Get to know your AOs: Kate Hughes
Authorised Officer, Kate Hughes, talks to us about why supporting educator’s wellbeing is so important and what positive outcomes she’s seen in children when there’s continuity of educators.
What is your position and where are you based?
I am a senior field officer in the compliance team and am based out of Parramatta or from home near Bankstown.
What experiences or interests inspired you to take on a position as an AO?
I had worked in services in the early childhood profession for sixteen years and one of the aspects I enjoyed most was visiting other services and helping to uplift compliance and quality, so I leapt at the opportunity to join the department and continue to impact the positive improvement of services on a greater scale.
Why do you think supporting educator’s wellbeing is important in services and could you give an example of something you’ve seen which has supported educator wellbeing?
Supporting educator's wellbeing is not only important for the individual and the workforce regarding reduced sick leave but more importantly it has a flow on effect as it links to continuity of educators and a positive impact on the wellbeing of the children and families.
An example I have seen where supporting the educator's wellbeing had a positive impact on the educator, children and the service was when an educator was diagnosed with breast cancer. The children and families were informed and kept up to date with the educator's journey through correspondence back and forth between the educator and the service. This meant the educator still felt connected to the service and had an enormous support network. The children became less fearful of doctors and their empathy for others grew. The educator beat cancer and returned to the service which was a great outcome for everyone involved.
What positive outcomes have you noticed in children when they have access to continuity of educators?
When children have continuity of educators anything is possible as the children feel safe and secure, and you can see in their interactions with educators and peers how confident they are and how willing they are to try new things because they are supported by educators they feel secure with.
What are some good practices you’ve seen in services that have supported staffing arrangements and ratio compliance?
I have seen many examples where services have developed rosters and processes to ensure they are not only adhering to ratios but also taking into consideration the family lives of the educators and continuity for children and families. From offering 10 hour / 4 day work weeks, to job sharing, matching the attendances of children and shifts that have been rostered to overlap to facilitate a handover and smooth transition. It is great to see services thinking outside of the box to meet the needs of their educators, children and families while also maintaining compliance with the Laws and Regulations.