2020 Virtual Roadshow

The Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) roadshows provide an opportunity to engage and consult with the sector. They also allow for the department to inform the ECEC sector on new initiatives and receive current resources and information.

We delivered our first round of virtual, COVID-safe roadshows to the Early Childhood Education Care sector in September and October 2020.

Across 9 roadshows we provided more than 1000 attendees with up-to-date information about policy initiatives and programs. The roadshows also gave attendees an opportunity to give sector feedback and ask questions.

Topics covered included quality improvement, funding programs, policy initiatives and sector support.

View recordings and slides from the roadshows below. Please note, all Menti links are no longer active and some surveys mentioned in the recordings are now closed.

Executive Director's welcome and COVID-19 reflections

Executive Director's welcome and COVID-19 reflections

- So we will now hear from Gillian white, executive director of early childhood education and schools policy. Over to you Gill.

- Thanks so much Kaitlin and welcome everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here today virtually. I would also like to acknowledge country on the really wide variety of aboriginal lands that we all meet on today across the state. I'm here on Cammeraygal Land in North Sydney and pay respects to elders, past, present and emerging. And most importantly our aboriginal students and our aboriginal colleagues in the sector who do such a wonderful job everyday. So thank you all and thank you for joining us.

As Kaitlin mentioned, my name is Gillian White, most people call me Gill, and I'm a brand new acting executive director of early childhood policy and programs under education and skills reform in the Department of Education. This is my second week, and it's so, it's been such a delightful start to this role to be able to participate in these virtual roadshows as well as some consultation and collaboration that we're having on the development on of an aboriginal ECE strategy that you'll hear about later as well. So it has been wonderful to dive on in and meet a range of you and hear your thoughts on what's working well and what we can continue to do together to make things better. I work closely and alongside Sharon Gudu, who's the other executive director that's been opening a number of the other roadshows as well, and she's the Executive Director of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services. So Sharon's key focuses on regulatory strategy, policy, practice and quality improvements across the sector, and my key focus is building strong collaborative relationships to uplift quality and ensure safety for children. So the policy and program side alongside the regulatory approach.

So we're separate teams but we work really closely together, and you'll hear from members of both of those teams over the course of today. So we've gone virtual and we've done a number of the virtual roadshows last week and this week, and it seems to have worked well with the interactivity of Menti. So feel free to, well, not just feel free, we would be delighted if you can engage really strongly in that Menti, and if that's a challenge or you wanna use something different, yesterday lots of people made comments on the Zoom group chat as well.

At any stage throughout this roadshow, and certainly, as we get into the next substantive agenda item. For those of you who are newer or needed a refresh, these roadshows are really important for the Department of Education, and we hope they're really important for you as well too. They provide us a fantastic opportunity to engage and consult with the sector and allow us to inform a range of new initiatives and thinking. We've all had such an odd and exhausting and intriguing year of 2020 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. And so this kind of engagement and consultation is even more important in that circumstance.

So we thank you for making the time and the effort to contribute today. So the agenda for the day. So first off, and you've got it up on your screen hopefully now, we're gonna do an update on the department's working initiatives around COVID-19, but to reassure you there's gonna be some interactive components of that and a round table discussion with Cherylanne Williams the General Manager at KU and Kathy Dryden from Statewide Operations Network. So opportunities for you to contribute and also hear from them as well.

Secondly, we'll hear from the office of the children's guardian about the new child safe standards. There'll then be a presentation on how we can work together to live quality across the sector, and then some more detailed group discussion on that work. We're going to collect a whole bunch of questions and answers that come up through those discussions and reflect those back to you. We'll then present our thinking on the new Proposed Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Strategy that we're really keen to co-design from the ground up, and seek your input at this early stage on that work. And finally, there'll be a brief update on our sector support programs and opportunities. So hopefully we're getting the balance right between a whole lot of important content and collaboration, but not getting the Zoom fatigue, that as Kaitlin mentioned, there's a couple of stretch breaks so, or go grab a cup of tea or a glass of water to keep us all nimble and engaged. So without any further ado, we might hit onto the COVID item, COVID-19 Reflections. I will do a little bit of talking at the start before we get into the interactive elements of it.

So if we can flip to the next slide, the impacts obviously of the coronavirus pandemic on the early childhood sector have been profound. I'm really conscious of how readily services and educators have been able to respond to the rapidly changing environment, and only a week or so into the job, that's very evident in all of the conversations that I've been having. As a mum of two little people who are in the early childhood space at the moment, I saw how my centre and lots of my friends centers and our childcare and preschools responded, and it's just been an extraordinary effort. So as the minister said in her opening, this crisis has been really difficult, but it is also highlighted your commitment as early childhood educators and providers to the health, safety and wellbeing of children, which is extraordinary and so very important.

When we think back on those days in March and April and how challenging that time was, when many of you were facing lots of families pulling children out of care, a real lack of certainty about Commonwealth funding arrangements and concerns about the viability of your services. So it has been really extraordinary, how you have rallied together individually and collectively and also worked with the department to come through this difficult time.

Here in education we've heard some amazing examples of services and educators that have gone above and beyond to come up with innovative ways to keep in touch with children and families. And we're gonna have a short video saying that, gives a little bit of that but what I was really struck within the Menti from the last roadshow was just all of the wonderful innovative approaches that services have adopted.

So really keen to hear from this group as well. So we thank you for the outstanding job you've done keeping services open and ensuring continuity of care for children in these really difficult circumstances. Some nuts and bolts on the support that the department has been providing, and in many instances, we'll continue to provide. We've had over 300 services that notified the department of closures due to COVID-19.

Now, in the vast majority of those cases services have reopened and there were temporary COVID related closures, but we will always look at ways we can support services however we can. To give you a sense of that, funding teams have been working with other directorates across the New South Wales government to deliver financial relief packages to support free preschool and local government services who are not eligible for job keeper.

Our approval teams are approving waivers for staff qualifications and in exceptional circumstances also waivers to ratios, but noting the importance of maintaining adequate civic supervision in those contexts. So we're considering those waivers obviously on a case by case basis. In the department's regulatory function, we're committed to supporting services throughout the pandemic to ensure the ongoing safety of both children and ACA staff. Some specifics on that, in the early days of COVID, we did packing and distribution of essential supplies of toilet paper and all of those things when those supplies were in short, were hard to come by.

We've been repositioning staff to stand up a COVID support team who have taken inquiries and provided advice to services. So we've found over 5,600 services across the state to offer support. Most recently that has included support for those services operating in border towns and regions with the complications of the different arrangements between Victoria and Queensland and New South Wales. We've been adapting our assessment and ratings processes, and you'll hear a little bit more from Kathy about the steps that statewide operations has undertaken in that regard.

And we've been working in regular contact with New South Wales Health to ensure we're getting accurate up to date information that can be shared with families and services. And obviously, in the case where there have been a few positive COVID cases in the service, we've been notified of those by new South Wales Health, and our staff are immediately in contact with those service and working through all the steps that need to be undertaken.

So that has been obviously a learning curve for everyone involved that put processes in place. We've had a lot of positive feedback on the adaptability of the regulatory authority and the reach-outs of education, and we came to hear from you today on what we've been doing well and what we might be able to continuously improve on. And we're updating our facts regularly, you can find them on our website, you can contact our support team. If you haven't signed up to SMS alert services, you can do that.

So we're constantly looking at ways to ensure that you're getting good clean messages and effective communication in ways that suit you. So we welcome any and all feedback about what we're doing well and what we can do better. So that's all the nuts and bolts. I promise I'll stop talking soon, but just moving on to how we make sure that we're reflecting in a more medium and longterm way on the impact of COVID.

We're really keen to capture the learnings and innovations that the sector has implemented. One, so that we can continue to support the sector as COVID evolves, and we've all experienced the different waves of what this pandemic has meant for early childhood and what it's meant obviously more broadly for parents and the workforce. And secondly, we wanna capture the learnings for future support and initiatives, 'cause we're conscious that they're sometimes in difficult circumstances, new green shoots and great new ideas come about.

And certainly we've found here in in the department there's been some ways that we think we're collaborating better across teams because of technology. So we need to make sure that we're kind of capturing what's actually been, you know, necessity being the mother of all invention. So we've started a COVID-19 learnings research project and we' will be documenting what we hear from you during road shows like this and in other collaborations that we undertake. The research has multiple elements. So there is a sector wide survey that's currently open to all services. There are Survey Monkey links on your screen now, and it closes on the 9th of October. So we'd be delighted if you could fill that in and contribute to this COVID learnings project. We will undertake some more specific focus groups with services, and of course we're really keen to hear from families. So we'll be conducting research with families on how they've navigated decision making on early learning during this time. So we're really keen to share back with you what all of that analysis shows us and what opportunities it might present for the future, and thank you in advance for your contributions to that. So you can stop hearing from me for a little while. We're gonna play a short video of some of the ways that the department has headed of services responding to the impact of COVID-19, which has been a great segue on to our interactive component. So enjoy.

Some ways that we've adapted our service, particularly with parents not being able to come into the classrooms and looking at what our relationship with our families is like in this COVID environment has meant that we've had to do things like sending out more online information, whereas before we relied so heavily on actual physical parent interactions in the room. So whilst we can't have parents coming into the classrooms to see all the showcases of learning, for example, on our displays and what all the children are learning, we're now sending that out a lot more via our online portal, which is Story Park, and we're able to gauge parents' feedback from that.

We're also utilizing a lot more technological means, actually filming things that the children are doing in the rooms more and sending that out to parents as well. Anything that we can do to help them feel connected to us during this period. I guess also as a team we've had to really reflect on how we talk to parents and did we perhaps take for granted the relationships we had prior where we were so accustomed to going through the motions of parents coming into the room and having that little yearn at the end of the day. We're now relegated to the doorway, and what does that look like in a busy moment? So still maintaining that really positive, happy, enthusiastic approach, highlighting something that the child did that day. So it might be more short and sweet now, but we always wanna maintain that content as being really high quality.

So our circle at preschool is even smaller. It is just me now and a few of my friends, but all birds and the animals are still here and all your toys, and all the things you love to play with here. And we just want you to know that we're thinking of you and when we're changing that ways through playing with you.

Great. So that's a good little video of some great work underway in a number of preschools and centers. So what you have now in front of you is a QR code. So if you can stick your mobile phone up to that, and there's the code there that will send you a link to where you can type in some thoughts and your approaches to some questions that we're gonna pop up on screen in a second. So question number one. So question number one is, just coming up now, what are some of the different practices that you have introduced at your service in response to COVID-19?

And as you type them away, they'll pop up on this shared screen, and I can call out a few. Concierge system is the first cab off the rank. Yeah, something you might not have thought about before COVID. Reviewing hygiene practices, absolutely. Which has actually been, I hear a very strong suit of the sector but even more focused now. Sanitization stations, distance markers, new policies relating to health and hygiene temperature checks. All of that on a great comprehensive response. Creative connections online, sessions between educators and families.

Yeah, that's wonderful to hear. Parent feedback sheets, fantastic. As a B&A, we offered care even though children weren't at school so parents could attend work and the hours we operate. Yes, having to think through this sort of important contribution that the sector has made to key workers in other sectors. We've had parents make appointments, check temperatures and sanitize. Rethinking orientation, yes. That's a key issue particularly at this time of year. When children were not at home, we had take home child pack Zoom meetings, videos of staff. Yeah, that really expanded use of technology. Using online systems a lot more for communication.

Leanne on the zoom chat missed the code, but innovative, intentional outdoor learning, fantastic. That sounds like we all wanna be there doing innovative, intentional outdoor learning. Checking calls with families who are staying at home, that's lovely, and the sort of wellbeing dimensions of that, including more photos and info of learning throughout the term in the term newsletter. Fantastic.

So watching that video and then, and getting all these responses shows how many great ways that you were leveraging your existing policies and your relationship with parents and families. Incursions online, fantastic. Zoom birthday parties. Haven't they been a feature now, but that's lovely having the service coordinate those. Drop off packs for mother's day, delightful. Okay, fantastic. Well, we're going to, this was a question yesterday. We're gonna capture all of those questions and responses and send them back out to your wall, in case it triggers some other ideas that you wanna adapt and take on. And as you can see, they just go on and on, there's some wonderful different ideas there.

So we'll try and theme them up and get back to you on those. Okay, should we move on to the second question? How are you feeling about how your service has been managing the COVID crisis? This might be the good, the bad, the changing feelings over the COVID crisis. And while people were thinking that all again, your second one about landmarks around time to say hi to the bears that people had put in there at the front of the houses is lovely. So the first one up there is proud of how the team have handed it. That's wonderful. Really well-bit exhausted by the cleaning, yes. And all of our hands without much hand sanitizer.

Very positive, but tired. I feel like it's been a reflection to improve our service overall. Fantastic. Pretty proud of ourselves combined with a little feeling of isolation. I think those mixed emotions are real, aren't they? We've had increased sense of community with everybody supporting each other. On the Zoom chat, overwhelmed with what the future will hold due to low numbers of children and funding being limited of international families. Yeah, and that might be an experience that some services are having more than others, depending on the combination of families that they're used to. Yeah. Really proud of the resilient responsive staff. That resilience word came up quite a few times yesterday as well. We're doing well but so stressed and tired. It's great to network with other services. I think it popped back to the other one, yep. Someone could scroll that bit down a little bit. Thank you.

Blessed at having understanding to staff. Overwhelmed by the gratitude from families, that's lovely. It's taken its toll, has been exhausting. Yeah, so there's that combined pride and resilience but with exhaustion and it feeling like just a really, really challenging year. Greatly supported by the community. Waiting for the Christmas break, I know. May there be no bush fires. It's not the year to hit us with anything more. Excellent, fantastic.

Well, not excellent over the feelings of exhaustion and some of the other stresses, but it is nice to see how people really have rallied together and the wonderful team efforts that are underway across the sector. Families have been very supportive of constant changes. Great. Okay, well, I can get carried away and keep reading these forever. So we might move on to the third and final question, otherwise we'll run out of time. Is there extra guidance that's needed to support you with service operations?

So this is the bit about the department. Like what else do you need? Have you been happy and comfortable with the support and the communications or if you've got other suggestions we'd be delighted to hear them. Yes, remote services need more support. Okay, that's good to hear back on. Help with sourcing PPA gloves. Happy with the info and level of communications that have come out.

Good, well, absolutely those ones that are coming through where there's some room, potential room for improvement we will definitely take on board and see what we can do. Sample parent update letters, interesting. Really appreciate the check in phone calls we received, great. More guidance with policy templates. Clear guidelines of when children should be excluded. Rather than ask us what we're doing, you guys actually provide us with docs to use e.g risk assessments, et cetera.

So some opportunities there. More support about the funding over the next few years so we can plan for the future, love the phone call check ins. Ideas on how to do remote choice for new enrollment. That's a nice, specific one that we should definitely add to our list of things to think through. Anything to reduce the stress of all staff. How to keep up with the ever changing information. Yeah, look, that has been a real challenge, and I'm, we're conscious across the department in the school's context as well as early childhood. How challenging that has been when there's been an evolving space at Commonwealth level of the state level.

And we hope that we don't get any more sort of substantial outbreaks so that there's not too much more of that. Continue with the support even after the crisis. I think that's a good comment, isn't it? That just as you guys have been innovative, hopefully we have been a little bit as well, and how do we keep up that momentum?

More funding for family daycare, more guides rather than you need to create a document. So that's a sentiment that's come up a few times. Great. Small services with limited staff need more support, and another call out on the actual documents, and I think that's, and then that, that final one there about sector specific information. And don't worry those who have written into the Zoom chat, we'll make sure we copy and paste those across as well. Kaitlin, am I, we're almost at time, I should move on, shouldn't I? I love this Menti. I think it's just a great way. I think if we were sitting in a physical room together, we wouldn't be able to get this many contributions. So thank you all.

As we said before, we'll collate it all and reflected back to you. Thank you so much for all of your engagement on that, it's really, really good. So dovetails very nicely with our panel discussion, which we will lead into now. So, as I Mentioned before, I'm joined by Cherylanne Williams, the General Manager KU, and Kathy Dryden's Statewide Operations Network. So welcome.

- [Kathy] Hello.

- Thank you very much.

- [Cherylanne] Hello.

- So the first question is for you Cherylanne, which is how has your organization adapted to the work that you do in order to respond to the impact of COVID-19?

- Okay, well, thank you very much Julian. Before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge the video and the work that others have been doing also across the sector, which has been amazing. And also, I'm sharing the perspective of KU as you've asked, in order our response to COVID. Didn't it hit us very swiftly? Like, that's one thing that I think has impacted upon myself as I reflect back, and I'm sure all of you are reflecting back as well. It just seemed like a moment ago yet it was so long ago. It was swift, we had to, as a sector, rethink, respond swiftly.

And I would just like to say my observations of not only KU, but also the sector and having conversations with people were well done as I say. I think that it has been an achievement in showing our flexibility and response in that case. But look, to talk about what KU has responded of the impact of COVID, as you would know, we're a large organization, a not for profit organization, and of course we've had to take a whole of organization approach. So within KU, we not only have centers that are rated, but we also have other programs and other things going on. So we sort of had to bring all of that information together and respond for each component of our business, if you'd like to put it that way.

So when it first hit, COVID first hit the exec leadership team in consultation with the board, we were meeting daily, because we really had to be on top of the responses and the information that was coming out so quickly.

And I think because there was a lot of trying to determine within health, what we needed to be doing, then there was a change one day, and I'm sure you've all felt that, and that's why we've probably feeling a bit of fatigue now in terms of that, we had to respond nearly on a daily basis to things that were happening.

The exec leadership team is not meeting daily now, we meet twice a week, and we find that from our perspective, even though we're still dealing with some of the issues, it has slowed somewhat.

Just to give you a bit of an idea, we have daily updates on our COVID testing across the organization, so that we can keep abreast of how many staff are being tested in children. So far, we've had 615 staff tested and 353 children, and all have been negative. So that sort of information comes to us on a daily basis.

We also, we keep our board abreast of what's going on as they are supporting the exec team and the whole of organization. We also, and I did hear someone say or within your Menti, and I love Menti too Gillian, it's certainly going to be a feature in anything that we do at KU from here on in. But the fact sheets, we had to keep fact sheets pumped out for people, picking up key information to staff and families. We also have the employee assistance program for individuals staff and groups. That became a key feature of the whole of our dealing with COVID, ensuring that people, as we've heard in the news with mental health issues work from home, even though some people may say, well, work from home is fantastic.

But actually we've had to deal with people who are working from home and grappling with that, and the lack of interaction with their peers. So that's been something we've had to deal with. What we also have done as an organization is ensure that when we get to a point with working with the staff and particularly in extraordinary circumstances, just as Victoria has just, or is still dealing with, the restrictions down there, we've made sure that we've made personal connection with each of our staff members. That's most important.

We've found that people need a lot of reassurance, a lot of support, and we've certainly made that a key feature of what we've been working with. Look, I think also Chris Legg, who gives her apologies today and I'm standing in for her, she has been on a lot of working parties and reflections and lessons learned.

And I love Gillian that you're bringing all that together from today, the lessons learned, the innovations so that we can all as a sector see what we're doing and what we're sharing and working together with. Look, I think also from, we dealt with our office space staff. I think that we had to react swiftly for them too, because we had to close down a whole organization overnight. We had to actually ship all our people out to work from home, and that was a really big key piece so that they were able to continue to support our services so that we didn't miss a beat. That that was quite a large piece of work, and I'm unsure of how much time I have Julian, so I might just quickly keep going.

- Yeah, that would be great. Maybe one more reflection and then we'll come back to you.

- Okay, all right.

- Yep. So look with the center based staff, absolutely the increased hygiene practices has been something that has been huge for staff to deal with, and we've put in the concierge service which I heard someone mentioned before as well. So we've had to support services with additional staff to manage the additional hygiene practices as well as fulfill that role of the person who stands at the door and welcomes families. I'll stop there then Gillian, yep.

- Thank you. That was great, and hearing some of your reflections that mirrored the Menti responses and also the kind of organizational challenges as well. Kathy, can I turn to you on how the regulatory authority has adapted its approach to its operations and maybe a little bit also on, what do you think that you've changed that you might keep in the future?

- Okay, thanks. My two questions, if it's fine, I'll get through the points. I guess for the department, we haven't stopped. We went from bushfire support and flood support and went straight into COVID, so we'd sort of had a little bit of a trial ground. We mentioned, as you mentioned previously, the pickup COVID, our officers called every service in New South Wales. Some of those services got one phone call, some got many, depending on what their needs were and their circumstances. During COVID we've made lots of adjustments to the way we're conducting our visits to ensure that not just our officers are safe, but families and children and all the staff at the services are safe. Our office has engaged with services by phone and where visits weren't practical, officers would request documentation to be sent in so we can still have those discussions around key regulatory practices.

As the officers are starting to return to conducting visits, the previous discussions continued and in conjunction with services, our officers would arrange a scheduled time. Officers would still request some documentation to be sent in, because when we're at this service we really wanna spend our time observing practice and having discussions. Having said that where there's an allegation of risk to children, these visits may not be scheduled, they will be unannounced, but officers will still be following COVID- safe practices.

Assessment rating visits resumed in July, and the structure of visits has been discussed in consultation with educators of the services prior to officers attending. For example, we may do a Zoom meeting beforehand, a zoom after, we may split the visits over two days, it's really a bespoke approach. So it's actually meeting the needs of the services. And we really, again, focus out our time in the services observing practices. Where services have special circumstances related to COVID, and requested to have the INR rescheduled, we've actually taken that on board and it's been considered.

However, we still follow up with phone calls and as much as we possibly can. Many of the service that we previously have postponed are now back and engaging with our assessment writing process. We're currently minimizing the officer's traveling by air, therefore some services not noted, some services in the remote areas are not getting the visits, but we are attempting to get to those phone calls as much as we can. I was speaking to a manager this morning and I understand that the road between Tibooburra and Broken Hill has now been tarred, and it's very exciting for our officers and for the people out there. We continue to... Okay.

- What a win?

- I know, I mean, the things we get excited about. Officers they're required on a daily and weekly or daily basis to monitor the health advice and any change restrictions as they emerge and in consultation with their manager, ensure their work plans continue to reflect the current situation, so that flexibility and agility is being built into our work. Officers who display any signs of illness, we follow the health guidelines, they don't go to the service for any reason. Your service will be called and we'll reschedule. All our officers are currently working from home.

We're not completing service visits, and we're not attending offices or using public transport, because that actually further minimizes the risk. Officers are provided with PPE, such as hand sanitizer to use before during and after service visits, and they'll also have access to mask if your service requires them to use one. Officers we'll also follow any additional precautions that your service has in place. For example, hand washing and temperature checks. I think I've had my temp checks so many times this year, it's been crazy. And we'll also complete the travel declarations and anything else that you have in place. Where possible, the officers will spread out their visit to minimize the transmission between services.

- Kathy, so that's a lot of really good adaptations, isn't it? To kind of the ordinary way of doing business. Of those, which do you think will continue into the future, what have you thought, actually, this works better this way, so even, once we're over this pandemic, we'll still do it that way or we'll think about doing it that way?

- I think there's a couple of big things. I think the flexible approach to visits will continue. We still may get documents in advance because it helps us with the time we're actually spending in the services. The phone calls and Zoom meetings prior to the visits and possibly after the visits, because it actually not just gets information, but as we've discussed it on, it's anxious enough just getting an officer turn up to a visit, let alone having COVID put on top of that, and we're finding that that tends to reduce a lot of the anxiety.

The services that establish those relationships that we wanna have with the services before we come out, and it's also about having that hand in hand planning for the context of the service, and what's it says. I think with all the support that's been put in place over the period, we've heard really loud and clear from services that they are enjoying the relationships that we've been building with the services, and we really wanna see that flourish and grow. We wanna continue the engagement with the sector, with the factor, with a, sorry, with a focus that on practices that support children and families.

So we're not just dealing with the service, but we're going outside service walls and having that broader community conversation. A lot of the work that we've been doing has been responsive to what we've been hearing on previous roadshows, and you'll hear later from my colleagues about the Quality Ratings Initiative, which has been a direct result of that. Most of all I think we will continue to be responsive to the ever changing climate and adapt our practices accordingly.

We don't know what's gonna happen next week, we're feeling very positive. We don't even know what's gonna happen tomorrow, but we're gonna continue to work with services and provide those quality outcomes with a more focus on a partnership with the services, and I think that's been one thing that we really wanna hang on to. And I just wanna acknowledge, apart from regional services and we've got a road that we can go on now, some of those words from the Menti were around, being proud, being positive, being fatigued and being anxious, I think we're all feeling that. But the stories, the comeback from the offices about the fantastic work that's been done out there, you're all really entitled to be really proud of what you're doing.

- Thanks so much, Kathy. They're wonderful reflections. Cheryanne, I think when you were speaking before you spoke to some of the adaptations, and I think you kind of got at that other question about some of the challenges, you might have an additional reflection or two, but I'm also keen to hear from you about practices that KU or colleagues across other services have introduced during COVID that you might wanna continue in the future.

- Okay. Thanks Gillian. Yes, Look, I think the thing that I've found, and also listening, as I said to your other, the video, the early childhood innovation that has come out of this has been outstanding. What we have found across our services, particularly in keeping connected to our families, that has taken a reshaping and we've moved from a lot of face to face sort of communication to obviously online. But that took a real shift of thinking as well, and only now, six months later are we saying, well, we're becoming comfortable or familiar or that now we can go to the extra step because we've done first base, and now we're into the second base of thinking and learning about your survey here today, how cool is that? And now we can all take that away in how we're going to interact with our families possibly or how are we going to do professional learning.

I think that that is the thing that I would have to say has been the most innovative from an organizational perspective, that we've been able to look at our professional learning program and how we can communicate with our staff on a broader way across the organization. I think also for families, what we're finding too, is that families, even though our younger families were very connect to digital and technology, but they also valued the personal relationship, and someone mentioned that earlier. It's about maintaining those personal relationships via online as well as trying to incorporate that face to face. I think that's been a bit of a challenge for us, but I think that we will continue that. What we've found is that we've also been able to connect with families working with them, with their children at home in terms of say, piece that we do is guiding children's behavior.

And working with families in a digital format has been fantastic. I also think that some of the practices that we've implemented, even though early childhood was already doing great health and hygiene practices, there's no question. We were, I think everyone else has caught up to us. However, some of the innovative things that we've looked at in terms of health and hygiene, I think we we'll keep those going and ensure that they don't go away. I really think that the biggest piece is for us, is in terms of our relationships with children and family, and we still will keep what we've called keeping connected with KU, it's an online learning opportunity. I think you'll find that that will remain, and that we will be doing a mix of both, in face to face relationships. Very close, but also utilizing technology far more, I think will absolutely remain.

- Yeah Cherryanne, and I think what you were saying about hygiene already being a strong suit of this job, I would say that that communication with parents has also been a strong suit across the sector, but it's now, there's a platform to grow even more, so that's wonderful, sort of playing to the strengths as well as innovating on some new challenges and areas. Thank you both very much. That was really useful compliment to the Menti and the introduction, and I'm sure all of the colleagues out there on the Zoom got something out of that. So I'm gonna hand back over to Kaitlin now to introduce our next segment.

Update on Child Safe Standards from the Office of the Children's Guardian

Update on Child Safe Standards from the Office of the Children's Guardian

- [Announcer] The broadcast is now starting. All attendees are in listen only mode.

- [Rachel] Good afternoon, everyone. Before I start, I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people as the traditional owners of the land on we which I am presenting from today. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging, and also extend that respect to any Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people who are joining us today. Thank you to ECED for giving us the opportunity to provide an OCG update during the roadshow. My name is Rachel Norman. I am the child safe coordinator for the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector. The coordinator roles were created to raise awareness of the Child Safe Standards and build up capability so organizations can successfully implement the standards. I will be working with key stakeholders to identify risks and needs. I'm currently developing training and resources in collaboration with stakeholders to ensure training is tailored to each service types need, providing support where it's required, and creating resources to support services implement the standards.

So today I'll provide you with an update on the Child Safe Standards, the proposed mandated Child Safe Scheme, and the work I have commenced in the early childhood sector. So many of you may remember the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission began January, 2013 and continued for five years. There were over 400 recommendations made. However, one of the recommendations was the implementation of the 10 Child Safe Standards to minimize the risk of child abuse in organizations. The Royal Commission also recommended to streamline child protection systems.

So in New South Wales, this resulted in the Reportable Conduct Team transferring from the New South Wales ombudsman to the OCG. And the OCG was given the responsibility to support organizations implement the Child Safe Standards. The OCG were given these additional functions, as it centralized many of New South Wales child safety and protection functions. The New South Wales government has accepted the Royal Commission's Child Safe Standards. Each standard is principle-based and focused on the outcome of creating a child-safe environment. The focus on outcomes allows flexibility in how the standards are applied in different organizational contexts.

The OCG is currently developing legislation to give effect to a mandatory Child Safe Scheme in New South Wales based on the feedback received during the consultations in 2019. The mandatory Child Safe Scheme subject to approval by Parliament will have the following core components. The Child Safe Standards will be the policy framework for creating child safe organizations in New South Wales. The standards will become mandatory for organizations already subject to the reportable conduct scheme. Those organizations will be required to implement child safe practice guided by the Child Safe Standards.

Capability building and support will be the foundation of the scheme. All child-related organizations, regardless of whether they are required to implement the Child Safe Standards will be voluntary for organizations that are not part of the reportable conduct scheme. The OCG's monitoring and enforcement capability will be strengthened to ensure organizations can be held to account for their implementation of child safe practices. Enforcement will be responsive and risk-based as recommended by the Royal Commission.

The scheme will deliver on the intention of the Royal Commission's recommendations to make organizations safer for children through the implementation of the Child Safe Standards. It's anticipated that legislation will pass in Parliament in late 2020, with the scheme to formally commence in mid-2021. So organizations will have time to prepare for the commencement of the mandatory Child Safe Scheme in 2021.

Now I do stress that these timeframes are subject to change. We don't know for sure how long the legislative process will take. So my core work as a coordinator is focused on the building up of the capability in the early childhood sector before the scheme becomes mandated. Many of you will have heard of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The National Principles are derived from the Child Safe Standards that were recommended by the Royal Commission. Both describe the necessary elements for child safe practices.

The difference is in New South Wales, the standards will be regulated. We know some providers are already aware of the principles and may be integrating them into their organization's practices. So the OCG will consider organizations in New South Wales that are implementing the National Principles as implementing the Child Safe Standards. So the coordinator roles are dedicated to capability building and support for a few different sectors in New South Wales. As the ECE coordinator, I am working closely with ECED and working with key stakeholders to develop training and tailored resources. I'm currently running Child Safe Standards Series, which consists of three modules: an introduction, a risk session, and a panel discussion.

I've broken up the series into service types, bush, center-based services and family daycare. So I acknowledge there is a huge amount of diversity within each of these service types. So the training and support offered will become more refined and specific over time as the unique risks and needs are identified. So the OOSH Series was completed in August, and you can catch up here. The ECE series for center-based services is running this month.

And Family Day Care Service Provider series will be available in October. I will also run a webinar for family daycare educators later this year. You can register for the webinars on our website, and if you want to catch up on any sessions you've missed, they will be added to the website soon. For those of you who have not attended any of my webinars, I discuss the standards, acknowledging that there are already a number of frameworks, regulations, and legislation that are designed to keep children safe. Service providers and educators are already thinking about safety in terms of child protection, physical safety and health safety, so your asthma management plans, your allergy plans.

So the NQF and your New South Wales regulations provide very clear instruction on these aspects of safety for children. I talk about the standards as being part of, or an extension of the continuous improvement of safety for children. The standards do require a slight shift in the way you are currently thinking about safety. The standards are about organizational safety, so reducing the risk of abuse and harm in services that your children are using. The standards are not designed to be a burdensome, additional task for services or educators.

They are predominantly designed to be creating a culture shift towards creating and maintaining safe organizations for children. So I will ask everyone to send any questions in to ECED, and we will respond as soon as we can. Here are our contact details, so please don't hesitate to email us about any queries you may have about any training to Child Safe inbox. Thanks for your time, everyone, bye.

1. Can you explain in more detail what OCG is?

The Office of the Children’s Guardian is an independent statutory body that promotes the interests, safety and rights of children and young people in NSW.

The core functions of the OCG include regulating agencies that support children living in out of home care, voluntary out of home care, Working With Children Check, children’s employment, maintaining a carer’s registry, Reportable Conduct Scheme and implementation of Child Safe Standards. For more information visit the Office of the Children’s Guardian website.

2. Are the Child Safe Standards compulsory?

The OCG is currently developing legislation to give effect to a legally enforceable Child Safe Scheme in NSW based on the feedback we received during our consultation process in 2019. The scheme, subject to approval by Parliament, would focus on preventing child abuse occurring within organisations.

The OCG will be undertaking further consultation on the proposed legislation in late 2020. The intent is for the scheme to formally commence in the later half of 2021.

3. How will compliance with the mandatory Child Safe Standards be assessed and enforced? Who will be responsible for monitoring/enforcing Standards?

We will take an educative approach to compliance and enforcement of the Child Safe Standards in 2021/22. Inspections and audits may be conducted to see how organisations are going with implementing the standards. We will go through each standard with the employer and assess their level of compliance with the standard. Any shortfalls will be identified and we will work with the organisation to establish an action plan to rectify those issues. We would expect those issues to be rectified within a reasonable timeframe. We will work with Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services (QARS, formerly known as ECED) as the NQF and State Law education and care regulator to ensure we work collaboratively and our approach to capability building aligns.

If organisations fail to engage in the process, we will escalate our enforcement approach in discussion with QARS. While the abovementioned approach will be taken the majority of the time, there may be instances where we will escalate our response much quicker. This could be due to the actual level of risk of harm to children.

4. Will we be required to have a specific child safety standards policy?

Organisations under the Reportable Conduct Scheme are already required to have in place systems and processes to prevent and respond to child harm or abuse. There may be a requirement to update your policies pending legislation. We are currently developing training and resources to support organisations to improve their child safe policies and procedures.

5. The legal requirements relating to policies and practices are very complex and constantly change, we need a policy guide to assist. Do you provide a model for policies?

The OCG capability building program of work aims to help build the knowledge and skills of organisations to be child safe. The Guide to the Child Safe Standards is a good starting point to assess where you need to strengthen your existing policies and procedures. This is the first of many resources that we are developing to support organisations be safer for children and is part of our efforts to build the capability of organisations to be child safe. We are developing Skill Builder training on policies and procedures to assist organisations.

6. Is the OCG happy to review policies relating to Child Safe Standards?

As noted above, our capability building program of work aims to build the skills and knowledge of organisations to update or prepare their own, new, child safe policies and procedures. Due to resourcing we are unable to review every organisation’s policies however if you have questions please complete the enquiry form on our website and we will assist where we can or direct you to appropriate templates and resources.

7. How many staff should update training, for example is it for all staff or just supervisors and leaders?

Understanding the Child Safe Standards is relevant for all staff in an organisation however it is up to individual providers to determine how this information is shared. For example, you may send leaders and supervisors to training then have them share the information with the educators. All OCG training is free and accessible to all.

8. Since all ECE services need to ensure they are providing a child safe organisation and train their staff in this area, will there be training provided for the sector?

OCG is currently offering training on the Child Safe Standards. Current modules have been tailored to OSHC and LDC/preschool (termed centre-based on our website) services. These are available on our website and direct links are provided below. Family Day Care Service Provider training is being offered this month. Training for FDC educators is also planned. Introduction to the standards training is also being developed for frontline staff, including skill builders for certain practice areas such as risk management, recruitment, policy and procedures. Further training may be offered in accordance with need.

9. Can you provide online access to training that is available at any time?

Many of our webinars are recorded. Some are on our website and those that are not, you can email childsafe@kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au for a link. These will be available to watch at any time. If there are any other topics or training areas you would like us to cover, please let us know. Recorded webinars including other resources available are listed below.

10. Are the workshops free?

The OCG training and workshops are free to attend.

11. Are you able to send information on future training sessions to our emails

Please subscribe to the OCG newsletter and check our training page regularly. We also post free training via our social media and tag ECE in the Facebook posts.

12. Will the child safe series run again?

The Child Safe Standards Safe Series recordings will be available on our website. We will continue to produce new training and resources for education and care providers.

13. What are the better training entities for child protection courses?

Unfortunately as a government agency we are unable to recommend or endorse private providers. We recommend you do some research (read up on the service and call to determine content and quality). The Reportable Conduct Team is developing free e-learning on how to identify and respond to child abuse. If you have subscribed to our newsletters you will be informed of when this is available.

14. Could we have some child care specific fact sheets we can share with our educators?

The Guide to the Child Safe Standards is available to support services and educators, however please contact us if you require something additional.

15. During assessment and rating, my AO stated that, because of updates to the new definitions of neglect in relation to child abuse, we are now required to notify the OCG if a child is accidentally provided with food that doesn’t meet their needs.

Any matter that a service considers might be reportable needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This means that if a service has questions about whether a matter is reportable, they are best to call the Reportable Conduct Enquiries Line on 8219 3800 (between 9am-4pm, Monday-Friday) for prompt advice and support from a member our team. We encourage services to do this before they notify an allegation.

16. A key concern is when we know the child is not safe at home. How do we escalate matters within the Department of Communities and Justice if we feel they have not responded to the complaint?

There are two ways mandatory reporters can make a child protection report.

  • By eReport through ChildStory Reporter website.
  • By calling the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111.

DCJ have a complaints procedure which is available on their website here: https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/about/contact/complaints

You could also call the NSW Ombudsman for advice. The Ombudsman’s works to ensure the integrity of public authorities. They receive complaints about public authorities and community service providers and investigate serious or systemic maladministration.

Current resources and supports

Child Safe Standards Series webinars

Centre-based services webinars (for LDCs and preschools)

OSHC webinars

Family Day Care Service Provider webinars

Understanding your reporting obligations

Safe Series Program (protective behaviours for 2-6 year olds)

OCG training and resources that are in development:

  • Identifying and Responding to Abuse e-learning
  • Children’s Empowerment and Participation resource
  • Code of Conduct resource
  • Child Safe Policy resource
  • Child Safe Standards e-learning modules (generic)
  • Skill Builder courses:
    • Recruitment
    • Code of Conduct
    • Policies and Procedures
    • Risk management

Working together to lift quality

Working together to lift quality

- Welcome back. I will now pass it over to Kim Hoskin to present the next item. Thanks, Kim.

- Thanks, Kaitlin. So welcome everybody to this afternoon. Look, this session will be sharing information around the commitment of New South Wales, Department of Education in uplifting quality. I'll begin by acknowledging the lands we're on today. I pay my respects to both elders past, present, and future. I acknowledge anyone joining us today who is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, as well as acknowledge the children we work with who are our future leaders.

As we continue in the agile way of working, today I'm connecting with you from Darug land. So as Kaitlin introduced, I'm Kim Hoskin, and I'm joined today by Kathy Dryden, who you met earlier in the COVID session and Belinda Wakeford. And we're part of the statewide operations team. More familiar to many of you will be the frontline staff from our team who attend your service for monitoring and compliance, assessment and rating, or the staff who are engaging with you from the triage and scheduling team.

I will also acknowledge that this year has been a year that has demonstrated the flexibility of this sector from floods, droughts, fire, and a global pandemic. Well, this has been forefront in planning. We know the incredible environments and educational supports that you've created for the children who are attending your services. So I'm pleased to be able to share the following clip with you for getting started.

So the short clip we've just watched is a collection of service practices and what a great way to start this session, sharing practices and just taking stock of some of the engagement occurring each day in our vast sector. Our team have been engaging with a range of services to create this clip including our community based pre-schools in our regional areas of New South Wales, out of our school care services, standalone operated services in Metro Sydney, and services that form part of a larger organization. Each picture in this clip tells a story of unique journey of the educators in lifting quality. And we appreciate being able to share just a short clip with you. My most recent experience was a visit to a service where I was greeted by a child who informed me that he would be my concierge for my visit.

He didn't show that I had a COVID safe visit to the service. And yes, he was very well acquainted with a thermometer, a jacket and a hat, he had hand sanitizer, QR code reader for me to check in, but most importantly, what I saw was the hugest smile from both him and the educator as they shared how this practice had been introduced with the changes to the service due to the COVID safe practices that, that implemented. As you heard in minister Mitchell's opening to the road show, the commitment to uplifting quality is driving the connection to the work occurring in New South Wales. This commitment is driven by an investment in 2019 of $13 million and a further investment over the next two years to deliver quality initiatives, designed to lift service quality, improve efficiencies in quality assessment processes, and build educator engagement with a range of resources and training support.

Today, we also have the opportunity to hear from you and your services who are committed to continuous improvement and lifting quality in the sector. We'll be sharing information relating to current initiatives, including information from the work of the New South Wales quality support team who have been engaging services in the assessment and rating process with a strong focus on self assessment. We'll be sharing how engagement with the sector in raising families connection with the national quality standards through the quality ratings initiatives. And we'll be stepping through some initiatives aimed at supporting services who are currently rated at working towards the national quality standards. So the team and I are really excited to be able to engage today, even though it looks very different to our usual roadside show format.

What we do ask that as we share information about these initiatives, that you're thinking about how your services and your educators can engage with these programs to continue lifting quality. What we do know is that children who experienced quality early learning environments from birth have lifelong learning benefits. I know that each of you joining in this virtual road show today has a strong commitment to ensuring that the connection with the children and families at your service is centered around the national quality standards and links to the learning frameworks.

So, as I said, I'm really excited for the team to share with you information about how you and your service can engage with initiatives that are raising and uplifting quality. We do ask that you have your phones handy during this session, as we'll also be using Menti to pulse check with you, Pat to your feedback and discussions, as well as an opportunity for you to ask questions. So at the last face-to-face road show in 2019, our team shared our findings from unpacking what makes a good assessment and rating process. And we shared at this time, key changes being implemented in New South Wales.

If you can believe it, it's now close to a year on, and we're really excited to share updates from the quality support team. So I'd like to introduce and hand over to Belinda Wakeford, who's the coordinator of the quality support team. This team has been instrumental in guiding and working with the sector to transition and strengthen self-assessment practices including developing resources and supporting educators on their journey to uplifting and raising quality. Hi, Belinda.

- Hi, Kim.

- I'll hand over to you.

- Perfect, thanks so much. Hi, everyone. It's great to see so many of you on board with us this afternoon. I had a little look through and I saw some familiar names, so welcome. For those of you who don't know me, my name's Belinda Wakeford, and I have the fortunate role of coordinating the New South Wales quality support team. And I can tell you the consistence of experienced authorized officers abroad across New South Wales, and we have a good mix of regional and metro offices.

So I am going to turn my camera off, 'cause sometimes it interferes with my audio. So we'll just click that and I'll turn it back on when we're talking about our questions and answers section. So bear with me. And hopefully you can all hear me clearly today.

So the role of the quality support team is to engage with and really support services who are on a journey to lift their quality. And what that looks like is different for each service, but it includes guidance around self-assessment in preparation for A&R. And that's where your service shares your key practices that you've identified through self-assessment. And that's used to inform or guide the ANR visit with the officer, where the officer will really focus on confirming those practices that you've shared with us. And that is, becomes your evidence to determine your rating at the service. And I saw, as I mentioned, there was a few friendly names on here that I know and I'm hoping that there are many others on here today that are already engaging with our team and then a feeling that sense of engagement that we are.

As a directorate, this has been a really exciting period of work for us as we supporting services too on their journey of quality improvement. If you've recently been notified that your service has been scheduled for its assessment and rating visit, and you haven't yet logged on to the online service context form, I'd encourage you to do so today, you'll then need to indicate if you're going to submit your self-assessment or your quality improvement plan leading up to your INR and that'll trigger contact and support from one of the authorized officers in that team.

In addition to working with services who've been notified of the A&R, we're also supporting services who are working to make a transition into a self-assessment for quality improvement space and those that are keen to lift the quality through a re-assessment and re-rating process. Each of you will be on your own unique journey. And no two services are the same when it comes to conducting a transparent and honest self-assessment against the national quality standard. So what does the support look like? So once you opt in for self-assessment, either through the scheduled assessment and rating process, or through a reassessment and re-rating application, you'll be assigned to a dedicated, authorized officer in the quality support team who make contact with you.

The other focus will be talked to you by your service quality improvement journey so far and to unpack where you're up to and really work out what kind of support you might need. The officer was scheduling a time that suits you for a one on one support session. And this might be via zoom which we've all become accustomed to using recently, or via find, which is whichever is your preference. And during the initial support session, you'll spend time talking through your service compliance with the national law and regulations, UK practices aligned to the national quality standard, and any areas for improvement as well as have the larger self-assessment information in the online form.

The office that you're assigned to will be your go to person, right up until the time that you submit your self-assessment information, that's then shared with the officer conducting your visit. And depending on your individual service, you might have one or more support sessions. There's no limit. And it's really is tailored to meet your individual needs. What we find is service leaders often communicate with us via phone or email in between support sessions. And what we hear consistently from services has now introduced to have someone to call and talk things through with. On the screen, you'll see some of the feedback that we've received and we're committed to building sector confidence in self-assessment, which is key to continuous improvement.

A commitment to continuous improvement is inherent in the national quality framework and striving for best practice underpins that commitment. What we know is that when all staff and educators understand what's guiding their practice, they can work together for continuous quality improvements to enhance outcomes for children. Self-assessment is about critically reflecting on your key practice. And key practices simply put out what you do at your service that aligns with NQS. Self-assessment can help the team see your service from a fresh eyes and from a different perspective. And with that comes a greater understanding of the service programs, as well as increased confidence to identify and articulate typical practice within the service as part of your everyday and not just around A&R time.

Self-assessment also builds on recognizing strengths and identifying opportunities for improvement. Through feedback sought from those who've engaged in self-assessment, what we've heard clearly is that articulating what you do. So your key practices has reduced some of the overarching statements that we often see documented in clips, which when unpacked often don't provide a clear picture of what's occurring at the service and educators are not connected to them. As part of our support, you're offered an opportunity to share key practices and areas for improvement for a standard or core quality area for the support officer. And they'll review it and provide some feedback and guidance for you.

Again, this is something that we consistently hear services say they appreciate and they find really useful. As Kim mentioned through our road shows last year, we heard from the state to very clearly that our officers were spending too much time with their head down typing into their laptops. And if we're to move past the task of evidence collection and really step into that relationship and engagement aspect of assessment and rating, making your practice feasible is essential.

The aim is to simplify the process by sharing what you believe is your key practice that align to the NQS, rather than the authorized officer going looking for them. It just really makes sense. So just like here, the quality support team are continually engaging in reflective practice. We know we don't always get it right by in confidently on the right track and building a connection between the sector and the regulatory authority to increase quality outcomes for children. Specifically around, at the end of each assessment and rating period, we reflect on our engagement and support offers what we've offered to services who've opted in for self-assessment and we look at what's worked well and what we could do to improve. And the key part of this reflection is guided by the feedback we received directly from services we've been working with. Over this year, we've improved our IT system, our internal processes and ironed out some bugs that we had early on. And I'm really pleased to say that if we do experience any of those issues again, we are well equipped to deal with them. And we've recognized that the earlier we engage with the service support fraud that support around their quality improvement process, the more time we have to work together prior to the A&R. So we're now connecting with services who've not yet been assessed. So our newer providers and services to offer support before their assessment and rating has been scheduled and it's been really well received and beneficial for those services. We've also had contact from services who were not yet due for their assessment and rating, but are looking for support to shift from a traditional style QIP to a self-assessment format.

So this is something that might be of interest to you and your team. Please reach out, we'd be more than happy to guide you. We've also made some improvements to our support sessions by introducing Skype or Zoom meetings which is great to be able to put a face to the name. And that helps with that connection, but it's also a great tool to be able to use to share screens if you're working on a document together. And one piece of feedback that we're hearing earlier this year is that services wanted to have access to the online self-assessment form, and not just in that short period of time between being notified of your A&R visits being scheduled and the QIP or self-assessment being due to be submitted.

And we also heard concerns when we launched the self-assessment approach to A&R in November last year, that services didn't want the admin burden of maintaining two separate documents, being a self-assessment and a QIP. so this sparked the development of our new self-assessment working document which is a resource that meets the requirements of regulation 55 in relation to development of a quality improvement plan. And I'll talk you through this new resource now. The working document is a resource that will guide you through the self-assessment process itself to assist you to prepare for your assessment and rating. It's also designed to be used as an ongoing quality improvement planning document.

We know that there's been some confusion. We hear the questions, the comments that are made on social media, and we have service contact us directly. So I just want to confirm for you, if you choose to use this resource, you do not need to maintain two separate documents, the QIP and the self-assessment tool. This resource meets the needs of both engaging in self-assessment and quality improvement planning. It's also, the working documents also a replica of our online self-assessment form, that's released to you once you receive your notice that your assessment and rating has been scheduled. So it includes your compliance with the law and regulations, your service philosophy, key practices that are aligned to the elements of the NQS, and areas that you've identified for improvement. And we've trialed this working document with around 300 services, and we've received overwhelming positive responses.

Based on the direct feedback from those services we've been working with, we've made some minor changes and a place to say that we've recently released the working documents so it's accessible to all services. It can be accessed on the department website and was referenced in our recent quality in practice newsletter that went out last week which focused on self-assessment and quality improvement planning and really unpacking quality areas, 7.2. The aim is for this user-friendly resource to support services, engage with self-assessment, and the ongoing improvement process that calls this quality outcomes for children.

So hopefully having heard about the role of the quality support team and the support we have available, you'll reach out to us 'cause what we find is the engagement with this document that really brings it to life and makes a difference for services. And I'd just like to thank those we've been working with in developing a self-assessment working document as a usable resource.

So thank you for that feedback and working with us as we trial labs. So we do get a few common questions or myths that we hear around the state dose. So what I really wanted to do is just kind of highlight a couple of those with you. So the first one, if I was to use the self-assessment, do I need to maintain a separate QIP? And I know I've just touched on this already, but I'm going to again because this comes up really frequently for us. So services who are required by regulation 55 to prepare a quality improvement plan, that includes an assessment by the provider against the law and regs, and the national quality standard, identifies areas for improvement and contains your statement of philosophy.

The New South Wales self-assessment working document that I just talked about includes all of this information and make the requirements for your quality improvement plan. So another one that we often hear is do I need to provide five key practices for every element? So the answer to that is no. In the online form, you're invited to share up to five key practices for each element and how many you share will really depend on a number of things.

So the size of your service, the range of ages you provide education and careful, and the element itself. Some of the elements are straightforward and others cover multiple aspects. So just for example, 7.1.2 relates to systems being in place to manage risks and enable the effective management and operation of a service. So you're likely to wanna provide closer to five key practices for this element. Whereas 6.1.3 relates to how you ensure current information is available for the families about the service and community services, so you may not need as many for this one.

Do we get extra bonus points for choosing self-assessment? This was a interesting comment I heard recently, but no. While the self-assessment approach is encouraged around ANR because of the positive outcomes being achieved, this is really an option or a choice for individual services to make, it's not mandatory, but it is an opportunity I encourage you to explore with your team. And the last one, do you officers have a limit on the number of ratings they can award each month? And this is a new one, but I can absolutely confirm this is not the case. Each service is individually assessed against the national quality standard.

And the ratings awarded to the service are reflective of the practices or evidence that officer sites observes and discusses, and where they sit against the national quality standard. Self-assessment is not new, services should already be engaging with this to meet the national quality standard, 7.2. You must engage in an effective self-assessment and quality improvement process. And we are opening our lines of communication to invite you to share this information with us in preparation for your assessment and rating visit.

There are likely to be other misconceptions or myths out there. And the best piece of advice I can give to you is if you hear something you have a concern or something doesn't quite seem right, it probably isn't. And the good news is the quality support team is here to support you. So if you have a question, please reach out to us. We wanna be available to respond to those questions that you might have. And I'll hand back over to Kim.

- Thanks, Belinda. I know the information that you shared is really practical and engaging. And we know that services who have connected with the quality's support team and our authorized officers through assessment and rating are increasingly confident in the process. I did see a couple of questions come up in the chat in there, and I know Belinda, you covered some of that, but there is an opportunity later on in our session where you can pose some of those questions, and Belinda and I will come back and touch on as many of those that we can during that session. So I just wanted to encourage that in the, thanks, Belinda.

- Absolutely, thanks, Kim ta.

- So look, we're now gonna step into how the sector have come on board with the quality ratings initiative. And this initiative is really driving the engagement and increasing the awareness of the national quality standards with families attending early childhood services, as well as the wider community. So this initiative was launched in late 2019. So look, we're really fortunate that so many services have engaged on this journey since the initial launch Last year. I will touch more on the engagement of the sector. However, we're really fortunate to have had the opportunity to catch up with Kylie Temperley, who's the nominated supervisor of Tilly's Play and Education Cardiff, and she talks and shares a resource through how their team are embracing the quality rating initiative, and how they engage their families in their services practices.

- Our experience with the quality rating initiative was that it was quite a positive experience. Our company was approached by one of the authorized officers in the local area and asked if we wanted to participate in the early rollout of this initiative. We really had a discussion about it. And it was something we definitely wanted to be involved in basically any way I feel a center can promote their rating to the community, to families, that's a good program, plus it gives us an opportunity to share the amazing things that we're doing, but the families to really have a clear insight of what a center's rating actually is.

So our educators were able to use the materials to talk about the quality rating. They used discussions based around centers rating they shouldn't be daunting. It's the perfect opportunity to share your center's achievement and just start those conversation of involving families and the community in the quality improvement journey. The quality rating initiative is so new and our assessment and rating has only just been finalized. Our new exceeding rating certificate is currently on display in our center, but it's also on display for families and community members, just in our outdoor area, the families when they are dropping off. Something I'm looking into now is contacting our local newspapers, local radio stations, and just getting our quality rating out there.

So it is really important for families to be aware, and it sets a benchmark of what they're expecting from a service. So we would be looking at putting a written article to our local newspaper. We have found examples on the SQL website as well, but that is something that my educators and myself would be putting together a beautiful document just to share with our local community and families, our quality rating. The response from our family has been extremely positive. They're able to share that and really promote that with our families, just the feedback that we're getting is amazing.

They like to see our certificate that's on the display out in the drop off area. It's also being shared all over our social media page, our website, and there has been a lot of positive feedback on both of those platforms as well. The quality ratings initiative is important to me and our company. It's a clear visual representation, just showing families ours are not easily meeting the national quality standard. That's available for families when you end all at the service and shows them basically what the center is doing. So I would recommend other eligible services to engage in the quality ratings initiative, as it is an opportunity for them to promote their ratings and what they are doing within their centers.

- So look, this session, I wanna take you on the journey of the quality ratings initiative. It was great to be able to start off and hear from Kylie, who shared how their service and educators are increasing their connection with their families and the wider community around the national quality standards, as well as taking time to celebrate their service rating. The quality ratings initiative, including the quality rating certificate was originally released in late 2019. And I will start with an at the time of this initial release, we didn't land quite right. Our level of consultation engagement had not quite hit the mark. So in early 2020, prior to COVID, we took stock and we undertook our own critical reflection on this space.

And what this lent itself to, included opening discussions with educators while our staff were conducting visits. They talked through the new look quality ratings certificate, and shared information about how this graphic was a great tool for engaging families. We've had such a positive response through this engagement strategy. And now close to over 2000 services have already engaged, having requested to have their certificate issued in the amended graphic and a displaying and sharing their quality rating certificate with their current families as well as with new families enrolling for the coming year. We are seeing the family friendly rating certificate being displayed in some creative and engaging ways with lots of sharing by educators with our staff about how this is bridging the gap between service practices and the services current rating.

As we heard from Kylie, the engagement of families as they reviewed their practices and the connection with families really involved collaboration around the national quality standards, and is driving quality learning environments for children. And what a great key practice to be able to hear and share. So research conducted by a seeker in 2018 reported that although general community awareness of the national quality standards ratings remained low, quality does matter to parents and carers.

So while the concept of what constitutes quality does differ between parents and carers, depending on the developmental level age of the child, the expectations of quality do closely align with the standards and quality areas. Recommendations from that mentioned research included the need to conduct coordinated and high profile communications to raise awareness of the quality ratings and to ensure that the language used to communicate with parents and carers is meaningful and relevant. And with nearly 30% of the sector or the 2000 services already engaging and displaying the family friendly rating certificate, but confident that the design of the certificate and the supporting resources will continue to bridge this gap in family awareness of service quality and build on community awareness of the national quality standards.

So the easy rating certificate is just a step in raising that awareness. We know that the best connection comes from you and your educators at your service when engaging with your families around your service quality. And the quality rating certificate is one of those connection points. So on this slide, you're looking at a suite of resources that have been developed as part of the quality ratings initiative. And it's been designed to assist in increasing family awareness and understanding of the national quality standards, and to support service and educators in their conversations.

So the resources include a family flyer, which is a great handout we're hearing to share with families, providing an overview of the national quality standards. A poster that provides an at length explanation of that national quality standards in a larger display style, and also a conversation guide for educators. Now, these resources are being translated into six key languages, including Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Korean, Hindi, and Persian. Now this information is readily available to services on our department web page.

And I'll be sharing later on just in a couple of slides, a QR code with you so that you can log on, request a copy of your services amended rating certificate, as well as access the downloadable copies of these resources. And there's also the opportunity. There's an order form where you can order hard copies of these resources as well. So we are aware that children are much more likely to reach their full potential when their family and education and care services work together to create early learning environment. So this links really closely with quality areas seats, where the focus is on families and communities engagement. And we know that exceeding theme three links to meaningful engagement with families and all the community.

And when educators actively seek input, guidance, and feedback, and drive conversations. This helps to shift the thinking and shape ongoing practices. So on the slide, we have examples of the amended quality rating certificate. The new design does not provide new information to families that wasn't previously available, but it shows the service rating in a more easy to understand format, providing greater accessibility to all families. It's designed to spark conversation with your families and to be able to connect and share your services quality journey.

So services have always been required to display their quality ratings, and there's no change to any regulatory activity associated with this requirement. As I said, we have just over 2000 services who have been emailed their certificate since August this year, have printed it out, and as they're displaying it in their service. What we also have done is recently took steps to engage with a group of services, who'd received the initial rollout of the quality rating certificate. And this was done by a Zoom consultation. Initially, we were hearing that due to COVID, some initial challenges in the sharing of the information with families existed.

Although what we do know of the sector and of course, it didn't hold the services back for too long and what we were able to hear and unpack and share and have services share with us, it's just some of the creative ways that services was sharing this information with their families. We've also recently sent out a link to a survey to the services who have already received the amended quality rating certificate. As we really keen to listen to house your staff and your educators are engaging with families.

So if you've already received this survey link, I'd encourage you to take time to complete it. And what we'll continue to do is to provide and share some of the creative ways that services are engaging with families around the national quality standards. We've also just recently shared some great tips and tricks on engaging families that we heard through these consultation sessions as well as through the survey link as well. Look, we're also engaging in a public awareness campaign as well as part of this quality ratings initiative. And we know that families are already engaging with your service and that they'll be looking for the quality ratings certificate as part of that commitment to uplifting quality and also promoting communication as family start on their journey of looking for quality early education and care services. So what we have up on the screen, with this initiative being so well received by the sector, and we know that our authorized officers and our staff will be continuing to engage with services if they haven't already visited you or make contact with you. And it's about sharing information while they're engaging, and while they're also having that phone contact with you.

So would encourage your service to join the growing number of services and arrange to have the family friendly quality ratings certificate issued before the full rollout of this initiative. So on this screen is a QR code that will take you to the department web page, where you can request your services quality ratings certificate. Now this is the page where I mentioned also, where you can access the downloadable resources. And we also have an order form on there where you can request printed copies as well as requesting the copy of your services rating certificate.

So this is a really great way to increasingly engage your families in raising awareness of the national quality standards, as well as creating a connection to your services unique journey into continuous improvement and building quality outcomes for children. So your advocacy and discussion with families about the quality ratings and the national quality standards will help increase awareness, that over time, will lead to continuous improvement in the provision of quality early childhood education and care services. So I will pause just for a couple of minutes so that you can access that QR code.

And up on the screen also, if you're looking for further information, please visit the department website or call or email the information inquiries team. I will also ask Kaitlin and her team if they can put the department website details into the chat as well, that would be great. Yeah, thanks Kaitlin. We might move to the next slide. Now, Kaitlin has popped that link. I've seen a couple of questions pop up there, so I will come back and revisit those as well. So look, I wanna now take the opportunity following, being able to share information around the quality ratings initiative and building also on the information that Belinda shared around the work of the quality support team and self assessment. And acknowledge too, that the department is committed to ensuring consistency and efficiency in the assessment of rating process, and ultimately lifting the sector quality. So I'm gonna touch on a co... and share a range of other initiatives supporting services including services that currently are rated at working towards the national quality standards. So look, our commitment to ensuring that services are supported to uplifting quality is key, and this is about engaging educators on a journey of continuous professional development. And in collaboration with a number of organizations, there's a range of resources available online to support your team's professional development across a range of quality areas. I would also encourage you to stay up to date through the New South Wales, Early Childhood Education Facebook page, the department's website, as well as taking time to read the quality and practice newsletters. So these newsletters have recently been changed just based on feedback that we've heard. And what they're doing is covering areas of the national quality standards and creating opportunities not only to get to know our staff, but also to see how your peers and services are driving quality as well.

So recently the newsletters have covered quality areas, parts of quality area five and quality area six. And just at the end of last week, we released the latest issues which focused on quality area two, and Belinda touched on it briefly, at least latest quality in practice newsletter had a particular emphasis on how to practically embed self-assessment. And also in that article, it focused on creating a self-assessment culture. And there was a link that was shared to the self-assessment working document that Belinda spoke about, as well as the opportunity to hear a question and answer from an out our school care provider, pick sports and learning.

So it's a really great opportunity to step in and say some of the practices of carrying out the services. And look, if you're looking to access these plays, log onto the department website, I see that Kaitlin and her team have popped up a couple of links in the chat there, as it's a really great way to connect and see what's happening in other services. And we're also really keen to hear about other areas of quality you'd like to see covered in these quality and practice newsletters. And I would create an opportunity to be able to get that feedback from you in just further on in this session.

So look, I wanna be able to share too current New South Wales initiative with services who currently hold a working towards rating. So the first one that I'll touch on is the quality support program, which is a partnership between the New South Wales Department of Education and the SQL. So this program's main objective is to improve the quality of participating services to the level of meeting the national quality standards, Ohio, and to improve participants knowledge and confidence in the 2018 national quality standards. So services who are eligible for this program are services that had more than six elements not met, which means that they hold aware current working towards overall rating.

These equal quality support program team for services that are successful in participating in this program, will spend time with your service to understand your goals. What makes your service unique as well as the areas your team has identified as priorities for improvement. This program is an 18 week program. And what it includes is face to face visits by the SQL quality support program team. It includes online training modules, there's workshops as well as online followup contact as well which includes telephone support. And the program has slightly changed its delivery just because of COVID, and are using a lot more of the online platform.

So what we do know from the evaluation of the program to date is that services who are eligible are three times more likely to receive a rating that is meeting or about the national quality standards, following participation in this program. So if you are interested for your service to know more about this program, please log onto the department website or the SQL website to confirm your services eligibility as well as to express an interest in future rounds of this program. The second initiative that I'm excited to also share with you, which is linked to services that are currently are rated at working towards national quality standards, is around giving the opportunity for services to undergo a reassessment and re-rating. So as part of our commitment to lifting quality, we also had clearly from the sector that services rated at working towards, and who had undertaken self-assessment against the national quality standards. And as a result of this felt that the rating no longer reflected this service current practice that there was a barrier that existed as they waited for the next assessment and rating notification to be received.

So in February, 2020, the regular authority shared data with the sector about the opportunity to lodge an application for reassessment and re-rating. And as part of this initiative, we waived the fee normally associated with this application. And as Belinda touched on this initiative is also about supporting services to engage in self-assessment as part of that commitment to raising quality. So the quality support team receives the application once they validated and reaches out to connect with the service. So we've had around 80 services today, lodge the applications for reassessment and re-rating. And what we're seeing is an increased confidence and improve quality in the services practices, and engagement in the national quality standards. And I want to show data is staying and lifting quality.

So if you're interested in this initiative, please contact the quality support team, either by email or by calling out information inquiries team. And look, if you are confident in your self-assessment approach, you can hop on to NQA IT as well and launch an application for reassessment and re-rating. I will ask Kaitlin, if you could just pop in, I saw it pop up before, just details to contact the quality support team in there, the email address or the information inquiry. If you could do that, that would be great as well.

Thanks, Kaitlin. So look, one of the things that we do know that road shows are built on is an opportunity to engage. So we've worked with a number of services to capture their journey and that their experiences with the initiatives that Belinda and I have shared today. So we're really pleased to be able to share with you initially, an amazing journey of some services that we've connected with. And then we're gonna get together and hear from Emma Falls from early about children.

- My experiences working with the quality support team, during the assessment and rating process were very positive. I felt that they were very supportive in terms of offering help anytime I needed it, anytime I called, whoever I spoke to was very understanding and very reassuring, particularly as it was my first time going through assessment and rating. As a director, they were very instrumental in helping us to keep our calm and reminding us that we were on the right track with what we were doing. Coming from my organization, we will, I'm very lucky to have people within our company structure who helped us, everyone from our own senior management team at children's services team. Then when it came time to actually getting the real honest truth about what the assessment process was going to be like and we would make those calls, they were always very calm, and that in itself helped to put us in a state of calm 'cause we were always in a real tizzy about were we doing this right? Were we doing that right? And so being able to talk to someone, it helped to put us at ease a lot.

And I think that in itself helped us a lot with our self-assessment process as well. I think the self-assessment tool really did help us to identify what we're doing well. And if anything, I think sometimes, particularly when you're in the manager state, you tend to always see what's wrong with everything and what needs to be improved on, especially going from that traditional quality improvement plan perspective, where I felt the self-assessment tool really did differ and it drew a distinction away from that into showcasing everything we do well.

It was almost let's stop and smell the rises kind of moment. Let's really highlight all the things we're doing well. In a weird way, it really did help to change the mindset of the team, both during the process and after the process. So I think that it really was beneficial in helping us to reignite our passion for what we do. In terms of it impacting our practice, sort of kicked us into higher gear, particularly when we were talking about the exciting themes. And that was our intention going into assessment and rating.

- Three different assessors went through the self assessment process with us, but the consistent approach from all three different assessing officers was really good. We were actually identify their practices. So the questions that we're asking roll very similar and it's because we've given them that information, which really made you feel comfortable when you're going through a minor process that is natural nerves. And you've got somebody coming to your center, they would assess, I guess create certain mental notices, but having them coming in and ask some questions about the practice, which we'd report on really gives you a sense of content particularly for your educators and the children or service. You recognize that it's an enjoyable process.

- It's been a really positive experience working with the quality support team, they've really helped us be able to identify different key practices that we've been able to demonstrate within our services. We've got a number of our services going through this, working towards initiative at the moment, and we've actually found it to be a really positive experience working in professional collaboration with the quality support team. And we've been able to shift quite a few of our services from the working towards, through to meeting. Yeah, I would say we've definitely found it to be a worthwhile process. We've been able to work as I said, collaboratively with the quality support team, and we've been able to form some really good working relationships with the team, which are helping us to deliver on peer practices and quality outcomes for children. Here, our educators felt really confident going into the process on the day. They not only were confident, but they were really happy to be able to demonstrate all the hard work that they've put into and how they deliver on positive and learning outcomes for the children.

On the day, the team not only found it to be a positive experience, but a relaxing one in which they were able to really demonstrate all the amazing work that they had been putting into their services. Yeah, so I'd definitely recommend other services to engage in the reassessment and re-rating process. It's been a really great way to work in collaboration with the quality support team to improve outcomes for children, for services, and for educators.

- Great, so that's just another amazing opportunity to hear the journey that some services are on. Look, what I'm really excited now to do is also introduce you to Emma Forbes, who's a representative from only about children just also to share and connect with us around the initiatives that they'll be engaged with. Are you there, Emma? Oh, she's here.

- Hi, thanks so much, Kim.

- Over to you.

- Great, thank you. So hi, everyone. I'm really pleased to be here to talk you through, I guess, only about children's experience with the quality self-assessment. So, Oak has now had quite a number of services going through using the self assessment tool. And, from our perspective, the directors have said that they felt like this has really helped her team to really feel comfortable with the process and to really understand how this has helped embed quality across the service. The feedback from Oak has been that the team felt that it really helped them to be a lot more concise and a lot more decisive about what are the key practices that they're really focusing on at the service. And also really helped to be able to identify the strengths.

At Oak, we've had an approach where all of the educators are encouraged to be involved in the quality improvement process through a range of tools that we provide. But we found that, the use of our quality sort of assessment tools, our reflection, and our small group meetings have really helped inform this self-assessment process and really having the sub concise goals has helped guide the team in really understanding, I guess, at the everyday level, what quality looks like, and we found that we, some of the previous assessment of ratings submissions that we had done in the traditional way with the QIP, that it could sometimes be really difficult for the service to entertain to articulate what are the real areas of strength and what are the areas that need to be worked on.

And so we really feel that really the simplification of the template and all of these process, it's really been able to help us give a far more concise and a really great view of where the service is currently at. And we've really felt that it's also helped us to be able to really highlight to the families all the amazing things that are happening at the service and really being able to identify the key points in each standard of what we're looking to work on. And so it's been a really nice way to help engage the families in these process as well. So yeah, it's been a great, great experience across only about children. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

- Thanks so much for that, it's really great to hear. Look, what we're gonna do is just take time to do a little bit of a pulse check and connect with you. The online approach to our road shows, we're really keen to hear and to get a little bit of a sense check from you. So, just thinking about the information that you've heard, what you'll see up on the screen is a QR code reader again for Menti. What I asked you to do is just take time to either scan that code or go onto the menti.com and enter that QR code in that way. And what you'll see is a couple of questions that will come up.

Unlike what was in the COVID, the first we'll see it pop up on our screen. So look, in the first question that comes up once you log on to that Menti or through that QR code is we just wanna get a sense check around just thinking about one word that describes how you're feeling about the initiatives that the department has shared with you in this session, and thinking about how you'll take some of that context back to your service as well. So there will be a slide couple of minutes just while it sets itself, but you can start answering that, popping in that one word around what you're thinking and how you're feeling. So like we're starting to stay it come up on the screen.

Yeah, it looks really great kind of touch points there, feeling supported, interesting in trading and looking trades. One of those where it's too, if it is something that you're thinking about and what it means for your service really reaching out for us, because that's about like Kathy talked about in the COVID session, that connection and that engagement that is there. I'm optimistic. Yep, awesome, refreshed, came, yep. And the word that pops up there as well, cautious.

Yeah, look at, and what I'd say is as your team is starting to have that kind of connection and what it means and how do you unpack it, and what does that look like. As Belinda has put out, they are really reaching out to the quality support team to talk through those so that you can get the information as to what it means for your service and tape. Unsure, and that's that connection point there as well. I'm optimistic, yeah, that's great. And informed, you know that's one of the key thing that we're looking to do through the various platforms of communication with the department. And I know up in the link there, there's the Facebook page and the link there. Having a look at our web page, as well as I'm updating that, including our frequently asked questions.

The quality support team is up there. Yeah, reassured, nervous and look, I think having a little bit of nervousness as to what it means and how you take back and start to have conversations with families around what your journey is as well. But don't let those nerves sit there for too long. We are a very supportive sector as we see as well, and reaching out to our team for you to kind of take that step and unpack what that nerves is, and not only nerves, I see the word brave and this sector is around raising quality for children. When we put that at the center and the heart of it, being brave is what we need to be to ensure that those kinds of lifelong benefits of learning are formed in these formative years of care that we provide.

So, look, there has been a lot of information and I'm like, what's been shared as well is there'll be information that comes through after the road shows as well so that you can unpack this even more. But think about that information space that you're sitting in, what's really resonating with you and your service and unpacking that and reaching out, having a look at the Facebook page, having a look at the website as well. I think that's really important. Thanks, okay. And we might move on to the next question of that Menti. I think Grace is doing it. Sorry, Grace.

So look, just thinking about the support around the quality support team and what's offered, just thinking about whether your service and your team will look to make contact. And when that might be, within the next month, within the next two to six months, within the next six to 12 months, or the other one that we know is when I received notification of assessment and rating. And what we did hear from Belinda earlier that you can connect down and start on that journey is a really important space as well. Look, Haley, I see you popped up in the chat there as well within the next month. Please reach out to that team through that. Yeah, right, we're seeing it bounce around.

Okay, then we might move to the next question. The next question is kind of unpacking when you're thinking about the support that's offered and the contact with the team, Greg, what would be the reason for your contact having a think about that you're currently scheduled for assessment and rating. Would you like to apply for reassessment and re-rating and unpack that working towards initiative? Yeah, we'd like to start using self-assessment a little bit more to drive quality improvement at the service. Yeah, and yeah, the support transitioning your current quality improvement into the self-assessment working document as well. Having a look for quality improvement approach, like a nasal just having a look at the chat at the same time. So bear with me. Rachel, thank you, contacted them today and helpful. So that's great to hear. And we will come back, I'll have a little look at the questions as well and I'll come back and touch on further around the quality support team and their availability to services, whether you're undergoing assessment or rating, or what some of those key points are on there. So Wendy, we'll come back and answer that one with you as well. Great, excellent, thanks, Grace.

Okay, and we might move onto the next question. I spoke earlier about thinking about the quality and practice newsletter, which is really unpacking areas of the national quality standards. And we'd be really came to hear from you what areas of interest you'd like to ask to consider for future versions and issues of that quality newsletter, quality and practice newsletter. Yep, so how to engage families. And whoever's popped that one in there, even thinking about how to engage families in which particular areas of the national quality standards or within your service as well. Transitions from the QIP, yep. And encourage having a look at the latest quality practice newsletter that's come through as well. But I will have a look at that, how to get more collaboration from families, yep. Yep, it didn't know that their quality and practice newsletters so I can find or auditions the three exceeding themes yet. And we'll pop in there links too where you can access the version. Yeah, way to make key practices visible. And it says in there for offices, but also for any visitor that's coming to your service, any family as well. Motivating educators, yeah, how to raise quality from meeting to exciting. Yeah, an article directed at all stuff.

What's everyone's role in self-assessment and that will look different for every service, but it's a really important one. And we had three days kind of little snippets into the services as well. How the engagement by all educators in the self-assessment process, as well as that lifting qualities really important. Or specific support, oh yeah, quick pick that. Yep, I'm getting the hurry on there. I think there's some really great ideas that have come through in that.

So I really appreciate you doing that because we wanna make sure that our communication's really landing and not only with some of these, what I'm seeing pop up in the quality of practice newsletters, there's also things that we might be able to update in our frequently asked questions on our website as well as the department, Facebook page as well. So thank you for that. All right, so on the screen, you'll see what we're gonna move through. Submitting some questions. We know that there have been some questions and we've seen them come through the chat and we've created the opportunity for us to have a look at some of those questions and answer them really based on the quality initiatives that we've shared with you this morning. So what we've got up on this screen coming, yeah, is a QR code.

And we just wanna give you like five minutes just to spend a little bit of time thinking about an opportunity for you to think about what's resonated with you the most in the uplifting of quality sessions, as well as be able to provide us, not only with what's resonating with you, but also an opportunity for you to table some questions that Belinda and I can come back and touch on with you. So we will give you about five minutes, correct me, Kaitlin here if I'm off the mark, we will give you about five minutes just so you can kind of resonate and think about what you're thinking about in the uplifting of quality sessions as well as an opportunity to provide us with some of those questions that you might want us to touch on, is that right, Kaitlin?

- Yep, that's right. And if you submitted any questions through the chat earlier, please feel free to submit them through here, otherwise Kim and Belinda will go through and just check any questions that have come through that way too.

- Kaitlin, I will get you just, if you can add the link back, I can see one question that's come through is just in relation to the web page or the QR reader for the quality ratings initiative and in the certificate, as well as the resource page. Can you just pop that back in there? It's a quick and easy one. Thank you. The first question that you're popping some responses in there is what's resonating with you from the information you've heard in this session?

Some of them is, a couple of questions and Belinda and I will come back and have a look, what support will the department offer around the new child safe standards yet? Like that support is being offered. I'm heartened by a seemingly refreshed approach from the department in relation to working in partnership with services. And you would have had Kathy talk a little bit earlier around that as well. And that's one of the things that we are really driving as well. Yeah, yeah, look, there's a question there and I think we'll hold that one over, but definitely Belinda and I'll come back, is the quality support team only available to support services who are working towards? And I saw that in the chat.

So we will come back and touch on that one. Yeah, putting relationships that are being built. Yep, and it's resonating with someone around those initiatives that are there for services that are working towards to a meeting or higher rating. Yep, and then also looking at avenues to support exceeding services, showcase and share more frequently with others. And that's one of the things that we're looking at those quality and support newsletters. Yeah, shifting support available to services and partnership approach.

Great to see and help develop confidence in approaching the department for support, yeah. Great, that support is the focus, definitely. I can only say half of one comment so I'll come back and have a look at that. Yeah, look, the comment that I'm seeing out there, love the concept of self-assessment. However, there's always so much work. Be nice to hear how much time directors dedicate to ensuring and showing exceeding quality, at times it just seems overwhelming. And that's one of the things that we wanna break down, it's around that connection to everyday practice at your service and building on that uniqueness as well.

So that's an important one that we'll take away. Yep, and the comment there is a small rural pre-school with two staff and my paddling lack of Swan. Yeah, I've heard that recently, lack of duck on water above, everything's looking great, but my legs are going 100 miles an hour. I really encourage you to reach out and make a connection to the quality support team or any of the authorized offices that are retaining your services as well, but really keen that you link out to us. We wanna make sure what's happening on the top is also what's happening on the bottom as well. Yeah, shifting support available to services and partnership approach.

And look, I'm gonna say, we're not always gonna get it right, but we're really opening that door and that avenue to hear that so that we can unpack it and address it, whether it's through a direct service connection or whether it's through any of our communications avenues as well. Great, all right. So look, there is also that second question which is where you can table any questions to us, Kaitlin, what Belinda and I will do, we'll just have a look at any of the common questions that are coming through. We will come back for an opportunity to answer some of those questions. Where we might not get all the questions answered, what we will be doing is using some of our platforms to come back and revisit those. So their QR code is up on the screen, there for you and I will hand to Kaitlin, 'cause I know she's got some instructions.

- Yep, so like you've been doing before with the previous questions. If you just get your camera out on your fine, you can scan this QR code and submit your questions. We will come back in 10 minutes, so that will be, I'll be specific, we'll come back at 3:02, 'cause we're running a little tiny bit, a couple of minutes over time. So I'll see everyone back at two minutes past three, thanks.

- So look, thank you for those that are pop some questions through what we've seen is some kind of similar questions and topics. So we will just work through those. What I know is that we're not gonna get through all the questions that have come through, but we are really came that part of, I'm following up after the road shows that we're able to use our platforms to answer and provide some context to some of the questions that have been asked that we don't get to in each session. So we will do that. Now Belinda's popped down as well. Then hi, Belinda.

- Hi.

- This is only the part of the road show where we run around with the microphone and I get my steps up, but today you might say it in my room. So look, Belinda, I will start with yours. Some of the questions that have popped up, including on that doom chat, as well as during the questions was just around access to the quality support team. So not just the access part, but also some of the key work that you're doing in your space. So if you were able to touch on those, that would be great.

- Yeah, great, thanks Kim. I did see that question come up earlier. So for the quality support teams available for all services. So it might be that you have been notified of assessment or rating. It might be that you're looking to move from a quick self-assessment format or it may be reassessment, re-rating was asked if you were only able to access if you were going through now and that's not the case and definitely just for services who are directed with the schools.

- Belinda, can I just stop here? Maybe I should just turn your video off. It just seems to be echoing. So I don't know if it's just me, but don't worry, it might be, can I just ask yeah, no, look, it might've just been Belinda that someone had not their mic on mute. So pop back onto the video and let's tell them.

- Careful, I hope you've heard and produced some background noise. Yeah, it was me, but I'll turn that camera off. Thanks, Kim.

- Thanks, Belinda, thank you.

- It's okay. Yeah, so anytime services can contact. We are at the moment, we're working with about 150 services who are coming up for ANR in this next period, but in terms of, so this is everybody working towards. We have been working with those eight services that Kim mentioned who are going through a reassessment and re-rating process. And the other key piece of work that we're doing is services who're wanting to move from the traditional QIP over to a self-assessment style format.

So where that like, here's, I might just talk a little bit about that process and what we look at. So we kind of have a couple of sessions with you talking about the current quality improvement plan and really getting an idea of how that's come about, who's involved in developing that improvement plan, how often it's reviewed, how's that documented, how's families and educators involved in that process, just to get a bit of an idea of where that's from. And then looking at your existing statements in your QIP, 'cause you will have email no doubt, definitely some key practices. We look at the guidance in the NQF guide around the elements and standards.

And really, I think the key shift from core improvement plan to the self-assessment approach is really moving away from those overarching statements that often more broadly talk about what you're aiming to achieve rather than, as I mentioned, your key practices about what you're actually doing at your individual service. So moving away from overarching into the actually what's occurring at your service. So we ask you to share with us sustained quality area.

And that's what I was mentioning earlier, the screen sharing is a really great way of doing that with that specificity, the whole QIP. And looking at some of those overarching statements and looking at with the officers observed site and discuss, they are the collection methods that we always go through. So looking at, without the statements that you've got in your existing QIP with it, you can observe site or discuss and if not, how that might be reframed. So for example, just a basic example often the word ensure is in there, that we ensure children's ideas are incorporated in the program. And that's fantastic, we want you to be doing that. But when you're identifying a key practices about, talking about how you do that, how do you ensure that children's ideas are incorporated in the program? And it may be things like educators talking to children at group time asking what they would like in terms of the environment changes that might be implemented.

And if that's documented, citing your program, for example, and really the other key thing is moving away from the regulatory requirements in terms of identifying key practice. So we know that the regulations require you to conduct emergency rehearsals every three months. But then when we look at the element, it's really about digging in further in how you apply that. So when and how your emergency rehearsals conducted is that documented, are they evaluated?

Who's involved in that process, and to know how to implement any changes or review that comes from that process. So it's really kind of unpacking as I mentioned earlier, what's occurring at your service. I did say up in the chat box, someone mentioned earlier that the, we did trial the working document with those 300 services in our kind of last scheduling period. And we got a lot of feedback from a number of services and someone put a question up in the chat box earlier that we removed the separated exceeding theme practice box.

So I just want to touch on that. Yes, we have removed the separate section. That's not to say that services can't demonstrate how the exceeding themes ingrained through their key practices. It's just that from overwhelming feedback from services, they found that having a separate section was really confusing for them because they're not looking at their practices, these are our meeting practices, and these are exceeding practices, your practice is your practice, it's about typical. What happens at your service each and every day. And what we found is that comes through the service outlining their key practice and they often were telling us that they felt like they were duplicating the work by having a separate section.

So we've taken that separate space away, but absolutely those themes will come through your key practice. And the other comments that was made that I wanted to just touch on was the word limit. So we do have a character limit you know working document in the online form. And the reason being for that is to move away and having some parameters around articulating key practice and being really, it helps you to be really succinct and kind of what we're hearing from services, like where do we start and stop? So with the 500 character limit, it's around 80, 84 words. And what I can tell you is that for each element, there's five key practice box.

So, I'm kind of going into a bit of detail, which I'm more than happy to unpack with individual services, but for exchange with 1.1 for example, there's 15, up to 15 key practices each with that 500 character limit. And the feedback we've had from services was that was really great to actually get them to focus on what we're doing at the service. And we also find that, that helps educators to be involved in that process. And that was a comment that came up through some of that feedback earlier, is how do you get educators involved in that and breaking it down and keeping it simple and tell us about what you do at your service. Educators really connecting with that as well, which is fantastic. There was just, there was one other thing that came up in that chat box that I've just forgotten what it was. Kimberly, it'll come back. Oh, the PDF, so it's around the PDF.

So I saw that come up in the questions. So yes, the working document is set up as a PDF in the quality and practice new side of that came out last week, where we launched the work documents written available. We put a note in there about needing to be able to have all the functionality working on it. So you open it and use it like a word document. You can say those, make changes to it, open and come backwards and forwards as many times as you like. But it works in that same way as a word document, that it is a PDF, but it's designed to be edited. And for you to make as many change, we want to, if you choose to use it to be ongoing document that you can use for your planning, but as I've mentioned earlier, that's completely your choice, whether you want to use that or another self-assessment version as well. So hopefully that covers some of those questions, Kim.

- Now look, that was great Belinda. And what I hope that it encourages, Belinda went into the details around some of the key things and discussions that they attain are having a necessary on some of the common questions coming through. So thank you on that, Belinda. I will put you in the hot seat for one more question and then we will move through, just as a couple of questions around the reassessment and re-rating process, including what that looks like and what happens if an application is lodged in the connection with your team. And then further to that is, do I need to be reassessed if I go through a reassessment and re-rating in all quality areas? Or what does that look like? So if you could just touch on that, that would be great.

- Yeah, perfect, thank you. So the working towards reassessment initiative, so Kim's mentioned if your service currently holds working towards rating and you've made improvements in that area since your last assessment and rating, because that you can apply for a reassessment and re-rating. The application goes through the, you need to put that in through the incubator RTS portal. In terms of the application with this initiative, you're not required to pay the associated fee with reassessment if you're working towards service. So when you get to the payment screen, just submit and don't make a payment. And the other good thing is that when you put an application for reassessment, it asks you for supporting documents. In this case, because you'll be engaging with a self-assessment approach, you don't need to attach any further supporting documents.

So pop the application through, it goes to our scheduling team who will validate that and put a referral through to the quality support team. Again, you will be assigned to a dedicated, authorized officer within our chain who might contact with you. We wanna talk to you about your previous A&R, talk to you about the improvements that you've put in place since then, and ensuring that we're looking at each of the elements that you were not met and making sure that that's the areas that you are meeting have continued to be implemented at the service. So we'll look at your previous report and talk to you about that. And it kind of we're working at your own pace. So again, you get to submit a quality area for us to review and provide some feedback and guidance on.

And also just touching on whether it's in terms of how many quality areas, Kim. If their service was last assessed under the current 2018 national quality standards, and you were working towards only in two areas, for example, then you only need to go through a partial re-assessment which would be those two quality areas that you're currently working towards. And the meeting rating for the other areas would carry forward. If your service was last assessed under the 2012 national quality standard, then you'd need to go through a full re-assessment in all seven quality areas.

So probably if you're thinking about that, you've got a working towards rating, and you've made improvements and you're not wanting to wait until the next time you come around to be scheduled, give the information inquiries line a call, or email through to our team. And we'll be happy to talk to you about your individual service and whether it might be a full or a partial re-assessment and what that looks like.

- Thank you, Belinda, lots of information. And as I said, if we haven't got specifically to your question, there are some of the key overarching questions that we have been asked that we tried to summarize and Belinda, you really nailed it with sharing some really practical information there and I can see some comments below just in the chat feature. So look, that does wind up our time for our session.

I did just wanna touch on one comment, that's come through the chat, which Felicity you've posted. It would be nice if we could have a partnership or a buddy system between remote pre-schools and city pre-schools who may be differently resources, could we be teamed up somehow, look, this afternoon session also does touch on some of the future sector development programs that are in place, but please stay. I'd be really keen to reach out to you and just unpack that a little bit further with you. So thank you for that.

Look, our session, I really do appreciate the engagement and the connection that you've had with Belinda and I, as we've been able to share around this uplifting of quality and some of the information that we have as well as some of the initiatives that are in play. So look, I really do appreciate the time and the opportunity, and just the connection that you've been able to share with us.

Quality Ratings Initiative: interview with an early adopter

Quality Ratings Initiative: interview with an early adopter Kylie Temperley from Tillys Play and Education Cardiff

Our experience with the quality rating initiative was that it was quite a positive experience. Our company was approached by one of the authorised officers in the local area and asked if we wanted to participate in the early rollout of this initiative. We all had a discussion about it, and it was something we definitely wanted to be involved in.

Basically any way I feel a centre can promote their rating to the community, to families, that's a good program 'cause it gives us an opportunity to share the amazing things that we're doing, but for families to really have a clear insight to what a centre's rating actually is.

So our educators were able to use the materials to talk about the quality rating. These discussions based around centres' ratings, they shouldn't be daunting. It's the perfect opportunity to share your centre's achievement and just start those conversations of involving families and the community in the quality improvement journey.

The quality rating initiative is so new and our assessment and rating has only just been finalised. Our new exceeding rating certificate is currently on display in our centre foyer, but it's also on display for families and community members just in our outdoor area for families when they are dropping off. Something I'm looking into now is contacting our local newspapers, local radio stations, and just getting our quality rating out there. So it is really important for families to be aware, and it sets a benchmark for what they're expecting from a service.

So we would be looking at putting a written article to our local newspaper. We have found examples on the ACECQA website as well, but that is something that, my educators and myself would be putting together a beautiful document just to share with our local community and families, our quality rating. The response from our family has been extremely positive.

To be able to share that and really promote that with our families, just the feedback that we're getting is amazing. They like to see our certificate that's now on display out in the drop-off area. It's also being shared all over our social media page, our website, and there has been a lot of positive feedback on both of those platforms as well.

The quality ratings initiative is important to me and our company. It's a clear visual representation just showing families how a centre is meeting the national quality standard. And it's available for families new and old at the service and shows them basically what the centre is doing.

So I would recommend other eligible services to engage in the quality ratings initiative as it is an opportunity for them to promote their rating and what they are doing within their centre.

Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Children's Strategy

Aboriginal Early Childhood Education Children's Strategy

- [Kaitlin] We will now hear from Nat Heath from the Aboriginal policy team. He's going to be delivering the next item that's on the Aboriginal early childhood education children's strategy. Thanks, Nat.

- No worries, thanks Kaitlin. G'day everyone. As Kaitlin said, my name is Nat Heath and I'm the manager of the Aboriginal engagement and policy team, within the early childhood education directorate. Before I begin, I just wanna acknowledge that I am presenting to you from Bidjigal country. So, just wanna acknowledge the Bidjigal people and their descendants, and... pay my respects to those people who lived on this country for thousands of years, and people who still call this area home. Bidjigal countries, I guess the Eastern parts of Sydney or Southeastern parts of Sydney. So, I'm currently based over in Maroubra. So, I'm here to talk to you today about the Aboriginal early childhood education children's strategy. But before I do, I do wanna just play a little activity with you, if that's okay?

So, I can get everyone just to turn their computer screens on. This is always a good test to see who's still actively engaged in the presentations. Lovely. You can all wave to each other if you haven't seen each other already, lovely. All right so, I've got an "Oh no, lol", from Kelly. Don't know if that means she's not able to do it, or she just doesn't wanna be seen. But look, this game's really simple. So, I'm gonna say a word, and if you know what that word means, I just want you to put your hand up. Please don't yell out what it means. Please don't write in the comments what it means. Just simply put your hand up. For those who don't have a camera, that's fine, you can still play along anyway. It's just makes it, it's good to be able to understand or see visually what everyone else's responses are, whether they do know the word. So, if you know the word, put your hand up. If you don't know the word, don't have to do anything, make sense? Thumbs up if that makes sense. Beautiful.

All right, so first word of the day is Ginagaay. Hands up if you know what Ginagaay means. I got one from Kim. Lovely, I'll just scroll across the screens. Oh, and Heidi, very good. And, T and K. Sorry, I don't know your name T and K . I'll call you T and K. Okay, second word is Jingi Wala. Pierre, Alison. Go across, that's all right. All right, third word is Wiyabu. Let's go across. Can't see anyone knows Wiyabu. All right, fourth word is Yaama. Anyone know Yaama? Few are in, sort of. I could see Sheree with a hand up. Awesome, all right so... only a few people knew a couple of words there. Let's just change it up. Hands up if you know the word bonjour. Oh, most people, yeah. Good. What about konnichi wa? Interesting. Ola? Most people again. What about kia ora? Ah. So, you might have gathered that the four words that I used before were all the words for hello. And each of those words are actually New South Wales, Aboriginal language words for the word hello. And I always find it, it's very interesting and fascinating that we've had languages that have been spoken in this state and in this country for tens, 50, 60,000 years, and majority of Australians don't know 'em.

Yet, we've had other languages that have been spoken for less than 250 years yet the majority of Australians know 'em. And what's even more interesting is we have, you know, the kia ora which is the Maori word for hello, which is another indigenous language, most people know that. So, it's really interesting when we look and show, we're so fascinated about other first nations cultures, or we've taken the time to learn a bit more, yet in Australia, we don't know those words. And the reason why I do that too, is a lot of people go, "Well, there's so many languages, Aboriginal languages. "Like, how can we know any?"

Yet, I've just reeled off four different nationality languages, yet everyone knows that. So, it's kind of, I guess, drawn a line that we can make no more excuses and as individuals, and obviously as directors or early educators, or people who work in the early education sector, we have a really big opportunity to make a big change in the way that Australia understands it's first nations cultures. And, we as all Australians should take pride in the fact that we have the oldest living remaining culture in the world.

So just to, I guess, to sum up, so you know, where those words come from, Ginagaay is actually the Gumbaynggirr language. So, it comes from Gumbaynggirr which is mid North coast, New South Wales. So, your Coffs Harbor and Nambucca regions. Wiyabu comes from the Gathang language, which is both Warrimay and Birrbay people. So that's Foster and Taree, Karuah sort of area, Port Macquarie. Yaama If you've ever listened to Triple J, you might've heard the word Yaama. So Yaama comes from Northwest New South Wales, and central west New South Wales. So, Gamilaroi people, or Wiradjuri people use that. And, the other one are used was Jingi Wala which is from the North coast of New South Wales. So, you're Bundjalung people. So, Byron Bay region, Ballina, Lismore. Most people probably done a holiday to Byron Bay, so, now you know the local word for hello, up there.

So, I mean, that sort of gives an understanding of you know, there's a lot we need to do in this space. And I guess a part of what our team is looking at doing as far as developing your strategies to start a new beginning in regards to education and the way that we do education, and making sure that obviously, we instill within Aboriginal children the opportunity to learn about their culture, but also ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture and languages, as well. Happy with that? Cool little activity.

If you want, I'm gonna go into the presentation. You can feel free to stay visually available, or you can check out, completely up to you. So, if we go to the first slide, I guess I'll explain to you that the process that we're going through. For all those writing comments, what I'll do at the, I'll go through at the end and try to read through the comments to see if there's been any questions. If there's just interesting things that have been brought up. I'll also provide an opportunity at the end for you, if you do have any specific questions, you can just answer, ask directly, and I'll do my best to respond to them. But essentially, in developing the strategy, we wanna develop a specific early childhood education strategy, that will support Aboriginal children to one, engage more in early years sector. So, whether that's long daycare services, community preschools, after school, before school care, family daycare, whatever that is. But, to ensure that we have, I guess, frameworks in place and make sure that we as a sector, are better supported to engage Aboriginal families and to ensure that we implement best practice approaches when working with Aboriginal children.

And, I guess we're going through a sort of, phased approach in developing the strategy. The overall goal for us as a department is to have the strategy designed and written up, and signed off by the minister of education and early childhood education, by March, 2021. But, the first step of what we've been going through is we held a number of round tables with what we can see it as sector experts. So, both Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people who work in the early education space, who've had a strong understanding, who've of done really good things in working with the Aboriginal community, and Aboriginal children, to understand what are the big issues that are happening on the ground.

So, to get that grassroots level knowledge of what are the things that are impacting, or, what are the barriers that impact Aboriginal children engaging in early education? Also, one of the, I guess, the barriers for families wanting to send their children to early education. And then, once they're in that service, what have been the key things as far as the retention? So, those children being engaged, and also having positive educational outcomes. So, what we do is we gather that information and record it. We had it facilitated by an Aboriginal person and what we actually plan on doing is following those round tables, is we're actually we're, I guess, creating or developing an Aboriginal early childhood education advisory group. And that advisory group will essentially co-design the strategy with the department. So, the information that we gather from those round tables, will actually be providing a report, and table to the advisory group.

The department and our team have also looked at through all the data, and the stats that are currently existing as far as where, which LGA, local government areas have low participation. What are the current developmental outcomes? We've also done a literature review to understand what are the big issues, and again, that will be provided advisory group to help them, I guess, design, what are the barriers? What are the issues, and what should we actually have in, I guess, the strategy as far as targets and specific initiatives that'll actually help support, better engaging Aboriginal families and children? The other aspect is obviously the roadshows, or these sector consults.

So I guess through this process, we're kind of explaining to you what we're planning on doing. But at the end of this session, there'll be an opportunity to hear from you guys just to go, we've kind of identified eight big issues within the early year sector, and it'll provide an opportunity for you to kind of go, these are the areas that I, my service, or you think the sector, need the most support in, so that we can table that to the advisory group, as well.

So, they understand as far as, I mean, the thing is within New South Wales, we have about 40 Aboriginal early childhood education services that are run, and owned, and managed by Aboriginal people. But the majority services are done by mainstream, obviously, non-indigenous run services. So, we need to ensure that you guys are better equipped to work with Aboriginal families, and also, there embed best practice approaches, as well. So, that sort of gives you the idea of the approach that we're taking. The advisory group will be made up of just Aboriginal people or Torres Strait Islander people and the reason for that is, is historically, as government agencies, we've written many policies, many strategies, which, with the idea of to help Aboriginal people, and a lot of these missed the mark. And the idea behind this approach is to ensure that we empower Aboriginal people in decision-making processes, and also to hear their voices, because, many of the people that will sit on this advisory group have gone through these process or system, and they understand what Aboriginal community need to ensure that we get the best outcomes.

Next slide, please. So, look as a part of the strategy, there'll be an alignment to the Close the Gap targets. So, for those who aren't aware, there's just been a recent refresh of the Close the Gap targets. And there's two specific targets that relate to the early education sector. The first target is, which isn't any different, it was there previously on the old targets, is by 2025, we want to increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in the year before school, in early childhood education to 95%. So, that's the same target that we had for all children. Soon, in the next slide, I'll actually show you where we currently stand in New South Wales. A new target which wasn't there previously is by 2031, we wanna increase the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as developmentally on track in all five domains of the Australian early development census to 55%. Where we currently stand in New South Wales in regards to this specific stat, is 42.2% of Aboriginal children are assessed as developmentally on track, across all five domains.

So, we've got a quite a lot of work to ensure, or to support those children to, I guess, develop and grow in each of those areas. The other target which isn't specific to the early education sector, but however, we as a sector can play a role in, is by 2031, there is a sustained increase in the number and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages being spoken. So you know, yourself as a service, are one of the first things we can do is to go and engage better with the Aboriginal community to understand, what is some of the local language? And how can we actually embed that into some of our teaching practices at school? So that all children can start the day by greeting saying, if you're on, in Bundjalung country, Jingi Wala as opposed to just a normal hello.

And these are just simple things that we can do, each do as a service. The important thing is obviously, we do that in collaboration with the Aboriginal community to ensure that we have their full support in doing these practices. Next slide. So to give you, I guess, a snapshot of where we currently sit, we, and just to explain. So the, the latest data we have is from 2018, and this data is from what's called "The Report on Government Services". And, the reason why we don't have 2020 or 2019 data is it actually takes about 18 months for the data to be quarantined, and to ensure accuracy in their approach to actual recording this data. So, they actually look at what were the enrollment rates from that year, then compare it to the latest ABS census data, which was for us in 2016. So in 2018, we currently had 75.7% of Aboriginal children enrolled in the year before school, in an early childhood education service. So, as I said before, our target is 95%. So that's, you know, 25% of our population, the year before school are not enrolled in early years, and that's something that we need to change.

The one positive sign, I guess, that we do have is that in 2016, this was down at 59.9%. So, there has been a growth in this area, but however, we've obviously still got a long way to go to ensure that we reach that target of 95% by 2025. Next slide. Now, just to explain a couple of things. So, you might have previously seen even from these, sector consult, where it showed data was closer to a hundred percent of Aboriginal children were enrolled in year the before school. And the reason why that was is, this style was provided under what's called UANP data, Universal Access National Partnership data. However, and the data that I just showed previously was from the RoGS "Report on Government Services". The both use essentially, different methodologies in the way that they record children in the year before school. Previously, we had access to the UANP data, but not the RoGS data. What we've come to learn is the RoGS data is probably the more accurate methodology of recording the number of children the year before school. So, we will start to use this data. So I just wanted to explain, 'cause you might have in previous presentations gone, how are we going from nearly a hundred percent down to 75%? So that's the explanation to why.

So, if you have a look on the slide on the left-hand side of the graph, on the left-hand side, the UANP, which is in the blue line, kind of show that we're at nearly a hundred percent. Most of us would know that that's not completely accurate, 'cause it's very hard to get hundred percent of children enrolled in a year before school. The line underneath, which is the orange line, which is the RoGS data, that indicates that 75.7%. The one good thing, and what both the different data shows us in both the UANP and the RoGS on the right, is of the children who do enroll into an early education service, up to 92 and 93% of them are enrolling for 600 hours. So, it's a good indication that when children do enroll, they do enroll for those two days as a minimum, which is, I guess, a positive sign. Next slide, please. So, you know percentages are all well and good, but what does that actually mean in numbers?

So, in 2018 we had 5,016 Aboriginal children enrolled in the year before school, which is 75% of that population. What we needed to get to was 6,628 children. So, quite a substantial growth. We needed an additional 1,300 Aboriginal children enrolled. By the time this strategy is written to the design, which will be in 2021, we need, on top of what we had is 5,016 children, and obviously it's a new cohort of children. We need an additional 1,720 children on top of those 5,016 children. So by 2021, we need 7,090 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands children enrolled in the year before school, to get to 95%. And obviously, if you wanted to get closer to a hundred percent, that's starting to push towards that seven and a half thousand, 8,000 figure. So, if we have a think about it, if each of us, if there's up to nearly 7,000 early childhood education services across New South Wales, and obviously some work in larger Aboriginal communities, and some work with not many Aboriginal children, but if we can each play a role to try to get whether it's one child or 10 children enrolled in your early education service, we can make a big, big play, at obviously, trying to reach that target of 95%.

Next slide. In regards to developmental vulnerability for Aboriginal children, 20% of our children assessed as being developmentally vulnerable in two or more domains, and in comparison to non-indigenous children, they are just under 10%. So, Aboriginal children are assessed as developmentally vulnerable up to 2.2 times than non-indigenous children. What we do also know is once we start to go into remote and very remote communities in New South Wales, that doubles again. So we see nearly 40% of Aboriginal children in those regions being assessed as developmentally vulnerable across two or more domains. So, that's probably the more alarming gap when we look at development vulnerabilities in comparison to indigenous and non-indigenous children, and something that we need to work on. The other, I guess, thing to take note and we're well aware of is, obviously the AEDC assessment, there sometimes is a cultural bias. So, things particularly around speech or language where Aboriginal children might use Aboriginal English, or they might even speak in their local Aboriginal language, that may not pick up their actual , use a strengths-based approach to assess those children.

So, we are aware of those issues, however, we do know that it's also creates a framework to get us an understanding of where all children, I guess, currently sit in regards to the developmental outcomes. The other graph, which is on the right. You can see that for Aboriginal children, nearly 35% of our children are assessed as developmentally vulnerable, in comparison to just under 20% for non-indigenous children. So, there's a lot of work that we gotta do. The one thing that we do understand is language is one of the areas where Aboriginal children do fall down on.

So, we need to think about how do we support those children and put in place best practice approaches to ensure that children are engaged during the early education service, but also, I guess, have those opportunities for language development. And how do we also then work with their families and empower their families to do practical approaches at home? is hello in Awabakal. Thank you for that. Newcastle area, I imagine. Next slide. So sorry, I just had a quick drink. The strategy will have focus areas and those focus areas are obviously, just as I've been discussing, increasing enrollments and participation. So, it's one thing to have children enrolled, but it's no point having them enrolled and then not engaged.

So, we wouldn't need to ensure participation and also the developmental outcomes for Aboriginal children. We obviously wanna build a culturally capable and diverse early childhood education workforce. We wanna ensure that early childhood education service is quality. What their service quality and safety from a cultural perspective. So, one of the things that we've really heard from the round tables, and talking to Aboriginal families is, families aren't necessarily, in regards to Aboriginal families, that... not always, I guess it depends on, I don't want to paint, tarnish everyone with the same brush, but, one of the things they will look at is not necessarily the quality of the services, whether they're rated as exceeding or meeting. They're interested in one, what is the relationship with other Aboriginal families and their family?

What will their children learn culturally, within this service? Are there other Aboriginal people participating? So, they wanna ensure that this service is gonna be culturally safe for their children to attend and to, I guess, to assist in those things we need to embed Aboriginal perspectives and pedagogies into the ECE. Just reading, speaking participate. Yeah, that's a program that we fund and Sheree Johnson does an excellent job there, and her team, as well. So, those will be some focus areas for the strategy. Next slide. So this is where, I guess, we ask you, as early educators and people who work in early education services, what you think are the key areas that we as a department can better support you guys? So you can do this in a couple of ways. There's going to be eight options, and you're to rank what you think are the five areas that you can either do it as this; you, your service or the sector in general, need the most support in.

So, just to go through, there's eight options, as said. Option one is building better relationships with the local Aboriginal community and families. So, these are the things that you think you need supporting. Provision of transport solutions. Three, is supporting Aboriginal children to participate in 600 hours of early childhood education. Four, is recruitment and retention of Aboriginal staff. Ah yeah, and go to menti.com for this as well. Five, is integration of Aboriginal perspectives in learning activities. Six, is strengthen cultural competency of the early childhood education workforce. Seven, is target transition to school programs, and eight is target a culturally appropriate training to support individual needs of Aboriginal children. So, I'll just go back. So once you so... The menti QR code was 45 55 83 7. So, 45 55 83 7 And hopefully soon, some of those results will start to come up. While we do that, I'll just have a look through the comments. Hannah Watts, "Is there a graph with all children for the AEDC?" There was, I don't have it for the participation on . Specific questions . Where can we find information on New South Wales with the words to be aware and learn? I'll just check who sent this. Lisa, I think, look, in regards to Dharawal probably the best place to start. I'm not sure if Dharawal is a big sort of area. Probably the best thing to do is try to start having conversations with your local Aboriginal community, or the Aboriginal community that might reside in Dharawal country, 'cause they will be your best bet as far as, I mean where possible, you always try to learn the local language. So I know Dharawal also includes like the La Perouse area. So, they're doing a lot of good work in regards to Aboriginal language. So, that might be a possibility. So, there's an organization called Gujaga that may be able to help. But , at the end you'll see, I'll send my email. So if you guys do have any specific support questions, I'll be able to, our team will be able to respond and link you to the right places. I'm just gonna go to the areas that are coming up.

So... once again, building better relationships with local Aboriginal community families is coming up number one, and this is just the same as pretty much all, every sector consult we've had, which is really good to understand that you guys want support in strengthening cultural competency of the early childhood education workforce. And the other one is target a culturally appropriate training to support the individual needs of Aboriginal children. So, they're the three that have come up at every single sector consult. I think we've done nine, so we've probably talked to over a thousand different early education staff, and the same things come up.

So, what we'll do is we'll take these, this information in these reports. Provide it to the advisory group so that when we're, I guess, designing specific strategy with targets, we can go, this is what the experts say, and this is what the sector's saying, they need supporting. So, we can actually start going, we need to do something in regards to this to ensure that the strategy is effective and that you guys essentially, have a framework built around you to be able to ensure best practices, approaches, best practice approaches. So look, I'll just go to the next slide, kind of wrapping up my session. I'll provide an opportunity for you mob to ask some questions. You can just go to the next slide, please.

So the... the key to this is obviously, it's all well and good for us as a department to have a very nice, pretty strategy, which looks good, has a nice name. We need to ensure that everyone buys into it. And I guess the key part of that is we need to ensure that Aboriginal education is everyone's business. So, it's not for just that service to worry about who worked with the Aboriginal communities. It's up to all of us as a sector to go, we wanna do better. We wanna ensure that we are a part of making better. We wanna be a part of supporting and empowering Aboriginal children and families. We wanna be a part of, you know, close the gap. And wanna help, emphasize and engage with the strategy to ensure that we are working with everyone to ensure that Aboriginal children have the best opportunity.

So, that's the one thing I really wanna leave with you guys is that, you know, Aboriginal education is everyone's business. If you'd like to further discuss the Aboriginal early childhood education strategy, please don't be afraid to give us an email and reach out to us. Our email is ece@aboriginalengagement@det.nsw.edu.au. Our team consists of, we got a team of four. There's myself, Aleks Skoric, Koorinya Moreton, and Grace Toiava.

We got a great team. We're obviously a very small team so, we're trying to do a lot. Strategy's just one piece of the work that we're doing in regards to quite a number of different initiatives. Yeah so, just feel free obviously, to flick us an email and we can try to engage more, with you more.

Sector development and support programs update

Sector development and support programs update

- ABI: Welcome to the Sector Development and Support part of the roadshow. My name is Abi Weldon-Chan, and I'm the director of regulatory strategy policy and practice, here with the early childhood education directorate in the department of education.

My area drives the regulatory policy and practice, that helps ensure the sector maintains safe, high quality early childhood education and supports optimal outcomes for children and families in New South Wales. We also support educators to develop and implement quality practice and provide accurate and timely legal advice to support good regulatory practice and appropriate decision making. And today Kristie and I, as I say, are going to be talking to you about some of the sector development and sector support work that we have been doing between us and the initiatives that are on offer to you, through our various teams.

KRISTIE: Hi, I'm Kristie Brown. I'm the director of early childhood education programs within the department of education. My team, and I have responsibility for the design, delivery and evaluation of funded programs and strategic projects, that aim to optimize learning, growth and development of young children in New South Wales through the delivery of high quality early childhood education services. So as you can see Abi and I work really closely, in the work that we do and that's why we're here today, talking to you together.

So as Abi said, we're going to take you through today, an update on the department's current suite of initiatives and sectors of sector support and sector development and seek some feedback from you. This includes a range of things like the sector development program which offers training support and resources to build the capacity of early childhood educators and the early childhood education workforce, as well as doing things like developing and distributing resources, videos, webinars, these roadshows there's a whole range of ways that we do that.

In terms of the sector development program. This is a particular program that sets priorities each year for the delivery of professional development activities, to benefit early childhood educators and the early childhood education workforce. We wanna run you now through some of the I suppose, themes of the work that has been delivered and will be delivered and is available for you just to help you get an understanding of what the current environment looks like.

And we're doing this to help you then be able to tell us, what you'd like more of, or what things you'd like us to focus on in the future. So one of the areas that we've particularly been focused on within the department recently, is mental health. Now, I'm glad to tell you that we're working on a priority at the moment around recognizing and responding to signs of trauma in children. Now, we have heard from a lot of you, about the impacts of the recent bushfires on children and obviously the impacts and the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the way that children's environments are impacted by that.

There's a range of other things that have been happening across the state. It's been a pretty big 12 months that have impacted on children's wellbeing. And so this is a priority that we've particularly pulled out and are taking forward at the moment. So this will be a train... this will be delivered as training for all children's education and care services. So for all service types, that will, that is aimed at building the capacity of educators to recognize and respond to signs of trauma in children and developing strategies and resources to support cognitive social and emotional skills for children who have experienced trauma. So there will be more information about this coming out to all of you once that engagement is finalized. So keep a look out for it. If this is something that you've got an interest in.

ABI: So yes, as Kristie said, we have obviously been hearing from the sector that mental health has been something that's been really challenging both for educators and for children and their families most recently and particularly over the course of this last year.

One of the things that we have been putting in place and have run through June and July, are a series of professional learning modules and webinars related to children's mental health. We've also developed and delivered to services, a resource pack most recently. And so we've delivered for you, a series of resources, the first being the circle of security. Now this is a booklet that's been developed with Early Childhood Australia.

This particular resource helps to manage emotional regulation and stress responses following events, such as COVID-19 and the bushfires. And next up, we'd like to talk to you about some resources and some training and support that we've been delivering around the topic of physical health. KRISTIE: one of the critical areas around children's physical health is of course sleep and rest.

And this is again some training that will be made available You've let us know that this is a really important area, particularly for children's early childhood education and care services. So this training will focus on topics such as guidance on safe sleep and rest policies and procedures, how to determine the sleep and rest needs of children, particularly with regard to age developmental stage and their individual needs and guidance on equipment and materials used in sleep and rest. So information on how to engage in this training will be distributed through our usual email communication channels to services. And I'd encourage you all to keep it on your radar if this is something that you're interested in for the future. ABI: So we've also developed in conjunction with the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, a series of videos and originally these were again webinars and workshops around physical health.

The first one that I've got on the screen for you here, is around sleep and rest. And this particular one as you can see, was delivered by Red Nose Australia. This is a really important video and we appreciate that sleep and rest is one of those areas as Kristie said, that providing really clear guidance for educators is incredibly important. Our following slide then talks about the other sleep and rest associated topics. So anaphylaxis and allergy, asthma, infectious disease and first aid that are also contained within that suite of resources. And all of these are available on our website. These are also presented in conjunction with the Sydney Children's Hospital.

There's also a series of two question and answer videos with Dr. Jan Fizzell, from New South Wales Health who is a leading infectious diseases expert. Then we have one more resource that we have sent to you as part of the earlier resource pack that I talked about. Now this one is called "Birdie and the Virus" and this was a support that was developed with Queensland Health. And it's a storybook, to help educators to discuss Coronavirus and COVID-19 with children in their services. So we hope that this will be a really useful resource for you, it's also available in a range of community languages as well to support culturally and linguistically diverse communities. So we've also been preparing some resources and delivering some sector support on putting policies and practices together for early childhood services.

So the first initiative I'd like to talk to you here, is an outdoor learning portal. Now this is a brand new initiative that has only just gone live and you can access it through a particular website that's on the screen now. So it's in conjunction with Early Childhood Australia and it supports educators to develop really strong create rich outdoor learning experiences and for children to engage in meaningful learning in the outdoor space. So there are many different resources in this portal and includes three videos with outdoor learning experts, two learning modules, one of which is NESA accredited, some eBooks, some articles and information sheets. We've also been working on some emergency and incident management resources. So these were developed as part of some emergency preparedness workshops that occurred at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

So again these are all available on our website and these information and resources are available to assist services to identify, plan, prepare and manage emergencies. And we'll help support you in your work within regulation 97 and within the national quality standard element 2.2.2.

KRISTIE: Previous roadshows we've received feedback from family daycare, educators and family daycare providers about the particular needs of their environments and ways that support can be best provided to them that is reflective of those environments and reflective of the work that they do. So there is some training coming that aims to identify and build the support needed for these specific requirements of family daycare. And this is going to particularly focus on aspects of the national quality standards. So things like play-based learning, community engagement, self-regulation.

ABI: So we're also developing a suite of other resources on further developing policies and procedures and these will help services to make practical improvements to their current policies and procedures. It'll also help them enhance the management systems that they have in line with element 7.1.2, of the National Quality Standard and in meeting regulations 168 through 172. So this will comprise of a video and a booklet, to help provide that additional guidance for you and also help to improve quality and compliance across all the quality areas.

The next section I'd like to talk about is around safe transportation of children. So the resources that we are developing will help to provide guidance on understanding the new transportation requirements under the NQF and other legislation. We will also be providing you with a sample transportation policy and procedures that you can then use to tailor to your particular service circumstances and the transportation that you provide. You will also be able to access risk assessment guidance and a sample risk assessment of some of the risks that you might encounter and some of the ways that you might manage and mitigate those risks.

We will also be providing you with a checklist and there's some guidance being developed on working with families and communities on transport safety.

KRISTIE: So the last area we wanna talk to you about is professional support. And in particular, we've gotten feedback I think for a number of years now, around the experiences and importance of networking amongst leaders early childhood education and care service leaders. One of the engagements that we're pursuing at the moment is peer networks for leaders. So those peer relationships are, I suppose really fundamental to being able to share practice and learn from each other, but also to receive and give support. And I think the roadshows when they're in their usual physical environment, have played a part in that play a part in bringing people together and some parts of the state and some parts of the sector are already doing this quite successfully.

So this is really about looking at how the department can, I suppose support an initiative, that develops those inclusive peer networks for educational leaders and directors and puts them in a position where they're sustainable into the long term for people to be able to continue to draw on each other's experiences and support. The at the other end of the spectrum, I suppose is mentoring and coaching for new early childhood teachers. So early childhood teachers obviously play a critical role in the delivery of early childhood education. And we know that early childhood teachers particularly within this sector, benefit from support and mentoring and coaching in the work that they do. We're obviously keen to keep them in the sector.

And we're obviously keen to support growth and development for new early childhood teachers. So this initiative is particularly focused on, how we can do that. And again there'll be further information coming out about this soon. So if you are a new early childhood teacher, if you know of an early new early childhood teacher in your program, in your area or in your local community then keep this one in mind and keep an eye out for it so that they're aware of it when it's available.

So we're gonna change track a little bit now and talk to about how we're tracking and we're gonna present some data to you, that sits both across the participation and some of the regulatory components of the work that you're doing. We are giving you this information to I suppose give you some context to be able to reflect on and provide us with advice about where you'd like us to direct the priorities and how we can best support you in the work that you're doing. So the first slide here relates to the national partnership, agreement and the performance indicators that are relevant for New South Wales. So those of you particularly working in preschool environments will probably be more familiar with some of this information, but these charts show the percentage of children in the year before school who are enrolled in a preschool program from 2016 to 2019.

So that's the first table. And the second shows you the percentage of children enrolled in the year before school, in a preschool program for 600 hours. So again, a lot of you will probably already be familiar with the policy drivers around 600 hour participation in the year before school, in an early childhood education program and this is where those drivers come from. So you can see that over time, there's obviously been an increase in 600 hour participation. And certainly in the last 12 months, five of the six key indicators have seen improvement in New South Wales.

So this might give you some information on the proportion of children in the year before school from identified cohorts who were enrolled in preschool programs. So this is 2018 data and this compares them with their representation of children age four to five years in the community. So what you can see is that a lot of these are quite closely aligned. There are some discrepancies, particularly around children who are disadvantaged and again in that cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. So this is just something to keep in mind when we think about how we might want to target some of our initiatives related to participation in early childhood education.

ABI: So this slide takes us through the percentages of our sector and by sector service type. So you can see that the vast majority of our sector is made up of long day care services with 58% of the sector being long day care, then outside school hours, care, preschools and then finally family daycare at 3%. This slide then shows how each of those sector service types is broken down by its rating level with long day care at the top, moving down through family day care, preschools, or kindergartens and outside school hours care at the bottom.

And you can see that family daycare have a larger percentage of services rated working towards than the other service types and preschool kindergartens have a higher percentage of services rated exceeding national quality standard than the other service types. This slide demonstrates the five most frequently met, elements of the national quality standard in New South Wales. And with element 4.1.2 continuity of staff, 5.2.1, collaborative learning, 6.1.2 parent views being respected, 4.2.1 professional collaboration and 6.1.3 family support being real strengths for New South Wales services. This slide then shows you the elements that New South Wales services find the most challenging to meet. So these are the ones where I'd like you to think about, the topics when you're thinking about what you would like us to prioritize in terms of professional development opportunities or training that the New South Wales regulatory authority could provide in the coming year.

So here we have element 2.1.2 on health practices and procedures, 7.1.2 on management systems. 1.3.2 on critical reflection, 1.3.1 on the assessment and planning cycle. And 2.2.1 on supervision. And you can see that there has been a focus on these particular elements through the last six months of the initiatives that Kristie and I have described to you today. And then this slide shows the top five most frequently breached areas of the national law and the regulations in New South Wales. So here we have regulations 103 on premises furniture and equipment being safe, clean and in good repair. Reg 97 on emergency and evacuation procedures. Section 167 of the national law. The offense relating to protection of children from harm and hazards. Regulation 147 with staff members and 173 on the prescribed information to be displayed.

KRISTIE: Actually, what we wanna do is hear from you and in this particular environment we've you know, online road shows and information delivery, we have developed a survey link, which is available for you on the screen. So that's the bit.ly link that's there. For you to be able to go through that, when it suits you and provide us with your feedback around, how you like to engage with professional development and sector supports, the kinds of areas that you'd like to see as a focus and what would make a difference for you, in the work that you do.

So I encourage you to have a look at that link, to complete the survey, to circulate it amongst your team so that they can complete it and provide us with their input and insights, we'll then as a department, use that information to prioritize the work that we do so that it meets those areas and is consistent with those areas that you most want support with.

So that's it from us today. Thank you for your participation. Thank you for your patience. We are keen to hear back from you. So look forward to you completing the survey and just as a final note, thank you for the work that you're doing, all of you across the state. We know it's challenging at the moment and we are committed to doing everything we can to support you in that work and for us to be to work together to support children and families across New South Wales.

ABI: Thank you Kristie, so yes I would like to echo Kristie's words, thank you very much for your time today. We've really appreciated being able to share these initiatives with you and we know how important your time is and the important work that you do with children and families and the way that you support children and families across our state.

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