educator and three children sit on the floor, smiling and playing with dinosaurs

Peak bodies call for quality improvements in education and care for Victoria’s most vulnerable children

Tue, 10/25/2022 - 12:12

Children experiencing vulnerability benefit the most from high-quality education and care. However, education and care services in vulnerable communities are less likely to meet National Quality Standards.

Peak bodies Community Child Care Association (CCC), Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and Early Childhood Australia (ECA) are calling on the major parties to provide much--needed support for children experiencing disadvantage and vulnerability in Victoria, by raising the bar of education and care services that support vulnerable communities.

According to National authority body ACECQA, services in relatively disadvantaged areas are more likely to be rated as Working Towards the National Quality Standards (or NQS) and are notably less likely to be rated Exceeding NQS than those in relatively advantaged areas.

Julie Price, Executive Director of CCC said “Families and communities have much to gain from high-quality education and care, particularly in regional and remote areas, but in these areas of Victoria, education and care services are more likely to be assessed as Working Towards National Quality Standards.”

The three Peaks are asking for government support to provide coaching, resources, and support services that can raise the quality of education and care for children in Victoria, no matter where they live.

Acting ELAA CEO, Megan O’Connell says, “Quality education and care can break the cycle of disadvantage, so it’s vital that we support the children who have the most to gain by lifting the quality of service provision and working with services to reach that Excellent or Exceeding level”.

Children from more disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to experience developmental vulnerability than children from less disadvantaged backgrounds. By addressing this early, through the provision of quality education and care, children experiencing developmental vulnerability will have the opportunity to catch up to their peers. Children experiencing disadvantage are much more likely to start school behind, and half of these children never catch up.

Marie Howard, ECA Victoria branch President, said “All children deserve high-quality education and care, and have the right to healthy development in their early years. We want to see all service providers striving for continuous quality improvement to deliver the best educational and developmental outcomes for children, regardless of where they live or their backgrounds”.

In addition to supporting services to raise the quality standard of service provision, the three peaks have outlined 6 solutions to support access, quality, workforce and sector sustainability in education and care in a joint submission.

The joint submission outlines the following solutions:

  1. Short term: Greater investment in and coordination of current inclusion programs, and increased accountability of deliverables and outcomes.
    Long term: State and federal government co-designed Inclusion Support Program to strengthen Victoria’s commitment to the inclusion of all children.
  2. Mandate National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating at least every three years.
  3. Support services in vulnerable communities to apply for Excellent and Exceeding ratings.
  4. Work with the Federal Government to co-invest in a retention bonus payment for all Victorian educators across the sector.
  5. Provide support to ensure a sustainable not-for-profit sector.
  6. New government-owned and community-managed services are created in consultation with communities to cater to their unique needs. 

“Our children need us to get it right when it comes to education and care in Victoria – and to do it right now. We’re asking the state government to continue their commitment to our sector by supporting our workforce to ensure quality service provision for Victoria’s children, now and into the future” Julie Price said.

“All Victorian children need support to succeed and to give them the best start in life, and some children require more support than others. Greater investment in and coordination of current inclusion programs means all children can been supported to thrive and receive the best start in life” said Megan O’Connell

Marie Howard remarked that “Families and communities have much to gain from high-quality education and care, particularly in vulnerable and regional communities. We are asking the state government to provide support and resources for services in vulnerable communities, so that the bar for quality education and care can be raised.”

View the joint submission