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EARLY CHILDHOOD SECTOR

NEWSLETTER SUPPLEMENT TO THE AEU NEWS • september 2009

Early

Childhood Agreement update agreement Early Latest developments with the MECA Childhood and local government agreements a g rE E mEn t

Shayne Quinn vice president, early childhood

T

HE AEU, LHMU, Kindergarten Parents Victoria and other employer parties continue to work through the complex legal and legislative processes necessary for the new MECA to be approved by Fair Work Australia. With the support of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the parties have been advised on the necessary processes for ensuring the agreement applies to the widest possible number of services and staff. We continue to work through this advice and hope shortly to be in a position to advise both employers

and employees of these steps. Just to repeat: the substance of the agreement is not affected by these procedural matters, and any delay in the certification of the agreement will have no impact on the salary payment dates. Local government As reported in the latest AEU News, in-principle agreement has also been reached with the Municipal Association of Victoria on a local government multiemployer agreement (MEA). Some 28 councils expressed interest in principle in being party to a local government MEA; if they now formally consent to being party, employees in those

councils will receive information directly about the proposed agreement. As the MEA has been developed from the Heads of Agreement underpinning the new community sector MECA, the key provisions will be the same. Council employees will determine whether or not the agreement replaces their council agreement when they vote in a forthcoming ballot. Advice on timelines and process will be provided shortly. The AEU recommendation will be to vote YES. For those whose employer does not opt into the MEA, the single employer agreement process will continue. ◆

Conference puts members in the frame Martel Menz deputy vice president, early childhood

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OME 150 early childhood professionals — teachers, assistants and students — attended our annual conference on Saturday, September 5 where the focus was on the new Early Years Learning and Development Framework. Keynote speakers Dr Patricia Edgar and Sandra D Cheeseman generated plenty of rich discussion. OO LDH I H Members then participated in a variety of inspiring C LY EAR CATIONCE workshops, with many opportunities for professional EDU FEREN CON networking. ay One teacher described it as “a very interesting urd Sat BER M E T day that challenged some long held beliefs and 5 SEP provided practical ideas for working with children g the lorin Exp ly Years and families”. Ear iculum Curr Given the high level of interest in this year’s conference, we hope to organise an even bigger event in 2010. n tratio Regis g date: n closi iday 09 Fr , 20 st u g u 14 A

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A E U h e a d o f f i c e 112 Trenerr y Crescent, Abbotsford 3067 Tel: 03 9417 2822 Fax : 1300 658 078 Web : www.ae u v i c . a s n . a u


Preparing for

univer

A preschool place for every four-year-old is a worthwhile goal that will require huge planning and preparation — and pose big challenges for early childhood staff. Shayne Quinn lays the groundwork.

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IPPLES if not waves of anxiety are spreading across the early childhood sector over the rapid implementation of the Government’s universal access to preschool education — even though the goal is supported. Members are asking their employers and departmental officers “How will this work?” and are alarmed by what they often understand to be an “I don’t know” answer. What has been clear to the AEU is that the agenda relies on partnership. An approach in which governments at all levels (commonwealth, state and local) work in partnership with employers, unions, staff and others is essential. Keeping people informed and involved will be critical. Early and widespread advice that the State Government has a five-year strategy for implementation would have, in that context, been valuable. In discussions and communications with members, we have identified a range of issues that will determine how the 15-hour policy can be delivered. High on the list of complex matters to be resolved, identified by both the AEU and government, are those of workforce and facilities. They form two of the department’s “key areas for action” in its documents on universal access. 7 Key Areas for Action Planning

Action 1 Municipal planning

Quality

Action 2 Optimising available places

Engagement

Universal Access Every child has access to 15 hours per week of quality early childhood education in the year before schooling n tio ica

Action 5 Improving access for vulnerable children

Inclusion

Com mu n

Access

Action 6 Infrastructure

ips ersh r tn Pa

Action 7 Workforce

Access (participation)

Action 3 Access to 15 hours

Action 4 Innovation: trialling new approaches

Quantity (Access)

Innovation

Source: DEECD Achieving Universal Access to Early Childhood Education Municipal Planning Starter Pack 2009

Planning process

Broadly, the planning process will involve these steps (details may vary from area to area): 1. Set up • Where children are currently attending kindergarten programs in 2009 • Children in the municipality who will be attending kindergarten in 2010 • Current services in the municipality that are eligible to provide a funded kindergarten program — including kindergartens, community-based and commercial childcare centres, integrated children’s services and learning centres in schools. 2. Research • Analyse planning data, including that provided to council clusters

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Early Childhood newsletter | september 2009

Facilities Facilities — part of Municipal Planning, Action 1 on the department’s chart — have been identified as crucial to establishing a base for universal access. Local government has been involved, as the State Government sees it as the key planner of children’s services through municipal early years planning (MEYPs) and a major stakeholder that owns a significant proportion of the buildings in which kindergarten programs are delivered. The Victorian Government has provided $3.1 million to local government ($50,000 to each of 31 metropolitan councils and $50,000 to each of 31 rural/regional clusters) to “plan for where and how universal access could be implemented by 2013 and identify any anticipated barriers and enablers to implementation.” The planning process will require a Capacity Assessment Report (due February 28, 2010) and a final plan (due April 17, 2010). Stakeholder engagement and a partnership approach will be critical to addressing the complex issues of UA. Members are urged to become familiar with how this process is being implemented in their area and to ensure that opportunities for engagement are part of that process and are utilised. ◆

by DEECD • Identify possible staffing, operational and facility models that could enable 15 hours access to a kindergarten program by 2013. 3. Strategic planning • Consult with current/potential service providers on capacity assessment findings • Modify and expand possible models in consultation with current/potential service providers • Develop a plan for models that can be implemented by 2013 • Develop a plan for models that require additional support or resources specifying barriers and enablers 4. Endorsement/reporting (submitting reports)


sal access Workforce – supply factors

Workforce

• Over the next five years the 0–8 age group will grow by 10% • Over the past five years long day care places increased by 5% per year and this is expected to continue or increase over the next five years • At present 600 long day care centres do not have an EC teacher • Commonwealth and state policies and regulatory changes will impact on demand • It is estimated that an additional 800 to 1000 EC teachers will be needed over the next five years (the total number of teachers now is 2,200). ◆ Source: DEECD Teacher Supply & Demand Reference Group

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Workforce is Action 7 on the department’s plan. The Blueprint for Education and Early Childhood Development recognises that “early childhood services and schools face increasing competition in the labour market for talented people.” The Blueprint commits to the development of “a Victorian early childhood workforce strategy, consistent with national efforts, to focus on improved professionalism and sustainable capacity across early childhood services.” This strategy is due for release in the next month. It will be subject to consultation with the AEU. The Blueprint recognises that it is important “to increase qualification levels among early childhood education and care staff” and that “a major priority will be attracting and retaining staff, including encouraging high-performing entrants into early childhood services.” Some of the anxiety within the sector about UA is based on the assumption that unless teachers teach for 30 hours per week (which they cannot under MECA), it will result in early childhood teaching becoming a part-time profession. There is also concern that three-year-old group teachers will become unemployed. But members can draw reassurance from the fact that the Government has acknowledged delivery of UA is reliant on improving the overall number of early childhood teachers. Clearly, any response to UA which means early childhood teaching becomes a part-time profession, or that some of those engaged with the sector become

disengaged, would be contrary to this agenda. Similarly, members have expressed concern that the UA commitment to preschool programs delivered by four-year qualified early childhood teachers will mean that those three-year qualified teachers will be required to upgrade if they wish to continue working. Again members should reflect on this concern in the context of a recognised need for more early childhood teachers. The department has assured the AEU that there is definitely no requirement for three-year qualified early childhood teachers to upgrade to a four-year degree. It is acknowledged that it would be counterproductive to the task of increasing the supply of early childhood teachers. Members will, however, need to turn their minds to examining innovative ways of working together to deliver programs for children while maintaining full-time positions. This may challenge some current practices and assumptions, and take some people out of their comfort zone. But it is incumbent upon us to take up that challenge rather than leave it solely to others. Sharing a group of children, timetabling across a fortnight rather than a week, broadening the roles of teachers to non-teaching tasks (mentoring, leadership, support, program coordinators, management, administration roles etc) may be possibilities — and of course there will be others. Let us know what ideas you have. ◆

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Long Service Leave: Portability still a quandary D

ESPITE the passage of time and much discussion, a lot remains unclear and unresolved about how and when the portability of Long Service Leave (LSL) will be implemented. What is evident, though, is that the proposed fund will not be a reincarnation of the old portability legislation. Neither will it be the solution envisaged by Kirby when he recommended that the LSL entitlements of early childhood teachers and assistants be safeguarded. It will not cover all workplaces in which early childhood teachers and assistants are employed. It will not provide for entitlements greater than those specified in the Long Service Leave Act. Our discussions continue with the department about ways to ensure that, with the introduction of the scheme, early childhood teachers and assistants are not inadvertently disadvantaged in relation to anticipated entitlements accrued under arrangements currently operating within the sector. With the legislation establishing the community sector portability fund anticipated to go to the spring session of Parliament, members will need to be alert to AEU EC Bulletins (by email or post) as they may contain important advice on key aspects of the fund and how, if necessary, existing accruals may best be safeguarded. ◆  — Shayne Quinn

Validation

My experience at the AEU

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A new reason to apply ITH the new MECA on the horizon, there is now a greater incentive for teachers to consider the validation process. The AEU is currently running training sessions for members in nine locations across the state. To date, there has been a pleasing uptake of this professional development opportunity, with over 60 teachers attending in Melbourne, Geelong, Mornington and Ballarat. These sessions discuss the process of validation, understanding the professional standards and how to describe the evidence. Participating members report that the PD has helped them feel better equipped to begin the process, and confident that validation is a reflection of their daily work. Sessions will continue throughout Term 4 at Warrnambool, Benalla, Wodonga, Bendigo and Warragul. A program with full details can be downloaded from our website at tinyurl.com/mq53cn. Alternatively, if a group of members in your local area would like to participate in the training, please contact me on (03) 9417 2822. ◆  — Martel Menz

A final year placement at the AEU kept preschool student teacher Michelle Stackpoole busy. S A final year student completing my Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies at Monash University, I have had the opportunity to complete my preferential placement with the AEU. I have been a union member my entire career in the childcare sector and recently joined the AEU as a student member. Through this placement I have discovered that the union offers many services to its members, including dealing with grievances, contract disputes and industrial advice. The AEU also offers many professional development opportunities on a range of topics including validation, legal liability, and active training. These opportunities also extend to student members. I have been fortunate to attend a session run by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development on the new transition learning and development statements. For a pre-service teacher entering the field, the information delivered was invaluable. Along with all teachers, my concerns are the short timeframe for the completion of the statements and the lack of resources being made available to teachers. While on placement at the AEU I’ve had the opportunity to meet many teachers from all sectors of education and I am beginning to understand that within other sectors similar issues exist: a lack of resources (funding, staff and time); a lack of consultation on how new initiatives are to be implemented; and the impact on the teachers implementing the reforms. I want to thank Martel Menz, the leadership team and the organisers for the opportunity of a first-hand view of the happenings at the AEU. ◆

Election time … for some S

HAYNE Quinn and Martel Menz have been returned unopposed as the AEU’s early childhood sector vice president and deputy vice president after nominations closed on August 31. However, early childhood members will still get to exercise their votes, in contested elections for the union’s four cross-sectoral positions — branch president, deputy president, branch secretary and deputy secretary. Ballot papers will be posted to members by the Australian Electoral Commission in due course. Voting opens on October 5 and closes at 10am on October 26. ◆

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Early Childhood newsletter | september 2009

Shayne Quinn

Martel Menz

Early Childhood Sector Newsletter, Term 3, 2009  

AEU Victorian Branch Early Childhool sector newsletter - Term 3, 2009. 4pp, A4

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