wisdom, has cleared paths, aided hunting, and reduced the risk of uncontrollable fires. Today we gather inspired by this wisdom, recognising the importance of thorough preparation in handling emergencies. This enduring ethos of responsible land management unites us, fostering resilience and understanding among all present. As I said, I manage the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support Team at the New South Wales Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority here at the Department of Education. My team provides educational tools and resources to help you apply the National Quality Framework. If you've attended another one of these webinars or read a guidance note delivered by the regulatory authority, it was more often than not the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support Team that delivered it. We have people from QPRS, Regulatory Policy, and Communication teams on the line today to respond to your questions throughout the presentation. I'm delighted that we're bringing you this session today on emergency management, with the key message, Be Prepared. We aim to reinforce why emergency preparedness activities need to be genuine, embedded, and not something just to tick off to show the regulator. We'll talk about the regulatory requirements and how these can be implemented into practice to support emergency preparedness within an early childhood education and care setting. We'll also be looking at a variety of scenarios that you might come across at a service and how being prepared supports the management of each emergency, as well as the children, educators, staff members, and families. Before we get into that, I'll do a little bit of housekeeping. The information that we're sharing in this session today is intentionally broad so that it's as useful as possible for as many service types and participants as possible. If you have any service-specific questions, please do contact our Information and Enquiries Team either via email or phone, and they will be able to help you. Once the presentation is finished, you will be sent a survey. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey so that we can continue to develop content that's beneficial to the sector's needs. As always, the microphone, camera, and chat functions have been disabled. However, we encourage you to ask us questions using the Q&A function. As emergency management differs across service types, if you could include your service type along with your question, our team can better address your queries. Make sure you have something to take notes with as we'll be posing reflective questions throughout today's session that you can take back to your services and discuss with your teams. We'll be using Menti and Kahoot during this session, so also have your phones ready. Also, this session will be recorded and published on the department's website. We'll provide answers during the session to as many questions raised in the chat as possible. Inevitably, there will be some questions that we won't be able to get to, but please be assured that we review and reflect on every question and comment that we receive. Anything that we can't answer during the session, we'll provide guidance on afterwards. To provide you with valuable insights, we'll be integrating considerations for reflection into each section. This approach will give you additional takeaways to discuss with your teams. You can also incorporate these insights into your Quality Improvement Plan. I'm now going to introduce to you Yasmina Kovacevic, director of Regulatory Strategy, Policy, and Practice here at the regulator. Thank you, Yasmina.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thank you, Louisa, and good afternoon, everyone. I'm so impressed when people actually read my full name. And you did it so well, Louisa. I'm also so impressed to see the numbers of our valued participants growing each second. It's fantastic to see. So I'll also start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands that I'm on today, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my deepest respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging. Emergency Preparedness, that is such an important and relevant topic, given that, as you know, we're heading into a hot and stormy summer season, and it's very likely to bring us many challenges. Louisa already mentioned, I'm one of the directors in the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. And for the benefit of those of you that may have started recently in the sector, the regulator is basically responsible for oversight of safety and quality under the National Quality Framework. The types of activities we undertake and decision making involves the very first entry point for becoming an approved provider or opening and operating a new service, various changes that may happen across your service delivery environment, ongoing compliance monitoring, and of course the well-known Quality Rating Assessments. The regulator also responds to incoming complaints of various types and incidents that occur across services. So as we carry out these functions, we're always focused on upholding public trust and confidence in the ECEC sector through our safety and quality oversight lens. And why do we do this? Well, we do it for the benefit of children and families. And that is always our primary focus. Let's go to the next slide please. Thank you. Emergency management is vital to ensure a preventative approach to a range of scenarios where health, safety, and wellbeing of children may be compromised, and therefore needs to be upheld to the highest of priorities. Families place their children in your care with an expectation that this priority is met. We know that. Effective emergency management embeds familiarity and routine with evacuation procedures. So being prepared instils that confidence and ensures efficient responses even in those high stress or rapidly unfolding situations. Through our monitoring function, I can tell you today that we continue to identify knowledge gaps and areas of non-compliance across emergency management in New South Wales. In the past 2 years, for example, the most common breaches found in services related to emergency management are under Regulation 97. And that's quite a broad category. These breaches made up almost 10% of all non-compliance. And just to give you some examples of what is included in that, the examples relate to not practicing emergency drills, for example, every 3 months, as required, not displaying floor plans and instructions. So what I thought about when I read this data was, in addition to this being a regulatory requirement, having clearly displayed signs, instructions, and plans are actually vital in ensuring a rapid and effective response in cases of a real life emergency scenario, which I hope you never have. But as Louisa said, you know, this is one of those topics that is not something that you need to just tick off for the regulator. It is something that we really want to achieve deep embedding in your practice. And of course approved providers have a very, very important role in achieving that. So our data indicates a concerning number of breaches in emergency management protocols. We know some of you may have had more movement with new staff joining your team. So my advice is please ensure your new starters, new team members are aware of your procedures through the induction and also how to implement those procedures across emergency management. This supports the need for collective efforts to enhance our sector's emergency preparedness. As a provider, PMC , or service leader, it's vital that you embed emergency management into your business model, your reporting, your recurrent meetings. Championing emergency management as a key focus for your service will also embed a clear message to your workforce, that emergency management and understanding what to do is everyone's business. Sorry about the dog barking. Your presence here today tells me that you value and care about safety and preparedness, and we recognise that commitment. I know it may well be challenging to set aside time to be here today at these information sessions, but it's very important to do so. And thank you to all of you that have made that possible by releasing your staff to attend. Our session's focus will be on vital aspects, compliance with regulations, as Louisa mentioned, working through challenges. We're going to talk about multi-storey buildings, severe weather events, particularly fires, considering the severe heat and fire season warnings. Providing you with knowledge to adapt resources to your service needs is part of our mandate. So we are required to guide and inform you across these types of topics. This is our requirement under National Law. We'll explore scenarios related to emergency management. Our aim is for you to understand the intent and objective of effective emergency management. We will also highlight consequences of inadequate preparedness because that is upon us as regulators to do. So enough from me and from the pooch barking. Apologies again. For now, sit back and immerse yourselves in this great presentation. We're always challenged with how best to bring these topics to life. And this is even more challenging in a virtual environment. The team have invested a lot of careful planning, so I encourage you to stay with us for the duration. I'll now pass back to Louisa, who will guide us through the remainder of the session. Thanks, Louisa.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Yas. Before we get into the details, as I often do, I'll start with a Menti. I'd like to ask everyone to join in a couple of questions. If you're not familiar with Menti, it's completely anonymous. So grab your phone, scan the QR code, or visit and enter the code at the top of the slide there, and the questions should pop up automatically. And the first question, what service type do you currently work in and what's your role? Lovely. Nice word cloud to start the day. So long day care is the largest group with us today. That's no surprise. We've got Directors, community preschools, Nominated Supervisor. Oh, well, lots and lots of different service types, lots of different roles. Fabulous. Great. Thank you. Alright, we may move to the 2nd question, which is lists of emergency situations that you can think of that might happen in your service context. That's what we're getting at with this question. Fire, yes, absolutely, at the front of most of our minds, unfortunately. Flood, flooding, yeah. Missing child, absolutely. Bomb threat, unfortunately yes. Intruder, gosh, it's going so quickly, it's hard to keep track. Medical emergency, yes, that's right. Bushfire. And I think I've seen COVID there as well. Yes. Snake, yes. Lots of great ideas there, thank you. Alright, lots of food for thought. We'll cover some of those as we move through the presentation. I do want to, just before we move to this slide, I was just thinking about a takeaway that I can give you all. And I would encourage you, when you go back to your services today, to think about and review your risk assessments for some of these potential emergencies with your team. So considering the ones that are maybe specific to your service environment. And I don't know, I didn't see this on the list, but another one could be, you know, do you maybe have new neighbours whose lack of yard maintenance now poses a risk to your physical environment? If your service is located on a busy road, have you considered all the potential events that could involve vehicles? And then I know we had this called out, but a medical emergency, possibly including undiagnosed medical conditions. So for example, if you had a child with no prior medical conditions have a convulsion at your service. Have you considered how you would manage that situation to keep all children safe? Alright, so I'm going to start with a look at the law and the regulations. So here's an overview of the law, the regulations, and the Quality Standard elements, which have the greatest impact on emergency management. So Quality Area 2, Children's Health and Safety, and Standard 2.2, Harm and Hazards, along with the associated regulations are the focus of today's webinar. And whilst there are other regulations and practices that support emergency management and services, these are our focus today. So first of all, Regulation 97, which mandates that education and care services must establish emergency and evacuation procedures, and these are rehearsed at least every 3 months, prominently displayed floor plans and instructions near exits, and conduct a risk assessment to identify potential emergencies, and these risk assessments are reviewed at least every 12 months. Regulation 98 outlines that full providers must ensure that nominated supervisors, educators, and staff have immediate access to communication tools for contact with parents and emergency services. Regulation 136 specifies the requirements for first aid qualifications, including anaphylaxis and asthma training. And Regulation 168 mandates that education and care services establish comprehensive policies and procedures aligning with the emergency and evacuation guidelines outlined in Regulation 97. These regulations collectively aim to enhance safety and preparedness within the sector. In addition to these regulations, services must also adhere to other laws and regulations, including Regulation 43 of the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2017, which mandates businesses to create an emergency plan for their workplace. Approved providers must ensure, as we've said, that policies and procedures are in place for emergency and evacuations, and they must take reasonable steps to ensure that these are followed. Reasonable steps must recognise the need to embed these emergency planning instruments into routine service team meetings, management discussions, staff inductions, and ongoing training. For family day care, this requires the principal office and every family day care residents to consider and plan for the individual nature of each premises. All premises should have individually considered risk assessments, emergency plans, and diagrams. To assist you in writing and reviewing your emergency and evacuation policy, ACECQA has developed policy guidelines that can help inform you of what you need to include in your emergency evacuation plan and procedures. We have also developed an Emergency Management Plan template and guide which are available to download from the Department of Education website. When developing and reviewing your service policies and procedures, ensure you consider different types of emergencies and what's specific to your service location and surroundings. Emergencies may require your service to evacuate or initiate a lockdown. It's important that you have policies and procedures in place which contain sufficient detail to address all possible emergency scenarios in the context of your individual service environment, and the support staff, children, and visitors in any type of emergency. So examples of different responses to different emergencies include things like onsite evacuation. So this may be necessary due to safety concerns for things like fires or gas leak, which require immediate relocation from the building. An offsite evacuation to a designated assembly point may be necessary in case of danger at the service premises for things like bomb threats, or chemical spills, or floods, for example. A lockdown ensures safety by staying inside during emergencies, such as things like hazardous smoke. A lockout can be implemented in situations where an internal threat is detected. And a shelter in place is another. It's a protective action used in emergencies, again, like severe weather or intruder threats. Conducting emergency response drills to test, validate, and improve these procedures is an absolutely essential part of your service's emergency management planning. And we have another takeaway for you. We encourage you to reflect on the procedures that you have in place to respond to various emergency situations. Have you considered which response is best for each of the potential emergencies that you've identified for your service? Being prepared, as we've said, is really important for responding to emergencies effectively. A comprehensive Emergency Management Plan includes preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery strategies. It includes staff roles and site-specific risk assessments. The success of your response to an emergency will be influenced by the timeliness of applying a planned and rehearsed response procedure to an unanticipated incident and the mitigation of adverse consequences. Grab your pens for another takeaway. Some thoughts to take back to your team to consider. What does a planned and rehearsed response procedure to an unanticipated incident and the mitigation of adverse consequences mean? Bit of a mouthful. And how do you achieve this in your service? Would you say that your service has robust emergency management protocols in place? Emergency plans should be easy to understand and tailored to the specific service location where they apply. Some things that your emergency plan must include. A floor plan of your service displayed in a prominent location near each exit, emergency procedures and instructions for staff members to follow, frequent testing of emergency procedures for both evacuation and lockdown should be rehearsed at least every 3 months. A completed risk assessment specific to the service and its location, which is reviewed at least every 12 months, and information, training, and instruction to staff members to implement the emergency procedures. And further things that you should also consider. Staff members who travel to work, those who work alone, for example, at family day care services or in remote locations, neighbouring businesses, people sleeping at the service, such as how do you manage an evacuation if children are sleeping, and what have you considered if your service provides overnight care? Large numbers of people at the site at the same time, for those of you located in multi-storey building. If you share a workplace with other businesses, for example, shopping centres, you need to consult with those businesses when preparing your emergency plan. Your emergency plan relies on a thorough risk assessment tailored to your early childhood service. This assessment identifies specific hazards and threats, assesses their risk levels, and outlines how you'll prepare for, reduce, and manage emergencies. It's really important to update and maintain a current emergency contact list for parents and families, making sure that you can reach them promptly if needed. And this list should be kept in your emergency kit. One more takeaway for this slide. We encourage you to discuss and reflect with your team on when your emergency contact information was last updated and what procedures do you have in place to ensure that this is always current. Have you considered any children or staff members with additional needs, who may require assistance during an emergency? Let's delve into some emergency situations and examine both their strengths and areas for improvement. Multi storey building emergency evacuation. So recently we've been receiving questions around the definition of direct egress and multi storey buildings. We recognise regulatory challenges, but clarity is vital. And obviously, defining terms such as this empowers effective navigation of changes. Direct egress, we're happy to be able to explain to you today, is the ability to move and directly exit to an assembly area that's at the same level as the education and care service, and is outside the service premises, and away from the building. This does not include travelling through sets of stairs, including fire isolated stairwell, busy, occupied areas, traffic, or other hazards or obstructions. For example, an ECEC service located on the 2nd storey of a multi storey building. The building is on sloping land, which means that the service has direct access to the outdoors at ground level without the need to travel up or down any stairs, which leads to the assembly area outside the early childhood education and care premises and building. When risk assessing an ECEC service located in a multi storey building shared with other occupants, the approved provider must consider for each storey on which the residence or service is located whether there's direct egress to an assembly area that allows the safe evacuation of all children, including non-ambulatory children. For those who attended our session on the October 1st NQF changes on November 20th, you would've heard the following definition. So to restate, a multi storey building means a building with more than 2 stories. I'm now going to talk to a scenario. My lights have just turned off, I'm sorry. Excuse me. In a multi storey building, a long day care service operates on the 1st and 2nd floor of a 5 storey building, with retail shops on the ground floor and offices on the floors above. The service provides education and care to children aged 3 to 5 years. When designing and developing the emergency evacuation plans, the approved provider and nominated supervisor consulted with the other building occupants, explaining the necessary steps for evacuating during emergencies. They conduct evacuation rehearsals every 3 months with the knowledge and support of the other occupants. One day, the emergency alarm went off, signalling the need for evacuation due to an incident elsewhere in the building. The children moved towards the emergency exit doors on each level and looked to the educators for further directions. The educators communicated between rooms across the 2 floors and confirmed the need to evacuate. They explained that this was just like their emergency rehearsal. And the children, already familiar with the procedure, followed with excitement. Each educator had a specific role to ensure that items listed in their emergency plan were collected. An educator for each room confirmed all children in attendance were at emergency exits as the children lined up and walked down the emergency stairwell in a single file against the railings so they could hold onto it as they walked down and to allow other occupants to pass them. Educators walked with the children, supporting those with any additional needs. Educators focused solely on the children's safety during the evacuation process. As other residents evacuated, they moved to the outside to allow the educators and children to pass at their own speed. Once at the assembly area, the nominated supervisor confirmed that everyone was safe and congratulated the children on a great effort in evacuating. Everyone was excited when they saw the fire truck arrive. And the group stayed outside under the shade of a tree until a firefighter instructed them that it was safe to go back inside as someone had accidentally set off the alarm. When they returned to the service, a group of children began to play in the dramatic play area, taking turns pretending to be firefighters and responding to emergencies. Educators posted stories on their online platform for families to let them know they'd participated in an emergency evacuation. Once everyone was back inside the service, the nominated supervisor logged into NQAITS and notified the department that they had evacuated, and that emergency services had attended the property. I'd like to introduce Kate Hughes to you all now. Kate is a Policy Officer in the Quality Practice and Regulatory Support Team. And Kate's going to help me unpack these scenarios today. Kate, welcome. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself first and your role at the department?

Kate Hughes: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Louisa. I'd first like to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the lands of the Burramattagal Clan of the Dharug Nation, where I'm presenting from today. I would like to extend that respect to elders past and present, as well as to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals joining us today. Thank you for your enduring care of the lands, the waterways, and the skies for millennia. A little bit about myself. I have been working in the early childhood education sector for over 20 years as an Early Childhood teacher, Nominated Supervisor, Authorised Officer, and then joining the QPRS team. I really enjoy being a part of this team as we work proactively to support the sector through education and the development of resources.

Louisa Coussens: Great. Well, great to have you and your expertise today. So what can you tell us or what can we take away from this scenario that I've just described?

Kate Hughes: So this scenario is a great way to highlight the importance of emergency plans, collaboration with other occupants, and regular rehearsals of emergency scenarios. This situation could easily apply to many other services and early childhood education environments.

Louisa Coussens: And why is having an emergency plan important?

Kate Hughes: Well, having a well thought out emergency evacuation plan is crucial in ensuring everyone's safety. In this scenario, the approved provider and the nominated supervisor took proactive steps by consulting with other building occupants to develop an evacuation plan. When the emergency alarm did go off, the educators' preparedness and the children's awareness from rehearsals was evident. Having a clear plan in place enabled a swift and organised evacuation procedure.

Louisa Coussens: Absolutely. And what are some benefits of having a well thought out emergency plan?

Kate Hughes: So safety is one of the top priorities. So a structured plan ensures everyone knows what to do, reducing panic and enhancing safety throughout that procedure. Efficiency. A well-defined procedure leads to a faster and more organised evacuation. It also gives confidence to children and educators. They feel more secure when they know that there's a plan in place.

Louisa Coussens: Great. And we noticed that there were other occupants evacuating at the same time. So why is collaboration with other occupants or building users important?

Kate Hughes: So collaboration with the other building occupants is vital in creating a comprehensive emergency plan. In this case, the approved provider and nominated supervisor consulted with others. They fostered a sense of community responsibility. And when the emergency occurred, mutual understanding among the occupants ensured that everyone is aware of the evacuation procedures. It reduces confusion and enhanced overall safety.

Louisa Coussens: So what are some takeaway benefits of collaboration then?

Kate Hughes: So we've got that shared responsibility. So collaboratively planning creates a sense of shared responsibility for everyone's safety. We've got an improved communication, so the occupants can share their insights and their concerns, leading to a more comprehensive emergency plan. You've also got community support. So in times of crisis, a supportive community can assist one another, ensuring a smoother evacuation process.

Louisa Coussens: Absolutely, great. And what about regular rehearsals? Why is that so important?

Kate Hughes: So the rehearsals are a critical component of emergency preparedness. This scenario illustrated the positive impact of rehearsals. As the children were already familiar with the procedure, they followed the educator's directions calmly. And the practice not only familiarised the children with evacuation route but also helps in assessing the effectiveness of the plans and making necessary adjustments.

Louisa Coussens: Yep, and we saw in that scenario that the children didn't even really perceive a difference between a real incident and a rehearsal. So what are some benefits then of emergency rehearsals? What are some things we could take away?

Kate Hughes: So we've got that familiarity. So the regular rehearsals make occupants, especially children, familiar with evacuations, routines, and procedures. So as we could see in that scenario, they were very calm and settled in what could be a more heightened situation. There's also the confidence building. So practice builds confidence, ensuring that occupants can evacuate efficiently even in a high stress situation. It also enables you to identify weaknesses. So rehearsals help you to identify any flaws in the plans, enabling improvements for better emergency preparedness.

Louisa Coussens: And how else did this particular service meet their regulatory requirements?

Kate Hughes: So one of the other ways that they meet their requirements was the communication with families following the emergency situation, which is crucial. This obligation not only stems from a regulatory requirement but also serves to facilitate family discussions about incidents within the service. It can help to calm fears and concerns for both the children and their families. And it's really imperative to fulfil all of these regulatory requirements.

Louisa Coussens: Thanks, Kate. And I think we're going to look at some more scenarios together in a moment. But just concluding on this scenario, it underscores really the critical role of emergency plans, collaboration among other building occupants, and regular practice rehearsals in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of occupants, particularly children, in multi storey buildings. Preparedness, community cooperation, and practice are key elements in effective emergency management. Let's have a look at another scenario, this time a bushfire scenario. During bushfire season, Shelly, the nominated supervisor of a community-run day care outside Bourke, closely monitors fire alerts using the Fires Near Me app and Rural Fire Service's website. The service has a detailed emergency management plan in place, which is rehearsed monthly and was developed with families and the local community. When an Advice Alert is issued, Shelly informs the staff and initiates Shelter in Place procedures, including closing doors and windows to prevent smoke entering the building. Later, when the alert is upgraded to Watch and Act, Shelly warns the team and they prepare for emergency evacuation. Recognising parents' challenges, she doesn't require immediate pickup, as families are dispersed and some even work for the Rural Fire Service. As the emergency warning comes through, they follow their tailored emergency plan, packing essentials and evacuating the children on a service bus to the local community centre, which is a predetermined secondary emergency assembly area, where many families have already sought refuge, having evacuated their homes due to the fires. Kate, what can we take away from this scenario?

Kate Hughes: So this scenario is really important, one, for Australia, with just the huge number of bushfires that we do have and as we're approaching that season as well. So in addition to what we highlighted from the previous scenario in regards to being prepared, this service also had preparations in place that was specific to their service location. So they used resources available to them to be aware of the fires in their area and were able to act quickly when the alert changed. The procedures to evacuate all children together rather than sending them home, to this specific location. This was developed with parents as the safest course of action. They also utilised the secondary assembly point further away from the service and the danger.

Louisa Coussens: Great. Now we're currently in the New South Wales Bushfire Danger Period, which is from the 1st of October to the 31st of March. However, dates can vary due to local conditions. Services are encouraged to keep up to date with current local information, including closures of nearby public schools. This information will inform your service's risk assessment for potential emergencies regarding situations where a temporary closure or refraining from opening the service is the safest option. There are multiple resources available for services to be aware of and prepare for emergencies in the local area, the Hazards Near Me and Fires Near Me Australia apps, as well as the New South Wales Rural Fire Service webpage and social media accounts. In the previous scenario, we touched on alert levels. There are 3 alert levels for bushfires which are updated regularly in the Hazards Near Me app. The first is Advice, which tells us that a fire has started. There's no immediate danger, but stay up to date in case the situation changes. Then Watch and Act. This means there's heightened level of threat. Conditions are changing and you need to start acting now to protect yourself and your community. Emergency Warning. This is the highest level of bushfire alert. This means you may be in danger and need to act immediately. Any delay now potentially puts your life at risk. Services should look for ways to minimise exposure and the adverse effects of smoke from bushfires and hazard reduction burns by keeping children and staff indoors and monitoring air quality. Smoke particles can aggravate existing lung conditions such as asthma. And services are advised to review children's healthcare plans, ensure medications are readily available, and seek medical attention for at-risk members of the service if necessary. In the event of an emergency, the response may involve temporarily closing the service or refraining from opening it. If you're the approved provider and you plan to close or refrain from opening the service on days forecast to have an elevated risk of emergency, it's really important to refer to your risk assessment. If you conclude that not operating the service, whether by closing it or keeping it shut for the day, is the most suitable choice, then inform your staff and families. Additionally, consider informing local emergency services about this decision. Conditions or triggers that may require you to temporarily cease operations should be outlined in your emergency plans and procedures. Services should outline how they will monitor bushfires, floods, and other potential emergencies as part of their emergency management plan. And services should monitor local conditions and follow directions of emergency services. Lookout for text messages from fire authorities. A watch zone can be set up to monitor a local area. Up to date information about flood and storm emergencies can be found on the New South Wales State Emergency Service's website or the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology website. Monitor your local ABC radio station to stay up to date on bushfires and local emergencies near you. Let's have a look at the next scenario. At a long day care service, it's 1:30 PM when the cook raises the alarm, pretending there is a fire in the kitchen. Everyone begins to evacuate to their onsite assembly point. Once everyone is at the assembly point, educators do a roll call. Tim, who is the nominated supervisor and new to the service, asks educators if everyone is accounted for. Amy is an educator in the toddler's room and explains that Jack and Jill are still in the building as Jack was on the toilet when the alarm was raised and Jill was still asleep. "It's just a drill," Amy says. Tim explains to all the educators the importance of doing rehearsals as if it were a real emergency and evacuating everyone. Tim adds emergency rehearsals to the next staff meeting agenda so they can review their procedures. Hi, Kate. Tell us, what can we take away from this scenario?

Kate Hughes: So fortunately, this scenario was a rehearsal, so no one was harmed, but it could have been a lot worse. Rehearsals should be completed as if they're the real emergency, with everyone following appropriate procedures every single time. Regular rehearsals reinforce appropriate responses and enable a calmer and more automatic response, reducing panic and confusion, ensuring everyone is kept safe. The nominated supervisor identified a weakness in the implementation of their procedure. They discussed it with the educators and they put a plan in place to make some positive changes.

Louisa Coussens: That's right. And thinking about that scenario, if Jack and Jill didn't take part in that rehearsal, and the last one was 3 months ago, and the next one is in 3 months time, that's a long time between rehearsals for Jack and Jill.

Kate Hughes: That's right.

Louisa Coussens: Alright, so our next scenario looks at air quality. Molly operates a family day care service from her home in Morisset. The children are happily playing outside when she notices that Peter is coughing more than usual. She goes in to get his Ventolin and follows his medical management plan. She then notices that other children are also coughing and rubbing their eyes. She smells smoke in the air and notices it looks hazy, so she decides to take everyone inside. Once inside, Molly calls her principal office, who informed her that there are hazard reduction burns taking place in her area and she should shelter in place for the rest of the day. Molly closes all her doors and windows and keeps everyone inside for the rest of the day. Kate, what can we take away from this scenario?

Kate Hughes: So while Molly acted well in the situation, she could have stayed informed about the local events by using her Hazards Near Me app, therefore taking more preventative measures to shield the children from the smoke's impact. Thick smoke and ash can travel over a significant distance, so it's important that services monitor children for smoke irritation. Symptoms can include itchy or burning eyes, runny nose, shortness of breath or headaches, irritated sinuses, throat infections, and even coughing.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Kate. Yes, the risk of asthma and respiratory problems can be minimised by keeping children indoors. Ensure that asthma action plans and medications are readily accessible and incorporated in your emergency plans as necessary. The department encourages all services to access guidance by New South Wales Rural Fire Service and the New South Wales Department of Health on smoke irritation and maintaining health during bushfires. Additionally, the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment provide current air quality ratings that you might wish to monitor and incorporate into your emergency planning. Let's have a look at another scenario. In Cattai, a heavy rain caused flooding at a local preschool. Despite the sun being out, water entered the facility. Educators quickly noticed the rising water levels and initiated an evacuation. 2 parents arrived wanting to collect their children, but were frustrated by the delay. The educators explained the unsafe conditions and urged the parents to follow instructions. Eventually, Fatima, the responsible person, signed out the children and they left. The rest of the children and staff members took a bus to an assembly point via an alternate route, avoiding flooding roads. At the assembly point, all children were accounted for. Fatima began contacting families to inform them about the situation. One angry parent called, stating that they were at the service and complaining they were driving through flood waters. Fatima assured the parent that all of the children were safe and explained the evacuation, providing the assembly area address, while reinforcing to the parents that they shouldn't drive through flood waters or closed roads. Welcome back, Kate. What can we take away from this flooding scenario?

Kate Hughes: So from this, it's really important to understand that floods can occur even after rain stops. It could be due to rivers continuing to rise after heavy rain, burst water pipes, or even blocked water runoff drains. It's important that families are made aware of your emergency procedures and the expectations if they arrive during a rehearsal or a real event as this can prevent any time delays and keeps everyone safe.

Louisa Coussens: So what might the service have done differently on this occasion to notify families that they'd evacuated?

Kate Hughes: So in this situation, it could have been something as simple as leaving a sign on the service door explaining that they've evacuated, with a contact number and the address of their secondary assembly point. Regular communication with families about the dangers of driving through the flood waters and road closures and sharing resources and the service's emergency procedures with families so they're aware before an emergency occurs.

Louisa Coussens: Great. So the takeaway for this slide is that we encourage you to discuss and reflect on your emergency procedures. How have you communicated the service expectations with families so that they know what to do if they're at the service or arrive during an emergency procedure? How are families aware of the service's offsite assembly points and when they're used? And make sure you stay informed. SES publishes current warnings and provides information and advice about staying safe in a flood. Bureau of Meteorology website has up to date information about the weather in your area. And the flood warning system of the Bureau of Meteorology has set up a flood watch for your local area. Now let's look at another scenario. At a preschool, the temperature has been 38 degrees today, so they've remained inside. Della Silva, the nominated supervisor of the service, who is identified as the only first aider on duty, noticed the children were getting agitated. So he decided to take them outside as it had started to cool down. Harry was so excited that he rushed into the outdoor space before putting on his shoes, while Della Silva was helping other children put on their shoes and hats. Harry began to cry and walk awkwardly towards her. Harry sat down next to her and Della noticed that the bottom of his feet were red and beginning to blister. Della gets the first aid kit, finds a tube of burn cream, which she applies to Harry's feet, and then wraps them in a bandage. She recalls that this is what she learned when she completed her first aid certificate 3 and a half years ago. Della Silva is booked in to complete her first aid course next month as her current qualification has expired. While participating in this course, Della learns that the treatment of burns has changed. Kate, what are the requirements regarding first aid qualifications?

Kate Hughes: Hi, Louisa, thanks for asking. So Regulation 136 addresses first aid qualification requirements. So when children are present, certain staff members need to be onsite, ready to handle emergencies. These staff members must include someone with a valid first aid qualification for general emergencies, someone trained in anaphylaxis management, and someone trained in emergency asthma management.

Louisa Coussens: Does one person have to have all of those qualifications?

Kate Hughes: It's certainly possible for one person to have all 3 qualifications or you could have up to 3 separate people, each with one qualification. These measures are in place to make sure that the attending children are safe and well. For family day care services, the approved provider must ensure that every family day care educator and assistant has a valid first aid qualification, including current anaphylaxis management training and current emergency asthma management training as they can often be working alone.

Louisa Coussens: Now the educator completed their qualifications 3 and a half years ago. Why weren't they current?

Kate Hughes: So the Education and Care National Regulations now specify the timeframes for the currency of these qualifications and training. The emergency life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training, which is part of an approved qualification, must be completed within the last year. Other components of approved first aid qualification must be completed within the last 3 years. So the same timeframe applies to approved anaphylaxis management and emergency asthma management. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in the services. Staying up to date with this qualification isn't just about following the rules. It's crucial because first aid methods continue to change based on the learnings from real cases. In this scenario, the educator attended to the child, but they didn't have the required first aid qualifications, meaning that there was a breach of Regulation 136. It's crucial to be aware of the expiry dates for first aid qualifications. Services must follow Regulation 136, which requires at least one staff member with current approved first aid qualifications, including emergency life support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, asthma, and anaphylaxis training to be present and immediately available wherever children are being educated and cared for.

Louisa Coussens: That's right. And you should maintain a list of educators and staff with current approved first aid qualifications and training. Your risk assessment should consider various medical emergencies that could occur at your service. And it's important to review risk minimisation and communication plans for children with diagnosed medical conditions and prepare for emergencies that could happen to children with such conditions. I'd like to emphasise now some crucial points regarding service closures. Firstly, when it comes to closing or refraining from opening your service due to an emergency, the decision lies with the approved provider. They have the authority or you have the authority to decide if it's necessary to close the service. It's also crucial to communicate with local emergency services, especially on high risk days. Proactive communication can make a significant difference in emergency situations and enhance emergency response effectiveness. In your emergency plans, clearly outline the conditions or triggers that might require temporary closure. Being prepared and having these details in place ensures a swift and coordinated response. When it comes to notifying the department about closures or incidents, safety is the top priority. Notify the department within 24 hours, but ensure the safety of children, educators, and staff first. You can notify the department through NQAITS, or contact us by phone at 1800-619-113, or by email at the email address on the slide. For information about service closures, you can visit the ACECQA website. If your service is located on a school site, check the department's school safety webpage to verify if schools in your area are closed. And if your service is on the grounds of a school that's temporarily closed, it's advisable to consider closing your service as well. If you've lost records due to emergencies, please inform the department as part of your notification. Lastly, if families need alternative care due to your service temporarily ceasing operations, they can contact the department for personalised advice and support at the number and the email address listed. Remember, preparedness and timely communication are key in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all involved parties. I'm just going to wrap up. I don't think we have time for a Kahoot. I'm aware it's already 25 past. So a very quick mention, before I finish, of the variety of relevant authorities, resources, and tools available to services to draw from. I believe we've attached a document with all these links, so please download it for future reference. Thank you very much indeed. I'm also going to let you know about some upcoming emergency workshops. So look out for these that are being provided by Red Cross. These are the Beyond the Assembly Point workshops. And there is an email address there for you to contact if you'd like further information about these sessions. Thank you to all of you who's joined us today and listened to this session. We've certainly covered a lot of ground. I hope you've come away with some new tips and resources that you didn't know about and maybe some strategies that you can take away and implement in your daily practices. It's important to remember that the regulations are there to provide routine, structure, and safety. Every scenario involving children requires adequate risk controls. And remember, all emergency preparedness activities need to be genuine, embedded, and not just something to tick off to show the regulator. Be safe and be prepared. Thank you very much. Bye-bye.


An update and discussion on key ECEC Workforce initiatives underway that support attraction, retention and the professionalisation of the ECEC sector.

Daniel Garland: I'd like to get started by thanking you all for giving up your valuable time to be here today. My name is Daniel Garland and I'm a member of the communications team here at the department. I'm looking forward to today's session as much as you are and we will be getting underway soon. As I mentioned, if you could pop into the Q&A function, the country you're joining from, that would be lovely. First, some housekeeping. The microphone, video and chat functions will be disabled during the session. However, if you have a question, you can submit it via the Q&A function. We'll try to respond to as many of those questions as possible during the session. But if we don't get to them all, we'll look to circle back to you on those after the session. We will be recording today's event and closed captions have been enabled. Today's session covers 2 topics. First, we'll hear about the development of an online tool which will remove barriers and enable educators with the pre-2013 Certificate III in ECEC to upskill to a diploma. After that, we have a session on the work we're doing in the service working environment. As part of that session, we're really keen to get your thoughts and insights on how this work is shaping up. We'll be using Menti to capture your feedback and I encourage you all to participate in that part of the session as your views are so important to us. Please do keep your mobile phone handy at that time to make that part of the session as easy as possible. I will now pass over to Natasha Hudson who is our Director of Workforce Initiatives in Early Childhood Outcomes. And Natasha is going to do our Acknowledgement of Country and introduce our first speaker.

Natasha Hudson: Thanks, Dan and hi everyone. It is great pleasure for me to be joining you and to have so many of you joining us today. I am joining you from a Awabakal country and I can see that many of you are joining from across New South Wales, Lake Macquarie neighbours, the lands of the Worimi, Darkinjung and Wonnarua people and I would just like to start today's session by acknowledging that we are all joining on various lands and waters of the traditional custodians of those lands and I would like to pay respects to ancestors and Elders as well as acknowledge and pay respects to any First Nations peoples joining us today. I just wanted to share with you in the spirit of Acknowledgement of Country that in June, the New South Wales government partnered with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Childcare as part of a sector strengthening partnership and their work will be to be thinking about how to support the department in terms of achieving its goals under the First Steps Strategy and which aligns with Closing the Gap. Similar to the last time I joined you in June as part of this ECE Connect and in talking about the workforce, I'd also like to take a moment and acknowledge the profession. Since we did join you in June, there has been so much recognition of the people of the sector, including via the various peak and service award events. There was celebration in October of the first ECT to be accredited with HALT status. That's Deborah Williams of the Hillsong Childcare Centre in Baulkham Hills. And also the premier awarded its first ECEC scholarship as part of the teachers, premier's teachers scholarships to Alexander Sutherland of the Hamilton Childcare Centre in Newcastle. And he'll be taking up some study overseas all with a view to enhancing quality of practice for the sector. In December, just a little bit of a plug, we have our ECEC updates that you can, there'll be something thrown in the chat in terms of how you can register if you're not already. But in December, we're gonna start spotlighting our workforce and every month we will be learning about a new educator and the role that they are taking in terms of improving quality outcomes for children. And look out for that through the subscriptions. But in terms of our session today, I'll let you know that this first session is about recognition of prior learning. And in particular, we're gonna talk you through why we've gone down the path of this ECEC Recognition of Prior Learning Upgrade Initiative. It's being led by our partners and Training Services NSW. So you'll hear from Noeleen Alchin, Manager of Workforce Development there. She's joined by Jordan Tracey, who's Director of Program Management with Human Services Skills Organisation. And they've designed a bespoke tool to collect evidence to enable a more streamlined and efficient way of collecting evidence. And that really involves the learner as well as employers. So really exciting innovations there. And we're also joined by Susan Scowcroft, who is Executive Director of the New South Wales Community Service and Health Industry Training Advisory Board. And we're really excited to hear from Susan in terms of the importance of recognition of prior learning and RPL done well, and the potential of this initiative going forward. But enough from me, over to you, Noeleen.

Noeleen Alchin: Thanks, Natasha. Yes, and hi, everyone. It's great to be with you today. I would also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet. And today I'm excited that I'm coming from Darug Land in the Hawkesbury, a beautiful place that has the Dyarubbin Watercourse running through it, as it's traditionally known. And a focal point as a source of food and gathering for First Nation people since time began. I'd like to pay my respects and acknowledge the important roles as Natasha has done that the Elders play and have traditionally played. Those that have shared their wisdom in the past and their knowledge to the Elders of today. And those Elders today who share their wisdom and knowledge and hand that over to the emerging leaders for the years to come. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land. Today, we're here to talk about the RPL Initiative, which has recently commenced, I'm excited to say, and is part of the retention strategies that we're currently working on with Early Childhood Outcomes. So this presentation is to provide information and kind of give you the rationale behind the RPL Initiative. Many of you will be aware as early childhood professionals at all levels across the country are and have been part of the sectors that have been impacted by the national skills shortage. So data over the last 6 to 12 months is indicating that there's over 5,000 vacancies at any given time in New South Wales and over 21,000 vacancies across the early childhood roles that we have, ECT, Diploma, Certificate III, as well as out of school hours. Further impacting the ECE work shortages in 2021, Skills IQ, and they were the previous skills service organisation responsible for the training packages that Certificate III and Diploma educators undertake. They completed an update of the training package, which included those qualifications and Certificate IV and Out of School Hours Care. The Diploma as we know it now is a standalone qualification and does not include the Certificate III units, which the previous Diploma qualification did. And the new Diploma qualification has a prerequisite requirement of Certificate III, either the 13, the qualification that ends in 13, or the current 21. So what that means is that students with a pre-13 qualification seeking entry into a Diploma now are not eligible for direct entry. ACECQA as a regulator still acknowledges that 3 pre-2013 qualifications as eligible to work in the sector, as fully qualified as a Cert III educator, that's not the problem. The effect of these Cert III educators who may wish to progress in their studies to Diploma and ECT qualifications have now had a barrier placed in front of them, both financially as well as time. So we're facing a widespread shortage of Diploma qualified educators in New South Wales. And as the national standards require, as you know, 50% of the educators in center-based services to hold a Diploma or be actively working towards a Diploma, employers are struggling to fill these vacancies. So the results and the flow on effect is that services not meeting child to educator ratio requirements and services turning children and families away. So this is impacting both the children who are not able to access early childhood education to support their learning in what we know is the most critical years and the broader economy with parents not able to access services when they're returning to the workforce. So in response to these critical factors and the outpouring of concerns by many educators and employers in the sector, Training Services New South Wales, their workforce development teams for early childhood and in consultation with the Community Services and Health ITAB, as well as key stakeholders, developed an initiative to support the Cert III educators to upgrade to the current 21 qualification, thereby creating a direct pathway to the new Diploma. Early Childhood Outcomes has provided much needed support to this initiative as part of their retention strategies for the early childhood sector. So this partnership between Training Services and Early Childhood Outcomes also includes, as Natasha said, HSSO. HSSO have developed a recognition of prior learning RPL, online tool and a quality service model to increase diploma enrollments. That's the ultimate goal in this is to increase those opportunities for people to progress and continue in their career pathway. This partnership is enabling the barrier to be addressed for any educators with the outdated Cert III qualifications and on successful completion, they will meet the entry requirements to enrol in the current Diploma and to take up the opportunity of fee-free Diploma training before June, 2024. And fingers crossed that may be extended, but this is what we're dealing with right now. This opportunity will improve an open career pathways. So not only addressing the skill shortages which currently exist, but will also assist early childhood employers meet the ratio requirements and future planning. HSSO's design of the RPL online tool has provided the resource to streamline that evidence collection process. And that's what's really important. We're trying to make this as streamlined as possible for students and their employers. So Training Services NSW conducted an expression of interest with our current Smart and Skilled contract holders. Applications were assessed. And we're pleased to say that there are 13 RTOs across the state who have the financial cap and can deliver in both regional areas as well as the Metro areas. At this time, these RTOs only have been endorsed to undertake this RPL Initiative. And that's because the trainer assessors from the RTOs have been trained by HSSO. And they in turn are skilled to facilitate students for the 600, sorry, 640 co-funded positions available. We already have several students enrolled, yay, and engaged, ready to commence with the support of their employers to undertake the process. And at the end of the program, the expectation will be that these upskilled staff will not only continue to provide quality education for early childhood, but will be able to achieve the next step in their career pathways. I'll now hand over to Jordan Tracey, Director of Program Management with HSSO to give you some information around the tool.

Jordan Tracey: Thanks very much, Noeleen. Good afternoon, everybody. As Noeleen just said, my name's Jordan Tracey and I'm the Director of Program Management for the Human Services Skills Organisation or the HSSO. Firstly, I too would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in which we all meet today. And I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. So just to give you a bit of an overview, the HSSO is an employer led not-for-profit organisation and we're dedicated to delivering projects across the human services sector, which obviously includes the ECEC. And we are focused on delivering workforce and skills development projects. So as the slide alludes to, today I'm gonna take you through the process that we used when creating the ECEC RPL Toolkit in partnership with Training Services, New South Wales. So the ECEC RPL Toolkit was developed using a clustering model, which grouped together similar or related units of competency. And that minimised the workload on a candidate and the assessor. This is a shift away from traditional RPL processes, which generally puts the emphasis on students to provide all of the required information. The HSSO's RPL process is a collective clustered model involving the candidate, the service and the assessors all working together to support the candidate to complete the RPL assessment. This clustering approach has streamlined the 17 units of competency into 4 clusters and 2 individual units. Our Cluster 1 is working in early childhood, which groups together units aimed at the safe operation of the service and includes one elective unit. Cluster 2, a relationships cluster, which groups together units aimed at supporting and developing a professional supportive relationship between educators and children. Cluster 3, supporting children's development and learning, which groups together units aimed at learning experiences and the curriculum. And last, a professional practice cluster, which groups together units aimed at diversity inclusion and contains the second elective unit. This clustering approach, which maps directly back to all of the requirements of the qualification means that candidates are assessed once for particular skills and knowledge and is applied across similar units. This removes the repetition of assessing individual units at a time, which often overlap. To help develop and validate the content, we worked with subject matter experts from across small, large and Aboriginal early childhood education and care services and formed a steering committee to ensure that our content and the toolkit meets the expectations of industry and the 2015 RTO standards. The principles of assessment and rules of evidence from the 2015 standards have been taken into consideration when creating the RPL toolkit and requires all stakeholders to work together in supporting the completion of the RPL application. So the toolkit contains 95 supporting documents. These include pre-enrollment and cluster guides written specifically to each of the stakeholder groups, being employers, assessors and candidates. And the model of 'supply', 'show' and 'say/write' involves the assessors, employers and candidates all working together. The 'supply', this is the supply of the single evidence portfolio, completing 2 third party reports and the assessor is on hand to support the candidate and the employer with any questions. The 'show', which is where the workplace practical assessor comes on site and shadows the candidate in their day-to-day work and/or completing workplace simulations. The assessor, the service and the candidate all work together to coordinate appropriate times to do so. And lastly, the 'say/write'. The candidate has to answer various assessment methods, which can contain verbal assessments, written assessments and reflection journals. And are broken down into the clusters. So as part of the toolkit launched, it was launched on the 26th of September and we've so far had 3 face-to-face and one online training session with the RTOs involved in the program. This session included 13 different RTOs and a total of 63 assessors. We're also finalising a new online training session, which will allow for RTOs and assessors who have not participated in the training to do so in the future and allowing them to undertake the RPL process. So if you move on to the next slide, this diagram here takes you through the RPL journey and shows us how the whole process works from the start. So it starts with firstly the employer and the assessors firstly obviously have to be assessed in trained in the toolkit process. That's the first step before anything starts. And then that then moves to a pre-enrollment meeting between the employer and the assessors. Using these pre-enrollment guides, they establish the roles and expectations for taking part in the process and if the service is willing to proceed. So obviously there's no obligation for the service to continue, but it's up clear and up front from the very beginning of what's involved. The service then nominates candidates to take part and then the service is then provided with evidence portfolio and third party reports for them to start collating the information. The service then can commence collation of the industry evidence and completing the reports with the assessor always on hand for support. Next is the candidate. So the candidate and the assessor meet and the candidate is also provided with pre-enrollment information. This meeting establishes the expectations of the candidates taking part in the process and if they're willing to proceed. And once a candidate agrees to take part, all of the stakeholders then complete the required enrollment paperwork. The assessor then develops candidates personalised assessment/learning plan. For the assessor, there is a cluster briefing with the service and the candidate as I've just alluded to, making sure that they discuss and contextualise the assessment with the candidates and the employers. They provide the assessments to the candidates and prepare an individual assessment plan. They also organise in conjunction with the candidate and the employer, the workplace practical assessments. Also developed as part of this is the assessment portal section. So this is where the assessor can get access to the whole suite of the documentation required, which includes the evidence portfolios, the third party reports, the workplace assessments, the reflection journals and the assessment documents. The assessors then use the ReadySkills portal, which is a portal that has been customised specifically for this RPL process and contains all of the assessment information. This also helps identify any gaps and discusses with the service and discusses these gaps with the service and the candidate. And then gap training where required will be on a case by case basis and discussed with all of the stakeholders involved, where possible gap training should occur within the workplace. And then lastly, the RTO. All assessments and gap assessments are reviewed and completed. Feedback is provided to the candidates and the qualification is issued. So that is it from me. Susan, over to you.

Susan Scowcroft: Over to me. Hi, everybody. Good afternoon. I'm Susan Scowcroft, Executive Director of the Community Services and Health Industry Training Advisory Body. I too would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of our lands and waters and also to welcome and acknowledge any First Nations people who are joining us here today. I'm very excited to be talking to you all today about a recognition of prior learning tool. For some of you who may have come across the ITAB over the years, our ITAB has been a very staunch and strong advocate for recognition. And I did notice that my RPL done well has already become a signature of this. We really have been a great believer in recognition of prior learning across our sectors and certainly in the early childhood environment. And some of you may remember some RPL that we did when the first of the national regulations came into being. Really excited about this process. For those of you who are across our national framework, we know that traditionally registered training organisations are left to do their own RPL processes and tools and mapping and it's very arduous and not always done well. So to have a tool that's been developed and can be rolled out with consistency across our state, and she says with her fingers crossed, hopefully with New South Wales leading the way across other states and territories in Australia as well, because it is a national framework. And the barrier for many of you who have a Certificate III prior to the 13 qualification, this is not something that's just about New South Wales workforce. It's an issue that needs to be addressed right across the states and territories. And I have many colleagues across the country who are very, very interested in the outcome of the pilot and really looking forward to possibly being able to roll this out right across the country, which I think will be wonderful for the sector. And at the end of the day, that's what we're all here for. It's that consistency of approach, but also one that's been endorsed for Registered Training Organisations who use the tool. The professional development by the HSSO to support assessors across the RTOs who can use the tool is really valuable. It's a really fantastic professional development, if you like, for the assessors in the Register Training Organisations, because part of the outcome of this is that the candidates who go into it are really, really well-supported. The process 'from go to woe' is one where the RTO assessors have been well-supported to deliver and be able to work with the tool. The engagement of the employers right up front at the beginning to be able to identify their staff members that they would like to undertake it and to be active participants in the collection of evidence to support their staff members in providing that evidence rather than the whole onus being left on the individual candidates is incredibly valuable. And the candidates themselves, then, are really well-supported by both their employers and the assessors, because this is an approach that takes everybody in the environment as an active participant, which is really valuable. Also, it may well be that there's more than one person, one staff member from our services who will be undertaking this, which gives you a bit of a momentum together, several of you to be able to sort of work through this, because recognition of prior learning is an assessment process, it is rigorous, but it shouldn't mean that you alone need to be doing this activity. It's about being able to show that you have, over the years, met the requirements that sit in the training package and the qualification, and that absolutely can be part of a conversation, part of a process, part of a team. "Yes, I've done that." "Oh, I remember that." "Oh, that's part of the outbuild process done well." And so with this tool, I'm very excited because it actually does recognise all of those sorts of outcomes and being able to support people through a process that often, and traditionally, has been very arduous. I'm very excited about the fact that it's going to support people to be able to have a slipstream into the diploma, because we also do know that the diploma is well recognised into our higher education qualifications, and the critical shortages we have at all of these levels across the state really do need all the support we can get to try and bring people into the sector. We are having a few problems with recruitment at the moment, so let's hope that we're able to use a really good recognition tool, not only to support those of you who may have an earlier qualification, but also to recognise the skills of people who may be coming into the sector and be able to start with the recognition process and then undertake any of the training that needs to be done to identify and fill any gaps that have been identified. I'm excited about New South Wales flying the flag from the top of the hill and being a really early cab off the rank, supporting and supporting the development of a really strong and flexible and rigorous recognition tool. So from an ITAB (Industry training advisory bodies) perspective to the sector, go forth, embrace, and please provide feedback both to the department, but certainly to me as well, because that feedback's going to be very critical about how we've hit the mark with this tool. So I'm very excited about it. And I think for me, I'm very keen to hear about how the sector embraces it and how exciting you find it. So, Noeleen, back to you. Thank you very much, everybody, and good luck with it. Thanks.

Natasha Hudson: Thanks, Susan. And thank you, Noeleen, Jordan, for your insights that you shared. I just wanted to just call out in particular some of the themes in the chat, and we don't have much time to do a bit of a Q&A today. So we will take it on notice. But just to acknowledge the theme of workforce shortage that we are working and that the sector is working within a regulatory context in terms of ratio requirements, in terms of qualification requirements, and in the training space, that there is also a regulatory oversight related to that. So it's a very complicated environment. And I absolutely wanna acknowledge that for some of the comments, I did see the sense that it's an additional burden. And I hear what you're saying there. The challenge is for those who wish to upskill and have the opportunity to, this is a great way to support that if you can. Acknowledge that timing might not be for now, but we hope that through this as a pilot, we will have these learnings and be thinking about how we can make enhancements to that approach. So your experiences with the application of this and where we can improve as, to echo Susan's comments, please send it through because it's ultimately your feedback and your experience that will inform how we can improve it. Ultimately, it is really about improved outcomes for children at the end of the day. And those being realised by having a workforce that feels confident, that is capable, and that is able to come into work and do what they can. And we absolutely acknowledge that there are challenges right now. And that burden of administration burden that's been called out in the chat, obviously shortages being called out in the chat. And I just wanted to say thank you. And also thank you to everyone who's contributed to this initiative as well. And I will pass now to Jonathan who will be going through an interactive session on what makes a high-performing work environment. Thanks, Jonathan.

Jonathan Marin: Thank you so much, Natasha. And again, I also wanted to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we're meeting today and respect all of those past, present and emerging. So today, what we're wanting to do is to really start to think about what actually constitutes a service working environment. And we wanna be able to have that discussion to help further along the work that we're doing right now as we're looking into aspects of pay and working conditions on behalf of the sector moving forward. So one of the first things that I wanted to be able to talk about is really trying to paint a bit of a picture as to just how the employer relations, industrial relations landscape is currently set up across New South Wales. One of the things that people may not know is that we have a series of Commonwealth-based awards. So these are awards which govern the terms and conditions for minimum pay and working conditions for services right across the country. And depending on which part of the sector you're working in, you could have different awards that cover your pay rates and your working conditions. So for example, if you're working as a family day care educator or the miscellaneous award could apply to you. But if you're working in the family day care scheme, it could be the SCHADS (Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services) Award If you're an Early Childhood Teacher, it could be the Educational Services Award. And then if you're an educator, it could be the Children's Services Award. So each of those different Commonwealth modern awards actually carry their own different sets of pay and condition pieces. And they are created through the power set by the Fair Work Act and they're managed by the Fair Work Commission, which is an independent body, which oversees the award compliance on behalf of not just our sector, but every sector across the country. We then also have the New South Wales-based industrial relations system, which applies mainly to services that are 100% government funded, owned and operated by within the state. And that's a very standard approach that applies to most other states and territories across the country as well. And so we have these 3, what's called industrial instruments that also apply to those New South Wales-based services, predominantly schools being a really good example. And any service that's attached to a local government council could also have their terms and conditions governed by the local government state award. So straight up, we can already start to see that in trying to address some of the elements to do with pay and working conditions, there's a couple of things that immediately stick out. The first one is that we are governed by a commonwealth set of award terms and conditions for minimum pay and for how we need to work. So due consideration needs to be given to just how we can do that and how we can work together through the other states and territories and in partnership with the commonwealth, unions, peak bodies, and of course, with the broader sector to see how we can affect some meaningful change. We absolutely acknowledge that there are workforce shortages. We absolutely understand the criticality of it. And most states and territories, I think, would agree that they'd be in a similar position because it is right across the board. So while New South Wales doesn't hold all the levers, it's really important to understand just how committed we are to working with the commonwealth and with the other states and territories to see what we can do to achieve some long-term, meaningful, sustainable change in that space. We're also very cognizant and we're very aware of that there are some nuances here, particularly if I look at the educator role as a bit of an example, given the different award coverage provisions that can apply to a particular role based on the type of work that it does and in the type of working environment that it's exposed to. Different award conditions could apply to the same role. And the educator is a really good example where you could have the educator in a long day care setting run by a certain award, which is quite different to an educator or an SLSO that is in a department run service covered by the New South Wales based industrial relations system. So one of the things that we are absolutely committed to is working with the commonwealth and other stakeholders on how we can improve minimum pay and working conditions. But it's really important to acknowledge that this is not an overnight fix. This is something that we are actively committed to and that we're actively working towards. This does require the help and the support of the commonwealth as one of the primary funders and of the other states and territories to work in conjunction with the unions and the Fair Work Commission to see exactly how we can create some long-term meaningful, sustainable change. Now, that also doesn't mean that we haven't been exploring what we can do as well in terms of what we can do in the interim to provide some support around wages. And we are actively exploring just what we can do with the funding that we have in order to provide some interim wage support and what we're also working through, how we can achieve that long-term sustainable change to the Commonwealth Modern Awards, particularly around increasing or influencing some of those minimum pay rates and making sure that the working conditions are contemporary and that they suit the needs of the services and that they suit the needs of the communities and families that they service as well. But of course, that's only one part of what we're doing. And that's only one part of what we're actually really focused on. So it's really important to remember that in order to address the workforce challenges, we really need a targeted approach to staff retention. And by doing that, we wanna focus on the service workplace. We know anecdotally and through various sources of research and evidence that the service environment, the service workplace is one of the keys to be able to achieve staff retention. And it's one of the elements that helps keep people together. It's one of those elements that helps keep people within the sector as well. And so while we're committed to seeing what we can do in the interim and more longer term around minimum pay and those sorts of things, our attention is also turning to how we can improve the working conditions. How can we partner with you all on the webinar as well as the broader sector on improving some of those working conditions and some of those elements to do with the working environment? Thank you. Next slide. And so in terms of the aims and objectives, there are 3 that we really want to be able to really focus on today. And the first one is to be able to define working conditions and the broader workplace environment to create the frameworks to be able to support how we can address some of the immediate needs and how we can prioritise and plan and appropriately resource the different elements that help improve and create a sustaining service workplace in the spirit of really maximising the retention in the best way that we can. And that leads to the second objective, which is how can we maximise that staff retention? Because the work that we're doing around looking into the service working environment is all about how we can retain people within that workplace. And the third one being how we can develop that structured approach so that we can foster improvements to the service working environment altogether. Historically, we've done a bit of focus on leadership and management. We might've done a bit of focus on wellbeing and we're committed to a whole different range of bits and pieces. And what we're wanting to do is we're wanting to really pull all those things together, really reign them in to be able to have a framework for how we can have more constructive conversations with different services and different parts of the sector around the working experience for ECEC professionals, around the quality of the workplace, so that we can look to maximising the staff retention. And so if we just go back one, just one slide, there's just some elements that I just wanted just to touch on now that I've gone through the objectives, just the slide before, thank you. So when we're thinking about the actual working environment, we understand and we use the analogy of the house, where we're really looking at the foundations being the minimum award pay rates and conditions. We know that people should not be going below the award minimum rates and conditions, because that would be a breach in fair work compliance. We then have the floor, which are other minimum compliance requirements around fair work, health and safety, sector regulations, staff availability, training, access and equipment. These are very basic things that people need, almost like needing enough power to turn the lights on. It's one of those minimum compliance requirements that people need to ensure that they feel safe and adequately supported to do the very basic minimum that they need to. And then we're looking at the working environment around using the analogy of the room of the house, which is aspects that enhance the working experience. So things like flexibility, which a lot of people have spoken to me about, the need for leadership and management with some of the workforce profile changing and shifting, a bit more support around rostering. Do we need to think about more support and targeted programs around change management, admin and programming time? We're very, very committed to seeing what we can do around influencing and creating more space for admin and programming time amongst other bits and pieces. And so once we've got the foundations of floor in the room, we're then looking at the ceiling, which is how things are coming together in what's called a free market. So what are the stakes of the enterprise bargaining agreements? We have the multi-employer bargaining agreement currently in play under negotiation. And all that is held together by the regulators being the key guardians being the Commonwealth unions, peak bodies and the Fair Work Commission. So that's how we're looking at building all of it together based on those 3 objectives that I've just gone through. And so our attention then drew towards, well, from a service working environment perspective, what does a great service working environment look like? What are some of the attributes that create a great service working environment? Because if we start there, we can work our way backwards to say, okay, if we put pay to one side, knowing that pay and conditions go hand in hand, and that you don't necessarily wanna try to focus on pay without focusing on conditions and vice versa. So putting pay to one side, what are some of the other aspects to do with the workplace that are really important when it comes to looking at staff retention? And what are some of the attributes that people put to in terms of having a great working experience or having a great working environment? And so our thoughts initially, and we're gonna be using Menti to get your feedback, but at the very base, it's really about thinking through how people in services are creating that trust, respect, and that psychological safety. And by psychological safety, we mean that people are safe, that they feel safe to be themselves, they feel safe to speak up, they feel safe to contribute, they feel validated, they feel respected, they feel included. So we feel that all those things are absolutely critical to the overall service working environment. And these are some of the key attributes that we feel are really important to a high-performing team. So once the trust, respect, and psychological safety is there, we then take the next step up, which is, well then, how do people have clear responsibilities and accountabilities? How clear are they? And that then leads to the collaboration and support, which then leads to the operational efficiencies. So once a team or a service working environment has the trust, respect, and psychological safety, they've got the responsibilities and accountabilities in check, there's a good degree of collaboration and support, then you can start to look at how you can make things really efficient in the workplace for people. So this is our current thinking as to the outputs. This is the outcome of the work that we're trying to do by focusing on the working conditions, by focusing on some of the foundation compliance pieces. We're hoping to work with you all in the sector to be able to build the base level 1, level 2, and level 3, to be able to address some of these shortages by a real targeted focus on staff retention through the workplace. One of the things I just wanted to end our session on before I hand over to Natasha or Daniel is, that again, we really wanted to acknowledge that there is quite a huge amount of work that's being done by services. This is about how we can provide a bit more of a targeted and strategic focus to improving working conditions, to be able to partner with services as part of a retention piece that we're really committed to, in addition to thinking about how we can do and what we can do to manoeuvre the complexity that's around shifting the minimum pay rates and how we can work with the Commonwealth and how we can work with other states and territories. So I really appreciate the time that everyone's taken to input into the work that we're looking into around working conditions, and no doubt we'll have more updates as the work progresses and unfolds, both on pay and conditions moving forward. Thank you very much. Handing over to Natasha, I think.

Daniel Garland: No, over to me, I think, Jonathan. Oh, good. Thank you so much, Jonathan, and thank you to all of our presenters today. But most importantly, thank you so much to each of you that have joined us in this session today. The feedback that you've provided through your questions in the Q&A and in the Menti facilitated by Jonathan is invaluable to us. We'll take a look at everything that you've sent through. We didn't get through everything in the Q&A because there was quite a lot, but we will look at each and every question that's been asked and identify themes and circle back to you. Please do complete the ECE Connect online survey that will pop up in your browser shortly after the session is finished. Your feedback, as I've said, means a great deal to us. You'll also see a link on the screen to our Early Childhood Careers Hub, where you'll find lots of useful information. We're really hoping that you'll bookmark that one and keep referring back to it. We're continually improving that and really want that to be a useful space for each and every one of you. Once again, thank you so much for your time, and we'll see you soon.


  • Early childhood education


  • Frameworks and standards
  • Health, safety and wellbeing

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
  • NSW ECEC Regulatory Authority
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