Update on Proposed Child Care Legislation Changes

Update on Proposed Child Care Legislation Changes

Message to Services – National Quality Agenda

The following message regarding the National Quality Agenda has been forwarded to services  from Michael Manthorpe, Deputy Secretary Department of Education, Employment and Industrial Relations, Chair Stakeholder Reference Group for NQA Implementation.

Dear service provider

Since the agreement in December 2009 to the new National Quality Agenda for early childhood education and school age care, Australian governments have been working together to develop the transition arrangements to the new system that will commence from January 2012. From January 2012, new legislation will be in place to underpin the nationally consistent regulation and rating of early childhood education and care and school age care services.  States and Territories will have responsibility for administering the legislation and a new National body will be in place to ensure consistency of process across the country. The changes in ratios and qualifications requirements that are part of the new quality system will be implemented gradually to allow services time to change (where necessary) to the new requirements, and the first of these is the staff to child ratio for 0-2 year olds of 1:4, which commences from 1 January 2012. If you would like more information, go to the fact sheets about the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announcement.

Between now and January 2012, a range of activities will move forward simultaneously, which include:

  • Developing the legislation for the new system
  • Setting up the new national body and associated IT system
  • Working with the NCAC and States and Territories on transitioning to the new system
  • Development, application and refinement of the new assessment and rating system including compliance and support activities
  • Development of the training and support tools for services

During the transition phase we need to continue to ensure that the quality of services is maintained.  Until the new legislation takes effect in January 2012, the current State and Territory regulations and Commonwealth requirements apply and you will need to continue to participate in quality assurance processes. However, we are focused on reducing regulatory burden for services during the transition phase as well as into the future, so the NCAC and State and Territory agencies are working together during the transition to identify ways of reducing duplication.

As agreed by COAG, we are planning to commence assessment and rating against the National Quality Standard from July 2010, with a small number of services who volunteer to participate. As the development of the new assessment and ratings process progresses we will ensure services are aware of how they can be involved in the process and how they can get more information about the new system.  The mychild website (www.mychild.gov.au) and the Department website (www.deewr.gov.au/earlychildhood) will contain regular updates on progress. A range of frequently asked questions will be available on these websites shortly.

We have set up a Stakeholder Reference Group with representatives from peak bodies of the early childhood and outside school hours care sectors, unions, training organisations and special interest groups representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse children and families and those with additional needs, as a key consultation mechanism.  In addition, each jurisdiction will continue their current stakeholder consultation processes. In terms of the new assessment and rating process, this year will focus on development application and refinement and next year we will focus on training and support so that the sector is fully prepared for implementation on 1 January 2012.

The new system heralds a cultural change in early education and care and school age care by focusing less on inputs and more on what drives quality outcomes for children.  I look forward to working with you during the development and implementation of the National Quality Framework.

Michael Manthorpe

Deputy Secretary
Department of Education, Employment and Industrial Relations
Chair Stakeholder Reference Group for NQA Implementation

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