Online - March

The NSW Department of Education held a series of online webinars in March 2024, aimed at supporting and promoting the early childhood education and care sector.

Assessment and rating

Information about what to expect from a partial assessment and rating, including feedback from services who have undergone a partial assessment.

Gabrielle Maston Suthern: So good afternoon everyone. I can see that there's quite a number of people joining us today. So welcome. You're in for a jam-packed session today. We're really excited to be presenting on assessment and rating again, and we have some really awesome speakers and helpful tips and tricks to share with you today about how to prepare for assessment and rating. So, but before I do and jump into the presentation, let's do an acknowledgement of country. So at the department, we recognise the ongoing custodians of the lands and the waterways in which we work and live. We pay respect to Elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge songlines and stories. We strive to ensure that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learner in New South Wales achieves their potential through education. Bit of housekeeping. So as we commence, just so you know, the microphone, video chat, video and chat functions have been disabled. We do have a question and answer function available to you, if you have any questions throughout the session. So our moderators will respond to the questions or will save up the questions at the end to answer for each speaker to answer verbally. So you can choose to ask your questions anonymously if you wish. And there is automated closed captions that have been enabled for the session for accessibility. This is probably the most popular question that we get, the session is going to be recorded and it will be published on the website. We can't give you a date, but it will happen. So look out for that recording. So a bit of an overview. what we're going to look at today. So we're going to have Nick, a Director at the New South Wales RA just setting the scene for us to start us off. And we're going to go through what the improvements to assessment and rating are. We're going to hear from a service about their experience with partial reassessments and then how to prepare for assessment and rating. And finally, question and answer so that you can ask us all your burning questions. So as I mentioned, I'm going to hand over to Nick Backo, one of our directors to talk to you before we begin.

Nicholas Backo: Thanks Gabby and good afternoon everyone. Good to be back with you all again for another ECE Connect session. And so we know that assessment and rating influences and positively impacts developmental and educational outcomes for children. And in Australia, we've been assessing and rating services under the National Quality Framework since 2012. And over that decade we've really seen all of your commitment to continuous improvement and we've also promoted quality ratings to families to ensure that they have access to information about quality when making decisions about their children's education and care. After more than 10 years of assessment and rating, we have also reflected nationally on how the system can be improved. We want assessment and rating to promote best practice and quality in services every day and provide reliable and up-to-date information about quality to parents and families. We also want it to be efficient and effective for providers and services and for the ratings to reflect typical daily practice. Most importantly, we want to reduce the pressure felt by services that's caused by the long lead in period to assessment and rating. Changes to assessment and rating, as many of you will know, were announced nationally in October 2022. And since then, the New South Wales Regulatory Authority have been working hard to implement these changes seamlessly across the state, taking into consideration the needs of the sector. With these goals in mind, in New South Wales, we listened to your feedback about all the changes you were experiencing and decided to implement the national changes to assessment and rating in a staggered approach. We began late last year with the introduction of the increased use of partial reassessments for early adopter services followed by the introduction of a 5 business day notice period early this year for, again, for a small group of early adopters. We've also committed to undergoing consultation with our Aboriginal communities and services before we implement these changes more broadly so that we ensure that we take into consideration the cultural needs of our colleagues and wider communities. At the department, we're really pleased to implement and see the impact of the recent improvements to assessment and rating as we strive to provide high quality care to all young children who attend an early education and care service in New South Wales so that they have the opportunity to learn and thrive. I'll now hand you back to Gabby who'll walk you through some of those changes.

Gabrielle Maston Suthern: Great, thanks Nick. So one of the first changes that we introduced was the increased use of partial reassessments. So that means instead of the default of all 7 National Quality Standards being assessed, we're only increasingly assessing a subset of 2 or 4 National Quality Standards. Full assessments will remain for new services and indifferent circumstances. We expect that the use of partial reassessments will enable us to reduce the time between assessments so that assessments cycle and ensure we spend the most time in the areas of greatest risk. So partial assessments are well underway in New South Wales. We have had about 80 services already go through a partial reassessment since October last year and we've had great positive feedback from the services. So services are able to nominate one Quality Area for reassessment and the officer will select the remaining Quality Areas based on factors including the time since the last assessment, compliance history, and then also sector data trends where we can see increases or decreases in quality based on the Quality Area that is being chosen to be reassessed. We also wanted to assure everyone out there that services will not be disadvantaged from achieving and exceeding rating. We do consider capturing quality uplift when it is present through the choice of Quality Areas that we're looking at for reassessment. So we've already had some services move from meeting to exceeding under a partial reassessment. The second improvement to assessment and rating is reducing the notice period to 5 business days. Currently, services receive a letter to notify them that assessment and rating will occur in the next 12-week window. And we heard that this window is quite stressful for services and in some instances results in substantial preparation time for assessment and rating. So reducing the notice period to 5 days will ensure that assessment and rating is a true reflection of what's actually happening in the service and what children experience every day and not practice that has been specifically prepared for that assessment and rating visit. So in New South Wales we heard feedback from you, the sector, that this change would require a lot of support to implement. So in response, we've had implemented the new notice period in a phased approach that begun at the start of this year. And we've had several services agreed to be early adopters to the change. And so far we've had 15 services go through assessment and rating with the 5 business day notice period. Another area of concern for the sector was that A&R could take a place at any time and so then planning would be quite difficult. So to assist with this, what we've done is introduce inactive periods where assessment and rating will not take place and it's typically aligned with school holidays and that's to help plan for assessment and rating. And this is with the exception of services that only operate during school holidays. So assessment and rating for those services will still take place during the inactive periods. So if you want their dates for the inactive periods, make sure you go on our website and check it out because they are already listed up there. Okay, so let's talk about what the 5 business day notice periods look like in practice. So this diagram gives you an overview of it. So 5 business days before the visit, the officer will call the delegated person to advise of the assessment and rating visit. If your service is allocated a partial reassessment, you'll be advised about the number of Quality Areas for assessment. So remember that can be either 2 or 4 Quality Areas. The officer will then send a follow-up email to the service or the approved provider and confirm the visit date and request you to submit your QIP or self-assessment documentation. And if you are using the self-assessment portal, which we'll hear in later slides, you know, that that will be heavily facilitated by the use of the portal. 4 business days out before the visit, the officer will commence their desktop audit and that's where you can start to finalise your self-assessment or QIP information documentation. 3 business days out before the visit, the self-assessment or QIP and choice of Quality Area, your choice of Quality Area, will be submitted to us for consideration and you'll also receive your notice... sorry, if you receive your notice call on a Wednesday, so the initial phone call on the Wednesday, you ought to submit your documentation on the Friday as just an example. Over the next 2 days before the visit, the officer will review the documentation and service context form that you've sent in. And the day before the visit, you'll get another phone call from one of our officers to inform you which Quality Areas have been selected for reassessment, if you're undergoing a partial. And then you'll also get a follow-up email. If you're undergoing a partial reassessment, the officer will use an initial phone call 5 days out and the one day before the visit to walk you through what will happen on the visit date. So this will include what the partial assessment may look at. So what documents you might need to prepare. They'll set clear expectations about how the visit will be performed. And I just want you to keep in mind when this is happening that certain Quality Areas will focus the officer's attention on things related to only the Quality Areas chosen for reassessment. So the look and the feel of the visit might be different depending on what you've experienced before if you've undergone a full assessment. Now I know, everyone is dying to hear from a services perspective about how the partial reassessment went and then hopefully, as well pick up some tips and tricks. So now I'll hand over to Nick again to take us through that.

Nicholas Backo: Thanks, Gabby. Good to be back with you all. So my name is Nick Backo, I'm the Director of the Statewide Operations Network within the New South Wales Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority. So I'm really excited to be joined by Sharon Foran. Sharon is a nominated supervisor and she joins us from Ballina where she runs a family daycare service. Thanks for joining us today, Sharon, and I'll give you a moment to get settled in before I jump into the questions, but Sharon's service experience a partial reassessment late last year. So Sharon has agreed to share her experience with you all. And so to start us off Sharon, can you tell us a little bit about what the experience of undergoing a partial reassessment was like?

Sharon Foran: Oh, hi Nick. Hi everybody. Look, so we had our partial assessment last November. We had 4 areas that were chosen for us to be assessed on and one of those we were able to choose ourselves. It ran over just a bit short of 2 days. The assessing officer came to our principal office first up and we were able to go through those 4 areas with her and we had gathered the documentation, she asked a lot of questions, we were given the opportunity to talk through those 4 areas. Then in the afternoon, she went out and saw some of our educators and then that afternoon, she gave us the names of 2 other educators that she would be visiting the next day. While she visited our educators, she was very engaging with our educators. She gave them the opportunity to talk through those areas to offer any documentation that was asked. So at the principal office on the first day, she gathered the evidence and then on the times that she went out and saw our educators, she wanted to see that in practice.

Nicholas Backo: Thanks, Sharon. And I guess one of the burning questions that people might have is what was the outcome? Did your rating change?

Sharon Foran: Yes, our rating did change. So we went from a meeting service with Quality Area 7 as exceeding to an exceeding service with 4 Quality Areas. So we were really excited. That was, yeah, it was really good.

Nicholas Backo: Oh, congratulations. And that's really good to hear because one of the things that we've seen, and I think Gabby mentioned this, is with the partial reassessments, we're seeing similar results to full assessment and rating visits with that. And what that means is that some services are improving their quality rating, most are maintaining their quality rating and in some cases, the quality rating has reduced. But it's a really good reminder that assessment and rating is about the practice that the service is demonstrating every day. So it's fantastic to hear about the exceeding practice that you guys have been demonstrating.

Sharon Foran: Thank you.

Nicholas Backo: I know you mentioned that you had your partial late last year, but I'm sure you've been through other assessment and rating visits in your time. How were they different?

Sharon Foran: Ah, yes, so in my time, I've been through three assessment and ratings and this, as you said is our first partial. It was quicker, it was more... yeah, it was more intense, if I'd like to say. But it just honed in on the areas that were chosen, gave us the opportunities to give the information to the assessor of the changes that we had put in place since our last rating and assessment and it gave us the opportunity to showcase what we do well in those areas.

Nicholas Backo: Thanks, and one of the key design elements of partial reassessments that Gabby mentioned is in all cases the service has the opportunity to nominate a Quality Area of their choosing. Could you tell us how you decided on your Quality Area and what that experience was like?

Sharon Foran: Yes, sure. The reason why we chose our area was that we know that we do that area really well and that we had put in place a lot more strategies, a lot more positive practices in that area and that's why we chose it.

Nicholas Backo: Great, and I guess the other point that people are probably interested in is any advice or tips for other services that might be going through a partial reassessment in the near future?

Sharon Foran: Look, sure, I think you should trust your practice. Make sure that everybody is aware of it across the whole service and what the expectations are. I think also making sure that everybody has, everyone knows what your self-assessment tool is, what the things we do well, how that is seen across our whole service. Also to just give yourself the opportunity to slow it down, to showcase, to be proud of what you do and make sure that you get that across. And as I said before, if there is some changes and some really standouts from your last rating and assessment, and it is in an area that you're being assessed, showcase that and be really proud of that.

Nicholas Backo: That's great, very awesome advice there Sharon. And I guess maybe the last question for you, what did the preparation that you underwent before the partial reassessment look like? What did you do to prepare?

Sharon Foran: Okay, so I mean, of course, we prepared our self-assessment tool. We also made sure that everyone was aware of it, that we put strategies into place to ensure that it was always something that we discussed at staff meetings, committee meetings as well as with our educators informally in visits as well as in any meetings that we had that we'd informed families of the visit and informed families of what our self-assessment tool looks like and how that impends on our quality education and care and how we deliver that. Also, we made sure that the children were aware of what was happening and how comfortable they felt with it because we had surveyed our families and our children prior to the visit in the lead up to it, to make sure that we were covering the areas and covering what we'd included in our self-assessment tool.

Nicholas Backo: And you mentioned the self-assessment tool. Did you use the portal or did you use the existing document?

Sharon Foran: No, we didn't use the portal, but that is something that we will be doing. Yeah, so we have started to transition onto the portal and putting, you know, we will start to put all of our information into the portal.

Nicholas Backo: That's great. And the team tells me that we are very close to having 2,000 services using the portal. We're just under 2,000, so if you are joining us today and haven't yet registered for the portal, I'd encourage you to do so. We'd love to see it get over the 2,000 mark before the end of the week. You've been very generous with your time Sharon, and also answering all of my questions. So it seems only fair that you have the opportunity to ask me some if you've got any.

Sharon Foran: Oh, well, thanks Nick. I was wondering now that our service has been assessed under the partial, what does that mean to us next time?

Nicholas Backo: Yeah, that's a great question. And so our plan is to gradually increase the use of partial reassessments with the vision that partial reassessments will become our typical practice for services that have already had an assessment and rating visit. We'd really love to see the currency of quality ratings across the sector improve. And so that means that for most services, after they've had a partial reassessment, it's likely that their next assessment and rating will also be a partial. And so I think one of the big questions that we get on a regular basis is, what does that mean for the Quality Areas? And so we'd still be considering what Quality Areas we assess on a case by case basis. And so in that we'd consider what areas have or haven't been assessed in the past, but also compliance history, data trends and other factors would help us make that decision. Importantly, as you pointed out earlier, services will still continue to be able to select a Quality Area for reassessment. And so, in your case it might be that you would select the same one or you might want us to have a look at a different one and either of those options are fine.

Sharon Foran: Okay, now another question I have. By doing the partial, does that mean that there'll be more frequent A&Rs or how does that look in timeframes for services?

Nicholas Backo: Yeah, another great question that we get on a regular basis and so definitely the focus of the improvements that we've made, sorry, one of the focuses of the improvements that we've made to assessment and rating as I mentioned at the start, is to aid in the currency of quality ratings for families. We want families to trust that the quality rating represents the practice that's occurring in the service. At the service level, it will be different for each service in terms of what they experience with the time between visits and that can vary. And that varies because what we know is that every service is different, and we'll consider a range of factors like the currency of the rating, risk and compliance history as well as the time since the last visit. So inevitably, as we continue to increase the use of partial reassessments, the vision is that we will be working towards improved frequency in the number of reassessments being conducted.

Sharon Foran: Oh, thank you.

Nicholas Backo: Well, thanks so much for joining us Sharon. It's been great to hear from the sector during this session and something that we'll really look at continuing to do in these ECE Connect sessions, but really appreciate the time that you've given us and sharing your experience with your colleagues. I'll now hand over to Alicia who's from our Continuous Improvement Team to talk about their tips on getting ready for the 5-day notice periods and how you can use the new self-assessment portal.

Alicia Burke: Thanks Nick and thanks Sharon for sharing your experience. We always like to hear how services feel prepared and their experience during assessment and rating. So good afternoon all. I'm really excited to be able to share some information with you about our newly launched Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. I'm hoping that some of you may have been able to attend the technical demonstration that we hosted earlier today and those technical demonstrations dig a little deeper into exactly how to use the portal. I can see that currently from the responses we received through the participant survey prior to today's session that we currently have about 55% of you attending today that are currently using the portal, which is absolutely fantastic and 45% of you want to hear a little bit more. So as Nick said earlier, we're very keen to boost those numbers of users. So if you haven't logged in, I'm really hoping that after this session you'll give it a little bit of a look. So assessment and rating is an opportunity to have those open conversations about the quality of your programme and practices and also gain that valuable feedback. There are things that you can be doing to help support your journey of everyday practice. There are lots of different ways that you can promote feeling prepared and moving into the 5-day notice period. It's designed to ensure that the assessment and rating process reflects your service’s quality accurately. I'm going to talk you through a few things that you might be able to do that will help support. So a big part of ensuring that the quality practices are embedded is making sure your self-assessment documentation or your Quality Improvement Plan is a live document that is used often. Supporting your educators, as Sharon mentioned earlier, is important that they're confident with the knowledge of the National Quality Standards, the relevant Approved Learning Frameworks and the information or key practises that you may have identified as part of that process. There's also regular meetings, reflective sessions, professional development opportunities that you may also like to engage in. We know that ongoing self-assessment against the National Quality Standards is a key way to demonstrate and drive continuous improvement in your service and it's essential for the quality outcomes of children. As part of the assessment, a self-assessment process, it's also important to note what you feel an Authorised Officer might like to observe, discuss, or cite with you during the visit. So always having that in the back of your mind when helping support your key practices. We do have a number of options available to help support you in this. Our wonderful Continuous Improvement Team who have been absolutely instrumental in the development of the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning portal are available at any time to offer one-on-one support for services. We're going to share the details in the chat so please keep an eye out for that. We also have CELA who offer professional development sessions, in particular assessment and rating, feeling prepared and also unpacking the National Quality Standards. ACECQA, also have a number of resources in preparation for assessment and rating and also unpacking the full requirements of the National Quality Framework. We also do mention quite a lot of tips and tricks in our e-newsletters and on our website and we frequently showcase services that are willing to share their experience on how they prepared for assessment and rating, what some of those outcomes are and any tips that they might have for you. My third tip, which is a big plug, is obviously registering for the new Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. As mentioned earlier, it has been launched now and we will share the details of how you can access that portal in the chat. The portal provides you access to your self-assessment information at any time. So it's a great tool to help support you in feeling prepared. And as noted, Sharon mentioned earlier that now that they've undergone the process, they're really keen to be onboarded into the portal. And lastly, with the increasing use of partial assessment and rating visits, it's a good idea to start thinking about the Quality Area you might put forward. As Sharon mentioned earlier, there was careful consideration around where they had seen service improvements and really did want to highlight the efforts made against that Quality Area and as Gabby mentioned earlier, keeping in mind that services will have 2 days to be able to nominate the Quality Area to the officer when they call. So as many of you may know, in 2020 we introduced the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Initiative and as part of this initiative, services can share your self-assessment information with us prior to your assessment and rating visit. So this initiative has been highly successful with more than 85% of services currently engaging in the process. So the next step for us, we responded to everything all feedback that services provided and we have developed the self-assessment and quality Improvement Planning Portal. As I mentioned earlier, it's a way that services can maintain a live self-assessment and quality improvement plan. It provides access for any service at any time that is convenient for you. The portal is a user-friendly web-based system that assists you in your self-assessment journey and is in line with legislative and regulatory requirements. It's important to note that using the self-assessment and quality Improvement planning portal meets the requirements of Regulation 55 and 56. So this actually means that if you are using the portal, you do not need to maintain a separate Quality Improvement Plan. The Self-Assessment Quality Improvement Planning Portal is mirrored on our current New South Wales self-assessment working document and is an extension of what was already provided for those services within the three weeks leading up to their assessment and rating visit. So we heard your feedback and have developed a way that you can access it at any time. The portal has been designed to look very similar to the systems that you're currently using. So engagement with the portal should not differ if you're currently undertaking the self-assessment methodology. It contains the same characteristics as the self-assessment working document. So you'll see it is very, very similar. Like I said earlier, we have the members, Authorised Officers in the Continuous Improvement Team that can help support you in your journey and we're going to put those details in the chat so that you can refer back to them. The portal helps streamline how you share information with the Regulatory Authority and makes it a lot easier for you to manage the 5-day notice period as you'll have 2 days to finalise the information that you may have already entered into the portal and then simply submit. It's one button and it all comes over to us in preparation for your assessment and rating visit. I do want to highlight, we do often get questions around access. Now, the Regulatory Authority can only access the information when you share it at the point of assessment and rating. Officers do not have access to your information at any time, you choose when you send it through to us in preparation for your assessment and rating visit. So I'd like to encourage services to be open and honest about the information that you keep in in your self-assessment portal. The information is designed so that you can work through improving practices and have a one-stop shop where everything is contained in there. We have a number of technical support avenues as well if you are using the portal, which I will show you shortly. But we have a user guide that is frequently updated following any frequently asked questions we receive, we confirm a response and we'll update that. It is a user-friendly document with screenshots. So if you're like me, and need to know exactly what you're going to see, it's all included in there. And we also have members of our Continuous Improvement Team and our ICT support team that can help answer any questions that you might have. So we're going to pop those details in the chat for you as well. So what you can see is a screenshot, a little snapshot of the portal and what to expect once you've registered and you're in. As you can see, it's really clear and easy to use. There's lots of navigation features that you'll be able to select on the different, the landing page to take you to different spaces. As previously mentioned, we cannot see the information that you put in here until it's requested from the regulatory authority in preparation for your assessment and rating visit. We are offering a number of online technical sessions, which we hosted one a little earlier today. We've had quite a lot of participants register, I think over 2 and a half thousand services in total. Now these sessions are an hour long and they take you through a very technical demonstration as the title says, it will show you all the features and there's an opportunity for a live Q&A session, each of those sessions to answer anything specific to your circumstance. I'm going to pop the link, I'll get the moderators to put the link in the chat on how you can book to attend one of those sessions. So as I mentioned earlier, the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal is mirrored on the self-assessment working tool and gives you the opportunity to record your service philosophy, compliance with the National Law and Regulations, key practises aligned with the National Quality Standards and your improvement plan. So again, I'd just like to reiterate that if you are using the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal, there is no requirement to keep a separate Quality Improvement Plan. So what we have heard as an early adopter launch into the Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal, our fabulous ICT project team and officers from the Continuous Improvement Team have worked closely with users to gain your feedback and implement a range of suggestions. These suggestions have been provided by users and have made the application even better than when we started. As I mentioned earlier, we've held multiple technical demonstrations which really digs deep into the technical part of where you put your information, how you can export, how you can print versions, and things like that. So it really does go into a lot more detail. So I do encourage you to reach out and attend one of those sessions. We have also featured a technical demonstration during our planning for quality, ECE Connect session in November last year. The recording is available on our website, and I'll ask the moderators to pop the link in the chat so that you can bookmark it and have a look. As Nick mentioned earlier, we have just hit over 19,000... 1900 services who are currently engaged and we are very, very keen to get that number over 2,000. And I'm pleased to let you know that we actually had a service last week who received notification of their assessment and rating visit. They've been using the portal and they were able to submit their documentation to the Regulatory Authority in less than one hour. So this shows that the service felt really prepared were actively using the portal and made that submission process nice and easy. As you can see on the screen, there's lots of feedback that has come directly from users of the portal and we value any feedback that you're able to share. So my last little plug is if you've not yet registered to use the Self-Assessment or Quality Improvement Planning Portal, please follow the links that are in the chat. Please attend an upcoming technical demonstration and we'll be able to step you through it and provide support as needed while we onboard you to use this amazing application. So thank you so much for your time today. I am going to hand you over to Rochelle Seabury, who's going to facilitate our Q&A, thank you.

Rochelle Seabury: Thanks Alicia, and thank you to all of our presenters today. Think it's been a really informative session and thanks to all the moderators we've had some great questions coming through in the chat that have been answered. My name's Rochelle Seabury, I'm the Manager of Business Improvement in the Regulatory Authority and I've just been scanning through the chat and I think there's probably a few questions that have been asked multiple times and would be helpful to have our presenters speak to. So I'm going to throw to Gabby first and the first question is about the 5-day notice period. So can you currently be given a 5-day notice period for assessment and rating and still be assessed on all 7 Quality Areas?

Gabrielle Maston Suthern: Yeah, good question. So just note everyone that at the moment, we're going through the earlier adopter stage of implementation. So what that means is that we haven't rolled out statewide yet and that we are just working with a small subsample of service providers to go through assessment and rating with the 5-day notice period. So, but come midyear, hopefully around July onwards, all assessment and rating, including full assessments and partial assessments, will receive the 5 business days notice. There is one caveat though, that we are excluding Aboriginal services or services residing in Aboriginal communities until we undergo further consultation to make sure what we implement is culturally appropriate. So the answer to the question is yes, you can be assessed on all seven Quality Areas and be given a 5-day notice period in the future.

Rochelle Seabury: Thank you, Gabby. And another question for you, we've had lots of questions coming through about how the Quality Areas are chosen. So could you just talk to us about what determines the decisions around which Quality Areas will be included in a partial reassessment? Who is selecting those Quality Areas? And also, if you can touch on whether services can ask for more than one Quality Area.

Gabrielle Maston Suthern: Yeah, sure. So what determines the decision of which Quality Areas are chosen? A whole range of factors are weighed into this, including looking at previous compliance history. A previous quality indicators from the last assessment and rating, your current quality rating, what you submit in your self-assessment and QIP documentation. That's why it's really important to have to submit something that's up to date and you know, current and really reflects what you do. And then also we do take into consideration, sector data trends as well. So looking at what's happening out there in general and that will help our offices weigh up which Quality Areas should be looked at for the context in which your service resides. There is an option to choose 2 or 4 Quality Areas based on what the officer is seeing. And of course, mentioned earlier, the service can only ever choose one Quality Area for assessment and the remaining Quality Areas are chosen by the officer.

Rochelle Seabury: Fantastic, thank you Gabby. And I might just add in another question there before I move on. There's a question in the chat and I'm not sure exactly what it relates to, but is this a New South Wales only thing? And so it could be about the portal, but could also be about some of these improvements to A&Rs So yeah, if you don't mind touching on that as well.

Gabrielle Maston Suthern: Yeah, no problem. So these changes are national changes, so it just so happens that New South Wales, so the national change was 0 to 5 days notice. So New South Wales chose to be consistent and always provide 5 days notice. So lucky there's no one getting zero days in New South Wales. But yeah, so it's across the board and we are proud to be showcasing you know, how it can be done really well and we've had really positive feedback about the implementation so far.

Rochelle Seabury: Great, thank you. And just to clarify, if that question was about the self-assessment portal, that self-assessment portal is a new South Wales based portal. All right, well, I might throw to Nick now. Nick, we've got a question in the chat about how will the 5-day notice period be managed if the director or educational leader, or another key person is on leave when they're getting their notice call?

Nicholas Backo: Yeah, that's a great question and that initial phone call that you mentioned, that's the opportunity for the service to raise any concerns around the timeline for the assessment and rating visit date. And so what we'll do if any concerns are raised is continue to consider them, continue to consider requests for a change in date on a case-by-case basis. And really what we're looking at is balancing being a proportionate regulator with the individual circumstances of each service. We want to make sure that we can, that when we're doing assessment and rating we can see typical practice and that's what we're aiming for and that's the conversation that we'd have during that initial phone call if there is a request for a change.

Rochelle Seabury: Fantastic, thank you Nick. I'll throw to Alicia now there were a few questions about the portal and I think some of them were answered as you were speaking. Lots of questions about how to access the portal, which is such a good sign. Many participants today I think will be really eager to log in. So we have pinned to the top of the chat, the link to access the portal and I did do a quick check. When you Google New South Wales self-assessment portal, it's the first link that pops up so if you lose the link you can google it. Alicia, there was a question about if you complete and submit your self-assessment, can you continue to update it in the portal after you've submitted it and will the Authorised Officer be using the most recent version to assess against?

Alicia Burke: That's a really great question Rochelle. And look, the answer to that is once the service has submitted their documentation to the Authorised Officer, there is not the option to update that information. If you get to the time of your visit and there was something additional that you might want to share with your officer, you can certainly do that. But to avoid multiple versions of your self-assessment coming through, once it is submitted, it is locked [until after the visit].

Rochelle Seabury: Right, thank you Alicia. And there was another question about, you know, if a service needs to be sharing their quality improvement plan or self-assessment with families, how can they do this when all of their information is inside the online portal?

Alicia Burke: That's another really good question and it does broaden out a little bit to the business decision of individual services. What we've seen services do is there is an export function in the portal where you are able to download all of the information that you have as a PDF version. Some large organisations and service providers have locked in maybe a monthly review that they might undertake and have that electronic version available for families. I do know that a lot of services use online platforms to share information so that PDF version can be made available. So if you haven't yet, join one of those technical sessions and you'll see how easy it is. It's one button and all of the information that you've put into the portal can be generated into a user-friendly, readable version to share with families, staff approved providers and community members if you wish.

Rochelle Seabury: Fantastic. Thank you Alicia. And I know that you've joined us today to talk about the self-assessment portal, but you are one of our in-house experts on scheduling of assessment and rating and I have seen a few questions coming through in the chat about, you know, how will you know when your next assessment and rating is coming up and what are the factors that determine how soon you might be re-rated? So are you able to give our audience today a little bit of information about how we schedule assessment and rating?

Alicia Burke: Definitely and look, that's a common question that we get asked. As Nick mentioned earlier, we are a proportionate risk-based regulator. So there are a number of factors we consider when selecting a service for assessment and rating visit. So it is not limited from, you know, time since the last visit. The service rating, maybe there is some compliance history you may have had a recent visit. So there are a number of factors that we consider when scheduling a services assessment and rating visit.

Rochelle Seabury: Excellent, thanks very much Alicia. All right, I think we've covered all of the questions that have been coming through in the chat. So we would just like to say a really big thank you to everyone for participating and joining us this afternoon. We will be emailing all attendees with a quick survey and would really appreciate if you can keep your eye out for that email and send through your feedback. It really does help inform and shape our future sessions. And as Gabby said at the outset, this session has been recorded and will be available on our website too. Really encourage you all to get in and access the portal. Also have a look at our general information page on assessment and rating. There's lots of great information there about these changes to assessment and rating, how you can prepare your service for assessment and rating and of course, those important inactive periods for assessment and rating as well. Thank you, everyone, about 13 minutes back in your day. Really appreciate you joining us.

Funded programs

Information for ECEC services on 100 new public preschools to be built on school sites by 2027. Information includes what a public preschool is, how sites were selected, next steps in the project and how the department is supporting the ECEC sector.

JOSS WYER: Good morning, everybody. We are at 10 o'clock. Welcome to today's webinar on the 100 New Public Preschools. My name is Joss. I'm a manager in the department's Communications and Engagement team. I will be the facilitator for today. So thank you so much for carving out the time in your diaries to join us for today's session.

Just before we begin, I'll acknowledge country though, that we are all meeting from various Aboriginal lands across the state. So I'm joining you from Awabakal Country today. Pay my respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to the traditional custodians of the lands in which you're on. I know we have people joining us from right across the state. So I do extend my respect to those traditional custodians. And I also extend my respect to any Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islander people on the call today.

So as we commence today's session, I'll just quickly do some housekeeping. So the microphone, video and chat will be disabled during the webinar, but we do have Q and A's. The Q and A's, you could submit questions through the registration process. So we did take these ahead of time and are endeavouring to answer as many of these as we can through the presentation. But we do have a short Q and A section at the end of this presentation.

So if you feel that you have more questions to ask, please just use that Q and A function to do so. We've got closed captions that are enabled and this session will be recorded.

So if you do have to jump off for any reason, this will be on our website following the session today. I'm actually going to introduce you to Sarah Hurcombe.

So who is our first presenter for today. So Sarah is the Executive Director of the Service Excellence Directorate within Early Childhood Outcomes. So Sarah is leading this work with her team as we move into the next stage of this project. She's working across the department to make sure that we are effectively engaging and supporting the whole sector during this process. So I'm going to go throw to Sarah. So welcome to you.

SARAH HURCOMBE: Thanks, Joss and hi, everyone. Really nice to see you all today. It's great to see almost 200 of you online today and we had some good registrations for this session, which shows there's a lot of interest in understanding, getting that clarity, which was great to see and to know what you're looking to get out of today.

So as Joss said, I'm one of the Executive Directors here in the Early Childhood Outcomes team. The 100 Public Preschools is part of the portfolio of work that I oversee and I'll be joined by Poppy Brown shortly, who's one of the directors in my team who's been supporting on the 100 public preschools program.

Now, before I go into a bit more detail, what I wanted to kind of set the scene on is how the 100 new public preschools fits into a range of different initiatives that the government is funding, which is to really make some significant steps towards its ambition for universal preschool. So as part of the election campaign last year, which saw the new government come in, they made a commitment to build 100 new public preschools. And that was part, as well as for all new schools to be built co-developed alongside new public preschools. It's part of their bigger ambition to achieve universal preschool by 2030. And the additional details for that are being developed by the department for the government's consideration at the moment. So you'll see in here, this slide, there's a number of additional things we expect to be announced ahead. But what I wanted to flag was alongside the 100 new public preschools, there are a number of other initiatives that the government has announced or is working on. And so here on the left, you'll see some of those.

Of course, many of you will receive Start Strong funding. And we've had some questions from participants around whether there's future ambitions to grow and scale that. And that's definitely part of the work the government's looking at the moment. Many of you may be beneficiaries from the department's Capital Works Program, which provides capital grants funding for those seeking to expand and grow their services. So definitely check out our website for that detail.

The other key initiative announced and being delivered by the government is the Fund, the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund. You may have heard about one of the first initiatives to be announced under that fund, which is a $5 billion initiative to go from zero to 12, all services supporting children from zero to 12. And the first that was announced there was the FIT.

So the Flexible Initiatives Trial Fund. So I believe round 2 is open for the moment. So at the end of this, we can provide details on the website to check those out. So if you're an existing service looking to innovate, wanting to expand your service, definitely check out those initiatives. In addition to that, we've got a range of workforce initiatives being delivered and implemented by the government for the early childhood education and care sector. I'll talk a little bit further on some of those ahead, but it's really important that we put the 100 new public preschools within that framework and within that wider landscape of initiatives. Overall, we're talking about a $10 billion investment by this government into the early years space.

So really keen if there's, I think there's a number of other sessions across the ECEC Connect series that looks at some of these other initiatives and seeks input. So definitely have a look at our website and reach out to us if you'd like further information on those other things there. So as we move forward, I'd like to just set the scene of, we're talking today about our public preschools, which is a really important, but a small part of the early childhood education and care landscape. So here, many of you will be representative of a range of different types of providers in this space

So in New South Wales, there are over 6,000 early childhood education and care services operating. And that's as it was at the start of this year. At the moment, there are 101 public preschools operating in the state and they've not received an investment or growth for about 30, 40 years. And so the government's really keen, as well as supporting the remainder of the sector, long daycare, community preschool, OOSH, family daycare, mobile services, they're really keen to grow that public provision alongside the diverse sector. Of those 101, 99 of those are centre-based preschools. So located on a school site, primarily primary school.

We do have one standalone public preschool in Mascot called John Brotchie. And two of those are distance education preschools. So we have one that's School of the Air and one is that a distance education service . And we've got a really long history, like many of you as well from the community sector, of providing public preschools for over 60 years in the state. Now, I know that we've got a number of questions from the field in advance of this call asking, well, what is a public preschool?

There's not many of them, but in many communities, they are a key part alongside our partners represented by you. So if we move to the next slide, really wanted to set out what is a current public preschool? And like many of you, the role of a public preschool is to really support that quality end-to-end learning journey for children to ensure that they get that really best start to life. And we also know that through our public assets, we've got an opportunity to really grow that capacity across New South Wales for meeting that increasing demand into early years education and care. So our current public preschool operating model is set out here for those who had questions around that model. As per we are regulated and reviewed under the National Quality Framework, like all quality early childhood education and care services, our educator ratios are in line with ratios, with line with the regulations set out by the regulator. We have a number of priority enrolments currently in public preschool settings.

So there's a priority for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children living in low socioeconomic circumstances and children who are unable to access other early childhood services due to disadvantage or financial hardship. At this stage, there's no indication the government's keen to change that enrolment . Obviously we'll inform you should that change ahead. And in terms of the size of the preschools that have our current ones, they range from 20 to 40 size. I believe we do have one 60 size, but the majority of our preschools are 20 place or 40 place preschools. In terms of the new public preschools that have been announced recently, we're going to need to determine that for each service based on that local demand and supply, working with local services around those new preschools. But we'll also have constraints based on the infrastructure that enables us to build that onsite.

Many of our school sites, we don't want to give up obviously play space for school aged children. So that size piece will really need to be determined at that community local level over the next six months, both in consultation with principals, with the schools and understanding that local demand and supply pattern at that local level. For other questions, public preschools operate 9 to 3 so they're aligned with school term, very akin to a lot of community based preschool provision and attendance there may, preschools often make local decisions about attendance but are required to offer 600 hours of preschool over the year or a 15 hour a week. We do know occasionally if there is availability, they may be able to offer communities a little bit more than that, but that is the pattern that we understand.

The cost of preschools, the ambition is for them to remain affordable for families. So they are free unless a school charges a voluntary contribution and that is the ambition moving forward for the next 100 preschools. I'm now going to pass to my colleague Poppy Brown who's going to talk us through the site selection process and how sites were selected. And it was a really robust and rigorous approach. And then she'll hand back to me and I'll talk you through next steps in terms of supporting the sector and what that rollout will look like. Over to you, Poppy.

POPPY BROWN: Thanks, Sarah. And nice to meet you everyone. My name is Poppy Brown. I'm the director leading the 100 preschools program with Ms. Sarah and really nice to see you here today. I know there's lots of interest in how we decided the preschools. And so we're trying to respond to as many of your questions as possible through the next little bit. But please, if you've got any more questions, as Sarah said before, we're happy to answer them at the end. So just firstly, the 100 public preschools are made up of effectively 2 aligned election commitments. So the government committed that every new primary school would have a co-located preschool on its grounds.

So we have 13 of our school sites out of the 100 that are on either new or rebuilt schools. And the government announced the first 10 of those back in September. And there's been 3 more announced along with the full list of the 100 preschools that was announced in February. Then for the remaining 87, which is obviously the majority, the election commitment was to build back those 100 public preschools in total. And we've gone through an extensive process, as Sarah said, to look at determining the best sites for those remaining preschools to make sure that we get the best possible outcome for children and families. And we complement the early childhood sector that's already in place across all the communities in New South Wales.

We'll probably look for the next slide. Lovely.

So we'll just go through step-by-step the process. And as I said, there's quite a lot of information about this on the website, but there's a lot to read. If you're loving the data, then feel free to read the info on the website, but I'll take you through a bit of a summary of where we've got to. So what we did is, first of all, we started off with an analysis of all the current New South Wales public primary and central schools. So that's around 1,670 schools. And what we did is we ran a whole lot of data across those sites.

So we looked at the socioeconomic indexes for areas or the SEIFA classification. So that looks at socioeconomic disadvantage or advantage . And we picked the most disadvantaged sites of areas in New South Wales. We then also looked at child vulnerability and child development outcomes. So we used the Australian Early Development Census, the AEDC, and many of you might be familiar with this as well. And we also looked at those areas where we have the most vulnerability for children across those domain.

We also then looked at demand and supply. So we only want to put these preschools into areas where there are gaps for future provision of preschool places. So we looked at the demand and we used forecasted demand. So we used the population figures, we used department planning, forecast growth in terms of housing areas, et cetera. And we also then used the supply of early childhood preschool places in those areas. So those were looking at long day care and community preschool provision in those areas.

We compared the 2 and looked at where the data showed that there might be a gap for preschool places for families going into the future. And out of that, we got just over 200 schools that we were looking at as more of a short list in terms of further work. Next slide, please. So for those shortlisted schools, what we did was firstly the infrastructure team of Schools Infrastructure that looks after all the maintenance and the building schools, they did analysis of the school sites. So they were looking at whether those sites were suitable from space and other infrastructure requirements, looking at impact on biodiversity, whether that was possible to build, et cetera. At the same time as that, our team conducted a really extensive consultation exercise.

We reached out to over 1400 stakeholders in total. What we really wanted to do was take the data that we've got through the data analysis and really talk to people on the ground as much as we possibly could. So we talked to early childhood services. So if you were in the area of one of the prioritised schools, you'd have had an email with an invitation to complete the survey. Some of you might've been part of our initial webinars that we also ran last year as well through this process before we sent out the emails for the survey. We know people are super busy, so we did send out reminders for those emails to services. And if the team, where the team had time, we also called some services where we knew that from our data that they haven't opened the email.

So we tried our best to kind of reach out as much as we could, but knowing that it was not a mandatory survey, we absolutely respected people's time or whether they wanted to be part of that survey or not. What that survey asked for was looking at enrolments , looking at potential impacts that a preschool might have on your service, looking at anything else you wanted to tell us. And we're grateful for all the responses we got from services, because people told us about the local context, they told us about the equity cohorts of children you support, told us about some of the plans of growth and services in your area. So that was really, really helpful information to gather together. We also consulted with our education partners. We did specific consultation with the Aboriginal Community Controlled O rganisations in the area of a school that was on that shortlist. We talked to, we're very grateful for the help from New South Wales AECG, who supported us to let their local members know about the offer to talk to them around any insights they wanted to give us as well. Sarah and I also met with members of NCARA in the regions as well. We've also had ongoing discussions with the Teachers Federation, members of our Early Childhood Advisory Group and other key stakeholders that we engage with. So massive thank you for everyone who has been part of that process. We have been in a relatively short space of time. I think we were consulting from about July to January, July last year, through to January this year. We were trying to collate as many of those insights as possible. Next slide.

So then all that information was collated together, all the insights that were provided, all the data that was provided, all the commentary from services and our stakeholders all got collated and was presented to an assessment panel. We had an assessment panel headed up with senior department of education executives. We had a senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative from Department of Communities and Justice. They sat in a panel with an independent chair.

We had a really experienced person, Abigail Goldberg, who's sat on lots of really large scale public infrastructure investment. I think she's in part of the Northern Rivers work and Sydney W ater projects and things like that. So she's a very experienced chair. She was our independent reviewer and independent chair. We also had a probity advisor as well. That panel met in December and January to determine a set of recommendations for the Deputy Premier. We also provided the, we had an independent assessment done.

So the Department of Education Secretary, Murat Dizdar, commissioned an independent assessment of the whole process so that we could provide that assurance to government that it was all very robust and rigorous. And we provide all our information and all our documentation and everything that we've done to that independent assessor who delivered a report verifying the robustness of that whole process. That report's on the website as well. So feel free to have a look at that if you'd like to.

But yes, it was an extensive process. And out of that, if we go to the next slide, we got 87 selected school sites. So those school sites were recommended by the panel to the Deputy Premier and ultimately signed off by government. And then we will announce. I think that's my oh no, next slide is around is the demographics. So, because we targeted areas of most need, so in that funnel where we were looking at the SEIFA index and AEDC, we were targeting areas where there was areas of disadvantage and areas of developmental vulnerability. So we're really pleased that the outcome of that ended up with 49 services in, with nine preschools, will be in regional remote areas.

They are, there's 18 of those you can see in the major metro regional. Those areas like the Illawarra region, areas outside Newcastle, for instance. We've then got a spread across other regional areas and out to a couple of remote and very remote locations as well. 51 of those services of those preschools will be in that Sydney area. So, and targeted into the West, Southwest and Northwest Areas of growth and areas where we've got high multicultural populations or of new arrivals in terms of refugees, areas that have high levels of disadvantage from the socioeconomic perspective.

So really pleased that that's kind of how it's, the results have panned out. 45 preschools will be in areas of Aboriginal population, 10% or more, so at least double the national average. And as I was saying, 38 are in that highest level of disadvantage from the SEIFA index. So the intention of this election commitment was to target that support where it's most needed. And that's where we've got to at the end of the day, which is very exciting. Next slide. So in terms of the consultation process, all that information that came through the surveys and also I forgot to say earlier, we did also offer services the opportunity for a meeting with the team. So we met with a number of services that wanted to have a face-to-face conversation online, which was really great. And that gave us a lot of information as well to support the analysis that went to the panel. And including the meetings with the ACCOs as well. In terms of what we've heard, this is probably no surprise and hopefully this accords with your experiences as well. We really heard very strongly that the staffing being a real issue.

So attracting, retaining qualified educators and teachers absolutely crucial for providing quality early childhood education and care. And that's come through very strongly through our consultations and surveys. So then we have had concerns from a number of services around what that might mean in terms of impact. If you have a new public preschool in your area, how will that impact the staffing that you're able to attract and retain in your service, given services, particularly in regional areas have a lot of difficulty attracting and retaining staff. Also, in terms of concern around impact on enrolments. The majority of the concern has been around staffing and of enrolments has been very much a secondary but important consideration that people have raised to us. We also heard from you that the affordability for families was really impacting the ability to access early childhood. We also heard about the importance of culturally safe environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. And that's a really important piece of work that the department's doing in that space. We're really seeking to really understand what culturally safe and culturally responsive means and can look like so that the new public preschools can absolutely commit to be able to do that and work with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners to be able to do that as well.

We heard from you around needing greater support for children with additional needs and that the range of needs. And we also heard from the sector about the great success the sector's having in supporting children with additional needs at the moment but that further support is needed. So that was really useful information as well. We heard particularly in those regional, rural, remote areas that distance and access to wraparound service provision is impacting families. We heard about provision of transport being a key factor in some families being able to access early childhood services being a real issue if that's not there. Also the ability for those services to service provision to exist in some of those areas as well is challenging.

So that's again, really helpful to inform our work. The next thing t hat there's around helping the role of public preschools can help support families from diverse cultural backgrounds to access and increase awareness of importance of early childhood. We did hear that there's lots of families particularly in some of the areas that have newly arrived families and refugees in Western and Southwestern Sydney where those families aren't accessing early childhood education and care much at the moment for a number of reasons and that public preschools can provide a really good support in that space for those families where affordability and other reasons are an issue to them participating.

And then, which was really exciting, we did have a number of ideas come through from early childhood services around how we could potentially work together in some of the areas to deliver early childhood solutions for the children and families and a real willingness and openness from early childhood services to work with us around some different ideas going forward in the future as well. So that was really exciting and that's definitely something that we will be keen to explore further with you all as we continue through this process. I think that's probably it for my slide. So I think I'm handing over to Sarah to talk about what's next.

SARAH HURCOMBE: Thanks Poppy. Would be great to see some questions in the chat. Can see a lot of comments at this point which we'll pick up in our questions but really looking for some questions in there as well at the moment. So as we go through the next step, would really love to see some questions so we can help answer those. There are a lot of questions around seeking clarity at the start of this. So we'd love to answer any questions that you may have moving ahead. So I'm going to talk through some of the next steps and then talk about the support for the sector moving ahead. So next steps, obviously these preschools will be built by 2027.

The government has set a date for that work which we need to deliver to as public servants. And so next steps are really to work with those schools and communities in the 100 selected locations. And that will firstly be around the infrastructure planning process. We know that's a big piece of work. However, importantly, we do also want to work with local services. So I can see a number of you have put comments in the chat saying you're concerned around the impact on your service in terms of enrolment and workforce. We actually would like to talk to you about your specific needs. So that specificity will really help us ensure that this initiative has a positive impact on kids and families in your community. And that's really the intent and focus of this commitment.

What we'd like to also do alongside the 100 public preschool is obviously work with the sector on what that broader ambition and vision for universal preschool should look like. And as I said at the very start, we're keen to understand what that looks like in a range of service types and providers. The 100 public preschools program has been very carefully set and focused on public preschool provision by this government. They've given us clear timeframes and there was some questions around numbers that has come from the government themselves. But what we'd really like to do is go, as we build these 100 public preschools, what more do we need to do to support the growth of the sector? You've said workforce, we know that's a big number one issue. And so we really would like to work at both that whole of sector level, but that local level as well.

This is going to be significant investment into your local community to benefit the needs of your families. So how do we actually take advantage of that investment beyond just the public preschool provision to really support the strengthening of your service near those preschools as well? If we move forward, I want to talk about some of the support for the sector that we do have it currently in play, which I mentioned at the start, but this is just the beginning of that.

And so we really do want to work with you at that local level to go what else is needed, both to make sure that these new preschools are a positive investment locally to your families and to the children that live in your communities, but also to you as a connected service provider. And that we're really thinking across service provision across types of services to really benefit those outcomes for children. So here we can see some of the support for the sector that the government is building. And I mentioned some of this earlier, obviously Start Strong Funding is a core foundational part of how we support the sector.

That goes to all the community preschools that operate across the state. And they also go to many long daycare services that provide preschool education and care. These are obviously, this is state government initiatives. On top of that, you've obviously got the support from the Commonwealth around childcare subsidy and other range of investment, but I won't cover that today because that's the province of the Commonwealth government. The other initiatives that have been announced and being worked on by this government around the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund.

So as I said, that includes the Flexible Initiatives Trial which provides grants for your services to test and trial new or adapted operating models that improve the flexibility of service delivery. There's a suite of investments around scholarships that have a professional development that have been announced to recruit and retain early learning professionals, but we know we need to do more. And so some of my colleagues, it's not in our team, but another part of the department, we've got a dedicated team looking at workforce initiatives. So expect some updates from them in the next couple of months. In additional, as I said, we do have that, we have past rounds of capital works initiatives and the government has announced 20 million more for this next few years to support the not-for-profit providers in the early childhood education and care sector. Again, these are the beginning of the investments that we want to make. We know there's more that we need to do. And so as we move into the delivery of a 100 public preschools, if we move to the next slide, we want to work with you at that local level. So after this call or at the end of this call, I really want to make a call to you to contact my team, to Poppy and the team. There, there's our email address. It's And we want to talk to you about your concerns specific to your service, and how we can support you moving ahead.

So we can both provide information and we're growing that local network of department teams that can support you. They can provide information and support around the range of initiatives, but also work to develop new solutions that you will need. And we have heard loud and clear workforce is a really pressing issue. To that, I want to talk about what we are doing a little bit more in the workforce space. And to say, I don't have all the answers on this at this stage, but we really want to work with you ahead. So if we move to the next slide. So as I said, we are investing in a range of initiatives to support recruitment and retention at the moment.

So a range of scholarships, wraparound assistance to support study and development, strategies and initiatives to lift professional recognition, attract and retain a qualified workforce. So if you're not aware of those, come on and look on our website. However, we know we need to do more and we do know terms and conditions the status and the pay for the sector is a burning issue. My colleagues in the workforce team are working very closely with our Commonwealth colleagues. They're watching the work around workplace bargaining that is happening and we're going to be keen to support what happens through those initiatives.

We will be looking at what additional funding we need to make. At this stage of the program, I can't share those. It is with the government for consideration and to make those decisions. But what I would say is we need you to work with us so that we can make sure that we get that to the areas that need it most. And so we are really keen to work with you around the 100 Public Preschools Program, the rollout, the next steps of that to make sure that it actually benefits your communities and your families. That's our focus for this. It's the focus on the children and the families who are missing out and how do we make sure as a whole this program uplifts capacity and delivery across New South Wales.

We will need your help through that at that local level. So it is a call and an ask. Please write to us, tell us your concerns so that we can reach out and have those conversations with you about those specific concerns relating to your workforce and to your delivery of your service.

Watch the recording from the online information session, held on Wednesday 28 February.

MAJA O'DELL: Yeah, might kick off. So, hi everyone, and thanks for joining our webinar on the Health and Development Participation Grant today. My name is Maja O'Dell and I'm the manager of our Health and Development Checks team here at the Department of Education. First, I would like to start this webinar by acknowledging the various lands we’re all joining on from today. And I'm here on the lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and I'd like to pay my respect to elders past and present. I'd also like to acknowledge all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are joining us on the call today and recognize the important contribution that this program can make to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the early years. So in today's presentation we'll start with a quick overview of the HDC program before moving on to the specifics of the HDP Grant.

MAJA: We've put some set aside, time aside, I should say, for the Q&A is at the end, but if you have any questions as we go through the webinar, put them into our Q&A function there on the screen. Hopefully you can see that and our team can answer them as we go and there will also be some extra time at the end for Q&A’s if there’s sort of something you think about and want to ask at the end and if you have any trouble with that Q&A function, you can email your questions through to our inbox and we'll share that in our chat. So just, I’ll kick off and just as a quick refresher, Health and Development Checks in ECEC is a partnership between New South Wales Health and the Department of Education. Now we know that many children in New South Wales are not getting their four year old health and development check. About two in five children are also starting school developmentally off track and regular health and development checks are important to give families crucial insights into how their children are tracking before they start school, and also ensure that children and families are getting the support they need as soon as possible. The health and development checks in Early Childhood and Education and Care program builds on existing services where parents and carers can access their child's health and development checks, such as their local doctor or their child and family health nurse or the local Aboriginal Medical service.

MAJA: Next slide, please. Health and development checks in ECEC will be available to four year olds who attend participating early childhood education and care services. And these include community preschools and long day care services. Health professionals from New South Wales Health from their local health districts will check children's health and development in the ECEC service, and this might include their listening and talking skills, their social skills and behaviour, their gross and fine motor skills, their learning thinking and problem solving skills and how their bodies are growing. Importantly, this program is free and will be opt in for both families and services. Next slide, please. So just a little refresher. Again, I know a lot of you have probably attended some of these sessions, but just a refresher on how the program will actually work. So in terms of scheduling, the local health district teams will contact services to let them know that they are able to offer the health and development checks. And if you're a service, you can also email your local health district to let them know you'd like to host the program at your ECEC service in 2024. Just please keep in mind that local health districts are dealing with a high volume of requests and will do their best to get back to you as soon as possible. They will work with services to find a time that is convenient for them to receive the check. What are we hoping teachers and educators will do? Well, we're asking them to assist with collecting consent forms and pre assessment questionnaires, preparing families and children for the check, ensuring child educator ratios are being met, following regulations on Working With Children Checks and ensuring children are not left alone with visiting health staff. Our health professionals from the LHD’s will liaise with services throughout the process, including talking to services about anything they want to highlight going into the checks and they will complete the check and provide families with a report after the check, with referrals being provided as required. Each LHD will be responsible for managing the referral pathways in their districts. Parents can share the reports with the service and have discussions about support for their child independent from the program if they wish. We've also got our Education Local Reform [...] Local Reform and Commissioning Team that sits with us here in Education, and they are a group of group within DoE who will be offering local implementation support on the ground as the project continues to roll out. And our team here in Health and Development Checks is working really closely with that team to make sure our services get that support on the ground.

MAJA: The HDC program just as a little bit of scene setting began rolling out in September last year and is now we can proudly say, available in 12 of the 15 local health districts in New South Wales. And you can see there, these are the ones marked in green on the map there. The remaining three LHD, Northern New South Wales, Northern Sydney and Far West will begin rolling out the program before the end of this year, 2024. We just want to, and I'll get to the grant obviously in a minute, but if checks are not being rolled out in your LHD yet, so if you're one of those three days, this doesn't preclude you from applying from this grant. You can find out which LHD your service belongs to using the New South Wales Health Interactive map and just at the end of this webinar, we'll do a little link and a poll and you can find out which LHD you belong to. So we'll do that towards the end. And there are a couple of ways to express your interest in the program. If you're one of the 12 LHD’s that have commenced roll out, you can get your LHD’s email from our website which we'll share and is also at the end of this presentation. Or, if your service is in the remaining three LHD’s, you can email our team and we'll also share those details and will connect you and make sure you have all the information you need.

MAJA: Next slide, please. So as part of developing this HDC program, we consulted the ECEC sector last year and services identified a few elements that might become barriers to participating in the program. So as a first step, we've developed this one off grant to help overcome some of the barriers and encourage services to participate in the program in 2024. The Health and Development Participation Grant and I'm going to just call it the HDP Grant because it rolls off the tongue a little bit better will mean that eligible services can apply for up to seven and a half thousand dollars to spend in one or more of the of the following categories. So these are and they're listed there on the screen for you, But I'm just going to go through them in a little bit more detail. So category one funding for staffing to support the HDC program category two suitable space to conduct the checks and Category three building capacity in ECEC services to support children's developmental needs. It's important to note that to be eligible for the grant ECEC services must participate in a check in 2024 you don't need to be booked in for a check when you submit your application, but as mentioned earlier, we would encourage you to reach out to your LHD to expressed interest in the program when you're applying for the actual grant. And we, our team will continue to work with LHD to understand if there are any services that have received the grant but have not been able to schedule a check. And we've got some provisions in the guidelines for our team to assess circumstances where checks, for whatever reason, can't happen in 2024 on a case by case basis. So while this grant is for 2024 only and it's currently, as I said, a one off one year grant, our team here is considering other ways that we can continue to support the sector on an ongoing basis.

MAJA: Next slide, please. So like I said, we thought it would be helpful to give you a few more examples of the things you might use the different categories of funding on to help you with your application. And so just go through some of these are category one funding can be used to provide relief time, over time payments or travel costs for educators and teachers to undertake tasks such as administrative duties related to the checks for staff to support children during the checks, and to engage in related professional development. Category two funding can be used for a repurposing or refurbishing of rooms or spaces within the service to provide a suitable space to conduct the checks. A suitable space is a place that allows the program to be conducted privately. This can be a separate room area or classroom within an ECEC setting. Some services, we've noticed, have been sectioning off an area of the classroom to use, so similarly to how they might conduct the StEPS program. This category can also be used for venue hire where suitable space is not available within the service. If you do need to use an offset location to take part in the program, services are required to follow the New South Wales regulations, including risk assessments and written authorisations so parents do not have to attend any off site checks. But these would need to be supervised by educators and teachers. Services are encouraged to check and explore the Department of Education Resources and transporting children safely, which can be found on the website at the bottom of the slide, yes, just checking that we've included that there, and on our website and so more details about this off site check is also available in our program guidelines, which you'll need to familiarise yourself with before applying for the grant and category two funding. So this same bucket can also be used for the purchase of resources to support children's learning and development. And we would just note here that any resources should be purchased to provide support to all children your service rather than support an individual child in your service. Individual support will be managed by LHD’s in the form of specialist referrals, where concerns are identified and then I'll just jump to category three. So some of the examples here, you can use this funding bucket to cover travel costs, course fees and relief time to attend relevant training. So this is slightly different to that category one in that the relief time here is for actually attending training, capacity building and so some of the things, some of the training might include things like the Northern Sydney LHD NESA accredited program or attending the ECA conference. This third bucket can also be used to engage external providers for specialised education programs to support developmental needs though this would need to be delivered to the whole group of children at the service with a focus on upskilling educators and teachers to implement support strategies on an ongoing basis. This third category of funding can also be used to engage community members, to support community member or members to support the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. To assist your service in selecting professional development, which you can spend this third category of funding on. our team is developing a list of training courses available within the Department, which will provide you some idea of how you might wish to spend the funding for capacity building. We expect this to be available shortly on that grant website where all of this information will be contained.

MAJA: So moving on to the next slide. Right. So this is an important one, which a lot of people will have a lot of interest in - who can apply. And so many of the ECEC services that are eligible for the Health and Development Check program itself are also eligible for this grant. So this includes not for profit community preschools that are centre based, not for profit long daycare services and standalone full profit long daycare services, which are for profit providers operating a single long daycare service as identified by NQAITS. So this means that for profit providers operating multiple services are not eligible for this grant. I just wanted to call out importantly, that we're extending this grant to multi-functional Aboriginal children's services. Aboriginal child and family centres and Aboriginal community controlled organizations that deliver health and development checks. So this is in recognition that these services already deliver health and development checks and should be supported even if these checks are outside of our HDC program. So that grant is still open to those services, even if they're technically not a part of our paid program. Just note here. I'll say that for eligible providers who wish to make a bulk application on behalf of more than ten services, there is an option for this in the application form and I'll go through that in our next slide a little bit more onto the next slide.

MAJA: So we just thought would show a little bit of the application form and a little bit of the application process itself. So hopefully this is useful to some of you who haven't made yourself familiar with the form. So, one of the things we thought might need a little bit of explanation is that as part of the application form, we will ask you to select one or more of the three funding categories and you will have 300 words to briefly explain how you intend to use the funding if you are successful according to each category you have selected. Now, this is the only free text part of the form. So this is the only part where you're actually going to have to answer with free text as as I just said. So please note that this is flexible and it's okay if your final spend is different to what you have included in your application. But I will say that there will be an acquittals process where you will be required to report to the department how you have spent the grant funding and this will be due due by June 2025. So even if the information is different, you'll still need to make sure you keep things like receipts, timesheets and other documentation to demonstrate how you have spent your money. And that process will need to take place before June 2025 as I said. And so you'll see that also that we have a section for eligible providers who wish to make a bulk application on behalf of more than ten services. So this is just to make it a little bit easier so that you don't have to put in separate applications. And there is an option for this as you go, you'll see it in application form. You will just have to provide the total number of services in your bulk application. Hopefully you can see that there on the screen where that option is and the approved provider ID of each of the services as per NQAITS. So this will be a number that starts at SE and is followed by eight numbers. You only need to enter the eight numbers. You don't need to include the SE at the beginning. So what we've also done, and maybe some of you have already seen it, but we've got a short video that we've created which guides you through the actual application form. So if you scan that QR code there, that will take you to the website and there you will see a link to a short form where we actually run you through the application form from start to finish and we give a bit of a guided tour of the application form, if you will, and hopefully that will answer any more of the questions that you might have as you're going through. And I think it's just a handy thing to watch before you go through, through the form and hopefully you find that useful.

MAJA: The next, next one please. So applications are now open. They opened on the 7th of June, June, sorry, February. I'm ahead of myself and will close on the 31st of March. Successful applicants will be notified by 31 May and will receive their funding before 30 June this year. So you can see that on the screen there. Successful applicants will have until the 31st of December 2024 to participate in the health and development check and spend their funding. As I mentioned earlier, the acquittals process will need to be completed by June 2025, and this involves reporting to the department on how your service has spent funding according to the three categories. And remember that it's okay if you're spending slightly different to what has been indicated in your original application, and we encourage all applicants to reach out to the LHD to expressed interest in participating in the program as you are as you go through your application process. And this will just make it more streamlined, hopefully for yourself and for the check to be able to be booked in. So we've got our HDC website there, which you can see on the screen or you can access it using the QR code there and that gives a little bit more information about the checks, some resources we've got on there and also a list of the different LHD’s that are on board so far and their emails and it tells you how to get in contact with your LHD. And if you need, if you have any questions following this webinar or if there's anything you don't want to ask today or if there's anything that comes up, anything at all, you can email that email that you see on the screen. I just want to make it really clear that that is not sort of a big centralised email that will go into the ether. It's our small, dedicated team that will get back to you really quickly with a quick turnaround and we're very happy to answer any questions, set up meetings and really help guide you and assist you through this process. So if your service is in one of the three local health district yet to begin rollout, like I mentioned, that's Northern New South Wales, Northern Sydney and Far West, we're still encouraging, we still encourage you to apply for the grant and like I said before, we'll work with those LHD’s when they come online to ensure that where possible grant recipients can receive the check by the end of 2024. And I think importantly, just make sure everyone knows in the case of extenuating circumstances our team will assess on a case by case basis if a check hasn't been able to be done in 2024 but you have received the funding.

Quality and compliance

Presented by Skye Taylor, a Child Safe Officer from the Office of the Children's Guardian. This session for providers and service leaders provides strategies to keep children safe, with a focus on developing and embedding robust child-safe codes of conduct. A content warning is advised.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Okay, I will make a slow start. To be respectful of everyone's time, we know that you're super, super busy in the highly valued role that you have. So, to start us off this morning, I will acknowledge the traditional owners of all the lands on which we live, work, and come together, including the lands of the Gadigal people where I'm presenting from today. I extend my deepest respects to elders, past and present, and to all Aboriginal colleagues, providers, service leaders, and educators that have joined us today. I thank you for your continued guidance and wisdom, it is truly valued and honoured. Now for a bit of housekeeping. We have to go through these items, they're super important in a large information session such as this. So, the information we're sharing in this session is quite broad, it will cover all service types and participants. If, however you have any service specific questions, things that you really want an answer to, I would encourage you to contact the Information and Enquiries Team. We have an email address or a phone number you can contact them on. These details will be shared at the end of the presentation if you need them. You will probably notice, the microphone and camera functions at your end are disabled for participants during the presentation. And some news hot off the press. I've been advised that our Q and A function is not working, my apologies. But I have good news. We have a backup, and that is the chat function that you can see on your menu bar item across the top of your screen, or it could be on the bottom of your screen, depending on your setup. So, if you are writing in the chat function today, please ensure you don't include any identifying details. Any personal details, people's names, or specific incidents. This session will be recorded and published on the Department of Education website, and we make a commitment to do that as soon as possible, and the latest advice on this is that we are trying to do that within a three-week period. It needs to go through required checks and balances, as you can imagine. The questions we get from you in the chat function will really help us as the Regulatory Authority, and I'm sure it will also help our colleagues in the Office of the Children's Guardian who are joining us today. We use the information that you give us to structure our advice and support for you. A final mention in terms of those questions, obviously, put them in the chat function. But if we don't manage to get to all of your questions or comments, we'll make sure that you receive answers and guidance after the session today. Once the presentation is finished, you'll be sent a survey, this is super important. Please take a few minutes to complete that survey, because that helps us to continue in developing the best content we can, that is most beneficial to your needs. Right, that's it for our housekeeping. I'm now going to hand over to Sharon Gudu, Sharon is our Executive Director, and she leads the Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority. Over to you, Sharon.

Sharon Gudu: Thanks very much Yas, and morning all, and thank you so much for spending your time with us this morning. I would also like to acknowledge that I come to you from the lands of the Gadigal people, and I pay my respect to Elders past and present, and to all Aboriginal colleagues with us this morning. So today, as you know, we are talking about keeping children safe, an incredibly important topic. Child safe services have embedded ways of doing child safety, each and every day. This session will bring you guidance on how you can strengthen your service's child safe culture and help you to meet and exceed requirements under the relevant regulatory regimes, being both the NQF and Child Safe Standards. As the regulatory authority for early childhood education and care services in New South Wales, as you would know, we have an important oversight function across safety and quality. Our work spans the full range of activity and decision making, from the first entry point to becoming a provider of a service or operating a new service, and various changes across service delivery. We work closely with OCG in our role, and I'm absolutely delighted that they are joining us today in this session. Child safety is everyone's business. Each and every one of you within the sector has a role to play, whether you are an educator, another staff member, a volunteer, a service or provider leader, or play a role within a provider that supports services, we all have a role to play every day. As you know, the Regulatory Authority has a zero tolerance of harm to children. We ask all of you to join us in ensuring this from the perspective of your role and your organisation, and I know that OCG will be talking with you more about this, in relation to how you can all play this role effectively. As we carry out our regulatory efforts, we're focused on upholding public trust and confidence in all education and care settings throughout our safety and quality oversight lens. We do this for the benefit of children and families right across New South Wales, and work in collaboration with the sector on this. And we thank you for your support in doing so. You are no doubt aware that there has been a National Child Safety Review that will bring some changes forward, and we look forward to working with the sector on any changes that arise out of this. I will now hand over to Yas again, who you just met. Yas has the awesome responsibility for providing guidance to the sector on a whole range of topics, and she's going to guide you through this session with OCG. So, thanks Yas.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thanks Sharon, that was great to hear, they're really, really important messages. And also, while you've been covering off those important messages, Sharon, our audience has climbed to over 300 and is ever increasing, and we love to see that. As Sharon mentioned, child safety is our number one priority, and the Regulatory Authority, actually we share this priority with all of you. We're really pleased to be delivering this session in partnership with the New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian. And in a moment, you'll hear from Skye Taylor, she's a Child Safe Officer at the Office of the Children's Guardian. But before I introduce you to Skye, I just wanted to tell you very briefly about some important work that is currently underway related to children's safety. Everything we do has children's safety at the centre, and this is what drives our regulatory decision making as well. You may be aware, as Sharon mentioned, there has been a published final report on the National Review of Child Safety Arrangements under the National Quality Framework. And while today's session is not in response to any specific event, it is timely for us to consider current risks, how well we are controlling those risks to children, and to ensure we are upholding this commitment and doing everything we can to keep children safe. I know that as service providers, educators, and leaders, you would want to ensure the children attending your services are kept safe from any form of serious harm. And as providers and leaders of your services, you facilitate the journey of your workforce. Your workforce is your most important asset within your organisation. You see them through the initial recruitment, onboarding and induction, ongoing service delivery in working with children, the training that you provide them. And it is vital that they know what to do if something isn't quite right. And to help you navigate through this journey with your workforce, we're partnering with the Office of the Children's Guardian to deliver a suite of tailored resources on child safety. It includes eLearning modules for educators and leaders, podcasts, videos, animations, they are fantastic. You can share these amongst your teams. Of course, as always, these are free of charge to our sector. I strongly encourage all of you in attendance today to please make time for your teams to complete this training together if possible. Module 1, Child Safe Service, and Module 2, Risk Management in a Service, they are already available. And I understand that those links will be made accessible via probably the chat function, or they could be shown on the screen, so please stay with us over this hour. A further module, Reporting for Educators, is also in development phase, so really exciting time. Alright, we are now moving to a Menti, I believe. There we have it. Just to kick us off. So, the instructions with this Menti are you can scan the QR code that you see using your phone, or you can enter the code, I'll just read it out, it might appear very small at your end. 3245 3624. So, you need to enter that code, as you go to, or scan that QR code, we'll just give it a few moments. And then we are interested in, your perspective, on reflecting on your practice. In which areas do you feel you need more practice guidance? We can see those results coming in. And definitely the leading one is ongoing child safe training, so what I just spoke about is really good to hear, that we are delivering exactly that, together with our colleagues in the Office of the Children's Guardian. And also, really good to see that this is something we've been quite aware of as well. How to respond if things aren't quite right. And that is the module currently in development, together with OCG, on reporting for educators. Okay. There is also one further category that was available at your end, and that was a free text category, we won't be showing that, I'm told, but we are going to gather that feedback and that will inform our ongoing work in education and information to our sector. Thank you, so, now I'm going to move to introducing Skye Taylor. Skye Taylor is our guest speaker from the New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian. She is an experienced child safe trainer, aren't we lucky to have her today? And she specifically focuses, in her work, on the early childhood sector, and that's why we've invited Skye today. Thank you, over to you Skye.

Skye Taylor: Good morning everyone, great to see you, lovely to hear that there's lots of people here, I hope you get a lot out of the session with me this morning. I also would like to start this morning by acknowledging the Wangal people, of the Eora nation, who are the traditional owners and custodians of the lands that I live on. I would also like to share this Acknowledgement of Country that was written by our First Nations cadets. I particularly like the first line of the second paragraph, which I would like to read out to you. We pay respects to Elders past and present who continue to walk with us, offering cultural strength, guidance, and knowledge which is passed on to jarjums, to hold for future generations to come. So I think this idea that we are thanking the traditional custodians of the lands for knowledge that's going down to the children that are in our care is a really important thing to pay tribute to as well.[CONTENT WARNING] I'd also like to acknowledge the experience of those who have survived child abuse and are joining us today. The effects of abuse are serious and long lasting, and we really owe it to survivors to prevent future abuse and neglect where possible. So, just a word of warning, we will be covering some content that refers to child abuse, and it could trigger an emotional response to some participants. It is our intention to make this a safe space. So please do take a break or leave if you need to. And if you are triggered by anything that we talk about, please reach out and get support from a trusted colleague or friend, or from one of the professional helplines that you can see on the screen there. So, our agenda for this morning, you can see it there, we're going to think about how a Child Safe Code of Conduct fits within the 10 Standards. I really want to talk about how having a robust Child Safe Code of Conduct prevents abuse in a service. We'll talk a little bit about some positive, unacceptable, concerning, and illegal behaviours, so being able to recognise the difference in those behaviours. We'll also have a look at grooming behaviours because this is something that we recognise as important for everyone to know. And then also our best practice for a Child Safe Code of Conduct. So a reminder that you can put questions in the chat, and if they're not answered immediately, we will be able to answer them post session. And if there's something particular that you'd like to ask the Office of the Children's Guardian, you can always send it through to and I'll have those details for you at the end as well. So the Child Safe Standards provide a framework for making organisations safer for children. And the Standards have been designed to reduce the likelihood of harm and abuse occurring. They're also designed to increase the likelihood of identifying and reporting that harm if we do see it. And then to ensure responses to allegations, disclosures, and suspicions are dealt with appropriately. So firstly, we'd like to have no harm. The reality is there is still harm, so we want to be able to identify it quickly, and make sure that we then deal with it appropriately. And this is what the framework of the Child Safe Standards is all about. The Child Safe Standards came about from the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. And this was set up in 2012 by the ex-Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It was expected only to run for a year or so, but ended up running for five years because so many people came forward with their stories. There were almost 8,000 people, survivors of child sexual abuse, who shared their stories. Those stories were collated, researched, a lot of research was done. And those were collated into 409 recommendations that the Royal Commission made, to help organisations keep children safe. Those 409 recommendations were then collated into the 10 Standards we have today. So it's really important to be aware that the 10 Standards are based on those private sessions and stories and letters that survivors gave to the Royal Commission. Some of the really important pieces of work that came out of that was the importance of having a public commitment to child safety. So having a public commitment to child safety means that you let your communities and people further afield know that your organisation is a child safe organisation. We also recognised from the Royal Commission the research done, that child safety is a shared responsibility. So it's something that government agencies, as well as services, as well as families and communities need to know about. Another important point that came out was risk management, so the need to be on board with having good risk management plans that really look at child safety as the key. Clear behavioural standards towards children, and so this is one of the key messages that came out in the Standards, and is in Standard 1. And this is what we're going to be concentrating on today. That staff understand and comply with a Child Safe Code of Conduct that sets clear behavioural standards towards when interacting with children. And finally, there's also the the important point that staff understand their obligations in reporting, sharing information, and keeping records. So an interesting quote from Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald who was on the Royal Commission. "We can have all the policies and procedures in the world, but if we don't have the right culture, we will fail." So it's all well and good to have lots of policies up on a shelf, but really, that's not going to help us keep children safe, we need to have a child safe culture. And a really important key in that child safe culture is making sure that we have a robust Child Safe Code of Conduct. So the recommendation for the Child Safe Standards was made by the Royal Commission, and the code of conduct with particular focus on child safety plays a really important part in establishing an organisation's child safe culture. And we can see that having a robust Child Safe Code of Conduct weaves its way through all the 10 Standards. Starting with Standard 1, which I have mentioned a little bit about already, Standard 1 states that child safety is embedded in leadership, governance, and culture. And so, staff need to be able to understand and comply with those Child Safe Codes of Conduct that set those clear standards of behaviour. We can also see, in Standard 3, which is families and communities are informed and involved, that the Child Safe Code of Conduct and child safe policies and procedures need to be accessible to families and communities. And this is really important in holding people accountable, in making sure that your Child Safe Code of Conduct is available for everyone to see. Standard 5 talks about people working with children being suitable and supported, and the supervision of workers includes a regular review to check that they are following those Child Safe Codes of Conduct. We can also see the code of conduct weaving through 6, 8, and 10. And Standard 6 is that processes respond to complaints of child abuse are child focused. So leaders need to clearly explain that breaches of the code of conduct will result in disciplinary action, and codes of conduct clearly describe the appropriate and inappropriate or acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. Standard 8, we talk about environments, both physical and online environments, and the need to minimise opportunities for abuse to occur. So the online environment really needs to be thought of, and needs to be considered when we're developing a code of conduct, and relevant policies, and again, we need clear expectations in that code of conduct about online as well as physical environments. And then Standard 10, of course, is our policies and procedures documenting how the organisation is child safe. So having your Child Safe Code of Conduct and having that documented well and available for your community to see, shows that. So, that was a very quick wrap up of how we can see the Child Safe Code of Conduct being an important part of the Standards. And the Children's Guardian Act legislation also requires that you have a code of conduct. So the Children's Guardian Act legislation describes the types of policies that heads of organisations need to have, to show or demonstrate their commitment to being child safe. So you can see on the slide there that they can demonstrate their commitment by having a Child Safe Commitment Statement, Child Safe Policy, Child Safe Code of Conduct, Management Policy, Human Resources Policy, and Risk Management Plan. It's possible that you have these documents and they're not named exactly like that, but the research shows that if an organisation has these documents or very similar documents, then they have a commitment to child safety. It's also an existing requirement under the National Quality Framework for all services to have a code of conduct for staff, and that's Regulation 168(2)(i). So we can see that both the Child Safe Standards and the National Quality Framework in this case have a very clear message, that you must have a code of conduct for your staff. So, now I want to talk a little bit about the purpose of having a Child Safe Code of Conduct, and how it can prevent abuse, how having one can help children be safer. So having clear rules and expectations of how adults are expected to interact with children, it does work to prevent child abuse, and it encourages reporting of any behaviours that aren't expected. It creates positive expectations for behaviour of all the adults in your organisation. So when we set clear expectations around interactions, then it makes it much easier to hold people accountable if their behaviour is not appropriate or expected. It also encourages both adults and children to identify and raise concerns. And a Child Safe Code of Conduct can encourage a culture of reporting, including low-level breaches, or breaches where there's only a suspicion that a child is at risk, so it may not be a criminal matter, but a pattern of low-level breaches might indicate that that person is not suitable to work with children. And your Child Safe Code of Conduct can also assist in establishing that culture of a duty of care. So when we're thinking about our code of conduct, we need to think about what rules we want to spell out to prevent or minimise unwanted behaviours. And so we want to think about positive behaviours, unacceptable behaviours, concerning behaviours, and illegal behaviours. So for example, you might have physical contact with children. So we can think about how the code of conduct can address this behaviour. So for example, you might have a rule that says a child at afterschool care can only be picked up and carried if they're injured, not just piggy-backed around for fun. Another example of a rule that you could have in your code of conduct could be about the use of personal devices, and it's really important that there are clear rules at your service for all staff members. A third one could be travelling alone with a child, so, if this happens for your service, if you have a family day care that someone delivers the children to your service and takes them home again, then you'll have to have rules about dropping those children home, and what happens for the last child that's returned home, for example. Another aspect to contemplate in your Child Safe Code of Conduct is out of hours work or secondary employment. So do you have rules in place for educators who babysit on weekends, for example? Another one is technology and social media. So things like, maybe you've got a smart board at your service in the preschoolers room. So, what things do we need in the code of conduct to remind us that that smart board can only be used in certain situations and only used with the safety measures or the safety controls in place. Alcohol, drugs, and pornography. So again, we will need rules, clear rules, for example, about cigarette smoking or vaping on the premises, it's unacceptable behaviour on the premises, but what are the clear rules about where it can happen? Gifts and benefits. The need to declare gifts received, for example, could be something that's included in your code of conduct. And the final example here is criminal behaviour, so, in your code of conduct it needs to be really clear what the process is that's required if there was criminal behaviour to happen. So in thinking about our code of conduct, we do need to think about the different kinds of behaviour, and positive behaviour is the easiest one to think about. Positive behaviours are those that meet the legal requirements, and reaffirm the values of the organisation. The next one is concerning behaviours, and concerning behaviours can be a red flag that a person is testing boundaries, or testing to see what they can get away with. The behaviour would be not in line with the organisation's commitment to child safety. And it would be in contrast to the values of the service. Can be an indicator that the individual doesn't have child safety as their paramount consideration. But those concerning behaviours might not necessarily breach the code of conduct, they just might be kind of close to a breach. And so they're something that should be addressed in the regular supervision that takes place with the educator or the staff member. Unacceptable behaviours. These include breaches of your Child Safe Code of Conduct that would require disciplinary action. And they're probably specifically mentioned in your Child Safe Code of Conduct. And this kind of behaviour would pose an increased harm to children. And we can think about different behaviours, for example, maybe physical abuse. So maybe it's not a criminal incident, but something, for example, like a push that doesn't result in physical harm. So in the code of conduct, it's very clear that even if the child's not harmed, you still are not allowed to push a child. In the category of sexual misconduct, something like sexualised jokes or conversations about sexualised themes would be something that would be breached, and that you would have in your code of conduct as behaviours that are inappropriate or unacceptable. Neglect. This is an interesting category to think about, because, it might not be a criminal charge or it might not be something that requires a lot of disciplinary action, but something like not letting a child wear a hat on a hot day, and if that child's asking to wear their hat or they've forgotten their hat and they need to borrow one, then that could be considered a breach of your code of conduct, that you didn't look after the child well enough by providing the hat, for example. And let me just let everybody know that these are just examples that I came up with my team. Ill treatment could be something like locking a child in a storeroom unintentionally, so just not realising that you'd left a child in the storeroom for five minutes. This could be considered something that would need to have action, action would need to be taken as it was a breach of the code of conduct. The final two categories we have are grooming. So even with no intention to groom, some of the behaviours that we'll look at soon in a video about grooming. They could be breaches of the code of conduct such as giving a gift to just one child. And the final one in the thinking about different categories of behaviour that could be in the code of conduct that would require disciplinary action if they occurred, is failure to prevent or report abuse. So this might be, for an example that we thought of, was, a colleague has an angry outburst, but because we trust and know the colleague, we minimise it and we don't report it. And that could be considered a failure to prevent or report abuse. The final category here is illegal behaviour, and illegal behaviours are obviously detrimental to the short-term and long-term health of a child. And they must be reported to the appropriate authorities, for example, the police, and/or the Department of Community Justice, and then the other regulatory bodies that oversight your industry. So, I want to now look at a scenario, and to think about the behaviours that can be identified in this scenario that we will then think about how we could prevent them, with a robust Child Safe Code of Conduct. So, in this example we have, and this has come from the Royal Commission. Scott came home from his OOSH service and said to his mum, "We went on the bus to the playground. "I sat on the casual educator's lap, and we played tickling." The casual educator was a man in his 20s who often babysat for families of the service. Scott's mum reported her concern to an educator at the service the next day, but they were unable to tell her what would happen. So, as we're a really big group and not as interactive as we could be, I'll just let you think about what kind of behaviours you would identify there that you would be concerned about. I'll let you know a few that we came up with. Unacceptable physical touching, the tickling could be considered to be a breach of the code of conduct. Extending relationships outside of his role. So when educators are babysitting, it's a private relationship, and that might change the relationship at the service, they could form a special relationship and it could look like grooming, even if it's not. And in this case as well, that the educator didn't know the reporting process, the staff weren't able to tell Scott's mum what could happen next. Think about what we could have in the code of conduct that might prevent these behaviours from happening. So good codes of conduct. So let's have a look at the best practice for codes of conduct. A good code of conduct will always get input, you will get input and you will consult with your stakeholders. And so that will be your staff members, but also your family, and families and communities. And be sure to use age appropriate language and culturally appropriate language, so, a code of conduct can also be appropriate for children to read. So you might have two codes of conduct, one for staff, one for children, or one for staff that's simplified for children to read. Important to use clear language and simple language, a code of conduct needs to be understood by people within the organisation, who it refers to, but also people outside of the organisation, the parents and carers who might need to read it and consider behaviours and situations that occur. It's great to use “I will” and “I will not” statements to have those clear messages. Also important to ensure that your stakeholders understand and sign the code of conduct, so staff members should be introduced to your code of conduct in induction, it's really important that there's time put aside for people to read through it, understand all the details. And it's something that shouldn't just be signed once and put away and forgotten about. But that staff members are able to look at it on an ongoing basis, maybe in a performance review every year, maybe in a team meeting, reminding each other of the importance of the behaviours that they will and will not do within a service. Providing ongoing communication to make sure they're used, so as I said, making sure that it's in use, it's not just shelved. Explaining the code of conduct to children and young people in age-appropriate ways is best practice for your code of conduct. It's really useful for the children to know the kind of behaviours that are acceptable and unacceptable and be able to hold the staff accountable. And finally, review, always important to review. If there's an incident, you might need to go back and say, "Well why wasn't this behaviour in our code of conduct?" "Why didn't we highlight that it was necessary to not do this”, "or what breach did we have against it?" So when an incident happens, it's always a good time to review. And if you don't have any incidences then every year is a great idea. So I want to have a look at some examples of how we can write these “I will” and “I will not” statements. Of course they need to be relevant for your setting and the staff that you work with. So, for a family day care service, a statement might be quite different to a long day care service for example. So these are some examples of “I will not” statements, that could be included in your Child Safe Code of Conduct, so, "I will not continue a relationship with children outside the role.” "I will not be alone with a child unnecessarily.” "I will not show unacceptable physical affection." And "I will not ignore or disregard any suspected or disclosed child harm or abuse." So as we can see, the second point here might not be helpful to have in your code of conduct if you're a family day care educator as you often work alone. But the Child Safe Code of Conduct may pay more attention to the interactions with children that you have, as you work alone with them. And now we'll have a look at some “I will” statements, so these statements are useful to have in your code of conduct. "I will seek consent from the child before assisting with toileting.” "I will consider and respect the diverse backgrounds, and needs of children.” "I will comply with my service's protocols on communicating." And "I will ensure personal conversations with children "are done in a transparent way." So these are just some examples of great sentences you could have in your code of conduct. Another thing that's sometimes included in codes of conduct is that, "If I think that another person in the organisation has breached the code of conduct, I will act to prioritise the best interests of the child,I'll take actions to ensure the children are safe, and then I will report any concerns," and that's often included in them as well. So when we go back to this scenario, and as I said this was a situation that was reported on in the Royal Commission, we can think about how having a robust code of conduct, Child Safe Code of Conduct, may have prevented some of the harm that happened here. And so some of the statements that we could have in the code of conduct, and of course that code of conduct would need to have been reviewed often, consulted on, and the staff member, the casual educator would've needed to have been trained up on the code of conduct. We can see that examples such as "I will not touch children unless assisting them on play equipment, or to keep them safe.” "I will not allow children to sit on my lap unless they instigate it,and then only briefly before asking them to sit beside me." These are good examples of “I will not” statements that may have prevented some of this behaviour. And then “I will” statements could be things like: "I will be sure to know how all the reporting processes work for my service, and I will inform my management about any babysitting, and inform the family that it's a private arrangement." So that's just some ideas to help you think about what you could include in your Child Safe Code of Conduct. Next, we're going to move on to grooming. And grooming is recognised as a complex, commonly incremental process that can involve three main stages. And that can be gaining access to the victim, initiating and maintaining the abuse, and then concealing the abuse. Potential victims of child sexual abuse are not the only targets of grooming techniques. Grooming can target those involved in gaining access to the children's life, so that can be the parents, the caregivers, and then also colleagues and other staff at a service. Grooming does not inevitably lead to child sexual abuse, and also child sexual abuse can happen without grooming. So, it's important that we're aware of grooming, and that we pay attention to the possibility of it. You might see grooming behaviours in your service, and they may actually be covering up child sexual abuse that has occurred or is occurring. Or grooming might be the very first step towards it. So, this is why having a code of conduct that restricts behaviour such as gift giving and babysitting, these things are often restricted by the code of conduct because they are behaviours that are known to be used by perpetrators, to gain access to children to harm them. So we're going to watch a video now about grooming. And it goes for about three minutes, so you can have a rest from my voice.

Video: [Instructor] Grooming is the manipulation of children in physical spaces like a sports ground, religious setting, classroom, or performance space, and in online environments, such as social media, email, and text. Grooming is a process of manipulation that prepares a child to be abused and tests their likely response. Perpetrators work to convince the child not to say anything. While children are most likely to be groomed, abusers will also target protective adults, families, and even entire organisations, in order to get unsupervised access to a child or young person. When grooming a child, abusers seek to build a sense of trust, despite intending to later betray this trust. They will test the child's ability to keep secrets and may use threats of violence against them or people they love. They may contact the child on their personal device, where their conversations are less likely to be monitored. Engaging the child in private messaging can lead to the adult sharing inappropriate conversations, photos, or videos. They may give the child gifts, or preferential treatment, to establish what appears to the child to be a special relationship. They may encourage the child to meet with them outside the organisation, or in areas where they can't be seen. Grooming can also include testing the child's tolerance for inappropriate touching, with the intention of normalising this kind of contact. They may try to isolate the child from their peers, or the caring adults in the child's life, so they feel dependent on the abuser. They may encourage breaking rules, or blame the child for their inappropriate actions, so the child becomes reluctant to tell anyone what they have been doing. This can include supplying cigarettes, alcohol, or pornographic material, in an attempt to reduce the child's inhibitions to the abuse. The intention is always the same: to remove the child from the supervision of caring or protective adults and make them less likely to report abuse. This testing and manipulating can extend to their adult colleagues. Perpetrators want to know how much they can get away with. They may appear to be a nice or caring person who goes that extra mile. Often this is so there's less chance their illegal activities will be uncovered. They may try and convince a parent or carer that they are vital to the child's success. They may use this as motivation to encourage the parent to provide unsupervised access, or to interact with the child in ways that would not normally be considered appropriate. They may encourage the parent to allow the child to stay overnight with them or receive extra training, rehearsals, or remedial treatment, without adult supervision. Perpetrators may work to build the trust of other adults, so that they can convince the child that even if they told, no one would believe them. Reducing opportunities for grooming starts with your organisation's culture. How do you ensure that everyone, including employees, volunteers, parents, children, and young people, know what appropriate behaviour looks like? What rules are in place? Does everyone in your organisation know who to report it to if they witness inappropriate behaviour? Having a clear code of conduct, a child safe policy, and trained people who know how to respond to and report incidents, even if they appear insignificant, will help you create a culture where abuse is minimised and children are valued.

Skye Taylor: Okay, so I hope everyone found that useful. It is a very important topic, and that video can be found on YouTube, it's in the list of YouTube training videos that is in the handout or the PDF page that everyone should have, and you can Google it as well. So a really good video to share with your team, if you need to have further discussions about grooming, which is something that everyone should be thinking about and be aware of. So, as I said before, the grooming behaviours can be somewhat identified and reduced, by having a robust Child Safe Code of Conduct, so, the implementation of the code of conduct at your service is really essential. And so in summary, your code of conduct needs to be signed by all staff, and steps need to be taken to ensure that it's been understood. So if you have a long, complicated code of conduct, it will not be as easily understood as if you have something that's clear, and that your staff have been consulted on and helped to produce. The code of conduct needs to be clearly communicated to parents and carers, and made publicly available, so that staff members can be held accountable by parents and carers as well. Supervision of workers and staff in your services needs to include a regular review, to check that staff are actually following the code of conduct, so, having a code of conduct that states they won't do something, but everyone is doing it, is not going to work, is not going to be a useful code of conduct, so you need your code of conduct to be continuously reviewed and improved, and you need to make sure you have ongoing training about it for staff. Of course, your induction package should include your Child Safe Code of Conduct and training to support that. And leaders need to explain clearly about breaches of the code of conduct, and what kind of disciplinary action will take place if a breach occurs. And it's a good idea to keep records of your code of conduct training. So if you are responsible for multiple services, one size fits all Child Safe Code of Conduct is not really appropriate. You do need to think about each service and the individual context of those services. Even within long day care services, for example, one's code of conduct could be quite different from another's code of conduct, depending on the makeup of the staff in the service, and the physicality of the rooms at the service. So it's something that needs to be adapted and tailor made for each service. Here is an example of a code of conduct, or a template of a code of conduct. This can be found on our website, and I believe Caryn, my colleague, will be putting it in the chat now. There are lots of other templates available. And if you do adopt a Child Safe Code of Conduct from another state, because we know that there are many good ones from Victoria as well, it is very obvious to the OCG if the legislation is not the New South Wales Children's Guardian Act. So make sure that you change that, make sure that it is relevant for your service, make sure it's customised to your service. As I said, the difference between family day care and after school hours care is huge, you can see that. But even between two centre-based services, the code of conduct could be quite different to reflect the different environments the different staff make up. Starting with the OCG template does make it a bit easier for you, because it does have all those relevant references and legislation. An effective code of conduct is really an important element to keeping children safe at your service, and it is a part of a suite of documents and a suite of processes that will keep children safe at your service. The Working with Children Check is another important element, and we would like to remind services that the Working with Children Check application number is not enough. Educators must have clearance and must have their Working with Children Check number to work in services. And again, my colleague Caryn, my manager Caryn, will be dropping a link in the chat which you can click on to find out how to verify Working with Children Checks and to make sure you keep your details up to date so that you will get notified if there are any changes. Here we can see the appendix, which you can also find in the Child Safe Code of Conduct Handbook. And this goes through the behaviours that constitute child abuse, so, if you are struggling to think of what behaviours, I did give some examples while we've been on this session, but this is a great list of kind of typical behaviours that you can think of, that you need to include in your code of conduct to avoid. And as you can see, it says it's on pages 27, 28, and 29 of our handbook. These are some of the other resources that I'd like to share with you, all these resources are free and on our website, most of them also have a workshop or a webinar that you can attend, and you can send along your staff, you can come along yourself, so, the, the codes of conduct, the boy blowing the bubbles, that's the one that I have been referring to today and has the appendix of the behaviours, concerning behaviours, and that kind of thing. We also have the risk management handbooks there, and a webinar you can attend about that, the Empowerment and Participation Guide is great to learn more about how to hear the children's voices. We only do that as a workshop, a face-to-face workshop. And then the reporting obligations is our newest webinar at the moment, and we're working on the child safe recruitment one. So all of these handbooks and webinars are available for you and your staff. The YouTube training videos are also very useful, you can see the grooming one there in the bottom corner, that's what we watched today. You can find these if you search YouTube, if you search New South Wales OCG, there are many videos that introduce the Standards that could be used in team meetings if you have new staff who aren't aware of what the Standards are and the meaning of them. And then ECE-specific learning, which Yasmina mentioned in the introduction. These are the modules that have been devised, especially in three pathways, so we have centre-based, family day care, and after school care, or after school, out of school hours care. And at the moment there are 2 modules available, the third one will be coming very soon. And then we will have modules 4, 5, and 6 which leaders will be able to use. Also, a quick plug for our Child Safe Self-Assessment tool. Again, you can find this on our website, it helps you go through and do a little self-assessment of your service, how you're going with the 10 Standards. Maybe put aside half an hour, fill it out, and then you get back a report that grades how you're going for each standard, and gives you some tips about how to improve on the ones that are most needed. Very happy to take questions, I can't see them at the moment, but, maybe Caryn has answered some, or you can email us at Thank you everyone for your time, and I will put the next slide on for you, Yasmina.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thank you Skye. Wow, that was a brilliant session, if I can say, Skye, and I can see from the questions that were coming through in the chat that our audience, they were thinking deeply about this important topic, and that's so good to see, because we all share a collective zero tolerance position on harm or abuse to children while they are in an ECEC setting. And Skye, I also like that you reminded the group of the Working with Children Check and the requirement to have that clearance, and I noticed quite a lot of questions coming through just in the last minute or so on that topic, so, thank you. Thank you to all of you, I think at the peak we reached just over 380 attendees, which is fantastic. We've covered a lot of territory, I hope you've come away with some new tips, new knowledge, new information, that perhaps you didn't know about or weren't so clear about, some strategies that you can take away and implement in your daily practice. It's been great to have you, thank you so much to our colleagues in the Office of the Children's Guardian. Thank you to the team in-house in the ECEC Regulatory Authority that helped put this session together for us today. This brings us to an end. Thank you so much, goodbye, and enjoy the rest of your day.

[All resources mentioned are available below.]

An overview of new requirements for the safe arrival of children travelling between services, with practical examples and case studies.

Louisa Coussens: I think I am going to make a start. So, I can see the number's still climbing. But out of respect for your diaries today, let's make a start. So, thank you so much again for joining us today. My name is Louisa Coussens. I manage a team called the Quality Practise and Regulatory Support Team here at the New South Wales Early Childhood Education and Care Regulatory Authority. And we are speaking to you today about new regulatory requirements around the safe arrival of children who travel between services.

I'd like to start today's session by acknowledging the traditional custodians of all the lands on which we work, live, and come together today. I'm on the lands of the Burramattagal clan of the Darug nation. I pay my respect to their elders, past and present as well as to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with us today.

For millennia Indigenous communities have lived in harmony with and thoughtfully cared for the land and each other with practises deeply rooted in spiritual and community connection. Today, we gather, inspired by this wisdom, recognising the importance of children arriving safely to early childhood services and the myriad ways in which this can occur. This commitment to child safety unites us all to walk in hand with our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Some housekeeping, the microphone and camera functions are disabled during the presentation. Questions can be submitted via the Q&A function. We'll answer as many as we can during the session. Inevitably, there will be some questions that we won't be able to get to today, but please do keep them coming in. Any that we don't manage to answer during the session will be addressed post session through further guidance. And the questions that we receive will help us in the Regulatory Authority to plan and structure our advice and support for you.

As always, the information that we are sharing in today's session is broad intentionally, so that it's as useful for as many participants as possible. If you have any questions specific to your service, please contact our information and inquiries team either by email or phone. We'll share their details at the end of the presentation in case you need them.

We understand, as I said at the beginning, how busy you all are and really do appreciate how critical it is and important it is that you are giving up your time to be with us today, and it's taking you away from other critical functions. So, in recognition of that, we do record these sessions, so that you can share the session and the information that we are presenting today in your service with your colleagues who aren't able to be with us.

And so, we'll record and we hope to be able to share that with you in the coming weeks. Once the presentation is finished, you'll be sent a survey. So, please could you take a few minutes to complete that survey, so that we can continue to develop content that meets your needs. We'll also be using Menti today, so have your phones ready. I'm delighted to be able to hand over to my director, Yasmina, who's going to kick off today's session by framing the theme for us. Thank you, Yas.

Yasmina Kovacevic: Thanks, Louisa. Hi, everyone. And it is so exciting to see those numbers climb. I'd also like to acknowledge that we are coming to you from Aboriginal land. And I'd like to also extend my respects to elder's past, present and emerging. And also, welcome any Aboriginal colleagues, educators, providers that might be on this call today.

Well, we have a very, I will say, interactive, exciting session. You will notice as we go through the next hour that we're continuously enhancing what we bring you and how we bring you information. You'll notice a greater use of example scenarios because you've spoken, and we've listened to better help you put the regulations into practise.

We all have this collective shared focus on keeping children safe. We don't want to see serious incidents or those at the extreme end of harm as a result of poor practise. This has wide-ranging consequences as we all know, firstly on the child, their family, but also on services on all of you, educators, providers, service leaders.

The session will help build and further elevate your understanding. It'll give you the tools to apply and practise. It'll enhance what you're already doing around safe arrival of children travelling between services. As always, we have been producing guidance and developing resources that are free of charge to the sector.

Next slide. Thanks. Thank you. So, you may be thinking why are we talking about this topic now. Why today? Well, in October last year, amendments to the regulations were made as part of the National Quality Framework Review, the big review that occurred from 2019 forward, and there's some distinct regulations that were introduced to ensure the safe arrival of children.

As with most changes in regulation, this change was also informed by levels of risk that were not adequately controlled around children moving between service settings. So, this change, this new regulatory change will better support all of you in your respective roles. I should now also mention at this point, ACECQA have developed a safe arrival of children information sheet and a safe arrival of children policy, guideline resource. And the links to these resources, including the location of where you can find them, I'm hoping this will happen magically, will be posted in the chat for you today.

So, the intent of these regulatory changes is really in the name safe arrival of children. It's in place to ensure, as Louisa said earlier, the myriad of ways in which children may arrive at a service are considered, risk is assessed and controlled procedures are implemented, if a child doesn't arrive as expected. There indeed is a heightened risk to safety and wellbeing of children during times of transition between services and the requirement for a safe arrival of children risk assessment, procedure and policy is now enforced. And indeed, it does apply to any situation where children travel between services.

But what do we mean by services? As per the definition on the screen, travel between services, interestingly, the definition of service is slightly different for the purpose of this regulation and for good reason. So, you can see on the screen those four categories that fall into the definition under this Regulation 102AA.These are schools, so government or non-government schools, an education and care service, a children's service, which could be something like a tutoring service or a school run robotics club or any other service which provides education or care to children.

So, although it's impossible today and possibly ever to list every single possible scenario in which this regulation is applicable, some of the more common situations are, for instance, where children attend an outside school hours care service, directly after school. They may commonly, as we know, walk across the school to an onsite OSHC service or possibly use a school or public bus to travel to an offsite OSHC.

Some children may be in the care of, for example, an NDIS provider in the morning and they are then transported an LDC service by that NDIS provider. These are all real-life scenarios. I'm sure you're thinking of how these examples apply to you. So, all of these instances are where a child travels between one of those four listed categories and an ECEC service.

So, the service should have a safe arrival of children policy and a procedure in place that is informed by risk assessment relevant to your services context and your services environment because every service context as we know will be different. If your service doesn't have children travelling from one service type to the other as per this regulation, this particular regulation does not apply.

However, there's a caution here. It is best practise to consider how children arriving at your service, how are they arriving at your service rather and implement appropriate strategies for what to do if a child doesn't arrive as you'd expect. And some quick examples of how you do that, when to call parents if a child hasn't arrived and there has been no notification of their absence. In most cases, this is going to be usually because someone forgot to let you know from the family. But what if the child was left behind in a vehicle as an example?

So, your processes and your implemented procedures can make a huge difference in supporting the safety of children. Your procedure that requires you to call a parent with specific roles accountable for actioning the contact and the timeframes in which you complete that contact, they will make the crucial difference to a child's safety and isn't that what we all want?

So, I'll stop there. I'll encourage you to stay with us for this next hour. Do ask questions as per Louisa's prompts earlier, using those menu options on your screen and enjoy the presentation. Let me hand back to Louisa now, who'll take you through some fantastic case study examples. Thank you.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you, Yas. So, what are the regulations related to the safe arrival of children? We have them up on the slide for you there, and I'll talk quickly through them. First, having a safe arrival of children policy has been added as a requirement under Regulation 168, which as you would probably know is where all of the policies that we are required to have at our services are listed.

Specifically, in this case, we are looking at sub-regulation (2) (gb). Second, having a procedure to go along with this policy is a requirement under Regulation 102AAB. As part of this regulation, providers must ensure that parents, educators, and children where possible are consulted as part of the development of these policies and procedures.

Third, Regulation 102AAC, requires the development of a risk assessment to inform the policy and procedures, and sets out considerations that must be made as part of this process. This risk assessment should be conducted at least once every 12 months, and at any time when circumstances change, that could affect any risk involved in children travelling between services.

Some services have asked us if they need to have a risk assessment for the safe arrival of children, and for the transportation of children. If you work at or operate a service that provides or arranges transportation of children, then the answer is, yes. In order to meet the requirements of Regulation 168, both of these policies and associated procedures need to be in place.

You might find some mirroring of elements in the risk assessment and procedures across these two required policies. But it's important that the safe arrival of children documents incorporate all of the ways in which children arrive at your service.

So, to put these regulations into practise, let's take a look at some common scenarios and situations that services often encounter as part of their operations. I'd like to introduce Penelope Stone to you now. Penelope is an experienced officer who's going to join me in discussing some of the practises that many of you may be familiar with. Hi, Penelope.

Penelope Stone: Hi, everyone. Lovely to be here and join you all. I would just like to say to acknowledge that I'm coming from the lands of the Dharawal nation today. I pay my respects to the elder's past and present from the Dharawal nation, and also to those from the lands that you all join us from today.

Louisa Coussens: Thanks Penelope. So, let's have a look at these scenarios and although the scenarios we're discussing today are set in a particular service type, many of the practises that you'll hear about are certainly transferable across all service types. In our first scenario today, a family daycare educator provides afterschool care for four children from a local primary school. These children board a public bus right outside their school, and the educator meets them at the bus stop closest to her house.

On this particular day, only three of the children get off the bus. The educator asks the bus driver if there are more children on board, to which he replies, no. The educator then asks the children, if Harry was at school today, they say they don't know. The educator immediately calls the missing child's parent from her mobile phone to confirm the child's planned attendance on that afternoon.

Following this, the educator calls the primary school. There's no answer from the school office presumably because it's after hours. The educator then calls the bus company explaining the situation and asking that contact be made with the driver of the bus that has now departed. The bus company radios the bus driver and sure enough, the child is located unharmed at the back of the bus, fast asleep.

The parents are informed and they meet the bus at the depot to collect the child. Now, we're not discussing this part today, but the educator does then go on to make all the required notifications to the Regulatory Authority.

Well, thank goodness, Penelope, the child was found unharmed. However, there are a few things that could have been in place perhaps to strengthen safety around the safe arrival of children to this family daycare service. Penelope, first of all, what's your impression of how the educator in this scenario handled the situation?

Penelope Stone: Louisa I think the educator responded quite well with the sequence of phone calls as soon as she realised that a child was missing. Although, completing a vehicle check, and a physical bus check to look for the child may have been more effective in locating the child quickly in this scenario. But perhaps, having a conversation with the bus company as part of the safe arrival of children risk assessment process could establish an agreed upon strategy where the educator is permitted to enter the bus briefly to conduct a vehicle check when or if an expected child has not arrived at the drop-off location. At the very least, at least a consultation with the bus company will alert them to the presence of unaccompanied children who will regularly use that bus.

Louisa Coussens: Okay, and a safe arrival of children risk assessment would likely have included this exact risk of a child not arriving at the drop-off location. Do you think there could have been other strategies considered to strengthen the risk management procedures in this case?

Penelope Stone: Absolutely. There's always room for improvement. One of the key contacts for this scenario would be the primary school where the children attend. So, the educator had the school number, but the office was closed, so there was no way for her to confirm if the child was at school that day.

And although, it's not uncommon that school offices will generally only operate throughout school hours, but consultation with the school as part of the risk assessment development may offer an opportunity to establish a supervised embarking point or possibly an emergency contact number for after hours. But being able to establish if a child was at school or had boarded a bus can be crucial information to have when locating a missing child.

I'd also suggest the educator immediately notifies the family daycare service and utilises the support mechanisms within their organisation to assist. So, a coordinator or nominated supervisor of the service should be able to offer assistance and guidance according to their service policy.

Louisa Coussens: Great. And what next? What should the educator do now?

Penelope Stone: Now that we know that the child is safe, and the parents have been reassured and supported, the educator should make or pass on all the required documentation, so that the required notifications can be made through NQAITS. The service should review the safe arrival of children policy, procedures and risk assessment to identify the gaps that were apparent throughout this scenario. And then, possibly put some strategies or strategies should be put in place to help close those gaps and strengthen the practise.

This will likely involve consultation with the school and the bus company, with the developed strategies being added to the risk assessment. The aim is to ensure that all children arrive safely to the family daycare service. And that if on an occasion that they don't, there's an effective plan for how to manage that. So, overall, the educator did well to locate the child. However, with some strength and risk strategies and procedures in place, it could have been avoided.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you. This second scenario takes place in a long daycare service, but other service types may well have similar situations occurring. So, you can think about how this scenario could apply to your context as well. So, here we have a rural long daycare service that provides care for 38 children aged from birth to 6. One of the families has a 5-year-old child who's being supported to participate in the education and care programme through an NDIS assisted travel arrangement.

The travel is organised by the family and the NDIS service provider. The child, Karu, is picked up at their home and transported to the service in a car by a familiar person. One day, a relieving driver unexpectedly comes to collect Karu, and Karu does not want to transition into the car with the unknown driver. The travel organisation has met their requirements to ensure that the relieving driver has a working with children check and first aid qualifications.

The driver spends some time with the family, and Karu, eventually, transitions into the car. But they leave much later than usual. Karu's parent then goes to work on the farm. At 8:30 AM, an educator realises that Karu usually arrives at this time and they move to support them to transition from the car into the service using the strategies in Karu's inclusion support plan. At 8:40 AM, the educator becomes concerned that transport has not yet arrived, and they contact the parent immediately to confirm if Karu left home as planned. The parent is not contactable due to working on the farm.

So, the educator then checks the local traffic information to determine if there were any accidents or any other reasons that the transport may have been delayed, but finds no reason for the delay. The educator then attempts to contact the other parent, and an authorised nominee to try and get further information. But again, is unable to make contact.

The educator raises the lack of contact with their nominated supervisor who explains that they will first contact the travel organisation. But if they're unable to find out any information on Karu's whereabouts, and there is no further response from family or authorised nominees, the next step may be to contact the police.

The nominated supervisor contacts the travel organisation, and they are able to advise that an alternative driver was sent that morning to pick up Karu. The parent then also returns the call and advises the educator that Karu is on their way to the service, but that their departure was delayed. They appreciate the contact and ask that the service let them know when Karu arrives because they may be unsettled.

The transport driver arrives and Karu is supported to transition into the service. The educator follows up with the family and gives them an update on how Karu has settled in.

It's great to see that this service has some clear strategies to support this child in their transitions. However, there are a few things that could have been in place to strengthen safety around the safe arrival of children to this long daycare service. Penelope, what do you think are some of the strengths with how this service responded to this scenario?

Penelope Stone: Well, the educator responded really well with being prepared to support the child to transition into the service and making phone calls as soon as they realised Karu had not arrived. Escalating this to the nominated supervisor also meant that the educator was able to support other children at the service while the nominated supervisor followed through on the procedure for children who do not arrive to the service.

So, in the development of the safe arrival risk assessment, having a conversation with the transport organisation could establish an agreed upon strategy for when a relieving driver is sent to collect children based on the individual needs and what the potential impact of this may be.

In addition, it's important to establish protocols to decide what are the key trigger points for escalation to emergency services in the event of a child who is not able to be located, and authorised nominees are not contactable or able to provide information. Having this in your policy will support families understanding of your procedure and the role that they play in it.

Louisa Coussens: So, as we mentioned previously after a situation like this, evaluating the responses and the effectiveness of your risk management procedures as part of a review of the safe arrival of children policy and risk assessment is essential.

Penelope Stone: Absolutely. Evaluating what occurred and how educators and the service as a whole responded, supports the wellbeing of staff, children, and families. Reflecting on policy and procedures enables your service to improve upon risk management strategies with an aim of continuous improvement.

In this scenario, the service should consider their staffing decisions and rostering to ensure educators are aware of their roles and responsibilities. If children are being supported and transitioned into the service via ways that are captured in a safe arrival of children risk assessment, clear rostering and responsibility delegation will support adequate supervision and communication channels if a child does not arrive as planned.

Another key consideration in this situation is the context of the service and being in a rural setting. This can make contacting relevant people challenging if they work in places where mobile reception is limited or if the attempts of contact may pose an additional risk such as contacting the driver whilst in transit. As part of your risk management process, a risk benefit analysis may need to inform your decision-making and risk strategy implementation.

Louisa Coussens: Lots to think about there, Penelope. Thank you.

Penelope Stone: So much.

Louisa Coussens: So much, really rich stuff there in this scenario. So, how can the service follow up from this to support families and children?

Penelope Stone: The nominated supervisor and their team of educators should first consider if the situation is one that requires notification through NQAITS, yes. So, we have spoken about those notifications before. They should review the safe arrival of children policy, procedures and risk assessment to identify the additional strategies they can put in place and communicate any of these additional strategies or changes to families.

They may want to talk to the family and inclusion support team for Karu to see if through collaboration, there may be additional strategies that can be put in place to support that individual child's safe arrival.

Louisa Coussens: Fabulous. Thank you. All right. I think this scenario is going to probably be of interest to lots of people joining us today. This scenario takes place in an outside school hours' care service, and considers a few different risks that you may come across in your day-to-day practise.

So, a large outside school hours care service provides care for 168 children aged 5 to 12, and it's located on the site of the local school. There's a dedicated OSHC room at the back of the school near the oval. Children arrive to the OSHC room through a separate entrance to the school in the morning. In the afternoon, educators collect children at two points near the classrooms before walking across the oval to the other end of the school premises where the OSHC room is located.

The whole transition process takes around 10 to 15 minutes. There are several children who attend the service with medical conditions such as asthma and anaphylaxis. In the afternoon, an educator goes to collect the infant's children from near the kindergarten classrooms. They bring a first aid kit with them, including children's medications for children who are attending that day.

When all the children have arrived at the collection point, the educator conducts a roll call to ensure all the children who are booked to attend that day are present. All the children are accounted for at the roll call on this particular day. At the older children's collection point, the educator accounts for all the children except for two, Saba and Evan go from school to a music lesson nearby with authorisation from their families.

The educator confirms with the teacher that the children were present at school and have left for their lesson. After their music lesson finishes at 3:45, they attend the service at 4:00 PM until their parents collect them later on. The educator begins to lead the children across the oval to the OSHC room. One educator is at the front of the group, several are in the middle and one is at the end of the group.

During the walk, Amrit isn't feeling well and their chest feels a bit tight. Their friend Kim stops and sits with them on a bench by the side of the oval. The educators and children walk past on their way to the service and don't notice the two children sitting there. On arrival at the service, the educators do a headcount and quickly identify that Amrit and Kim have not arrived at the OSHC room.

The educator quickly retraces their steps and finds the children sitting on the bench. The educator asks the children why they're there. And Kim explains that Amrit isn't feeling well. The educator follows Amrit's medical management plan to administer their medication and walks back to the service with the two children.

The educator then completes the administration of medication form and informs all the educators to monitor Amrit carefully. Amrit and Kim were unsupervised during this time. So, the educator advises the nominated supervisor of the situation in line with the services policies and procedures. At 4:05 PM, an educator notices that Saba and Evan haven't arrived yet, and contacts both the music teacher and the children's parents.

Evan's parents advise that they've given Evan a phone, so that they can be contacted in an emergency. The parents contact the child who advises that the lessons ran late, and they and Saba will be at the service in about 5 minutes. Well, this is quite a complex situation with lots of elements to it, Penelope, and several clear risks to children.

In both the circumstances here, a strong safe arrival of children risk assessment is necessary to ensure that the service considers all of the relevant risks to children arriving safely. If we first look at the children walking from school to OSHC on school premises, is a child safe arrival risk assessment necessary?

Penelope Stone: Yes, it is. So, as you can see in this situation, the child safe arrival risk assessments are required because children are moving or travelling between two education and care services. It's a vital way to keep children safe as they engage in this transition, and may prompt services to think about how they collaborate with schools to streamline these processes. All school premises are different. They all carry different risks and risks can be constantly changing. Regular review of the safe arrival of children risk assessment, particularly when you have new children enrolled will assist you to capture the different ways children may arrive at your service and manage the risks therein.

Thinking about the relevant risks to your children is essential, such as how you manage children walking who have medical conditions and your supervision strategies adequate to ensure that everyone safely. In this situation, educators missed an opportunity to support Amrit as they walked from the classrooms to the OSHC buildings. This could have presented a significant risk to the child, both medically and from a supervision perspective.

But after a situation such as this, reviewing the safe arrival of children risk assessment to ensure there are clear identification of risks and risk mitigation strategies that relate to children with medical conditions, supervision strategies and anything else that is relevant to your service will help to ensure that children are safe and protected.

Louisa Coussens: Right. What about the children who engaged in extracurricular activities here? So, the children who are at a music lesson, I think, how does the safe arrival of children work in practise for this situation?

Penelope Stone: So, children may arrive late to your service after going to an extracurricular activity or they may sign in and out of the service in order to attend as part of their afternoon. So, in either case, a robust risk assessment to support children's safety, transition and arrival is required. This particular situation involved two children moving between a school, and a service that provides education and care to children, and an education and care service being the OSHC service.

There are many risks that need to be assessed and managed in consultation with the family and the provider of the extracurricular music lessons such as, who picks them up? How do they get there? Who drops them back? How are unplanned absences for the music teacher and children communicated?

So, collaborating with the organisation that the children are going to, may enable them to call when children are departing from the music lesson and provide the service with an expected real time of arrival. It's essential that you consider the requirements for delivery of children to and collection from the service premises as part of your safe arrival of children policy development. So, these are additional regulatory requirements, but the procedures and practises within these will inform parts of your safe arrival of children policy.

Louisa Coussens: Thank you so much, Penelope, for those valuable insights into how the safe arrival of children requirements impact on daily practise within ECEC services. I'm sure everyone loved listening to those scenarios, and will have got something from what you talked about there to take back to their services. Thanks, Penelope.

Penelope Stone: That's great. Thanks for having me.

Louisa Coussens: So, let's consolidate some of the takeaways from the scenarios we've just discussed by recapping three important learnings. There are obviously lots of learnings and things you can take away, but three that I thought I would highlight for you.

The first is that it is a requirement for all services where children are arriving from another service to develop a risk assessment policy and procedures. If your service doesn't have children arriving from other services, there are still elements within these requirements that would be good to consider and use as guidance to improve practise.

The second is that although transportation may form part of your safe arrival of children risk assessment, the safe arrival of children is broader than just transport. It incorporates all of the ways in which children arrive at your service. And third, the importance of an effective and thorough risk assessment based on your services context and the situations of the children enrolled at your service.

This risk assessment, as you've seen, is a valuable tool not only to highlight the risks involved in how children arrive, but to set out procedures for how those risks can be managed, mitigated or even ideally eradicated. It requires regular review and can incorporate risk management strategies from other areas of child safety like transportation or medical management, for example.

We also have a simple document to assist in your review of safe arrival of children requirements in your service. This will be posted in the chat for you, and we hope it assists in your understanding and practise of this key area of risk and child safety.

We are going to ask you to take part in a Menti now. If you haven't taken part in a Menti before, it's a type of survey. We ask some questions, and it is completely anonymous. So, if you've got your device, grab it, take a photo of the QR code or alternatively visit and input the numerical code there, which is 2381 0402.

Your responses will help us to understand the impact of today's session. And also, contribute to the development of further guidance where needed. So, the first question, does your service require a safe arrival of children policy? Remember, from the beginning, Yasmina talked to us about the different settings that these regulations apply to.

So, 87% of you, yes, it does apply to your service, 11%, no, 6% of you unsure. Well, hopefully, we've given you some information today that you can take back and think on, discuss with colleagues and determine whether or not you do indeed require one of these policies.

Great, thank you. And our second question today, in creating a safe environment, do you currently have distinct policies for both the safe arrival of children and transportation? And, yes, 86% of you do, 12% of you don't, and 2% are unsure, 4% unsure. Okay.

Again, you may want to go back to your service and have a look at your service context and determine whether in fact you need to have both of these distinct policies in place. And then, thirdly, an open-ended question. If you reflect on today's discussion, what standout insights or key learnings will you be taking away to enhance your practise?

Some interesting things, carpooling, drop-offs. That's an interesting scenario. Inform staff at meetings. Regular review. Yes, I'm glad somebody's called that one out. Put policies into practise. That's right. It's all very well having a policy. It's how that is actioned in your service that really makes the difference to child safety. Risk assessment. Fine tuning. That's right.

So, the review of the risk assessment, whilst it needs to be done at least once every 12 months. It also needs to be reviewed if anything comes to light that could impact risk to children's safety. So, constantly fine tuning those documents will make sure that they are working well for you in practise. Fabulous. Thank you.

Well, that's given us some food for thought today, so thank you very much. And there's one more thing I'm going to talk to you about today. Although, the safe arrival of children does not always involve transportation, we'd like to take the opportunity to introduce you to an exciting new awareness programme that we'll be launching in the coming months, Look Before You Lock is a key safety message reminding everybody to check vehicles before locking them to make sure that no child is left inside.

We encourage you to spread this safety message to your families and communities to support everybody from parents, educators, bus drivers, transport providers of any kind to adopt this message, and put it into practise. You will hear more from the department on the Look Before You Lock message over the coming months. And we hope your assistance in spreading the safe practise it promotes will continue to keep children safe in our services and their communities.

Well, that brings us to an end. Thank you very much to everybody who has joined us and listened to this session. We have covered a lot of territory. I hope you enjoyed the scenarios, and that you've come away with some new tips and information that you maybe didn't know about or some strategies that you hadn't thought about before that you can take away and implement in your daily practises.

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 effective implementation of those into the everyday. We'll be emailing a survey out to all participants in today's session. Please keep an eye out for it. Your responses to these surveys really do inform our future sessions and our future guidance.

So, thank you again. Thank you to the team. It's been lovely to have you, and enjoy the rest of your day. Goodbye.

Presented by Dr Louise Porter and Sandi Phoenix, this session focuses on understanding and supporting children's behaviour and positive interactions between educators and children.

Kaitlin Doherty: Thanks everyone for joining. I'm very excited to introduce you to our fantastic guest speakers we have for you today. As we begin the session today, I'd like to take the time to recognise we are each joining this meeting from Aboriginal lands. I'd like to respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we live, work and come together today. I'm on the lands of the Burramattagal people of the Dharug Nation here in Parramatta. I'd like to extend my respect to Elders past and present as the ongoing teachers of knowledge, stories and songlines, and I extend my respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals joining us today. So you will have noticed the microphone and the camera functions are disabled during the presentation now. You can ask us questions via the Q and A function in the webinar. And towards the end of this webinar, our guest presenters will be answering some of the questions that have come through the Q and A. So we'll do our best to get to as many of these questions as we can during this time. We really appreciate all of the questions that come through as we use this information to ensure that we plan future sessions and our regulatory communications with a focus on the content that's most important to you. So please ensure that when you are asking questions through the Q and A function today, that you're not disclosing any personal details about the children, staff, or your service when you're asking questions. And if you have any service specific questions related to your regulatory requirements, you can contact our Information and Enquiries Team either via email or by phone. The details will be shared at the end of this presentation if you need them. And one more thing before we get started. Once the presentation is finished, you'll be sent a survey. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey so we can continue to develop content that is of most benefit to your needs. So now for the exciting part. As part of our role as a responsible regulator, we are committed to continuously educate and inform our New South Wales early childhood sector, with a particular focus on areas that the sector needs. We are informed by data and evidence and direct feedback from those working in services on the themes that we then bring to these information sessions. So today's topic is vital in ensuring that you have the best possible tools, knowledge, and understanding on contemporary approaches to supporting children's behaviour. We wanted to make sure we bring you the best possible guidance. And in that regard, we are pleased to have 2 renowned experts in this field, Sandi Phoenix, who you can see on screen. And Dr. Louise Porter will be joining us too. Sandi and Louise have a wealth of expertise in this space and I'm so pleased that we have them here today. This is a topic that we know can be challenging at times. And as well as this session today, we've invested in an extensive online learning program on this topic that is free of charge for everyone working in services in New South Wales. The program includes self-paced online learning with accompanying webinars, recorded Q and A, and workbooks. This program is available for you until the end of 2025. And while I know that sounds like a long time away and that you have plenty of time to complete it, I really encourage you to complete the course as soon as you can, to engage with these exciting materials and implement the learnings in your everyday practice. We'll drop the links to these resources in the chat for you as well. Sandi and Louise, as well as working on this program, they've also recorded an accompanying mini podcast series that you can listen to on the go at any time. And I'm sure Sandi and Louise will talk more about these resources during the presentation today. So I'll now hand over to Sandi Phoenix to present today's session on Understanding and Supporting Children's Behaviour.

Sandi Phoenix: Thank you so much, Kaitlin. It is such a pleasure to be here with everybody. You should be able to see my screen. And I am just going to flick through here. And Kaitlin, do let me know if things aren't moving as they should be. But here, we are going to be talking a bit about interactions with children and children's behaviour. I would also like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are working and living and playing, in the various lands that you're coming from today. I am from Quandamooka Country. I live, work and play there when I'm home, but I am, as usual, not home today. I'm on Latji Latji Country, which is in Mildura, and I'm having a quick break from attending the Change Fest here in Mildura on Latji Latji. So it's wonderful to be joining you from wherever you are from. Thank you very much to Kaitlin, and thank you to the New South Wales Department of Education. This program is funded through the Safety and Quality Practice Program. And we really do encourage you to attend the full program that Kaitlin just talked about, which will take, it's such a deep dive into lots of different areas. In this session today, we are just going to be touching on a couple of the key themes from some parts of the content, but particularly addressing this question around why do children behave the way that they do? How do we support their behaviour? And how do we respond and interact with children, particularly when their behaviour is challenging us? So some of the things that I'll be talking to you about is a brief overview of the Phoenix Cups framework, which is introduced in the program and used as a thread throughout it. It's not a training program on the Phoenix Cups framework, but many of you are familiar with it or have done training around it. If you haven't, that's okay because it is simple in its complexity, and I will be, rather than telling you about all of the theory and evidence and research behind it, I'm just going to be using the analogy because I've got a very short space of time with you. And if you want to take a deeper dive into the theory, you have the opportunity to do so in the full course. So I'm going to touch on it just very, very briefly for those of you who haven't yet been introduced to it. And then I'm going to talk about the importance of connections and interactions with children and what can happen when our interaction ratio to positive to negative interactions gets thrown out with children, and the types of reactions that we can see from that. And then Louise is also going to cover some practical strategies, and particularly something that Louise is quite renowned for is using acknowledgement language rather than praise. And so she will be talking to you about tips for acknowledging children's behaviour and a few other skills. This webinar today does link to the National Quality Framework, as you can see on the screen there. And we have, we could link to lots of different areas in the National Quality Framework, but particularly I think the biggest link here is relationships with children and relationships between children. So this framework that you see on the screen is the Phoenix Cups Framework. Understanding children's behaviour is like understanding human behaviour. And children are human, and children and adults alike are motivated by the same things. We are motivated by basic human life needs. So understanding children's behaviour and answering the question, why do children behave the way that they do, can be very simply explained using an analogy about cups. So, and if you have heard me talk about this before, I'm just going to touch on this for just a couple minutes before we look at interactions and a few other things. But to catch those of you up who aren't familiar, if we could imagine that we could look around with our colleagues and the children and we could see each other's needs, those needs would look like we're carrying a tray of cups. And on that tray would be a safety cup representing our need for safety and security, both physiological needs as well as psychological need for safety. And there would also be a connection cup, representing our need and our drive towards belonging and needing self-worth. We would also see a freedom cup, which represents our drive towards autonomy. Our mastery cup, which would show our drive towards and trying to fill our need for self competence. And then a fun cup, very importantly, our need for novelty, for play, for humour and joy. So those needs, not only would we see those needs amongst the children, we would also be able to see which needs are met, full cups, and empty cups, which needs are not met. That empty part of the cup is what we call the will to fill. So we refer to that as the drive, the will to meet that need or fill that cup back up again. So the emptier the cup, the bigger the will to fill, the more the drive. So it would be great if we could see that in the children and look around, who needs what? And you can see there too, how important it is to think about equity here. And because not all children need the same thing, and not all children need to be treated the same way or have the same expectations. Because if we went and poured into each of their cups equally, then some children's connection cup wouldn't need any more in it and another child wouldn't get enough because we're trying to be equal. So when we're being equitable, we're considering what children need. We can't tell what they need by looking around and seeing a tray of cups. Unfortunately, this magical alternate universe doesn't exist. But what we can see is their behaviours. And their behaviours are giving us indications of what cup they need to fill, what cup is most empty for them, particularly if those behaviours are persistent. So decoding that is really important in our work as educators. And as educators, you are very, very good at responding to children's needs. And using a framework like this helps you to share a language between each other. And when you have a shared language, we can shortcut this information and sort of talk about, Jacob might be needing to fill his freedom cup today. And so in just a few sentences, we are communicating to each other about Jacob's need for freedom, to freedom from his agency, creativity, liberty, choice, autonomy, discovery, and it goes on. So we've got a construct of a need for freedom that we are, now- Siri is trying to talk to me because I've got her here with a timer. But I don't need you right now, thank you. So even though we can't see these needs, what we are seeing is the behaviours. And when we can decode them and we can share a language about it, we can put our heads together and think, well, what is it? Using, you know, just a few words here, what is it that this child needs? And we're going to get to the crux of how to respond to this behaviour, and how to support this child to develop what we call skill to fill. So the skill to fill is the increasing ability that we have and the changing knowledge and wisdom and ability that we have to meet our needs. And it is our, such an important role as educators is to foster children's skill to fill their needs. And it's not extra work that we need to do. It is our curriculum, it is our Early Years Learning Framework. Every outcome, subheading to every outcome in the Early Years Learning Framework. And every first column indicator of those outcomes is a skill to fill. So when we are focusing particularly, and there's so many skill to fill statements and goals throughout the EYLF, but when we work out what a particular child needs and focus our program in on that skill to fill, then we're supporting that child or that learning outcome, we're supporting that child to develop a skill to meet their needs. Now in saying that, I want to focus in on particularly connection seeking. Sometimes when I'm first starting coaching or working with an educator around a child's behaviour that is challenging them, or a complex set of behaviours, I might ask that educator, what motivation do you think is behind this behaviour? Why do you think this behaviour is occurring? And many times throughout the course of my career in asking this question, I have heard the answer, "I think he's attention seeking." There's no attention cup because attention is not a basic human life need. It is not a universal motivator for human behaviour. If it was, you and I would have a attention cup and we would wake up in the morning and think, oh, my attention cup's a bit low, I might do some attention seeking today. We don't do that, but sometimes we might have an empty connection cup and then we'll need to do some connection seeking. When that's occurring, what has happened in the past because of a movement in psychology that we can call behaviourism, and Louise often calls a controlling style of working with children's behaviour as opposed to a guidance approach. But because of that particular movement, which is not one that our National Quality Framework subscribes to or we do as practitioners, valuing children's rights and needs. And what that particular paradigm has told us in the past is when a child is doing attention seeking, then we should do things like planned ignoring or tactical attention or tactical ignoring or planned attention. Do not write any of that down because we don't want to do any of that. It is information that, it was around once, particularly very much in the beginning of my career, which is now 25 plus years ago we were using terminology like that. We've moved on from that because we now understand that human motivation behind behaviour is not about rewards and consequences, and the motivation behind behaviour is basic human life needs. So when a child is connection seeking, then we support them to fill up their connection cup. We pay special attention to making sure we're doing everything we can to ensure that their connection cup is full while they are with us. So in saying that, there is a really handy formula that I love to reflect on and think about when my own interactions or my own work with children is being impacted by a relationship with a child, that I'm struggling to connect with them. And this can happen throughout our career where we think, gosh, he's just not listening to me today. Or he never wants to listen to me. And I certainly hear this a lot from educators. Or she doesn't come to me when she needs anything, or she just runs away from me when I try to talk to her. You know, when this kind of stuff is happening, there's usually something that's going on when it comes to the interaction ratio. And there has been many times, even 20 years into my career where I was reflecting on a relationship with a particular child, and I realise that my interaction ratio was out. And it wasn't until I used this ratio to reflect on what was happening that I realised how to get to the other side of it. So I'll explain it to you, this is what it might look like. And sometime ago I was observing a group time where, and often, you might have seen some of my writing on group time or heard me talk about it before, when it is mandatory and it is creating stress for the children and the educators, it can be one of those things that is persistently, as an inclusion and a behaviour consultant, I'm often told, "Come during group time, that's when the behaviours are the worst." And that happens all over the country. And I've just been working in London, and it happens all through there as well, all through the UK. It happens, my American colleagues tell me all the time that group time can often trigger behavioural challenges and escalations. So if that's the case, then the child is not the problem here, the routine is. And so when it is mandatory, what can happen is, is we are using a lot of these kinds of statements like you see on the screen. "Jackson, come and sit on the mat for group time." So these are actual statements that I have written down some time ago with the permission of the educators that I was working with. "Pack up and come and sit on the carpet now." Now these were said nicely. We can still say corrective and directive statements nicely, but they are still corrective and directive statements and they'll be received as such by any human being, be them an adult or a child. "We're waiting for you, Jackson." "You need to come and sit with everyone else now." So now we have 4 negative interactions because they are corrective and directive, and us as humans usually perceive those as negative. So this is, as you can see, quite freedom cup emptying for a child, also connection cup emptying. What is happening here is the magic ratio is out. And Gottman's magic ratio, I find, is this amazing tool for reflection, for critical reflection around interactions when things are becoming challenging for us as educators. Gottman's magic ratio says that for every one negative interaction, we need to have 5 positive interactions. This research was initially done in the '70s over a longitudinal study. The Gottmans were studying the interaction ratios of people who were married. And so they were observing them for 15 minute periods and coding their interaction ratios. And they did this over 7 years. These observations were done in a lab, not creepily through people's lounge room windows. So it was in a laboratory situation. But there was, you know, a lot of validity in the length of this research and the way this research was conducted. What was magic about this was the ratio's ability to predict whether or not couples were still married or divorced after 7 years. As it turned out, couples that was still married had a very high chance of having a 5 positive to one negative interaction ratio. Researchers were very excited by this. And it has been researched using, and there are certainly studies using different types of relationships, parent to child, teacher to child. The bad news is that those ratios are even harder. So we're going to stick to the magic ratio, which is 5 positive for every one negative because it's actually quite difficult to get there when we are working with many, many children. Because if we go back to that example of the 4 negatives, we've now got 4 to zero, that is not one to 5. So to bring it back into balance, we actually, and of course Jackson was responding with, no, it's not happening, I'm not coming to your group time because these negative interactions were continuing. So to bring it back into balance, we actually had to times that negatives by 5. So now we owe 20 positive interactions to get our relationship back into balance. That's impossible. So there is a couple of strategies. And I'm throwing things very quickly at you because this is one of my favourite hints and tips because it's worked for me so many times. It's worked for the educators that we coach here at Phoenix Support for Educators. It works all the time. We hear incredible stories of how these strategies work well. And it's also something that even the most skilled of us can fall into, of having an interaction ratio that gets thrown out. So if it's happening for you or if you're finding that you need to focus a connection on a child so that you can feel heard, but also support the child to develop skill to fill through a connected relationship, there's a few things that you can do. So this strategy decreases negatives and increases your positive interaction at the same time. This strategy was first, I first heard it suggested by my friend and colleague Trent Savill, and I highly recommend you checking him out. And it is connect before correct, it is such a simple strategy. And when we do that first, when we have that connection first, if we have to correct something like the child's riding the bike inside, so if we just approach that child and connect first, then we can have a discussion about correcting the behaviour. So this strategy, though, will only bring you to a one-to-one, not a one-to-5. So we need to keep layering it. The next is neutralise our negatives. And we can neutralise our negatives by just using this strategy. And it's one that we use at Phoenix Support for Educators all the time. It's one that many, many educators have used because it is so, so effective. And I want to give you a couple examples of where I've seen it most effective. So it is very simply, say what you see and then ask a question. This needs to be done in a connected way. So connect before correct is important first. And then delivering this in a way that is connected and also in that you don't know the answer to the question, so being genuinely curious and genuinely connected with the child. So we wouldn't say something like, “Jacob, you're jumping on the couch”. And so that's saying what you see. And then asking a question like, “would you like to come and sit here next to me or sit nicely?” Like, that's not how the strategy works. And I've seen it used like that. What you're going to do is make sure that you are connecting first and that you are genuinely curious about problem solving this together. And so that might be, say what you see, ask a question could be, "Wow, you're climbing so high. Where could you climb in a place where it's safer for everybody?" And genuinely think together. And that shared sustained thinking is an important positive interaction. So then you will go from neutralising your negative, but then you'll move into a positive interaction of serve and returns, of genuine connection and sustained shared thinking. And that's where the magic can happen and that's where you can build and build and build upon your positives in that instance, and end up co-constructing the curriculum with the child. I would love to give you an example of what that looks like. So I'm just going to give you one more example from here and then see if I've got time for a story. So say what you see, ask a question. In the instance of the child who was not coming to group time, the next day when we decided to use a strategy, the educator walked up to him, because he was actually going to the box craft table every morning, and that's when he wasn't coming to group time. And so she went over and connected first and then she said, "Jackson, you look very busy. Do you need more time?" And he did need more time and he asked for more time. And then they went and did the group time and he came and joined them much, much later. So that is actually, he ended up, this is a story called Jetpack Man, if you google my name and Jetpack Man, you'll find it. But it is a story that ended up, we saw an immense amount of creativity from Jackson in that day because of the time he was allowed. So there is another example I would like to give you. But first of all, reflecting on negative interactions, they might be things like directives, "Go and put your lunch box away.”, “Don't touch that," like corrective like that. It might be, "How many times do I have to tell you not to climb on that?" Or, you know, those kinds of correctives and directives are negative interactions. Positive interactions are actually, Louise is going to share with you some examples of positive interactions and also questions in a little bit. So reflecting on what negative interactions you say or hear at your service is really important. And because there are so many people online today, I won't do an activity of working this out. But if you just pick one of these or something that you see happening at your service a whole lot, and then reflect with your team around, hey, I hear this negative interaction the most here. How could we do it in a way that is positive and connected? How could we connect before correct during it? And how can we say what we see? And then ask a question and neutralise that negative and move into a positive space? So I am almost at the end of my part. And I did want to just mention this one story which I briefly told. I think I told it in the whole program as well. And I'll tell you it and then I'm going to hand you over to Louise for 20 minutes, and then we're going to have, we'll have 10 minutes left for a Q and A at the end of that. So the way that I saw this strategy being used by an incredibly skilled educator was super exciting. And this is the ‘say what you see, ask a question’ strategy. What we had realised was the children, this one particular child, we're going to call him Jackson. He was so free, he had such an incredible program he was involved in, the outdoor, indoor program was beautiful, there was a progressive meal where he could come and choose to eat when he wanted to. It was this incredibly sensory rich program with lots of mud and swinging ropes, amazing. So we had reflected on his need for freedom and saw that he could get lots of freedom, but there was still, the educators were still finding interactions with him challenging. So we did a count of positive to negative interaction ratios. And we actually found when we followed him all around the service, because he had access to a lot of different rooms, that a lot of times he would kind of come wrecking balling into a space where an experience was happening for children. And the educator supporting that experience would use a corrective or directive for him and said, “Jackson, don't do that,” or “Jackson, stop it,” or “Jackson walking feet inside”, or whatever it might be. So then he would just race out and go to another room or back outside. And when we followed him around, we actually saw that there was about 40 negative interactions in an hour, which meant that it was literally impossible to do enough positive interactions to get to one to 5. So we discussed this strategy, ‘say what you see, ask a question.’ And absolute magic happened. What happened was we were using the strategy a lot and on another day after these observations, and we heard all these children screaming. And it was the kind of safety cup scream where loads of children were really terrified, you know, that high pitched, oh my goodness, we've got to get to them really quickly. So me and Miss Emily, the educational leader, came running around the side and we saw that he had found a stick, and it was a big broomstick. And he had picked it up, it was all weathered from the mud and he cracked it on his knee and he was running around after the children like a dinosaur going, “rah rah,” like that. And the children were screaming. And so Miss Emily said to me, "I'm going to use this strategy." So and I said to her, "I have your back, way back over here, but I've got your back." And she jumped in and she said, so first of all she said what she saw. She said, "Whoa, Jackson, that stick is so sharp!" The question can sometimes be really tricky. But the thing about this strategy is it's okay if it doesn't work the first time, just repeat it. So she thought of a question because she had to because he stopped to look at her. And she got down and she was like, really getting animated. And so the question that came out was, "Can I touch it?" And it was enough to stop him. And so what we call a pattern interrupt, it was, whoa, this person isn't acting like I would expect. So Jackson then, to look for a known response, sort of just put the stick out for her to touch it. So she repeated the strategy and she said, “Whoa, it is sharp, look!” And then the question came to her that was brilliant and she said, "How do we keep everyone safe?" And Jackson thought with her, genuinely really thought with her and he said, "We could put it in the bin out the front". So we said, this is a great idea. We went and told all of the children, "It's okay, you don't need to be scared of Jackson, he's really thought about keeping you safe. He's going to go and put this stick in the bin out the front." And then we went and told all the other educators, we asked the director if we could do that. She was very excited for us. And then we went out the door. And that was so freedom cup filling, but also connection cup filling and all the cup filling for Jackson, because then we went through the gate and then we went through the little trap and then the other gate. And then here we are out into the car park and he was feeling very important. And we helped him get up onto the bin and put it in the big bin on the road. And then we went back inside while the director was quickly scribbling down a risk-benefit analysis for us for this little activity that had happened on the go. And we go in and we're telling everybody, “This is so exciting, Jackson's focus is on keeping you safe.” And we thought the magic had just happened, but it actually happened 10 minutes later when we heard him screaming, "Miss Emily, come quick!" And we ran around the corner and here he is with the other half of the broomstick that he had dropped. And he said, "I found this, how do we keep everyone safe?" And it was absolute pure magic. And of course, the day continued in that way where Jackson was the safety coordinator. And we had lots of opportunities for connection cup filling and getting that balance back of the one to 5. And we actually got so many positive interactions in the bank, that it allowed us the next day to already have a head start with our connections. So it is a powerful strategy. It will help, particularly if you are mentoring educators who are new to the sector. There is a lot of educators new to the sector. And if you are one of those, welcome, and thank you for the very, very important work that you're doing. But whether you're new or you're mentoring someone new, this strategy can help if things are challenging between an interaction with a child who you might be finding their behaviour challenges you. Okay, I am now going to pass on to Louise for 20 minutes. And she is going to talk to you specifically about connecting about successes.

Louise Porter: Thanks Sandi, hello everyone. When we talk to children about the times they've been successful, we've probably been told to praise them, tell them they're good boys and girls, or “well done, that's excellent work”. The problem with this is if we tell children that they're good for getting things right, then in child speak, because children are very concrete thinkers at this age, they'll assume they're bad if they get things wrong. And they become perfectionists, and they develop a conditional self-esteem. So instead of judging, that is praising, this is good, that isn't, clearly a judgement, we can acknowledge where we give children information about their achievement, but not about who they are as people so that we don't tie their successes to their worth as a human being. “Good girl,” “good boy” tells children they're worthy when they get things right, and they're not if they don't. So some tips are, ask the children what they think about what they've achieved. Can they do this? They absolutely can. When they're one and they've learned to walk, they realise that they're neat, they've finally achieved it. So you can ask the children, "Are you pleased?” “What do you think of that?” “Are you happy with it?" Or they might come beaming about something to show you, excited, and you can say, "Oh, you look delighted with that” “You seem very proud of yourself.” “You look really pleased." Then you might comment on the actual product, but you don't have to. You start with something emotional, reflecting their feelings. You might add an opinion, but do so sparingly, so that our opinion of children's achievements doesn't become more important than their own. "Well, I agree with you, I think your mum's going to love that." Or, "I agree with you and that you can be very pleased with yourself.” “Yeah, and I think it's special too.". Give information in the form of I-verb. Now I've used this even with people aged under 2, and of course they don't understand this language, but because they don't understand the language, they understand the flavour of it. "So I admire that you had another go when your tower fell over.” “I respect that you let Sam have a turn.” “I value that you told the truth about breaking that.” “I appreciate your help, thank you.” “I'm impressed that you put in all that effort." We have to just guard against thinking that we're acknowledging, but in fact we're trying to get children to do it again tomorrow or to copy others. So for example, I often hear people using what sounds like acknowledgement language. "Oh, I really appreciate everybody's help with packing up." But the intent is actually to get the children who aren't helping to pitch in, or to get the children to be more likely to do it again tomorrow. So your intention is very important, not just the language. The next tip is express appreciation. "Thank you, I'm grateful, I appreciate that." Sometimes we have to add a because, because children can't necessarily understand how it's helped. It might be, "I appreciate that you tidied up. I really like having a room that's got no visual noise," or whatever it might be, your particular response. Focus on the process, not the product, because there will be children of differing ages and differing ability levels in your room. And if we ooh and ah over something exceptional a child has done, the children who aren't capable yet of producing that level of artwork, for example, will feel devalued. But all children can use the processes of working together, working alone, problem solving, being creative, being adventurous, trying something new, persisting. And when you focus on those processes, the children in the room can all be treated equitably and equally, in as much as they all get feedback about how they learn. And the next and final tip is to use natural manners. So if a child has asked you for some juice and has said thank you, you don't have to go into raptures of, "Oh, I love to hear such beautiful manners." You can simply say “You're welcome” or “Thank you”. Quick run through the tips. So the guiding principle is, when you want children to develop an authentic self-esteem, that is, a self-esteem where they feel competent at the things that matter to them and worthy of being here on this planet, then we acknowledge and celebrate, but don't praise their efforts and successes. Now I refer you back to the full course because that's a very quick run through of those ideas. And so now onto responding to behaviours that challenge us. That language is spoken, is used very judiciously. We've chosen that language specifically because a behaviour that challenges one person doesn't necessarily challenge another. So the problem isn't in the behaviour itself, but it's in what we think it means. Now to paraphrase something Sandi said at the outset, every behaviour is an attempt to meet a need. It's not an attempt to earn a consequence, a reward or a punishment. It's an attempt to meet a need. Now when we keep that in mind, it changes everything. We are seeing people as motivated from the inside, not for attention, not for external rewards or punishments. And that changes the question when we are dealing with children's behaviour from who has the power to who has the need? And that spells the end of consequences because we don't punish people for being in need. I think that's really profound, it's worth a pause. So if a child's doing something that we are finding a challenge, we do as Sandi's already mentioned, say what we see and ask a question. “I see you can climb really high. Is there somewhere else you can climb safely?” “I see that you absolutely love to run, but there's lots of people to crash into inside. Is there somewhere else that you can run?” We must always allow children to save face. Their self-esteem is very vulnerable at this age. So we have to avoid blame, shame, and humiliation when children make mistakes. And Sandi's already given this example, "That looks sharp. Where else can we put it to keep everyone safe?" Or, "Thank you for finding that." Or, "Now that you know that it hurts other people's feelings when you say that word to them, I guess you won't need to do it again, will you? Because you've already found that out." So it's reinforcing the message, but not using any blame. One of the most obvious but least used strategies is to ask the children themselves. They know their own mind, like the orchestra conductor who trusts the musicians to know their instrument, we can trust children to know their own minds. So our thinking is, this behaviour is meeting a need. So we ask in a curious, as if we are a detective trying to find an answer, so curious but not exasperated tone. "In what way did you hope that biting Jasmine would help?” “What was going on for you when you did that?” “What do you need right now?" The behaviour was an attempt to meet a need. It might be, let's pretend that Jasmine has taken this child's bucket that he was using in the sandpit and he's outraged about that. And I'm glad of it because I like people to be outraged by injustice. Biting her, of course, is not the best strategy to use, but we'll deal with the strategy later. Right now we're trying to find out what the child needs. So “What can I do to help?” “What do you need right now?” "What's your problem with putting on your hat?" as another example. “I don't want to wear my hat.” “What's your problem with that?” And I use very often, especially for people aged 3 and a half and over, is sometime later in the day when they're calm again after they've had a meltdown earlier in the day, I'll ask them, "When you get upset like you did this morning, what can we do to help you? What do you need from us? We'd like to know what we can do." Children love this, because we are using them as our consultants. They become the expert who are teaching us. And children have so many occasions where they are diminished and put down, that being able to raise them up in this way is really empowering for them. The next strategy is to be assertive. If you've ever learned or been taught anything about assertiveness, you've probably heard the formula, when you, I feel, because. So "When you hurt the other children here at the centre, I feel sad," I hear educators sometimes say, "Because I like all the children to feel safe." The problem with this is that it's saying to children that basically they're to blame for how you feel, and they can get very defensive. So in contrast, I find it more successful to say, "I understand that when you're cross, it can be hard to use your words. However, I wouldn't let Jasmine bite you and I can't let you bite her because I need everyone to feel safe. So what can we do about that?" I believe it works so much better than the other form of assertion because in part one, you are listening to the child, which increases the chances that in part 2 they'll return that courtesy and listen to you. And then we'll talk together about how to solve the problem. When 2 children are in a dispute, let's say there's 2 children in the sandpit and they both want the wheelbarrow, you would again inquire in a curious tone so you have information, "Guys, what's going on?" And then you restate the problem once you've heard what's going on, "Oh, I see your problem, there are 2 of you and there's only one wheelbarrow. So what can you do?” Once I had children in this similar scenario and one said that she would have first turn, but a shorter than usual turn, and the other child was happy to wait a short time to get a regular length turn. Now I thought that was pretty sophisticated problem solving from people who were 3. So if they're very young and can't suggest their own solutions, you might suggest one, but your choices have to be genuine choices that meet their needs, not, for example, “well, one of you will have one turn, one of you will have another, or I will take it off both of you.” The second scenario doesn't meet their needs. So, “what can we do that will meet your needs?” Once they've found a solution and you're satisfied that it's likely to work and it seems like they're both happy with it, then you can exit by saying, “well look, if you need any more help, you come and find me.” So every time children are problem solving in this way, they're actually learning that skill so that they can use it in future occasions. Whereas if we step in and say, “right, you give it to her, you give it back or I'm taking it off both of you,” they don't learn how to solve problems.

Sandi Phoenix: I'm reminded of an example here, Louise, and it's so, so powerful, this problem solving. But I haven't thought about this for ages, but there was a child running and jumping into the sandpit. He was very, very spirited. And this was probably 15 years ago. And it was upsetting the other children in the sand pit. And so I let him know that when he jumps there, it's crashing into people's castles, it's putting sand in people's faces, I'm worried that when he runs, he's going to hit somebody. What can we do? And he had the best idea to go and get the witch's hats and set up a runway and then set up a spot for the long jumping. 'Cause he'd been watching his siblings long jumping at the primary school. So we did all of this and then we let everybody know that this was happening. And then he started the long jumping and then all of these children wanted to join in. And so they were joining in and I was quite proud of myself and I was really excited about how well it was going. But then we got a spot check from our lovely person that I didn't have a relationship with at the department yet, and I wasn't sure how it was going to go. And fortunately she could see all of the work that had gone into getting here, because it was quite risky. But the next day, the child went and got the cones, the witch's hats himself and set it all up, and a few other children helped. And they knew exactly, the other children knew how to stay out the way. And those that got involved got involved. And this went on for weeks and weeks and weeks. And I could have said, "we're not doing that here because it's unsafe.” But what happened actually was this co-constructing of a curriculum that actually kept building and building and building on other activities that we'd seen happen on carnival days at the primary school. So anyway, just an example that I thought of. These are such beautiful ways of problem solving.

Louise Porter: That's a gorgeous example. And the thing that struck me as you were telling us it, is that it would've been easy to assume he was doing it deliberately to disrupt the other children and to upset the other children and get a rise out of them. Instead, all he was trying to do was be a big grownup primary school child who could do the long jump.

Sandi Phoenix: And I wouldn't have known that. And it took me half a day to work out what was going on there. So yeah, it was really interesting. I remember writing about it. I still, you know, those learning stories and observations that you write and they stick with you forever? That was one of those 'cause I learned so much from him.

Louise Porter: Yeah. Okay, and back to the slides. We do need to keep in mind that when a person is drowning, it's not the time to give swimming lessons. In other words, during a complete meltdown, children are already showing by their behaviour that they can't listen to our talk. And I love a saying by Alfie Kohn, that "If talking to children isn't working, it's usually because we've done all the talking instead of listening." So the signs that children are beyond being able to take in information, are in emotional meltdown, the protesting, the self-harm, the spitting, the screaming, the thrashing about, chucking stuff. The passive version of this is where they just whinge, sulk, whine, can't recover from a disappointment. Sometimes children who've learned they're good boys and girls for getting things right will throw things around the room if something doesn't go well, but because they think it means they're not worthy when all it actually means is they've just made a mistake. Then there's the social aggression where children hit out at someone else who they feel offended by or who they're walking past, hasn't done anything to them, but proactively or cold-bloodedly just pushed them over. And then there's the time where children can't cooperate with something reasonable. Keeping in mind that you and I have slack attacks on occasion, we might leave the house without making the bed or go to bed at night without doing the dishes. So sometimes children need to be allowed slack attacks too. But when they frequently, for example, don't participate in tidying up or some other very reasonable request, then what's happening is their emotion is driving their behaviour. They are out of command of themselves. They're having a lapse of self-control. Which isn't to be wondered at because babies are born without self-control so that they can communicate when they are tired or hungry or in pain. And so it's a skill they have to learn. And they have lapses, even adults still do, hence road rage and drinking one more Chardonnay than we anticipated, et cetera. So when children are overwhelmed, we have 2 methods. The human species only has 2 methods for managing when we are upset. One is get some help from someone we feel close to. So you would bring the children in close. "Would you like a hug?” “Would you like to sit with me on the sofa while we read a book?” “How can I help you?” “What can I do for you?" So even if it's not anything that you actually do, just asking the question, brings some emotional closeness. You and I do that, we talk it over with our housemate or partner or ring a friend when we're upset. We're going to call it time in. The second method we also use when we are upset, those of us who learn by listening might turn the music up louder than normal so we can't hear ourselves complaining. Those of us who learn by looking might watch some Netflix or something on YouTube, let the visual Valium calm us down. And those of us who learn physically might go out for a run. And so it is with children, that they need an area of their preschool or class or room where they can just chill out, where there's something to listen to, something that they can look at, whether it's a fish tank or some books, and something physical they can do such as snuggling into some big cushions until they feel better. Then after time away, we use time in. I love this saying that, the times when this is hard to do is when children are in meltdown and we think we've got to put a stop to it. When, as you see on your screen, children need our compassion the most when they appear to deserve it the least. Because human beings are capable of having 2 layers of feeling. So when they get distressed, they can get frightened and panicked by how upset they are, and they genuinely need our compassion when they feel like that. Again, a very quick run through, please do the full course. You'll have much more time to process, hear much more information. And as you saw on your screen a moment ago, we don't need to talk to children as if they are adults, but we do have to talk to them as if they're people. Because of course, children are people too. Now, some places to go, my website under the frequently asked questions has some information there. And of course the Phoenix Support website has so many resources. I'll let Sandi speak to that.

Sandi Phoenix: Thank you. Yes, indeed we do at, and also our Instagram and Facebook pages. And Louise's FAQ section is a very resource-rich place for amazing papers. You'll find one on acknowledgement compared with praise at the top of the FAQs. It's very relevant to today's conversation. The full course is 6 hours of content webinars and 6 hours of Q and A webinars. So there's over 12 hours of video content in there. It's broken down into 6 chapters that you can work through at your own pace. Each chapter has a downloadable printable resource that is just beautiful. And there is loads, our whole team here at Phoenix Support for Educators have done wonderful things at getting that program looking beautiful. And Louise and I deliver and have developed the content in there. So please do, and of course, funded by the New South Wales Department of Education, which has been so incredible. So many educators have now accessed this. So you can sign up to the free course. You just need to, or funded course I should say. And you just need to fill out a form on that using the QR code there, or the link, which no doubt you will also get. And now we have Q and A time. Kaitlin, how are we going for the questions?

Kaitlin Doherty: Hi, so I think our audience has been intently listening and taking in all this valuable information. So thank you so much, Sandi and Louise. We have a couple of minutes and there are a couple of questions that came through. So I'll see what we can cover in the time that we've got left. One of the people in our audience today asked about how they can use these strategies that you've spoken about today with children that are aged birth to 3. So children that may not be able to verbally communicate their needs. Do you have any strategies you can share?

Sandi Phoenix: Yeah, really common question. Do you want to talk to that first, Louise? Oh, hang on Louise, you're muted.

Louise Porter: Sorry, I did click the button and it didn't go off. One of the things we can do, of course, is the acknowledgement versus praise, because again, the children don't necessarily have to understand what we are saying, they just have to get that we are trying to be empathic and listening. And so it is when they're in meltdown. "Would you like a hug?" they can certainly understand that. "How can I help?” “Would a hug help?" So you might give them a couple of options. "Would a hug help?” “Would you like to go off by yourself for a little while?” “Would you like me to just stay nearby?" Those kinds of questions. And you can usually get an answer in people over 18 months. Under that age, you're going to have to listen with your eyes and just see, okay, what works, how can I be in tune with this little person and see what seems to work?

Sandi Phoenix: Yeah, absolutely. And I use all the same strategies, all the same language. Children's brains are developing very, very quickly. Their knowledge of language is coming online very fast and daily, there is an incredible amount of synapses built and developed. So I think that it's important to use the language still with young children. I just do so with a lot more nonverbal gestures as well. But, and encourage those reciprocally also, because children will communicate non-verbally before they communicate verbally. And so that is, yeah, due to their receptive language and expressive language coming on a little bit later. So yeah, I think in a very, very similar way.

Kaitlin Doherty: Thank you, that's great. I know we are right on time, but I'll just try and squeeze in one more question that came through that I think is a really great one as well. Somebody in our audience today asked about, they'd love some strategies to help keep ourselves calm during challenging periods. I know you had a focus on wellbeing in our Understanding and Supporting Children's Behaviour program, but I was wondering if you could share some quick tips as we close off the session today.

Sandi Phoenix: Yes. And yeah, happy to take a couple more questions because we started that little bit later if you need to, Kaitlin. But yeah, it is super important for us to be considering our own wellbeing. And so of course at Phoenix Support we do so using the Phoenix Cups Framework. So considering how to make a plan, a cup filling plan for each of your needs, your own connection cup, freedom cup, mastery cup, fun cup, and safety cup. Ensuring that you're responsible to that plan or acknowledging that plan with somebody else, and asking them to keep you accountable to that and you accountable to them so that you can have conversations about your own needs and come to this situation with as full cups as possible. And then in the moment, Louise, would you like to talk to any strategies in the moment? And I have probably one more that I'd like to add.

Louise Porter: Yeah, I love the one about understanding what anger is. And very briefly it's, I love the equation that anger equals a feeling that we have when our needs aren't being met. So frustration, hurt. Plus a fear that they won't. Plus what we call demanding thinking, I shouldn't have to put up with this, they should behave better, I don't need this sort of stuff in my life. You know, all that should, ought, must not, have to. So working backwards with the equation, we need to be careful how we speak in our own heads about what's going on. We need to remind ourselves that we're going to have a rule in this location and this workplace that everyone will get their needs met. So we don't have to be frightened. Now we're down to, okay, now I'm feeling frustrated or hurt. Now I can deal with that. We've actually halved our problem from the hurt plus the anger. And as you famously say, Sandi, you can't pour from an empty cup. So you need to make sure that you're getting rest and you're looking after yourself and you're able to say to colleagues, "I'm feeling pretty stretched. I need to take my lunch break 10 minutes early," or whatever it might be. "Could you step in with this child for me? I'm finding this frustrating at the moment." So that you have a rule in your service that everyone here, children and adults alike, have a right to get their needs met.

Sandi Phoenix: Yeah. I would like to also add that the theory of constructed emotion is really interesting. And when we are constructing emotions like anger or this kind of frustration that is impacting on our ability to respond sensitively or calmly to children, what can happen is that your brain is perceiving sensory information that you're getting in the moment and comparing it to the times where you've had that same sensory information in the past. And then also considering your goals or your needs. And if we, in this instance, start to have an increased heart rate, which is readying us to fight or flight perhaps, then that sensory information, through the interoception of increased heart rate, is going to be contributing to our distress. So what we can do there to address directly the increased heart rate is to bring our heart rate down. And there's a physiological way that our body naturally does that and works on that, often in the background, that we do several times a day and often don't notice. And this is really well supported by current neuroscience. And it is very simply just called the physiological sigh. It is a sigh you'll be familiar with because you do it all of the time. But when you force it upon yourself, it will reduce your heart rate because what it does is it gets your in breath short and sharp and then increases the length of your out breath. And when we increase the length of our out breath, because of the way our chest cavity moves and our heart around that, the response from our brains slows it down. So I'll just show you what that looks like. The in breath is about 70% to 90%, and then a short, a little bit more. So, and it doesn't need to be a long in breath. Actually, we want the out breath to be longer. So it might just look like this. And then breathe out like you're breathing through a straw, like you're pushing the air through a straw, through your lips. That will help increase the length of time that your breath goes out. And that in itself will slow your heart rate down if you need to, which I find myself using all the time. But particularly in response to, you know, I'm living with teenagers, so I use it all the time. Need I say more? I live with 3 teenagers whom I love dearly, but I'm using the physiological sigh a lot lately. So it might help you. And I certainly use it in work when I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed or stepping on a stage with 500 people in front of me. You might notice me do the little, just to regulate my own heart rate. So it's a really powerful strategy, I highly recommend it.

Kaitlin Doherty: Thank you. I think that's a fantastic tip to end on. That's been really helpful information. Thank you both, Sandi and Louise. This has been so informative. I'm sure our audience feels the same. I'll just do one final plug. If you haven't already signed up for our Understanding and Supporting Children's Behaviour program, I really encourage you to take advantage of this excellent offering. It's free for anyone working in New South Wales. We've added the link to this in the Q and A for you. Thank you so much to everybody that's joined and listened in to this session today. We've covered a lot of territory. I know we've finished a little bit over time, but I think that this information has been so valuable, and hopefully there's some new tips and information that you didn't know about, or some strategies that you can take away and implement in your daily practices. I mentioned earlier, you can send through any other questions that you have on your service's regulatory requirements to our Information and Enquiries team. We've added the details for that team in the Q and A as well. Thanks once again, Sandi and Louise. This has been an excellent session. And thank you everyone, it's been lovely to have you. And enjoy the rest of your day. Thanks.

Louise Porter: Thanks, bye everyone.

Sandi Phoenix: Thank you so much. Thanks, Kaitlin.

Kaitlin Doherty: Bye.

  • If you are an educator in NSW, you can access the free online learning program on Understanding and Supporting Children's Behaviour. This program is available until 31 December 2025.
  • As part of this program, Phoenix Support for Educators has released a podcast series which can be accessed via the online learning program or alternatively on Spotify or Apple.


This recording provides evidence-based understandings and talks through practical strategies and resources you can apply to support a psychologically and psychosocially safe workplace.

Katarina Rodriguez: Okay, let's get started. I mentioned earlier, my name's Katarina Rodriguez, I'll be your host for this afternoon, taking you through this session. As you all know, because you all signed up for the session, we're talking today about mentally healthy workplaces. But as I get started, I just want to commence with an Acknowledgement of Country if we jump over, thank you. So I just want to acknowledge that I'm coming to you from Wangal land, and I acknowledge that we're all meeting on various different lands across the state and possibly further afield. And just wanted to acknowledge the Elders past, present, and emerging, and the amazing and historic custodianship that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities give in both culture, knowledge and protection and custodianship of the land. And I just want to call out that in preparing this session, that has been front and centre of our mind and continues to be in our particular team in the way we design and develop our programs. And not as an afterthought, but as a forethought in all the work that we do. So moving on to just a little bit of technological housekeeping, you've all managed to join the session. So that was the first technological step, but just running through a few details, the microphone, video and chat functions are disabled during this webinar. However, you do have a way to communicate with us, and that is through the Q&A function, which will be available throughout the whole session for you to lodge questions, which firstly we'll be responding to through and within the Q&A function, but time permitting towards the end of our session, we'll also be answering some questions live, particularly those aimed at our panel members, which I'll get to in a moment. In addition, and as you may have seen in the pop up, we'll be recording this session and it will also be available later on our website. So for any of your colleagues or community that you'd like to share the session with later, we'll be publishing that. And there are automated closed captions available within Teams. So if you require that and are struggling to access it, please use the Q&A function and the team can assist you with that there too. Awesome. So just to introduce our session today, as we mentioned, it's an ECE Connect session, and the purpose of it is to explore the department's role in supporting the early childhood sector and the professionals that work in this sector to create mentally healthy workplaces. My name, as I mentioned is Katarina, and I'm the current Manager of the Workforce Experience Team. And that sits within the Early Childhood Outcomes division of the department. So today we have the opportunity to spend some time on ways to support early childhood professionals. And this will include through a panel discussion and interview and a live sort of case study on different tools and things that can be employed, but also why it's so important to establish these mentally healthy workplaces. Now, before we get stuck into the content, we just want to acknowledge that this can be a sensitive topic. We encourage you all to reach out for support if you feel you need it, or additional information through your own organisation's EAP or counselling support service. If that's not available to you, which we do know that in some cases it's not available for everybody, we are also going to provide a list of different websites and resources that focus on mental health and wellbeing in the chat Q&A space so that you can have access to those as well. Okay, so just to outline the session and some of the stuff I referred to a little bit already, I've done the introduction, a bit of an introduction, but what I want to do is set the scene a little bit in terms of some of the language we're going to be using today and some of the concepts that we'll be talking through. Then we've got a very exciting interview with Professor Sandie Wong, followed by a panel discussion with an opportunity for you to ask some questions, as I mentioned, time permitting. And then we'll finish our session with a case study on the use of a practical tool that has assisted one of New South Wales ECEC providers in fostering a thriving mentally healthy workplace. So when you signed up for the webinar, this is the outline you would've seen on the screen. So as you can see, our aim today is to provide evidence-based understanding and talk through practical strategies and resources you can use to support a psychologically and psychosocially safe workplace. That is a tongue twister. We just, we want to acknowledge that the sector is facing challenges, we know about them, we hear about them, and this is a small way at providing you some additional support in the mental health and wellbeing space. And just as a side note, that is a particular focus for our team at the moment, just really understanding that setting and working towards what the department can be doing in this space. On the next screen, and just underscoring all of this session is why we are focusing on this topic. This is a quote that came through during some stakeholder engagement that we did in consultation we did late last year. And the reason we are using this quote is it illustrates how the role of the early childhood professional is a complex one. It requires the ability to multitask. It requires someone to be flexible and responsive to the needs of all stakeholders, colleagues, children, families, all at once, and required to be strong, not just physically, mentally, and emotionally, so that the child and families achieve the best outcomes. That's a lot. And the next slide that's coming on now tries to go some way to illustrate that, and wow, it's a busy slide and that's intentional. What you can see here is our depiction of the cognitive and emotional load of an early childhood educator on a daily basis, on a minute by minute basis. And that's a very busy space. When we are talking about this, it's that constant load that the early childhood professional carries with them. Now, the loudness or volume of that, of these environmental stresses and the related task, it's really noteworthy and it's something that, and in trying to unpack it and understand it has come really clearly to our attention. So what we are going to try and do now is talk a little bit around how to establish a safe and stable environment within all of that noise, which it's, there's no sort of perfect answer. It's very case by case, setting by setting. But here is some language and some concepts that might go somewhere to inform people about how they can operate and support each other. So what you see on the screen is a bit of an illustration of setting up psychological safety. So this concept of psychological safety was first used in 1999. It's been around a little while, but it relates to protecting the psychological health of workers. And it's actually categorised at the same level of importance as physical health. So creating a psychologically safe workplace requires best practicee through leadership and management, ongoing and effective communication, key on that effective piece, and showing appreciation for staff input because we are really passionate about understanding that that's where innovation and success lies. So with all of these things combined equals the thriving worker, or in our case, thriving educator in the sector. Moving on to the other key concept of psychosocial safety, and this, and as you see here, it's referring to SafeWork NSW, and excitingly and a little preview, we've got a panel member from SafeWork to talk to us a little bit more around these things a bit later on. So harm prevention occurs through identifying and measuring risks to psychological health and safety. So that's that concept that we just ran through. And then the psychological and hazards, hazards and factors are elements within the design and management of work that increase the risk of psychological harm. In 2021, SafeWork NSW, as you can see here, established this code of practice around psychosocial hazards, which cover that set of factors there, a risk management process, identifying the hazards, assessing and prioritising them, and then putting controls and effectiveness controls in place. So these are other factors and areas that we can look at. And I recommend people, particularly those in roles of leadership and management, have a look at the SafeWork resource because that can assist in building these safe environments. So enough from me and my voice, I'm very excited to move on and introduce Professor Sandie Wong, who is going to assist us in understanding these concepts a bit more, and really let's look at evidence and practical tools. So Sandie is a Professor in Early Childhood and the Co-Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Early Childhood at the Macquarie School of Education, and an executive member of the Lifespan Health and Wellbeing Research Centre at Macquarie Uni, and the Lead Researcher on the Early Childhood Educator Wellbeing Project. So with that mouthful, you can definitely see that Sandie is in a great position to talk to us today. Welcome and thank you Sandie. And Sandie has worked as an academic, manager, researcher, evaluator, educator, consultant, nurse, and with a range of early childhood academic and health organisations who has a fantastic background to talk to us today. I would want to really get stuck into it with you, Sandie, straight away. So I'm keen to ask this first question around the research you've conducted into mentally healthy workplaces with the particular focus on early childhood space.

Sandie Wong: Yeah, thanks Katarina, and I'm coming to you from beautiful Gadigal land today. So I think it's important that I say first of all, that whilst my, a lot of the focus of my research has been on workforce and educator wellbeing, that the reason I do that work is because I strongly believe in the role that high quality early childhood education has in ameliorating disadvantaged, supporting the most vulnerable, marginalised, and disadvantaged children. And for that to happen, we need really high quality well educators. So well both physically well and emotionally and mentally well as well, because it's only when educators are well that they can provide those, all the complexity of what you were saying there, that providing the relationship space, pedagogical space, development knowledge, all of those things to support the educators. So the work of that we've been doing in ECEWP, that's what we call the Early Childhood Education Wellbeing Project. It's been going on now for about 10 years. And we started that work because we were particularly concerned around, yes, it's really great that more children who came from disadvantaged backgrounds were coming into early childhood to experience early learning and get that support and their families get that support. But we were really worried that the educators weren't actually getting support to do that work. They were just meant to kind of incorporate that into their everyday practices. And as you pointed out, it's really complex, physically, emotionally, challenging work. And yeah, we weren't, we were just really concerned that nobody was paying any attention to the educators or to their wellbeing. Now I have to say this has changed quite a lot in the last five years in particular. So our research, we call it holistic approach, we see educator wellbeing, not just about the individual educator and their physical mental health, but also the environments that they're working with, the leadership that they have, their colleagues, and as well as the kind of larger social, cultural, political context. And we see educator wellbeing as being in everybody's benefit, and also in everybody's, it's a role for everybody to play. Employers, organisations, everybody has a role to play in supporting educators' wellbeing.

Katarina Rodriguez: Thanks, Sandie. And so in your research, what have you discovered, with a particular emphasis on what you found works?

Sandie Wong: Yes, well, that's the challenge. What have you found works? So most of the research that we've done, and that has been done elsewhere across the world, has really kind of looked at, well, what is the state of educator wellbeing? And we know from that research that educator wellbeing is compromised. Now, that won't be a surprise for many people on the line, and particularly since COVID that it's compromised. We know that there are things like high levels of bullying, there's high levels of emotional burnout, and we know that those things all contribute to attrition. And that has been found across the globe. We've got evidence from that in Canada, the US, Korea, Singapore, Iceland, and even Finland, where, you know, it's always held up to be a really high quality education service, even in Finland, there's problems with educator wellbeing that's leading to attrition. But what we also know is that, you know, educators still love their jobs, and we also know that organisations want to do something. They're committed to kind of contributing to things that will assist wellbeing. But you asked for evidence, and surprisingly, there is very little evidence about what works. So these initiatives, like the program that you're talking about from New South Wales government, from the, I forgot what it's called, what's it called, Katrina?

Katarina Rodriguez: SafeWork.

Sandie Wong: SafeWork, yes. Thank you, from SafeWork, are really exciting. And I'm very interested to see the case, to hear about the case study because we don't know what works. There are lots of little flowers blooming everywhere about, you know, mentally healthy workplaces or mindfulness programs and great things happening, but we don't necessarily know whether or not those things are working. And so we actually need to build the evidence about what works in practice in the early childhood context, because as you said, it's a quite unique context with unique conditions. And so you can't just take something from somewhere else and kind of drop it into the early childhood space. Yeah, so in terms of what works, then we've got a problem. We don't know what works.

Katarina Rodriguez: And I think today we will invite anyone in, you know, anyone who's online, who's tried to do something, doesn't even matter if it feels like a small something, to point to include that in the Q&A dropdowns. Like if you've had something that you've come across, if it's a resource, if it's an experience or a strategy you've implemented, like please also feel free to contribute that because that's an opportunity for as colleagues and people or working towards that same ultimate goal, Sandie, that you mentioned to share. So I'd encourage that. I wonder as well, like, and not to throw you in it, Sandie, but what's your sense on scalability, like on how to tailor things like locally? Have you had any insights around that?

Sandie Wong: Well we do have some insights around what works. We know some things that are promising and potentially could be scaled up. And one of the interventions that we've been particularly interested in is clinical supervision. And we've done research around that. We've done a couple evaluations around that as a way of supporting like where clinical supervision has been provided as a way of supporting, in these cases, centre directors. Now some people are probably going, oh, what's clinical supervision? Because it's a very challenging word. It gives kind of the idea of people in white coats, but it's not that at all. Clinical supervisors are people who are qualified psychologists or counsellors, and they provide spaces that are safe and secure and trusting, and they enable the supervisee to talk through some of the challenges that they're facing in their work. And it can include things that they've bought from home that might be challenging them in their work. It might be about relationships, might be about dealing with difficult families or difficult behaviours of children. And this clinical supervisor helps them to talk through those things and helps them to kind of develop strategies and skills to be able to do that. And it's different from mentoring and it's different from coaching. And it's usually delivered by somebody outside of the organisation. So it's not like your boss telling you or asking you what's going on, and I'm going to give you some strategies. These are trained people who are external to the organisation who could provide this. And it's even different from, I'm glad you mentioned the Employee Assistance program because that's important, but it's different from that as well because, and it should be somebody who actually knows about early childhood because somebody outside of early childhood doesn't understand all that complexity that you're talking about. So we've conducted a couple of studies in those of clinical supervision, and we know from those studies that that works. We know that it's helped centre director health and wellbeing, we know that it's helped them manage their teens. We know that it's increased their capacity to work with families and work with children raise their self-efficacy. And really, really importantly in the context that we're working in right now, it actually contributed to retention. So whilst it's costly, it's supported retention. But there are some things around, you know, well what makes it work? And as I said, it has to be best practice supervision. So following all those, all the kind of ideas about relationship space, trauma informed, those kind of things. As I said, they have to understand the early childhood context, and it needs time and it needs space. You know, many, many services educators don't actually have a physical space where they can go and do this. We had centre directors who were going into the laundry to have their clinical supervision sessions. So the, you know, there's some challenges around it, even getting outside, if you want to have it face to face, to get out of the centre to go and, you know, many centre directors would be walking out the door and some disaster happened, so their session was cancelled. So there's some challenges to it. And even kind of coming, the supervisee coming to it is a skill. So to be supervised is a skill because it's not been a tradition in our profession. Social workers have it, but we've not had it in our tradition. So, but we know that that works. So I think it's a, you know, that's a potential that we could scale up, you know? But I think that the SafeWork tool is a great tool for a centre leader and the team to work through. So as I said, I'm really keen to hear a little bit more about how that actually worked in practice in an early childhood context.

Katarina Rodriguez: That's an awesome segue. Thank you Sandie. But I think, yeah, I think it's that point you're making is like what is scalable, then there's probably less things in the supervision one sounds like a bit of a winner there, but then, you know, how can we use other simpler and quicker things to inject a little bit of extra support. And I think that's a perfect segue into our panel discussion. But thank you so much Sandie for coming along, and please stay with us as you'll be joining our other panel members. So we'll now, yeah, we'll bring up our other panel members in the tech background and I'll do a little intro for them. So we've already met Sandie. So we also have Kathryn Barker who is an early childhood services manager at ECTARC, or E-C-T-A-R-C, I will say ECTARC from now on. ECTARC is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation that manages 10 early childhood education and care services in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions, and is also a registered training organisation that delivers training to early childhood education and care professionals across Australia. And it's an organisation committed to creating and maintaining mentally healthy workplaces. We also have, so we have Kathryn Barker here today who's worked at ECTARC for 20 years now, and a little getting to know you. Her favourite children's book is "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". Welcome Kathryn. I'll also introduce Melissa Owen from SafeWork NSW. She's an Assistant State Inspector in the Strategic programs team, and focuses on the healthcare and social assistance sector, which includes early childhood education and care. She's qualified rehabilitation counsellor and social worker and has experience working in occupational rehab, youth and children's services, disability support and case management. And her favourite children's book to read to her kids is, "I'm Going to Eat You" by Matt Mitter. And just circling back to Sandie, because I know you'll all want to know what her favourite children's book is, it is "Owl Babies", and she also has multiple copies of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" in various languages, which is exciting. So I don't think I can say caterpillar in any other language. But yeah, so that's just a little bit about our three panel members today. I'm going to start off by asking the floor, so all three of you, anyone who jumps in first, to talk just a little bit about the unique challenges of establishing a mentally healthy workplace in the early childhood sector. And I know, Sandie, you referred to it as having, as the sector having unique challenges, but can you all talk to us a little bit about what makes it specifically unique?

Sandie Wong: I think there's a few things. One is the very, the workforce itself, but very different backgrounds, as in different qualifications. We have a system where we've got for-profit, not-for-profit, large, small, services that are only open for seven hours, those that are open all day. It's a really complex system and trying to, there's never ever going to be a one size fits all in early childhood. So I mean there, and then of course you've got all the cognitive load challenges that you were talking about as well of working with children of different ages and different abilities and yeah. So I think they're the, that's the complexity. And other people outside the sector trying to actually understand that, anybody who does deliver any services I think really needs to understand the complexity of the work, the complexity of the workforce, the complexity of the system that we operate in in order to be able to deliver any kind of initiative for any service.

Katarina Rodriguez: Yeah, yeah, thank you Sandie. And I think Kathryn, you had a comment as well.

Kathryn Barker: Yeah, for us it's about being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. And we know early childhood is, we are time poor, so you know, we need to be able to have access to something quite quickly because we don't have a lot of time to ultimately research. And at the time when we were really investigating what we were going to do as an organisation, there wasn't a lot around, you know, so, and specific to our sector. And you know, we had processes in place in our services, and you know, we'd put Tim Tams on the table in the staff room and that was the, you know, the go-to for people's wellbeing. But we know when Tim Tams' run out, what happens to the wellbeing? So it was about something that was an embedded practice across our whole organisation. It was sustainable across forever as such. But it was also evidence based and driven in terms of what we do. So we still do the Tim Tams, but we have other strategies that go on ongoing. And it's about understanding that we are promoting positive mental health, but we know at times people struggle and the mental health continuum for some people fluctuates from positive down to where they're struggling as such, they're not flourishing as much as we want them to. So we want to know that they're accepted for that. We want to be able to reduce the stigma, which is really important. So they come forward and say, you know, I'm having a hard time, or I've got a mental health plan or what it might be. So that was really important and breaking down the barriers for the other team members working around them so they knew the same language and they had a common purpose to be able to support one another through various times. And that was a challenge and where to go to. But we found a good tip was we went on the Black Dog Institute's website, and all our staff did Your Mental Health at Work webinar, a little webinar. So they all watched that, so we had a common language. And then there's Managing Your Team's Wellbeing for our leaders in our organisation. So that just took a next level. So we knew as leaders, how can we help our staff? So that was the challenge, but it was easily overcome once we knew what we were doing.

Katarina Rodriguez: Thanks so much Kathryn. And I think the common language conversation is a good one. I think even Sandie, you were talking about that when you're talking about supervision and clinical supervision, I think, so hopefully today's session gives everybody a bit of that common language and, but I do think, you know, let's jump to Mel and see her thoughts, because she sits in a space across healthcare and social assistance sector. So that's a sort of a broader lens. It's big. So tell us a little bit, Mel, about your perspective, also like what's unique about early childhood too?

Melissa Owen: Yeah, I think some of the unique challenges present within the early childhood settings from a regulator perspective when you're talking about managing psychosocial risks and hazards within the workplace is that a lot of businesses that we've come across anyway, they don't really know where to start with psychosocial safety. You know, what does it look like? It's something that is intangible. So how do you put something that is tangible, that is measurable on top of that? So I certainly can appreciate that. And then it's also the level of acceptance of risk, you know, that it's, there are certain risks within the industry that educators, well you know, this is a part of the job, you know, this child is upset, I need to pick this child up and I need to console this child. And there's other facets and things that can happen that are outside the scope of the regulator that educators would see in relation to abuse and neglect of children as well. So there's that amalgamation of the little things that can really impact somebody, that it is very much an accepted risk of the job. And those little things can start if you don't have a system to, you know, do check in with your staff, and to keep on top of that, they can chip away. And those little bits and pieces can cause a psychosocial risk. The other thing is that directors have a lot of responsibilities. You know, managing a centre is huge, and I get that, and they've usually got heaps of staff, and they've got children to worry about, and they've got a million different regulations to come under. Not only ours but, you know, the childcare staff, and you've got all these different regulators that you have to, you know, talk to and deal with across the board. So I really feel that this, the work that they do, the educators do in the early childhood sector is really important. It's important for our society, you know, they're helping to create, you know, the people of the future, which is quite, it's quite a great job, you know what I mean? Like we need to make sure that these unique challenges that we're all aware of, that we have steps to take in the right direction so they can be identified and assisted in managing psychosocial risks.

Katarina Rodriguez: Awesome, thanks so much Mel. And as I jump to the next question, I'm going to ask if, Kathryn, you can start in your answer because there's a question in a Q&A that relates to my next question, which is awesome. And it's about what successes you've had or seen in the establishment of a mentally healthy workplace in the sector? And the question from the chat was about sharing some of your ongoing strategies that you now use. So if we can start with you, and then we'll get Sandie and Mel to weigh in as well.

Kathryn Barker: So we were able to start by using an audit tool that come from Heads Up. It's no longer a tool that they have available, but there are other tools that you can use through the New South Wales Government and things to help us work out where we were, what were our strengths already, and where our gaps were and what we needed to put in place. So that was really positive because we had a foundation there. And then we had to bring everybody on board in terms of, we've got over 200 staff, so we had to bring them on board with that. So we developed a wellbeing policy which had a clear wellbeing statement, so everybody knew from a management perspective and our board were on board. We have a voluntary board that were invested in this. So it came from leaders to start off with, but we were able to have every service in our organisation and every department has a wellbeing champion. It was someone who was interested in the wellbeing space, doesn't mean they had all the expertise, and certainly they're not the wellbeing person in every centre to, if you've got a problem, go to them. But they were, they come together, they meet, they attend some professional training or conversations with the other wellbeing champions to be able to have ideas to support teams or put them through some, you know, activities at a team meeting to have to start off the conversation at a team meeting that's positive, or finish a team meeting that's positive as well. Because sometimes we get to the nitty gritty and team meetings and then, oh, it's time to go home, but we want to finish them positive and people walk out, which is really important. I can say that all our staff are on board, and that's just ongoing. We, you know, it seems overwhelming, but you have to take little steps. You are not going to achieve everything that you want to achieve in the first two months or the first 12 months. It's about little steps. What can you achieve for your service now? And you know, we did a wellbeing lens across all our policies. One of the things, the sector, and our staff services as well, behaviours of children and complexities, that's something that educators feel. We are very wanting to support children, but it can be overwhelming. Staff can go through vicarious trauma in relation to that. So our policy that we had was about supporting children's behaviour, but in there we made sure that the wellbeing aspect for educators was put in there, and then sharing that policy with parents. Parents said, well what about the wellbeing of my child who isn't a child that we're supporting with the complexities, but is a child who is witnessing what's happening? So, you know, that lands across all our policies was a real success for our organisation, which, you know, it is great to have one of the other successes is that our staff have self-care plans. So we were able to introduce the purpose of those and encourage them to have self-care plans and things that they do to support themselves, whether it's what they need from the team that they work with, or whether it's things that they need to do for themselves at work or out of work as well. So, and that was a really good success for our staff because then they had something concrete to hang onto and say, you know, when I'm feeling like this, I can refer to that and that will help me as well.

Katarina Rodriguez: That's so awesome, Kathryn, thank you so much. There was so many gems and practical little references there. I'm just going to call out that there is a PDF in the chat function, which has a few of those resources that you refer to, including Black Dog and a couple of the others. So just for anyone interested in accessing those immediately, they are now available to people. Mel, did you have any perspective on, you know, success stories or what works well beyond Kathryn's comments?

Melissa Owen: Yeah, just a couple of things that I've seen probably work really well in the sector is, I know that we're going to talk about it a bit later, but using the People at Work tool, the survey tool as a check-in. And we'll talk about that a little bit later, I know, but that's a really good way to get a snapshot about how the workers and the workplace is functioning from a psychological perspective. And it's a validated psychological tool that you guys can use and it's free. So there are some parameters around that, which I'll talk about a later. But what that does give you is a way of moving forward. Now from using that, what I've seen is that a lot of the smaller businesses, they will reach out to us for an advisory visit. So what they'll do is an inspector will come to site and they'll actually talk about, you know, if it's psychosocial risks, if it's MSDs, whatever the risk is, we'll come to site and we'll talk to you about what is a practical implementation that you could do in your workplace. And that is free for all businesses. There is a limit on how many, if you've got over, I think it's 50 staff, don't quote me, I haven't done one in so long. But they're really useful tool, and a good way to connect with the regulator and to hear directly from them about, you know, how you could improve things from the regulatory perspective. The other thing, the other two things that I've seen work really well within this sector is giving the room leaders, team leaders, like having more of them in a room and giving them the opportunity to mentor other staff so that can actually take the burden off the director and those senior people when they're, you know, delivering on it might be the education component or things like that. So taking some of that off them and giving the experience and mentoring to other staff members can actually be quite useful and sharing that load. And then also having the space to debrief, for all staff to debrief with a professional as well within the workplace. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to hire a professional in the workplace, it's just linking them to a counsellor to do that regular check-ins. But honestly, consultation is key in this space, as, you know, like Kathryn said, and consulting with your workers, checking in with them and having that openness about the communication about psychosocial safety, but as well as work health and safety in general. Just having that open communication can really make a difference.

Katarina Rodriguez: Awesome. There's some other really practical things, and I think calling out that, you know, SafeWork's available to come to site is a good one that maybe people didn't know about. Sandie, did you have anything to add to that? I think I'm hearing a little bit around the role of leadership here too, if there's anything you can tease out there as well.

Sandie Wong: Well, Katarina, I think, I actually think the most important thing that's happened is that we're talking about educator wellbeing, right? It's a focus, we're talking about it, we're recognising it as important, we're making it visible. Kathryn talked about, you know, taking a lens, a wellbeing lens across all the policies. You know, we're trying to do something about it, which five years ago it was hidden, it wasn't talked about. It's now it's in our workforce strategy. So for me that is a huge, like, I just think it's amazing where we've come in a very short time. We're all a little bit kind of apprehensive perhaps, a little bit, kind of not quite sure what's the best thing to do or anything. But I just think the fact that we're talking about it is the biggest success that we've had, and there are lots of, you know, really well-intentioned interventions that are happening across the place.

Katarina Rodriguez: Yeah, awesome. That's a really good point, Sandie. I think celebrating the wins is very important, and the rate at which this is becoming front and centre, so I appreciate that.

Sandie Wong: You mustn't forget that because it is such a big step that we've taken in the last few years, but that, you know, here we are talking about it, when literally five years ago when I mentioned educator wellbeing and people will go, educators, why are you looking at the educators? And so I'm absolutely stoked that there is attention paid to this now.

Katarina Rodriguez: Yeah, and I think as always, you're giving me great segues, Sandie, for the last question. But before I ask the last question of our panel discussion, I'm just going to let everybody know that the Q&A session is next where we can get some questions through from the audience. Our team has been working away in answering some questions in live with responses, but we are curating a few to ask. So if anyone has any questions for our panel members, now's the time to type them up as we asked this last question. What, so this question's a little bit around the role of who is, so whose role is it in ensuring a mentally healthy workplace? I mean I know initially everyone will say, it's everybody's role and that's definitely the right answer and I think we've heard a little bit around leadership and taking the lead in that space and management. But if you can sort of, if you have any insights in breaking down how those relationships can foster mentally healthy workplaces and those roles, what exactly they should be doing, that would be awesome. Happy for anyone who chooses to go first. Maybe Mel.

Melissa Owen: The regulator should probably comment on this. So when we are looking through our regulator lens, it really is the director of the centre, the person that is higher up. So officers, directors, they're who we are looking at to ensure the safety of workers and others in the workplace. It's the law basically. You can't get out of it. Everybody does have a responsibility to ensure that their actions or inactions in a workplace don't put themselves or anybody else at risk. It's pretty common sense, whether that be physical or psychological, it's all the same. But ultimately it does lie with the directors. Now I know that they have a big job and I get that, but the best change and the focus on safety, and getting that safety culture to a point where you are addressing risk and you've got those good systems, and you've got that consultation in place, that comes from the top. So it's always top down. So we always say start with the leaders because that's where we want to see these changes made.

Katarina Rodriguez: Awesome, thanks Mel. And super clear, and I think Sandie, when you're talking about clinical supervision, you referenced, you know, starting with the leaders. So I think that's, you know, maybe that's why it's working because that's that area of responsibility. Maybe Sandie you wanted to add.

Sandie Wong: Of course the centre directors have got the lead responsibility. I just worries me that we continue to put more and more and more onto centre directors. I think individuals have a responsibility as well to kind of look after themselves, but also to be alert to when there are challenges. So it's not, but obviously not all about the individual, it is about the whole context. It's about the owners, the approved providers, the board, the board that Kathryn was talking about, that have to be on board to do this. Because we are in a marketplace, you know, we've got for-profits, not for-profits, school-based services, all sorts of ownership models. But in the research that we did with centre directors, we can be, I can be very clear and say to you that when the centre directors were supported through clinical supervision, that played down, it trickled down. Not only did it help them in their capacity to deal with the challenging situations, it also built their skills, knowledge and understanding in order to be able to support others underneath. Because people who are in centre director positions today wouldn't necessarily have had that kind of leadership training to support them to do that. So that a bit of support for the leaders is absolutely critical to be able to support the educators in the service.

Melissa Owen: Sorry if I could just chime in really quickly on that front as well. Totally agree. And when I say directors, I suppose I should probably correct myself because I talk under the Work Health and Safety Legislation and we've got directors and offices. So it is obviously the management of the centre, but if you've got boards and directors that sit above them, they are considered directors and officers under our legislation. So the onus does sit on with them as well. So it's not just on the director. Having said that though, I just wanted to chime in and say that I do understand that the directors of centres have lots of on their plate already, but it is imperative to note that we have developed practical guidance for leaders in this space as well. So we've got, we just developed a new code of practice I think it's called, but it's about managing, sorry, designing work to be psychologically safe. And it's only come out in the last couple of weeks, and it is basically a companion to our code of practice for managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace. So I would absolutely, your directors and whoever's interested, to have a read of that because it does provide some practical examples, and it is meant to be a practical tool about how you can design the work to be psychosocial psychologically safe and to help you identify and manage these hazards. Sorry.

Katarina Rodriguez: Awesome, thanks for adding that, especially because it's a new resource. Kathryn, just because there are some really great Q&A questions in there, I want to hear from you. But if you could talk about that centre setting because some people are asking around small standalone services with limited resources, human and other resources. So if you could maybe add to your response, but buildings a bit of an answer to that, like in the service, in the setting, in that bubble about roles and supports that each other can play.

Kathryn Barker: Well that's why we created the wellbeing champions, and it wasn't, and none of the directors sit around at that table for the wellbeing champions. So that can be accomplished in any size service to have a wellbeing champion to someone that leads it and works with the director to drive wellbeing across that service. And that's an easy thing to do. But um, and have acknowledgement days such as RUOK Day, celebrate those kind of things. I know we celebrate Children's Week in our organisation, so we really celebrate children, but we celebrate our educators in that as well and promote their wellbeing within that week with simple things that you can do from the wellbeing champion, and the director can do that quite easily in terms of saying thank you, we do, you know, have gratitude, and that that's part of that positive psychology, that gratitude and switching things to be that positive way rather than coming from a deficit model. Very easy to do in any type of service. And there's lots of free things out there. Like we didn't have a big budget to do it, and I had to, I did advocate for extra funds in our budgets moving forward, because we've been doing this for six years now. But you know, it was about looking at the free options to support services. So you don't need a big budget for it. You just need the willpower and that common language and that common passion. All our services now have a part of their service philosophy is about educator wellbeing in there. So simple, but they all know that they're supported by each other, which is really important when you're having a rough day. But you know your colleagues are standing with you, standing tall together.

Katarina Rodriguez: That's so awesome Kathryn. And I think all these resources referred to, I can see in the background, our team are preparing to make sure you have access to all the things referred to today. We have some really great questions but we're going to jump to the People at Work Survey. So thank you Sandie for your interview time and your panel time. But as we move to that, I just want to call out a couple of other questions as we bring up the slide again. Mel's going to run through a bit about the background of this tool, but interesting questions around how you can find a specialist clinical supervisor with early childhood knowledge? Great question. And also another great one around being an accidental counsellor, and I think Kathryn you've alluded to a little bit of that too. So we'll jump, I'm sorry I'm going to leave you on the cliffhanger, because we don't have to get those answers, but maybe we can pop something into the Q&A responses. But what we'll do is get Mel just to talk us through a bit about what this People at Work Survey is, where did it come from, how can it be used? And then Kathryn, if you can talk to us a little bit about how you've used it in your services. We've only got seven minutes so it's going to be a bit lightning.

Melissa Owen: All right, so I will talk quickly, nice and succinct. Okay, so this survey came about originally, there was a project that was established in 2007 called the People at Work Project. It was started by, it was then WorkCover NSW, but now we're SafeWork, so we've changed. So us, the ANU, WorkSafe Victoria, Beyond Blue, we all came together, and the University of Queensland, and we all came together and said okay, let's do something about psychosocial safety. So part of this project developed this survey tool which is actually, it's accredited and it's validated, and it's the only one of its kind and it's completely free. So what it does is it helps employers to identify psychosocial hazard and factors that can cause rise to psychosocial injuries and risks and whatnot. And it gives you a way to manage them in your workplace. It is adaptable to a variety of workplaces. It's not workplace specific so it doesn't have to, it's not just focusing on manufacturing and it's not just early childhood, it's for everyone. There are some limitations. So there needs to be a minimum of 20 survey responses for you to actually generate the report. So the report that this generates, it gives you a snapshot and overview of how you organisation is tracking compared to other organisations within Australia. So this tool is Australia-wide by the way, but you need a minimum of those 20 survey results for that. And then from there you get a more in-depth report, again, totally free. And then that will tell you if you've divided the report into certain teams or anything like that, or areas at the work, it'll tell you where you need to focus your energies. And then you'll get a plan, you get a project plan on that as well. And then you action plan that and you can work that out in consultation with your workers and everything on the ground. Basically you create an account, it's all free, and yeah, use that tool. If you do have less than six, sorry, less than 20 people working in your organisation, you might do a family run daycare. We do have another tool that might be able to assist you as well. But I'll mention that, we'll put that information in the chat for you guys so it's not confusing.

Katarina Rodriguez: Yeah and I think we are going to drop that in. It's called the Workplace Wellbeing Assessment. Is that the link?

Melissa Owen: That's right, yeah. And you can do that.

Katarina Rodriguez: So we drop the link, yeah.

Melissa Owen: Yeah, brilliant. You can do that with a minimum of six people, so it's awesome. Quite good for a smaller organisation.

Katarina Rodriguez: Yeah, that's great. And it's great that we've got that scalability there. So we're really excited, Kathryn, to hear in five minutes, your experience with using this tool in the ECEC setting.

Kathryn Barker: So we've been implementing this tool for four years now. So the beauty of it is we have data for four years about what we are doing. So where we first started, the actions that we put in place then, and we can see from year to year how those actions are improving the wellbeing of our workforce. And you need to remember, we've gone through some critical times during that time. So, you know, we've had, for us, we've had bushfires, so that's significantly impacted staff in our Shoalhaven services, and COVID, and you know, workforce shortages and things like that. So we were able to see what's working for us and where we need to head to next. One aspect for us is that we can, it breaks down age groups. So we're able to see where people are sitting in our organisation, remember it's anonymous, but where they're sitting in our organisation into age groups. So we have a young cohort up to age 24 years, and most of that is our trainees that we have in our services. So for them it showed that they would be, they had a role overload in their job. They were bit overwhelmed as such. So we could take that data knowing that it sits mainly for our trainees in terms of the age brackets, and look at what we are going to do to support trainees more in our services. So we were able to have a network meeting specifically for trainees. So they come, the Cert III trainees come together twice a year and the diploma trainees come back together twice a year. And they're able to, you know, have time together where there's that peer learning where that the conversations are the same. So they're not, sometimes a trainee may not contribute at a team meeting because they feel like there's all this wealth of experience and knowledge sitting in front of them and who am I to speak up? Whereas they can speak up more with their peers so that there were good outcomes that we're having, and we are seeing that change for that age group. You know, one of the other things that came about is our directors, our leaders in our centres are feeling overwhelmed. They're the ones that carry the full load and I think we've addressed that, but we are able to have discussions with them about what they're needing and moving forward with that. They feel the weight of everybody. So we've tapped into accidental counsellor training for them, but also we devised, we changed our appraisal system as such to be called focus conversations, and then rather doing an appraisal once a year, they're bi-monthly and they're set sessions that the director has with their team. One, it builds to getting to know your staff individually. It helps open communication, staff feel empowered because this is about me, and at least once every two months I get to sit down with my leader and have a good discussion about me, my professional growth, what I'm needing, what I don't like about my job, and how we can fix it together. The other thing, you know, we had an example in our services because we can break it down into our services particularly, because they have around that 20 staff. They had a lot of change because they had parental leave positions. We had a baby boom in a couple of our services, so obviously they're going off to have babies. We've got contract staff coming in to replace them at that time when those staff that come back after parental leave, they often come back part-time. So it's increasing the numbers of staff. So communication was a key for that service, and that was identified in the People at Work Survey that their coworker conversations weren't happening. So the action plan was developed in consultation with that team to say we need to improve our systems across the week and how we can engage part-time staff so they know what's going on on the day that they're not there. And it was funny, you know, we could see the next year that team certainly improved in their results under the People at Work Survey. And you know, one of the educators said, look at us going now, we are great guns now. You know, and it just was a catalyst for change that was measured and then they can see that it works. So that was really interesting for that. The other thing---

Katarina Rodriguez: Kathryn, sorry, I'm so sorry, we're out of time. But everybody knows Kathryn from ECTARC now. No, I won't say that. But I really loved how you really gave real life, real scenarios and examples on how People at Work can be implemented and used. So I really appreciate that and I'm so sorry we ran out of time. It's clearly a juicy topic, one that our team are really passionate about and want to keep talking about. As you can see on the slide and the webinar will be saved and shared later. These are all the resources we've run through plus a bit, a few more. We've pinned them in the chat because it doesn't allow us to put a little PDF in there. But I just wanted to thank everyone first of all for joining and giving us the air time, and letting us talk to you. I especially want to thank Sandie, Mel, and Kathryn for their generous time and efforts and their commitment to educator wellbeing in early childhood sector. And just echoing Sandie's comments there that, you know, it's a win that we're talking about this and we're getting into a very exciting period where we actually can move the dial on it. So really keen for all the sharing and thank you for all your questions, and let's keep the conversation going. So thank you so much everybody, and I hope you'll have a lovely afternoon.

An explanation of the role of employers and relevant representatives in supporting teacher accreditation and the purpose and value of teacher accreditation as a workplace process for teacher’s professional growth.

Jennifer Perry: Okay, we might kick off. So good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us today for the online ECE Connect session, entitled, “Teacher accreditation: supporting early childhood teachers and their professional growth.” For people who don't know me, my name's Jennifer Perry. I'm the director of Talent Acquisition and Strategic Workforce Planning in the Early Childhood Outcomes Division in the Department of Education. I just want to extend my appreciation for you taking time away from children and their learning, as well as from families and service staff, to join us here today. I know it's a commitment from you. But before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we are all meeting today. In my case, it's the Gadigal people of the Eora. The Gadigal people stretch along the southern side of Port Jackson, Sydney Harbour, from South Head to around what is now known as Petersham, and includes Randwick where I am today. I want to pay my respects to Aboriginal Elders past, present, and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating or joining us today. I also want to acknowledge the traditional owners as the original teachers of the lands on which we are meeting, passing on their knowledge from generation to generation over the last 60,000 plus years. Before I introduce our speaker today, there's a few housekeeping matters I just want to run through. So, you'll see that the microphone and camera functions have been disabled for participation during this session. However, we encourage you to ask your questions using the Q&A function. Throughout the presentation, specific themes in questions will be collated and addressed at the end of the presentation. So, if you can just put your questions in, but then we'll start collecting them or collating them and then, we'll ask Merise at the end some of your questions. If you do have any questions regarding your own specific accreditation details, please contact NESA directly either by email or phone rather than ask in this forum. These contact details will be shared at the end of the presentation in the slide pack. Inevitably we've got a big turnout today. I've said to Merise, she's as popular as Taylor Swift at the moment. We won't be able to answer all your questions, but keep them coming in and we'll either respond to them subsequently, or there will be email contact details at the end where you can add them. We'll also be using Menti to make this session interactive. So have your phones ready. And just a reminder, this session will be recorded and published on the Department of Education website. And also, it would be greatly appreciated, at the end of it, there will be a survey, so please take a few minutes to share your thoughts because it will inform future presentations at these ECE online sessions. Anyway, without further ado, it's my great pleasure to introduce Merise, who I've mentioned before, Merise Bickley, who will run today's session. Merise is the lead early childhood in the Schools and Teaching Standards Directorate at NESA. I'm sure many of you have crossed paths with Merise over the years. And if so, you'll agree to the great wealth of knowledge and experience she possesses in this space. In particular, teacher accreditation. I've got to know Merise over the last, I suppose, 7 months since I joined the Department of Education. And I've really appreciated the close working relationship we've developed, her great wealth of knowledge and experience in this space, and her passion for all things to do with the teaching workforce in the early childhood sector. So, in this session, Merise will cover off on 3 main topics, the professional identity of early childhood teachers. And I've got to say early childhood teachers. She will not forgive me if I say ECTs. What's coming up in terms of accreditation of early childhood teachers, and teacher accreditation requirements and the support available. So, over to you Merise. I'm looking forward to it.

Merise Bickley: Thank you, Jen, for your very kind words. Thank you everyone for joining. We will look at the Menti in a moment. I also just would like to acknowledge the land I'm meeting on, which also is Gadigal land, but I'm actually in Newtown area rather than Randwick, but I'm on Gadigal land and also pay respects to any Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people that are joining us at the meeting. And of course there's a couple of other people to thank, the support team in the background that are doing all the bits and pieces and done wonder things with my Mentis and images and PowerPoints. So, I thank them for that. And also my colleague Carmel Galvin who is a policy officer in the Teaching Standards and Accreditation Team at NESA is also there helping us with the Q&A, collating questions in the Q&A. So thank you to the support team, but also the greatest gratitude for you that are joining us today. I don't have to actually share with, well, I can share my understanding of the busy schedules that you have. As Jen mentioned, I am, my role at NESA is the lead early childhood. I'm very privileged to have that role because I actually gather an opportunity to continue my promotion and advocacy for early childhood, which has been my full career. So I'm very privileged to hold onto that role. But just to help me get a little bit of a feel of the people that are in the meeting today, we do have the first Menti, which is just going to ask you a couple of questions of what position you might hold, or what role you take on. So the first Menti is actually just giving me a bit of a feel of who's attending today and I'll just give you a few moments to work through that one. It was always a bit tricky to know when to move on, but I think we are getting a good picture there of people that are joining us today. I can see there's a number of teachers, and also it's good to see employers and management representatives here as well and employers. I will just stress, we'll move into the next one, but I will just stress for those people that are here as teachers is that if you have any specific questions about your own teacher accreditation, then we will actually ask you to email a particular address, so you can get specific advice. I won't be going into a whole lot of detail later on in regards to your requirements, but we will be touching on it. But it's more important that today we walk away understanding the support and the opportunities that are available for teachers that are working through their teacher accreditation requirements. That's fantastic to see “how to support a teacher with teacher accreditation” probably being the most, and the resources being the high ones there, because that will be some of the conversation that we'll have at the end, or probably not conversation, but the information I'll share at the end. So, thank you, that does give me some guidance on how I can talk to the audience if possible. So, we're just going to move back to the other slide just to, Jen mentioned the outline of today, we're going to look at what is it around a teacher accreditation that actually celebrates the professional identity of teachers. We're going to actually just do a little bit of history, and not a lot, but just to help you know where we've come from, and where we actually have some plans for the accreditation of early childhood teachers, because you probably already know there have been a few changes in the last couple of years. So we just want to capture that, and actually give you some clarification of where things are moving forward. And then, of course, teachers who are probably the higher group here will actually hear about teacher accreditation requirements, and we'll talk about what are the ways that employers and NESA in particular can actually support teachers. So, but this first section is going to talk about the professional identity of teachers. And it would be remiss of me if I didn't actually mention this. The first thing I'm going to say is, as Jen mentioned, that we are early childhood teachers. We're not ECTs, we don't refer to primary teachers as PTs, or secondary teachers as STs. So, that's one of my key messages today, and I'll probably reinforce that throughout the session. But moving into the next slide, I just want to put a frame around what we know in regards to the frameworks that we actually use in early childhood. So, we know, and the animations will help us to actually see these images, but we know that we have the guide to the National Quality Framework, which includes the National Quality Standard. We know that we have the EYLF, and particularly the version two that's just come out. And what interacts with that is the framework of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. And all 3 together actually guide us in providing good quality early childhood education for children. The emphasis on the National Quality Framework, as you already would know, is all about the quality education, and education that we provide to children as a service. That's the key piece. We've worked wonderfully together, interacting together, deciding together, doing the self-study, so we can actually provide good quality education care for children. And of course the Belonging, Being and Becoming, that of course guides us in what is the quality learning for children. So we have quality education care in the service, quality learning for children. And what the Australian Professional Standards does, it gives us a framework for teachers to actually work through and professionally reflect on how they can improve their quality teaching. So, all 3 together interact to make sure we are promoting and guiding early children within quality early childhood education setting. But the next slide's going to look at teaching as a profession. And this is one of the emphasis that we wanted to actually get through with messages today is the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers is a national framework and it safeguards the quality, integrity and accountability of the teaching profession. Any teacher that is accrediting New South Wales is part of that broader teaching profession. And if we go back to the section being professional identity as teachers, it's an opportunity for the engagement with these standards, so you can actually celebrate your early childhood teaching as part of the teaching profession. Now, having experience in early childhood, I totally understand there are numerous other challenges at times in regards to what that may be seen, or how that actually is interpreted. But I actually like to stress that this is an opportunity for teachers to engage with this framework to develop their own teaching, and professionally reflect, and meet the teacher accreditation requirements, so they can actually promote that quality teaching for students and children. The other piece is teacher accreditation is a structured workplace process, recognising teachers that meet those standards. So the standards are what underpins the actual processes that we go through. And so, any of those processes that are part of our requirements means that you're engaging with those Australian Professional Standards for Teachers as a profession. Any profession has standards or codes that actually guide what a profession needs to do. If you think about doctors, accountants, et cetera, I always refer to my daughter who is a dietitian who has to actually be accredited as part of her profession to be able to practice. So those Australian Professional Standards for Teachers are what guide our professional expectation, and gives us some reassurance in the community of what we as teachers can do. But specifically breaking those down, I just wanted to talk through, this is an excerpt from one of the first, one of the first pages in the standards. The standards are broken down into a number of different parts. There are seven standards in total, and they are then broken down into 3 domains. So, thinking about ourselves as a profession, we need to have professional knowledge, which is the first domain, which you can see there. The other domains are professional practice, learning what we need to do. And there is also professional engagement being the 3 domains. So, it starts to break down the seven, what the framework of the standards more specifically. The next piece is the standards themselves. As I've noticed there's seven standards, and each of those relate back to that domain. So, in this example, Standard 1, know students, and we can actually use the word children, know children and how they learn is some of the knowledge we need to be able to act for quality teaching, and that professionalisation of our work. In the standards themselves, and I actually will talk to the next slide about how these standards relate to teacher accreditation requirements. In the standards, remembering this is Australian standard framework, so this is relevant to all teachers moving through their careers. Across the top of the page it's highlighted there, are the different career stages for a teacher. So the graduate standards are actually explicitly broken down for those teachers that have actually finished their university degree. They've actually gone to university, they've done their approved teaching qualification, and they've met those graduate standards. And when they come out and become a beginning teacher, they move to the proficient teaching standards. Now, both those graduate and proficient teaching standards as highlighted in the document there, are actually relevant to the mandatory teacher accreditation requirements, and I'll talk more to that a little further on. So, these are the standard descriptors underneath that outline those, more details around what that teaching practice looks like. And as you can see that last thing that's highlighted is the focus, and that breaks it down and that actually helps people to read across the page as teachers work through their career stages, so they can see how their practice deepens. You can see by graduate it says demonstrate the knowledge, so when you finish university you demonstrate the knowledge of. As you move towards proficient you're then using teaching strategies based on the knowledge of children. So you can see how it actually deepens as you go across the page. I just want to note there before we go on, the highly accomplished and lead teacher, they are voluntary levels of accreditation. I won't be addressing that in this session, but we certainly have an opportunity for you participating for information sessions that can give you further information. We would love to celebrate even more highly accomplished and lead teachers in the early childhood space. So, if you would like further information, there's certainly the information sessions, and we can actually give you some more guidance if you were to email us on the ECT accreditation email, which will give at the end of the presentation. So just to the next slide, we'll actually show you how these standards relate to our teacher accreditation requirements. So, if you actually look at the graduate standards, which I think if we can highlight now, you can see that's a teacher who meets the graduate standards, finishes a university degree, comes out, they're in their final year, or their studies are completed, and they come out as a beginning teacher, like they go into the enter the profession, and start to begin and develop and professionally grow using the standards as something to help them grow and develop. And it's then the graduate, sorry, the Proficient Teacher Standards that are listed there in that column if you read the document down the page. Once you become proficient, you are then maintaining your proficient teacher and that is what you are doing throughout your career unless you choose to actually apply for highly accomplished or lead. So that's just a simple slide to show how the graduate standards relate to granting of provisional and when you've become proficient that's the standard descriptions you work towards, so you can maintain your proficient teacher accreditation. And there's just an image there to show that that's all fully outlined in our manual, which is called the Teacher Accreditation Manual, which includes all of our policies and procedures. But as we move forward, and that will be one of the next slides, we will, there is a, one of those images related to specific applying for proficient teacher for early childhood teachers at the moment. That's an interim arrangement at the moment. This is just a couple of slides that I just wanted to raise because there's some comments within those standards quoted by teachers to help clarify and emphasise the difference between the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and teacher accreditation requirements. Again, I'll just emphasise the standards is our framework of what we aim for, and reflect, on and develop in regards to our quality teaching. And the processes of teacher accreditation is what the structures that are in place, or the processes that in place, and the requirements to be met. So it says there accreditation is ultimately about looking at the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and how we meet them as teachers and continue to learn as reflective professionals. It also says accreditation ensures equality, and I want to work with quality teachers in my profession. So just a couple of quotes there to emphasise and clarify what is the framework of the standards and the teacher accreditation requirements that sit on top of that. But there are a few key players in teacher accreditation. The 3 key players I'm going to focus on and throughout here and also later in the presentation is the teachers, and the employers, and NESA. So for teachers, teachers engage and reflect and plan for their growth guided by the standards, and your quality develops with a professional responsibility to engage with those expectation requirements. So it's a teacher's professional responsibility as being part of that broader teaching profession to understand what is in those standards, to actually make sure that they know what their due dates are, to actually engage with the process so that you actually are engaging with professional responsibility. It is certainly a very supportive environment when employers are actually setting up procedures to guide that workplace support for teachers, and how they can actually help teachers to meet their accreditation requirements. According to our Teacher Accreditation Act, employers must employ accredited teachers in an approved centre-based early childhood service, which of course includes long daycare, preschools, occasional care and mobile services. So that's an employer's responsibility or a key player, is that they have a responsibility there and setting up procedures will guide that workplace support for teachers to meet those requirements. I'd just like to emphasise, there's something I might have missed on a previous slide is that teacher accreditation is a workplace process. Teacher accreditation is your work or teaching is your work. And so, when you are thinking about what are those requirements I have to meet, it is about finding what that looks like in your workplace and we'll talk more about that when we look at the teacher accreditation section a little bit further on. But at the end there, NESA is the sole accreditation decision maker for all 180,000 teachers, which we have approximately 11,000 of in the early childhood teaching space. So, and being the sole accreditation decision maker, we have a responsibility to provide resources and support materials to be available for teachers in the sector to guide that professional growth throughout a teacher's teaching career. So a little bit of a break from my voice, and we're going to go to another Mentimeter. And this one's a little bit about just to make you reflect on some of that knowledge and answer a few questions that can make you just reinforce some of the things that I was saying in that last piece of the presentation. So the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers are the national professional standards for early childhood and school teachers, early childhood teachers only, school teachers only, or early childhood educators. I'll give you some time just to respond to that. Well, I think the overwhelming response and correct response there is early childhood and school teachers. So I'll just reinforce again, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers are the national standards for all teachers in Australia. In New South Wales we use that framework to guide our teacher accreditation requirements and processes. So, thank you, on the next question. The Proficient Teacher Standards, remember if you think about that slide that had all the different career stages on it, the Proficient Teacher Standards are applicable to teachers who have just graduated from uni, teachers beginning their career, teachers employed for a period of time, or all of the above. So I think that possibly might have been a little bit of a trick question there because, yes, the Proficient Teacher Standards are what the teachers beginning their career are moving to. The Proficient Teacher Standards are applicable to teachers employed for a period of time, or have actually been in their career for a long time. But they're also responsible with those teachers who have graduated from university because they're moving into the profession. So probably a bit of a trick question there, but all of the above is probably, or all of those 3 different categories, the standards are relevant to those teachers as they professionally grow and develop. And I can't remember if we have another one. We do, so I think I mentioned the Teacher Accreditation Act, it's the New South Wales legislation in regards to teacher accreditation. So the following levels of teacher accreditation are mandatory. Provisional teachers, proficient teachers, provisional and proficient teachers, or highly accomplished and lead teachers. So I can see an overwhelming response there to provisional or proficient teachers, and that is actually the correct answer. The following levels of accreditation, provisional and proficient teacher are mandatory. So when you are provisional, that's when you come out of university, you are given a provisional status, and you are working in the sector, and you're actually working towards proficient. So it's mandatory for you to have provisional accreditation the first instance when you come out of university. And then you become proficient, and that's what you maintain your proficient teacher accreditation. So those 2 levels of a teacher accreditation are mandatory. Okay, I thought that we were moving forward. Thank you to my support team in the background. So this section, I'm just going to do a little bit of a history just to help you know where we've come from, and where we're actually moving to. We're actually seeing this period between from now and onwards as what we're calling transition. And I'll explain what that means as we move through this timeline. So, you may recall that early childhood teachers needed to become accredited in 2016. That's when it was included in the Teacher Accreditation Act, that legislation, to say that early childhood teachers that work in a centre-based, approved centre-based service, and are delivering the EYLF needed to become accredited. Now when those teachers became accredited, we actually brought those teachers in and said, we see you as proficient teachers. You've actually got... You actually have that proficient teacher status because we wanted to highly recognise that teachers that have been working in the early childhood teaching space had already been working as teachers. So that's how we transitioned around 9 to 10,000 teachers in in 2016. Then in 2021, which is the next piece, yes, those teachers, which was a particular time for NESA in regards to early childhood teachers and teacher accreditation, was when those proficient teachers that were accredited in 2016, they commenced finalising that maintenance of proficient teacher. And I just bring that date to your attention because that was the first time that we were starting to work through early childhood teachers meeting requirements. But in 2021, later in 2021, we actually were given, well, what was actually approved was the Teacher Accreditation Act was reformed and we actually had to implement, had a year to implement teacher accreditation reforms. And one of the most important ones of those was that NESA became the sole accreditation decision maker, which was later but, I said the reforms we had a year. And so, later in 2022, we became the sole decision maker for all stages of teacher accreditation. Now, I highlight this to you because that's for the 180,000 teachers in New South Wales, and it's also because school teachers were having their accreditation decision makers made through the schools. Principals or other nominated people within the employer, school employer, were making those accreditation decisions. So we had to move forward to make that legislation in play. We had to actually implement that with school teachers, which is a huge number of teachers. Now, early childhood teachers prior to that, and still, have NESA as their decision maker. So that's why we are now moving into the transition of early childhood teachers for that Teacher Accreditation Manual, and also the policies and procedures that are in that Teacher Accreditation Manual. We are calling this a transition time as we move these teachers and the sector to be transitioned to those Teacher Accreditation Manual and all those policies and procedures that came out of the reforms. So that's just to give you a little bit of history and understanding of why we're actually may have a few little differences compared to school teachers, but it's because we're in this transition time. But the most important thing it's provided us with a number of opportunities that we can move through in the next little while. So those opportunities on the next slide, please, thank you. Those opportunities is we want to actually continue this message that I've been sending today is the professional identity and growth of early childhood teachers. We want to encourage that. We want to encourage early childhood teachers and the sector to have a better knowledge about that, and understand how you are members of that teaching profession and to celebrate that and support you to celebrate that. It also gives us an opportunity to review and develop our additional resources and support materials to improve the sector's knowledge and understanding about teacher accreditation. And one of those things is that we really want to strengthen our relationship with employers. We actually want to gather more information from employers to have a better line of communication with employers to ensure they have an understanding around the teacher accreditation requirements, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. So one of the things that we will be doing fairly soon with employers is reaching out, and asking for a nomination of a person that we can contact in the employer in regards to teacher accreditation matters. That will be someone that we will communicate directly with, it means it's someone who can share information. We have now set up a particular email queue for early childhood employers. So we're actually wanting to strengthen our relationship and our communication with employers in that space. So we also have an opportunity now that we are transitioning to the Teacher Accreditation Manual, is that we want to train more proficient teachers to become supervisors. Now I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail about supervisors right at this slide because it's covered off a bit further on, but we want to, as we say, cast the net out. Cast the net out to get more proficient teachers to train and become supervisors to support teachers in their own services. You may or may not recall, but up till, at the time of the teacher accreditation reforms, we actually had a designated policy that said it was larger employers that actually only had supervisors in their employer. We want to cast that net out and we want to actually ensure that there are teacher, sorry, supervisors in services to support provisional teachers working towards proficient. And the other opportunity is to continue to engage with our key stakeholders to share that information regarding the transition of early childhood teachers in the sector. We have at NESA an early childhood reference group that's made up a number of different stakeholders, including Jen who's introduced this session, and then her other colleagues sitting on that stakeholder reference group. We have representatives from CELA, the independent education union, large employers, et cetera. So we have a regular meeting and... Sorry, I just got a bit distracted by a message that came through. And we want to continue that engaging of those key stakeholders with that information. So, the time has come to talk about particular requirements. Okay, so I'm going to give a bit of background on each of the different requirements for provisional working towards proficient, and maintaining proficient teacher accreditation. But I actually going to make sure that there is some discussion or some suggestions on how those key players I highlighted previously can actually work together to support teacher accreditation as a whole, and also teachers moving through their accreditation requirements. So proficient teacher accreditation requirements, I'm just going to emphasise here, is a teacher that's working from provisional to proficient, a teacher that's entered the profession, and is actually building their practice. They're using the standards to reflect, they're using the standards to help guide where they need to improve. They may seek the information from colleagues and support from colleagues, or their management, et cetera. And they have to, by the end of their timeframe, select, annotate and submit 5 to 8 items of documentary evidence. I'm going to stress here, those 5 to 8 items of documentary evidence is excerpts from your work. I'll stress again, it is a workplace process, it is part of your work, teaching is your work. So you go every day and you plan and you program and you observe and you talk to families and you talk to colleagues and you decide on how to reflect and change programming or change numerous things. So you are doing that in your work. So the emphasis here is to ensure that when the teacher is actually selecting, entertaining and submitting those items of evidence, they are things that are relevant to their work. Excuse me. I would also say, emphasise, it is not a necessity to show evidence of the 37 standard descriptors that are total, that is the total number in the standards document. There is 5 to 8 items of documentary evidence addressing two to 4 standard descriptors. So there's more information about that in our procedure document, and I'll just highlight that, and there'll be a slide at the end that will show you the particular intra procedures for early childhood teachers as we are moving through this transition that will outline all of that. The other thing is that there needs to be an observation report that you teacher works alongside with a supervisor, and that report is an observation on, one observation on teaching practice and you work with the supervisor to plan it. The supervisor observes your teaching, and then you work with the supervisor at the end so you can actually reflect and see where there may be areas of improvement, or where things have been met in regards to standard descriptors. And then all of that application, all of that evidence is actually submitted in your NESA online account. So just to highlight about supervisors, accreditation supervisors are those people that are trained by NESA who have proficient teacher accreditation. They support the teacher to achieve proficient teacher accreditation, and guide them to collect and annotate the evidence. They actually observe their teaching practice as I mentioned in the last slide. And when that's all pulled together, that supervisor reviews that application and makes a declaration, stating, I declare that this teacher is meeting and demonstrating the Proficient Teacher Standards. So the supervisor's role is to supervise that teacher alongside them in a working relationship so that that teacher can actually complete their accreditation requirements. Now, I'm sure that everyone will know there is a couple of models and sometimes there's some, maybe some confusion or maybe some misunderstanding. So I'm just going to talk through the two different models of support we have for early childhood teachers in regards to accreditation supervisors. I will stress that we are transitioning. And you heard me say before, we are casting the net to train more teachers to be supervisors. We are hoping that teachers, that services and employers will actually nominate proficient teachers in their service that can act in that role as supervisors. And we offer that free online training to train supervisors to do that. So there are two models of support. And I would suggest that teachers actually request in the first instance or ask the question in the first instance, do I have an accreditation supervisor with my employer or service? That's the first question a teacher could probably ask because they will then be able to work out whether they have a NESA trained proficient teacher in the same service or the employer, and they may be teachers, they may be service directors, area management roles, they must be proficient, and show expertise in the early childhood space. And then, but depending on the employer there will be some procedures to guide how they manage and allocate those supervisors to teachers. If you aren't in that category, then you may have an accreditation supervisor allocated by NESA. And so, we can actually ensure that that cohort is actually supported well. We've actually set up online community of practice. And we are the ones that manage and allocate these supervisors to teachers. So I just want to stress there, you may be one or the other at the moment because we are transitioning and we are, as I said, training more proficient teachers to be supervisors. But first task is probably for a teacher to think about is ask their employer, their service director, do I have a supervisor that's available in my service, or employer to support me in my provisional teacher to proficient teacher process? And if not, then to reach out and ask NESA about what's happening in regards to that specific circumstance. So, looking at the next slide, I remember that, oh, sorry, I hope that you remember that I was thinking about, or wanting to actually talk to you about the key players. So, I'm going to talk to you briefly about some things to think about of how each key player can actually provide that supportive workplace environment for teacher accreditation. So, teachers use the standards as a reflection tool to guide your professional growth and development. There's lots of things that we work on on the Quality Standards under the National Quality Framework. It's about the service. This is about engaging with those standards and reflecting on your own practice to guide your professional growth and development. Engage in professional dialogue with other teachers in your service or in your network, and use the standards as maybe something that actually guides that dialogue. How do you see me actually demonstrating this standard descriptor with toddlers? How do you see I can actually demonstrate that term standard descriptor with my team, or alongside my team, or guiding my team. I'll emphasise again and I already have said this, your documentary evidence is taken from your daily work. Teaching is your work. And the other thing I'd actually say is to uphold the relationship with your allocated accreditation supervisor. It's important to see that as a process to work through together. And that is a relationship-based piece, and that you're actually working with the supervisor. And so, reaching out if you need to to get some further guidance, or connection, or whatever might be happening with you in that circumstance. For the employers, which is the next key player, how to, you know, making sure or thinking about how to create a supportive workplace, acknowledging teacher accreditation requirements. So, as employers or people that manage services, we are actually making sure that all staff needs are met, and that's applicable to anybody that's working in any workplace. And some of the things to think about in regards to teachers understanding their staff that have a particular professional responsibility, that's the teacher's professional responsibility. But in creating a supportive workplace, how might your procedures be addressing workplace induction? Do you actually ask teachers when they come, what level of teacher accreditation do you hold? When is your due date? How can we actually make sure that we can see there's a supervisor if we actually do have supervisors trained in our employer? Monitoring their teacher's accreditation due dates and how are you actually deciding about the allocation and management of a supervisor or any other nominated teacher that takes on a specific role. The other thing is that, of course, in the National Quality Standard there's reference to, and I'm not going to quote it accurately, but reference to performance management and performance guidance. So, maybe in your performance management with teachers, have you talked with teachers about how that might relate to the standards, and how they can actually develop professionally, and seek professional learning around particular standard descriptors that's of relevance to them. And lastly, the key player was NESA. The last key player was NESA. So we have a role to support, advise and educate teachers, accreditation supervisors, employers and management. We monitor and manage the allocation of accreditation supervisors. I will just emphasise there, even though we might, the previous slide said NESA manages those community to practice accreditation supervisors, we still have a responsibility to monitor and manage any allocation in our database of any supervisor to any teacher. And lastly, we manage the proficient teacher recommendations and the accreditation decisions. So they’re key ways, those key players, can actually provide a supportive environment for proficient, remember these are provisional teachers working towards proficient, and that some things to think about in regards to how that can be a supportive workplace for teachers. So I'm hoping I've got enough time. I haven't done a very good job of keeping time of my own, but it says I've only got third, I've still got a number of minutes, so I'm going to reach to the Menti and give you a little bit of a break from my voice, and get you to think about, specifically about provisional teachers working towards proficient. And so, the proficient teachers describe the professional knowledge practice and engagement for a teacher to finalise their proficient teacher accreditation. And yes, that is right, the Proficient Teacher Standards does describe the professional knowledge, practice engagement. Remember those key words. There are those domains in the standards, professional knowledge, practice, and professional engagement for teacher to finalise proficient teacher accreditation. Remember if you're a provisional teacher entering the profession, you move towards proficient. Those same standards, bit of a heads up here for the next lot of questions, but those same standards are what actually a teacher who has already achieved proficient teacher will be maintaining their proficient teacher practice as well. So those Proficient Teacher Standards are specific to finalising proficient teacher. We go to the next question. I think I said this, I hope that people were listening. Proficient teachers are required to select, collect, and annotate all standard descriptors at Proficient Teacher. So that's 72 or 76, oh, 79. Those 79 responses, that is correct. Proficient teachers are... Sorry, it's correct that you said no. Proficient teachers are not required to select and annotate all standard descriptors. Proficient teachers are required to select, collect, and annotate 5 to 8 pieces of evidence with two to 4 standard descriptors each. So even if you put in 8 items of evidence, and you put in 4 standard descriptors that it was relevant to, that's still only 32. My apologies, my headsets fall out of my ears sometime. Accreditation supervisor for early teachers are always allocated by NESA. So that 78 responses to no is the correct answer. Accreditation supervisors for early childhood teachers are allocated by employers and allocated by NESA. There are employer accreditation supervisors, and there are NESA accreditation supervisors. And depending, sorry, not depending, but we will monitor all those allocations because we need to do that in our database to make sure that every works, everything works in the front end for you and the supervisor, but NESA doesn't allocate them all. Employers and NESA allocates accreditation supervisors. Excellent, I thought that I was going on to that one. Thank you. So, I'm now going to talk about you've reached, or teachers reach proficient teacher accreditation, they have moved from provisional, they've come out of university, they've been given provisional accreditation, they've met those graduate teaching standards, and now they're moving, they've moved from provisional proficient, and they've met those Proficient Teacher Standards, and now they're maintaining the proficient teacher accreditation. And the requirements there are teachers are required to continue to demonstrate practice at the standards for Proficient Teacher. So that's again coming back to engaging with those Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, and seeing where you can professionally develop and grow. I use a bit of this, you know, an awkward example here and quite obtuse. So, just to illustrate the point, you may be working in a 4 to 5-year-old room, and all those 4 to 5-year-olds are actually amazingly amazing with their literacy and numeracy skills. And you are going, whoa, where am I going to take them? So, how can you actually engage with those standards to help you think about where are the ways you can actually work with those children and take them through their learning journey? Now, this is the one thing that actually becomes quite of interest to a number of teachers. That is, yes, one of the requirements is for a teacher to complete a minimum of 100 hours of professional development to support their professional growth. Now, that minimum of 100 hours is broken down into 50 hours of NESA accredited PD, and 50 hours of elective PD. And what I'd like to stress here in regards to the NESA accredited PD is a couple of things. That accredited PD has specific priority areas. They are the delivery of the EYLF, PD that looks at children with mental, and, you know, supporting mental health, supporting children with a disability, and supporting Aboriginal children, Aboriginal education. Those priority areas, mandatory priority areas, are ministerial approved and have been given to us as NESA to guide us in accrediting PD from providers. There is one optional priority area that has come in within the last 6 months, 6 to 8 months. And that is leadership. So there may be some opportunities there as well. So as a teacher there's an expectation that you clear a, complete a minimum of 50 hours in your full-time frame of 5 years for full-time teachers, seven years for part-time teachers, a minimum of 50 hours NESA accredited PD, and the remainder made up of elective PD. And that elective PD can take a variety of different activities. Doesn't have to just be attending sessions, it can be professional reading, and there's information on our website that will give you information about professional reading. It may be when you do have an informal networking meeting with other teachers. As I was saying, have an informal networking talk about the standards. There might be an opportunity there where you have actually engaged with the standards, and you can see that as elective PD. It can include any other PD that doesn't fit into that NESA accredited PD box. But it has to relate to a standard descriptor. So there's a variety of different ways. As a teacher with NESA accredited PD, you can log that on your account. Oh, sorry, I do apologise. You don't log it, the provider logs it. And so, that's available on your account. Your elective PD, you can choose to log that how you wish. And it's just in case of auditing requirements, we may request to see that PD log. The auditing process is for a quality assurance mechanism. So, when you actually have engaged with all and continue to demonstrate your practice, and completed your PD, you are then at the end of your timeframe, you need to verify the completion of your PD requirements, your employment, and your contact details on your NESA account. And what that now means is that you will go on and you will make a declaration. Previously we used to have the role of attestation. That role of attestation has been removed. So now all a proficient teacher needs to do that's maintaining their proficient teacher accreditation is continue to demonstrate their practice, complete their PD, and at the end of their timeframe make a declaration that says, I have continued to maintain my Proficient Teacher Standards in my work. So on the next slide, some of it may seem a little repetitive to our previous slide, but again, looking at those key players and what are some of the ways that teacher, employers, and NESA can actually provide that supporting environment. So teachers remembering as you have a professional responsibility to continue to use those Proficient Teacher Standards as a reflection tool to develop teaching practice. Because one day, one time you might be in one service, you may be working with those 4 to 5-year-olds, and then you may actually be working with infants. So how do you actually teach infants, or how does that look? What does that look like with those standards? So there's an opportunity to use those standards to reflect on your own context at different times throughout your career. Use the standards to guide your professional development choices. If you feel that you might need to do something in regards to teaching infants, or thinking about what an infant and toddler environment looks like, then maybe that might be relevant to Standard 2, which is know content and how to teach. There might be something in those standard descriptions that tells you, yeah, this is where I need to go. So, where is maybe some PD that's appropriate to me? And it may not be NESA accredited PD, but it may be PD that actually is relevant to that particular standard descriptor. Again, as I said last time, engage in professional dialogue with colleagues. And to, as I referred to on the last slide, to maintain a record of your elective professional development. And again, how can employers actually support that? The second key player there. Continue that supportive workplace for teachers to maintain practice at proficient teacher. And for these teachers that are maintaining their proficient teacher, you would likely to think about procedures that address that maintenance of proficient teacher accreditation requirements. And for example, how do teachers access professional development related to the standards? Are there opportunities for even some professional development to support and build the capability of teacher colleagues? And I'd actually say one of those examples are relevant to this presentation is, can they train as a supervisor? So that might be an opportunity for you to think about. Providing feedback and guides for teachers to continue to meet the Proficient Teacher Standards. So that again may be relevant to how you have some reporting mechanisms, or performance appraisal things in place that are part of your procedures and your processes. So the standards are actually being embedded within that teacher's workplace context. And lastly for NESA, not dissimilar to the other slide, but again, support and advise and educate the sector, the teachers, supervisor, employers and management. Our team that Carmel and I represent, we don't actually personally approve accredited PD, but we do approve that accredited PD that comes through from those PD providers. And lastly, as we've had in the last slide, but this is of course those teachers that are maintaining their proficient teacher. We manage the proficient teacher accreditation decisions. So, another quick Menti, I think I've got some time to do that, and then we'll just be finishing up. So, last Menti is specific to teachers, proficient teachers, who are maintaining their proficient teacher accreditation. What's a minimum number of NESA accredited PD hours teachers are required to complete when finalising maintenance of proficient teacher accreditation? So that overwhelming response is correct. It is now 50 hours of NESA accredited PD. When teachers first came in way back in 2016, there was an arrangement that only 20 hours needed to be completed. We've tended to move through that cohort of teachers, and so now they're moving into the next maintenance period, and it is now 50 hours. A minimum number is 50 hours. We just have the next question, please, thank you. Aha, think about this one. Proficient teachers maintaining their proficient teacher accreditation are required to finalise by submitting documentary evidence to NESA. I think you will remember I said, "Maintaining teachers, you need to continue your practice, you need to complete PD hours and you need to actually complete a declaration." So what is your answer to teachers who are maintaining their accreditation? Are they required to finalise by putting documentary evidence to NESA? Okay, just finishing off there so we can move quickly towards the end of the presentation, but it is not a requirement for teachers who are maintaining their proficient teacher to submit documentary, which we refer to as that 5 to 8 piece of evidence and observation report. That is relevant to teachers who are moving from provisional to proficient. When you are maintaining your proficient teacher, you will be required to complete your PD requirements, engage with Proficient Teacher Standards, and make a declaration at the end of your timeframe. And again, the answer to this one is no, because we removed that attestation last year. So when you are finalising your maintenance of proficient teacher accreditation, you will, actually, I'll emphasise it again, continue to engage with the standards and maintain your proficient teacher practice in your work. Complete the PD requirements, which we've talked about, and then you will make a declaration, saying that you've continued to maintain your proficient teacher accreditation. I just emphasise this is the teachers that have already moved from provisional to proficient, and are now maintaining their proficient teacher accreditation. So the answer to that one is no. So, lastly, just to give a summary, remembering early childhood teachers, not ECTs, early childhood teachers are members of the broader teaching profession. You are considered... Because you're included in that legislation, you are considered part of the broader teaching profession. And a profession actually has the Australian Professional Standards that underpin our knowledge, skills, and understanding of quality teaching. Teacher accreditation is a structured workplace process that recognise teacher demonstration at the standards as they move from provisional to proficient teacher accreditation, and maintaining proficient teacher accreditation. Engaging with and reflecting upon the standards informs a teacher's professional growth. Whether you are a beginning teacher working towards proficient, or whether you are a current teacher maintaining your proficient. It informs your professional growth. And I'll just finish up by saying, remember there are key players in teacher accreditation, which includes teachers with a professional responsibility, employers providing a supportive workplace, and of course NESA as the teacher regulatory authority, having some responsibilities of making decisions and supporting the sector generally. Last slide shows you some resources. Again, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers is available on our website. The Proficient Teacher Evidence Guide, which is tiny there, you can't, I know you can't see it very well. That is just newly released only of last week. You would've seen the other one with a nice colourful photo. We have now pooled that together. So all teachers and their evidence are all in one document and I would highly recommend that you actually refer to that. Helps you understand the standards and the standard descriptors. You as a teacher have access to your NESA Learning Hub with your NESA teacher account number. Variety of courses there in regards to proficient teacher orientation, highly accomplished, maintaining your proficient teacher, and a whole range of different ones. And eTAMS, which I probably didn't put the best slide there, but when you log into your eTAMS, that you can see down there, you'll have access to eTAMS Help. Another really helpful thing to guide you through managing things online. And lastly, on our website is our Teacher Accreditation Manual, which is explains all policies and procedures, and as we are transitioning early childhood teachers in the sector, we still have applying for proficient teacher accreditation procedure as an interim arrangement until we fully implement the teacher accreditation manual in the early childhood sector. So, thank you. A lot of information. I hope I've helped clarify some things. There is our email address if you have any concerns, questions about your own teacher accreditation, to use that email address to help us clarify your queries, our phone number there, we have a frontline team that takes those calls, a website. And then, I think a big thank you. Thank you for listening to my voice, and I'm going to pass over to Jen.

Jennifer Perry: Thanks, Merise. That was a really comprehensive presentation. And some key call out for me was that kind of critical role that both the teacher, the employer and NESA play in a supportive workplace to support teachers going from provisional to proficient and maintaining their proficient accreditation. And also I think casting the net wide for getting more accreditation supervisors. So it was really impressive and a comprehensive presentation, so thank you for that. And I'm just conscious of time, so we might wrap it up now, but just a big shout out to everyone who's managed to get this session up and running. So Jane, David, Vaida, Colleen, Angus, and Tjanala from DOE. And obviously Merise and Carmel for the thought and effort going into this presentation. So a big shout out to everyone involved. And yes, if you've got any questions, do use the email in the last slide and the phone number, but we will, we'll identify the themes and send them through to you with responses. So have a great afternoon everyone. Thank you.

Merise Bickley: Thank you all.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
  • NSW ECEC Regulatory Authority
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