The Jobs for Families Package

It seems likely that within the next few weeks, the Government’s long-promised and much-analysed early childhood education and care reforms – under the telling title the “Jobs for Families” Package” – will finally come to a vote in the Parliament.

I’ve been writing and speaking about this Package for more than a year now. I am as firmly opposed to it now as I was then, if not more so. As we’re approaching a time where it may either pass and become law, or fail and surely be a wake up call to a Government that has got this policy area so wrong, I thought it might be helpful to clearly and simply articulate my position on this package.

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What we did doesn’t end today

It seems that we’re extremely close to an announcement that the refugees illegally imprisoned in Australian-funded and managed island trauma factories will be sent to a variety of other countries as part of some byzantine Government negotiations.

I’m writing this quickly to make a point regarding this announcement – the specifics don’t matter. The arrangements don’t matter. What matters is the people (including children) at the centre of all this.

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Response to the Children in Detention letter campaign

In August, 132 early childhood professionals sent letters to the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton, calling on the Government to end the inhumane treatment of child refugees on Nauru and Manus Island.

Today I received a response – it can be viewed here. I have also posted the text below.

While I am pleased that the Department took the time to reply, I am not happy with their response – nor that the Minister or Prime Minister did not reply personally.

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The Early Education Show

Please forgive this quick bit of self-publicity.

Today myself and two of my favourite people in the early childhood sphere launched the first episode of the Early Education Show.

We’re excited and enjoying this little experiment in a new medium for the important issues affecting young children and early learning to be discussed, debated and analysed.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’d really appreciate you giving it a go.

You can find it on the iTunes store here, or by listening online at Podbean

Big thanks to Lisa Bryant and Leanne Gibbs for joining me on this little adventure.

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Children in detention letter campaign

It’s easy to feel powerless. The recent media around the experience of children and other refugees on Nauru is sickening. With bipartisan support from the two major parties, it’s hard to know what can change it.

I like to write. I’ve already written to the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader on this issue. If you work in early childhood and aren’t sure where to start or what to say, I decided to make an easy way to get started.

Click here. It’ll take you through to the letter-writing campaign and tell you what to do.

The odd letter might not do much. But imagine a flood of letters from early childhood educators, teachers, Directors and other professionals bombarding the Prime Minister and the Immigration Minister.

Children are children. They don’t deserve what Australia is doing to them. If you work with young children, please consider taking action.

The loss of the PSCs will make for a less inclusive sector

From July, the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector will face some significant changes to the way support to improve quality approaches is provided. The Federal Government will cease funding Professional Support Coordinators (PSCs) in each State and Territory, while Inclusion Support Providers (ISPs) will continue with an expanded funding framework.

Additional funding to support inclusion issues is of course very welcome. The current Inclusion Support system has been underfunded for many years, particularly in the funding able to be provided to services to be able to raise the educator:child ratio to support inclusive practice. But what will this additional funding achieve, and is it worth the loss of the PSCs?

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Four years on from the NQF, are educators more respected?

This week, the federal Department of Education is conducting a nationwide “Workforce Census” of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. This census will provide important information on the qualifications, retention rates and other factors that provide a snapshot of the early childhood educator role in Australia.

This is a good opportunity to take a step back and look holistically at how early childhood educators are viewed and supported, both within the ECEC sector and in the community. The National Quality Framework (NQF) was introduced in 2012, and one of its key pillars was the acknowledgement that quality learning could be provided by qualified and valued educators.

Four years on, how close are we to realising that vision?

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What do the low numbers of men in ECEC really mean?

Once a year or so, another report, research document or news article appears that highlights the low numbers of male teachers working in early childhood and primary schools. Another was released in the past month, and tells familiar stories of isolation and suspicion.

The problem is tricky to solve, and has been for decades. It’s tricky because the problem isn’t really “the problem”. It’s a symptom of a number of inter-connected and entrenched issues, which are particularly thorny in early childhood.

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Senate Report reveals sector is taking a huge gamble supporting the Jobs for Families Package

The partisan report from the Senate Committee hearings into the Jobs for Families Package clearly articulate the Government’s view of ECEC as parent welfare, not education for children.

After consultations, public hearings and duelling economic modelling at ten paces, the long-awaited Senate report into the Jobs for Families has been released. Predictably, the Government-majority Committee has recommended the Senate pass the package as it currently stands. Labor and the Greens delivered dissenting reports.

For advocates in the sector with a focus on children (not workforce participation with a side order of children’s rights), it’s a tough read.

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