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Making the most of your outdoor play space

Creating a healthy menu

Nutritious advice for childcare meals

Spread e

c a l p k r wo r

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We’ve been passionate about the super of early childhood educators for 25 years. Our consistently strong returns, low fees and industry leading insurance mean more people in your sector choose HESTA than any other fund. Issued by H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd ABN 66 006 818 695 AFSL No. 235249 Trustee of Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia (HESTA) ABN 64 971 749 321. Consider a Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about HESTA products, call 1800 813 327 or visit our website for copies.

general news


We are very excited as our first edition of our magazine, Belonging, is delivered to childcare services around Australia. We hope that you enjoy receiving this on a quarterly basis, and that it becomes a magazine of value to all of us in the sector.


ur intent for this magazine is to provide articles of interest that will support the sector as we work towards quality improvement in implementing the Education and Care Services National Regulations and the National Quality Standards. It has been a whirlwind year so far as we read, train and implement new processes into our services. Larger services and groups have the benefit of collaboration more so than the smaller, more isolated services, many of whom have been struggling to work through the myriad documents and additional newsletters providing information. Whilst workshops and training are provided, it is difficult at times to release staff to attend and still remain within regulation. In this technological age, we must move more towards a wider range of information provision including online workshops that our educators can tap into at their chosen times. We have a large sector and with the diverse location of services across Australia, we see online workshops as being valuable resources that will provide consistency in information dissemination.

The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) committees from each state and territory and invited guests recently met in Melbourne to discuss the progress of the implementation of the regulations so far and also to address the concerns of the sector. There was intense and robust discussion on our draft paper and desired outcomes determined. The ACA document was presented to both sides of Parliament at a morning tea at Parliament House on 22nd August, 2012.

Main points that were discussed at our national meeting were: • the importance of early childhood education and care • what has changed for the long day care (LDC) sector • what has changed for LDC children and families • affordability for families • access for children, including economically disadvantaged families; flexible care arrangements; children with additional needs and inclusion support funding • service delivery planning

we see online workshops as being valuable resources that will provide consistency in information dissemination


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• waivers – ACA sees these as having similar problems to the supervisor certificates and the number that will be required by 1 January 2014 will surely see services stressed if waiver applications take the same amount of time to be issued • educators attending to an individual child, have been considered by authorised officers as not being counted in the overall educator-to-child ratio; therefore the service is considered in breach • already evident that the majority of services will not be prepared for 1 January 2014 qualification requirements due to the under-provision of early childhood teachers across Australia • increased staffing needed to meet additional administration requirements • families leaving the sector due to affordability constraints resulting in viability concerns for services in many areas • State/territory governments providing care for threeyear-old children

• a qualified workforce and the 1 January 2014 regulatory requirements • universal access – inequities across states and territories for children attending LDC services. Universal access federal funding to state/territory government sector preschool/kindergartens not targeted (in some states/territories) towards children in LDC whose parents have chosen that form of education and care for their children through to commencement of school • the Big Steps campaign • differences of implementing regulations between states and territories and the inconsistencies already arising with Authorised Officer expectations.

Identified implementation changes causing concern are: • certified supervisor certificates – the time taken for these to be approved (and this time can be doubled if the paperwork doesn’t comply, for example if something is missing); the situation in smaller services, particularly in flu season and at times when holidays combined with a seasonal outbreak occur; the onerous documentation required; and, the fact that since 1 January 2012 a person studying towards their diploma cannot be approved (they can be considered an educator)


• increasing costs in provision of care. This includes the wage increases under the Modern Award phasing-in, Fair Work Australia increase, payroll tax impost and utility, and other supply increases. The ACA would like to hear of any problems you are experiencing in your local area. Concerns that we raise will be taken up with the Prime Minister, the Australian Childern’s Education and Care Quality Authority, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth Peter Garrett and Minister for Early Childhood Education and Child Care Kate Ellis. The philosophy of ACA is to advocate for children, families and the sector with the intent to provide an education and care sector that is world-recognised, high-quality, vigorous, progressive and sustainable for all stakeholders.

Gwynn Bridge President, Australian Childcare Alliance


contents Nutrition + menu planning Creating a healthy menu 51 Budget-conscious and nutritious advice for childcare centre chefs

General news President’s report 1 State roundup 6 Care and stability rewire children’s brains 12 Childcare staff can improve the brain development of at-risk children

Education + training Hurdles for compliance 20 ACECQA responds to member concerns

ACECQA: the year so far… 22

Finance, business + property Marketing your centre


Advice for increasing your centre’s local presence

Business and wealth 62 Why bookkeeping can be a measure of a centre’s success

The authority body recaps on the first phase of the new regulations

Human resources management

Settling in 24

Managing complaints 68

Tips for carers on settling new children into care

Empower staff with mediation skills to quell centre complaints

Recruiting the right staff 31

A happy place to work 72

How to spot potential employees and how to keep them

Boost staff happiness and watch productivity grow

Give feedback, not praise 34 Considered feedback can help control the tide of narcissism and bullying

Caring for babies + toddlers Colic babies 75 How to manage colic in childcare

Play area designs The great outdoors 80 Get back to nature in your play area

Child safety Whooping cough update 88 The latest news on the epidemic and the success of the current vaccine

Education resources, programs + planning In your words with Barbara Langford 45 What made this woman swap her dental hygiene job for an early childhood career in Montessori methodology?

Protecting small feet 93 A good shoe policy helps both the child and the centre

Developing a lifetime habit 95 Establish a good SunSmart program

Editor: Megan McGay

Cover image:

Designed by: Alma McHugh

The editor, publisher, printer and their staff and agents are not responsible for the accuracy or correctness of the text of contributions contained in this publication or for the consequences of any use made of the products, and the information referred to in this publication. The editor, publisher, printer and their staff and agents expressly disclaim all liability of whatsoever nature for any consequences arising from any errors or omissions contained in this publication, whether caused to a purchaser of this publication or otherwise. The views expressed in the articles and other material published herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor and publisher or their staff or agents. The responsibility for the accuracy of information is that of the individual contributors and neither the publisher nor editors can accept responsibility for the accuracy of information that is supplied by others. It is impossible for the publisher and editors to ensure that the advertisements and other material herein comply with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). Readers should make their own inquiries in making any decisions and, where necessary, seek professional advice.

Published by:

ABN 30 007 224 204

430 William Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Tel: (03) 9274 4200 Fax: (03) 9329 5295 Email: Web:

© 2012 Executive Media Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is strictly prohibited.



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State roundup

Annual general meeting Wednesday 29 August 2012 Parramatta Rydges – James Ruse Drive, Rosehill 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm Special Guest Presenters Karen Curtis - CEO ACECQA Further details will be sent to members shortly in relation to the meeting.

What’s new in Child Care New South Wales? • Stay tuned for additional workshops and topic areas for the second half of 2012. We welcome members’ feedback and suggestions on topics to be covered. • Child Care New South Wales is planning a regional visit program. More details will be forwarded to members over the coming weeks. • We are pleased to announce the full-time appointment of Teena Barlow to the Child Care New South Wales team. Teena will continue to work alongside Lana Bardetta, Laurice Chahine, Rhonda Davis and Jason Sultana in the office. • The New South Wales gala event for Australian Child Care Week will be held on Saturday 17 November. Services will receive an e-booklet containing all the details on how to be involved in this great event.

Child Care Victoria again held its highly successful Early Years Conference at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Saturday 16 June 2012. We were delighted to have trebled the number of delegates who attended this year’s one-day conference compared with 2011. This highlights the thirst for knowledge that those in the sector have to assist in the delivery of high-quality care for all children. It was a great honor to host the Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development and the Minister for Housing, Wendy Lovell to open the conference. Child Care Victoria would like to thank the Minister for taking time out of her busy schedule to attend. Child Care Victoria would also like to thank Professor Collette Taylor – the first of our scheduled keynote speakers who delivered excellent presentations. Professor Taylor gave the delegates a firsthand insight into the implementation of the National Quality Framework and the reforms that have taken place in our industry from the perspective of her role as Deputy Chair of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

• Updated wage rates are now available for members on the Child Care New South Wales website. These changes are reflective from first pay period on or after 1st July 2012.

There was an overwhelmingly positive response to all the workshops that were held and I would like to thank all of the speakers for providing such wonderful, engaging presentations that were both thoughtprovoking and stimulating. We are already planning for, and looking forward to, an even bigger and better event in 2013.

Jason Sultana, Childcare New South Wales

Frank Cusmano CEO, Child Care Victoria

PO Box 660, Parramatta NSW 2124 T: 1300 556 330 | Fx: 1300 557 228 E: |

Child Care Centres Association of Victoria Inc. Suite 6, 539 Highett Road, Highett, VIC, 3190 T: (03) 9532 2017 | Fx: (03) 9532 3336 Email: |

Continued on page 8


Childcare Management • New Centre Start Up • Consultancy

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John Wall

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Childcare Management • Acquisitions & Sales • New Centre Start Up/Consultancy • Leadership Training

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Continued from page 6

Our members are under significant stress in coping with the changes required in the new National Quality Framework (NQF) and National Regulations. While the industry is broadly supportive, there is a fundamental lack of understanding on the part of government on: appropriate time limits of effective change management; the time and effort required to put all the changes in place; training staff to the meet the new requirements; and, the difficulties in recruiting suitably trained staff to meet the legislated deadlines. In some cases the stress and cost of change is threatening centres’ viability. This is particularly the case when the new regulation for calculation of unencumbered floor space, which excludes cot rooms, is triggered by either a change in the approved provider or a renovation of the facilities. Our member survey shows the potential for centres to lose an average of 15 places when they either sell or renovate, threatening their current and future viability. It will also have a severe impact on the availability of childcare places for parents and could push centres away from the provision of baby places, which has further implications for women returning from maternity leave. Childcare SA has made a number of approaches to the South Australian Minister for Education Grace Portolesi on this and other critical issues and has made the following proposals: • that existing centres have perpetual exemption for the new requirements for unencumbered space and the new regulations apply only to applications for new centres where buildings can be designed accordingly. Based on our submission, the Minister has publicly agreed to phase in the 1:5 ratios for two- to three-yearolds with 1:8 in 2016 and achieving 1:5 in 2020. Our submission was based on affordability and availability of trained staff; however, we are yet to see this agreement confirmed in legislation. We sought a time extension in recognising the qualifications of Diploma Early Childhood kindergarten teachers in centres beyond 2014, with more support and flexibility for them to gain an Early Childhood Degree. The unavailability of early childhood teachers and their unwillingness to work in a childcare environment poses a huge problem for the sector.


We also asked the Minister to review the significant financial inequalities imposed by the state government on private centres compared with not-for-profit centres. We pay payroll tax, land tax and council rates, unlike the not-for-profit sector. We should be excused payroll tax and we have established a structured lobby to pursue this.

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In addition, Childcare SA had an excellent wideranging discussion with the Head of the new South Australian Accreditation Board, called EECSRS, and the state manager of Quality Assessments on issues we are facing. Items discussed highlighted some of the key areas in which the sector is under significant pressure and included: • the United Voice push for an $8 to $20 per hour pay increase coupled with a 3.9 per cent Fairwork Australia increase • increases to 12 per cent super, carbon tax impost, shrinking CCB/CCR support for parents, new federal government demands for capped fees and flexibility • NQF implementation increasing costs and affordability by 15 per cent • eroding financial viability due to the cot room changes • decision to retain the 1:10 ratio in SA compared with the 1:11 National Standard • discriminatory application of payroll tax coupled with latest decision to remove deductions for trainees • unavailability of trained staff to meet new requirements • and, the sheer workload of coping with the NQF and National Regulations, modifying policies and procedures and training staff in the changes

The Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012 has been passed in Western Australia with its implementation imminent. Childcare Association of WA (CAWA) members will be kept up-to-date with its progression. The Child Care Licensing and Standards Unit will now be known as the Education and Care Regulatory Unit. CAWA has been working closely with the Department for Communities (DFC) to make sure the transition to the National Quality Framework (NQF) is as smooth as possible for Western Austrailian services. We have arranged for the DFC to provide information sessions aimed at Nominated Supervisors and Licensees. In other news, CAWA is pleased to announce our close involvement with National Child Care Week; a fantastic event that celebrates the importance of early learning and the wonderful educators and centres that deliver such a vital service. CAWA will be hosting a dinner in November to announce the Western Austrailian national finalists.

• deferment of the 1:5 ratio for two- to three-year-olds • training requirements for certified supervisors

the more members we have behind our actions the more success we are likely to achieve

• the problem of archive storage when many records are intertwined making separation for the discard points difficult • the availability of early childhood teachers • difficulties in meeting the 2014 Diploma and Certificate III requirements without compromising quality • the replacement of qualified with unqualified staff or Certificate IIIs during breaks, lunches and programming • and, discussion on key validation points. Childcare SA intends to follow up on these matters on behalf of our parents and our members.

Kerry Mahony, President Childcare South Australia

CAWA upcoming events: • Provide Leadership & Develop Teams & Individuals • Manage Work/Life Skills • Terrific Toddlers

Childcare South Australia • PO Box 406 Hindmarsh SA 5007 • T: 0407 580 645 Email: | •

Cultural Competence Child Care Week Dinner OH&S



general news

With the many changes occurring in the industry at present, membership of all centres in Western Australia is now more important than ever. Your membership allows the association to not only have the membership funds available to lobby government, but more importantly, the more members we have behind our actions the more success we are likely to achieve. In Western Australia, there is more to do, and we need your voice so we can better support you and put forth your ideas and views. CAWA Membership is available for private, not-forprofit, OSHC services and three-year-old kindy (with representation on the current committee for private, notfor-profit and OSHC services). CAWA has not increased its membership fees for the past three years, due to increased costs for services with the introduction of future NQF reforms, carbon tax, modern award transitions and the increased cost of living.

The Australian Childcare Alliance and Childcare Queensland extend a warm invitation to you to participate in the national conference, to be held from 14 to 16 September 2012. This is the first time our conference, Hands up for the Future, will be held at Jupiters Hotel and Casino on the Gold Coast. A record number of trade displays and delegates are anticipated and Childcare Queensland sincerely thanks our loyal and new sponsors who make this event possible. Hands up for the Future follows on from our 2011 Conference, Hands up for Play, wherein we dedicate workshops and the major plenary speakers to share with delegates their knowledge and experience in creating a sustainable environment that supports the National Quality Framework (NQF), and will support our desire to provide high-quality early education and care into the future. Our MC from Washington DC, Richard Cohen, is

Childcare Association of WA Inc (CAWA) an expert in early childhood education and care. He PO Box 196 South Perth WA 6951 T: 1300 062 645 is enthusiastic about reflection of practices and other Email: | areas pertinent to our Early Years Learning Framework.

Three Plus Educational Equipment

INDOOR, OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT & GAMES Games, Blocks, Home Corner Furniture, Planks, Ladders, Ropes & Swings, Special Needs Equipment, Repairs, Equipment Made to Order. Lots more to see at

Minister for Employment Participation and Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care Kate Ellis, and Karen Curtis, chief executive officer of the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), will speak about current policies. Sunday’s plenary speaker is Sue Elliott, who will present to us ‘The Critical Decade: Thinking, Acting and Relating for Sustainability’. Ms Elliott is a long-term advocate of sustainability in education, particularly natural outdoor play spaces (you can read more about her on page 80). Our national two-day conference provides valuable opportunities for delegates to interact with sponsor and exhibitor representatives, and is an important early childhood education and care forum for educators to network and reflect on current thinking and practices.

Gwynn Bridge CEO, Childcare Queensland President, Australian Childcare Alliance

or call 03 9435 2565 “Specialist in equipment for the physical and mental development for special people.” 10 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1 2012 322851A_Three Plus | 1820.indd 1

Anne Stonehouse, our plenary speaker on Saturday, will be a highlight of the conference with her talk, ‘Children here and now – what really matters.’

23/07/12 1:21 PM

Child Care Queensland, PO Box 137, Springwood QLD 4127 T: 1300 365 325 (if outside Brisbane) T: (07) 3808 2366 Fx: (07) 3808 2466| Email:

Childcare Queensland 2012 National Conference

Hands Up For The Future

Jupiters Hotel & Casino Friday 14 to Sunday 16 September 2012 Limited funding is available for travel assistance from regional and remote areas. Contact our office for details

Visit to register online or contact the office on (07) 3808 2366

general news

Care and stability rewire children’s brains BY MEGAN MCGAY

At-risk children can avoid disadvantaged school years through stable and stimulating preschool environments.


ew research on early childhood brain development has shown children suffering from abuse or neglect experience different connections of brain neurons, the cells that hold information. Without early intervention to stimulate their minds, they are at risk of being severely disadvantaged during their school years. Neuroplasticity is a term to describe the brain’s ability to change itself in response to use and to learn from the experience. The brain is the only organ able to morph this way. Neuroscientist and teacher Dr Judy Willis said that just as physical exercise builds and strengthens the body’s muscles, frequent and good use of the brain’s abilities increase the ‘dendrites, synapses and myelin coating around neurons’, increasing their function capacity.

‘This absence of sensory input is associated with decreased connections in the brain as there is a limited amount of sensory input to store. Without these early experiences, when a child goes to school and new information is available for memory storage, these children are at a disadvantage. The problem for them is that new memories are formed by joining with related patterns of information,’ said Dr Willis.

She said when children have been provided less than normal stimulation, such as limited conversation and minimal exposure to visually exciting experiences, the brain receives less sensory input and is unable to create an adequate number of connections.

Without these early experiences, when a child goes to school and new information is available for memory storage, these children are at a disadvantage Continued on page 14







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general news

Continued from page 12

Once school-aged, vulnerable children learn more slowly and often struggle to keep up with their peers, said Dr Willis. ‘For this reason, among others, disadvantaged children need the support of an enriched learning environment and emotional comfort and stability so they can build the neural networks that will give them greater opportunity to adapt to the school experience successfully.’

James, the father of modern psychology. He described it in reference to memories that became stronger when regularly reflected upon. ‘The actual physiological changes of neuroplasticity growth became increasingly evident with functional imaging when white and gray matter in the brain could be evaluated as it was actually processing information, or experiencing a variety of emotions, input, and thoughts,’ said Dr Willis.

Manager of The Benevolent Society’s Shaping Brains program and educator Sheryl Batchelor said, ‘In the last few years we learnt that scientists had found new neurons in the hippocampus – one of the main areas of our brain where memory is stored. We also know from previous studies that in people who have recovered from strokes, the brain has been able to rewire around where the trauma occurred, so the part that wasn’t working, such as their hands and their legs, could be used again.’

Ms Batchelor said the latest research on neuroplasticity should change the way educators view their abilities to shape and nurture the minds of preschoolers. ‘I suppose what you do is rewire it. With neglect, the brain becomes smaller than what it should be. So by creating stimulating environments, with charismatic adults and good attachment to caregivers, you can create new neurons, which form stronger connections. So the dendrites and the synapses get stronger, all those things happen at the very minute level of the brain, and that creates neuroplasticity.’

Ms Batchelor said the latest research on neuroplasticity should change the way educators view their abilities to shape and nurture the minds of preschoolers

Dr Willis said the concept of neuroplasticity has been reviewed for the last 150 years, since the works of William 14 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1 2012

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The Benevolent Society has implemented several programs at its services to help children who have suffered trauma from a young age. Ms Batchelor said the society worked with familial bonds and the circle of security in a family, to help build and strengthen it. One program currently in use is the Changing Brains workshop. Ms Batchelor educates young mothers (15- and 16-year-olds) on parenting skills, with a DVD aid and the support of allied health staff. She said the program has helped the participants realise how important they are as primary caregivers. ‘And that’s the good thing about this playgroup – we have a health nurse that comes in, a family support worker and an early childhood educator. So if we pick something up, like postnatal depression or an issue with the child, we are right there to act on it straight away,’ she said. Both Ms Batchelor and Dr Willis said at-risk children were often identified by their behaviour in a preschool or school setting. Children could look ‘like they’re zoning out, staring into space and not paying attention,’ said Dr Willis. Equally, some children may act out, hurt others or their possessions. Children that cannot sit down or stay focused and frequently get up may also be exhibiting signs of extreme distress. Dr Willis said these symptoms ‘are the equivalents of the fight, flight, and freeze reactions in other mammals when they are in the high stress state, and should be recognized by childcare workers in children as signs of stress.’

Dr Willis said all teachers and caregivers should understand that when the brain is in a highly stressed state, information stops processing at the highest rate to become wisdom, and that the raised output comes from the lower brain which is limited to the fight, flight, freeze response. ‘It is critical that all adults recognise that these are not voluntary choices but rather those that come from the lower reactive brain in order to protect all mammals in the state of high stress. Children themselves need to understand when they are acting out or zoning out in a high state of stress that it is not their fault but rather their

Children that cannot sit down or stay focused and frequently get up may also be exhibiting signs of extreme distress


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brain in the involuntary state of protection.’ Ms Batchelor said early childhood workers can use the information now known about the brain by looking for children that may need assistance to self-regulate. ‘We assume when children come to preschool that they can sit down to concentrate and to listen and most good preschool teachers would know that’s not the case, but what we need to do is teach the children how to self-regulate.’ The Benevolent Society has implemented a program called MindUp for schoolaged children to help develop self-regulation. Ms Batchelor said she was impressed with the results in primary school-aged children. Programs like MindUp have been implemented from the recent research on neuroplasticity. ‘Neuroscience in the last 10 years is reinforcing a lot of what the social sciences have been teaching for a long time: it’s just that in the last two or three years we’ve seen some really good teaching strategies or interventions come online to help these children who are struggling with their executive function skills,’ Ms Batchelor said. Dr Willis believes intervention programs, such as those in the MindUp program, which originated from the Hawn Foundation and the work of The Benevolent Society, help children develop their own resources for stress reduction and build increased focused attention. Dr Willis said great emphasis on the childcare environment was required to help at-risk children to


settle. ‘The ideal learning environment would be one that is supportive and where a child does not feel stress and feels safe and protected. All of the basic needs must be taken care of in order for the brain to focus on higher functioning and receive sensory input to the highest prefrontal cortex. If the basic needs, such as nourishment, safety, and freedom from fear are not taken care of, the brain is primarily working out of the lower 80 per cent. It is this lower brain that reacts to stress.’ Providing children with appropriate sensory stimulation is vital for rewiring the brain’s connections before school years. ‘To build these networks and patterns, children need to explore, question, follow their curiosity, receive positive feedback regarding their success and have opportunities to try things in different ways to develop mastery and become aware of their strengths,’ said Dr Willis. It is important for caregivers to understand that children need to feel safe before they are willing to take risks. ‘Therefore, the caregiver must understand that children with different prior experiences will have different needs in order to reach this state where they feel safe and secure. It is only in that state that they are then able to expand their mental templates through following curiosity and sustaining attention to the enriched environment,’ she said. Stimulating children doesn’t require a vast range of expensive toys. Dr Willis said children are stimulated when they feel safe and encouraged to explore their

general news

surroundings. Simple blocks, shapes to play with, basic art supplies, and toys for physical activity with large motor and small motor opportunities can be very valuable for sensory experiences. ‘In developing an

Dr Willis said the role of caregivers in the preschool years was essential to children’s brain development and helped lay the framework to facilitate more successful and motivating progress once they start school

ideal and stimulating environment especially when children have come from unstable home situations, some stability is more important than frequent change. Instead of rotating toys and objects so that the environment is new every few days or weeks, certain objects should remain permanent so that these children have a base of stability,’ she said. Dr Willis said the role of caregivers in the preschool years was essential to children’s brain development and helped lay the framework to facilitate more successful and motivating progress once they start school. ‘To me, the most important application of neuroimaging research is to take care in creating the right climate in which children’s brains learn and respond best.’ Dr Willis said teaching children about their brain’s connections and its ability to grow will help them realise their potential. ‘Genius is more than genes. Children need to understand about neuroplasticity and how they can build the brains they want...With knowledge, children can understand why past failures do not have to mean failures in the future. They really can build the brain they want.’ Further reading: |


education ++training training education

Teaching with technology Even the youngest school children are confident in using the latest technologies, yet many of our teachers are ill-equipped to teach with them.


CU’s School of Education researcher Dr Jenny Lane is working to give our teachers the upper hand when it comes to technology in the classroom, hosting free seminars educating teachers on iPad best practice, which they can then implement into their own classrooms. The seminars are part of the Track iPad Project in Schools (TIPS) 2012, a new research project that aims to develop a best practice model for teachers to use iPads as classroom learning tools. The project introduces a number of interactive classroom learning tools including:

‘It was great to interact with students and give them an insight into iPad technology, and how it can be used in their studies,’ Dr Lane said. Programs have also been implemented at Ashdale Senior Secondary School and Saint Pauls Primary. Later this year Dr Lane will travel to Africa to share her research with students and teachers and help them implement iPad learning within their classrooms. Cheaper than computers, iPads open the door to a wealth of learning opportunities, with even one iPad in a school making a significant difference, Dr Lane said.

• how to use apps to work collaboratively with students in other schools, both locally, nationally and internationally • how to use video streaming to create interactive diagrams and charts • how to use tools such as screencasts, videos and e-publications, which the students can take home to reinforce learning • how to download and use apps as educational tools. ‘Mobile learning technologies are definitely the way of the future,’ Dr Lane said. ‘Empowering teachers with the skills needed to use this type of technology will ensure that they are training students that will make their mark on a technologically orientated workforce.’ Track iPad Project in Schools is implemented through interactive seminars for teachers and school-based training programs. One school that is taking advantage of iPad learning in the classroom is Clontarf Girls Academy. Clontarf is an innovative Girls Sporting Academy that has been designed specifically for Indigenous secondary school girls. Students recently visited ECU as part of the Explore ECU program, where they learned to shoot video footage, create storyboards and add special effects, graphics and captions to video documentaries. Students will use the skills back in the classroom to enhance their learning across a range of subjects.


Dr Lane has over 20 years of research and teaching experience. Her research currently attracts national and international interest with over 14,500 followers from Australia to Israel tuning in to her online blog: Tips 2012

SEE YOUR EARLY CHILDHOOD CAREER GROW At ECU, we offer many courses specialising in Early Childhood studies. So whether you’re starting your teaching career, or extending your qualifications, we’ll help you develop the skills you need to become an outstanding teacher. We have a four-year, specialised undergraduate course for those entering the field. Or if you have a degree in any area and want a career change, our Graduate Diploma of Education (Early Childhood Studies) can be completed in just 12 months. These courses are taught by experienced professionals and offer extensive prac placements, giving you valuable experience in a range of childcare, kindergarten, pre-primary and primary school settings. If you currently work in the education field, we offer Early Childhood specialisations at a Graduate Certificate and Masters level. These will help you develop specialist skills through projects that directly relate to classroom needs. To find out more, call 134 ECU (134 328), email or visit

★★★★★ TEACHING QUALITY ★★★★★ GRADUATE SATISFACTION The Good Universities Guide 2012 303 ECU7219 CRICOS IPC 00279B

education + training

Hurdles for compliance While the National Quality Framework will provide a countrywide standard for childcare centres to work within, there have been some common obstacles for centres to jump.


he introduction of the National Quality Framework (NQF) in January 2012, has sent centres on the road to compliance.

The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) is aware of many issues identified in the process to garner satisfactory approval. Complaints heard by the ACA include the delays in receiving supervisor certificates and waivers. A spokesperson from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) said they were aware of the concerns regarding delays in processing applications for supervisor certificates and waivers, and how they can affect a service’s ability to comply with the National Law and Regulations. ‘This is a busy time for providers and for regulatory authorities, as everyone works to meet the requirements of the NQF,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Providers should be assured that regulatory authorities take into account efforts made to comply with the National Law and Regulations. Enforcement action is generally taken only where there is a serious or ongoing issue that puts the safety and wellbeing of children at risk.’ ACECQA expects processing times to reduce significantly once the initial volume of applications has been worked through. The process will also become more efficient as the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) online business portal becomes available. If an application is delayed, education and care service providers should contact their local regulatory authority to see what other interim arrangements can be made. Throughout the development of the NQF and its objective to have all staff qualified by 2014, ministers involved in the process recognised that transitional arrangements were needed to help the sector adjust to the 2014 workforce qualification rules for early childhood education.


The ACA has received member feedback indicating widespread concern regarding the ability of employers to ensure staff is qualified in a timely manner. An ACECQA spokesperson said, ‘the whole NQF will be reviewed in 2014 to examine the progress made with implementation. This review will also consider workforce availability. The ACA and other organisations will be involved in consultation with ACECQA over this period.  In fact, the ACA has already accepted membership of the ACECQA Forum, our national stakeholder reference group.’ The role of Authorised Officers has generated some member concern regarding its variation across the country. An ACECQA spokesperson said all Authorised Officers must undergo national training. ‘The University of Melbourne developed and delivered quality assessor training to “lead” assessors from each state and territory, as well as ACECQA and Australian Government representatives, in April and May 2012.’  ‘Since then, those lead assessors have been back in their jurisdictions training all Authorised Officers who will be carrying out quality assessment and rating of services. The assessor training is designed to ensure Authorised Officers become consistent, reliable users of the assessment and rating tool.’ The spokesperson said rigorous testing at the training’s completion is undertaken to ensure assessor reliability. ‘As part of ACECQA’s ongoing role to support and train staff from regulatory authorities, the ACECQA Board will, on an ongoing basis, consider the future options available in training for staff of regulatory authorities.’

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education + training

Nurturing education Australian Child Care Career Options (ACCCO) is a successful and well-established National and International Accredited Early Childhood training organisation. Its principal aim is the provision of quality education, with particular emphasis on meeting the practical requirements of Children’s Services. (Established 1995) Awards and achievements • Five years QUEST Business Achievers Award ‘Education and Training’ (Hall of Fame) • 2010 Workforce Council Individual innovation award ‘Melissa Flanders’ • 2010 and 2011 CareerOne Excellence Awards in Education and Training • 2009 NSW Local Business Award • 2007 Sponsors of two women’s soccer teams. • 2007 signed up the very first New South Wales Diploma Trainee. • 2004 Montessori Dual Diploma (World First). • 2002 Signed up the very first apprentice in Australia for Children’s Services. • 2000 donated prizes for Children’s Services industry award since its inception (Trainee of the Year).

Available services • Professional development workshops


nother main goal is our dedication and personalised attention to our students, making sure of regular contacts. We believe that the provision of quality learning impacts not only on our students and the child care sector, but also upon the broader society, both directly and indirectly. ACCCO staff make a particular effort to get to know each student personally in order to provide a service that best suits their individual needs. Our perception of this ‘real world’ is not only that inhabited by our students, but also that of future employers. We place particular emphasis on maintaining meaningful contact with child care services, enabling ACCCO to provide the most ‘ up-to-date’ practical and theoretical perspectives.

• Government-funded traineeships and apprenticeships • Fee for service training – Certificate III, Diploma and Advanced Diploma • Directors network meetings. or

ACCCO believes that people choosing a career in children’s services have decided to assume responsibility for nurturing the growth, development and education of young children. X • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1 2012


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ACECQA: the year so far… Since its establishment, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has been working with state and territory governments and the early childhood sector to deliver a consistent approach to the implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF).


n the six months since officially beginning on 1 January 2012, ACECQA has:

• visited children’s education and care services in every state and territory • presented at nearly 50 events, to around 6500 people • developed a National Consistency Action Plan and ACECQA Strategic Plan • established effective national working groups with senior representatives of the Australian Government

and state and territory regulatory authorities • consulted the sector on the Excellent rating criteria • answered more than 10,000 email and telephone enquiries • received over 250 applications to assess individual qualifications for equivalence • had more than two million page views on the website • built a readership of more than 10,000 so far for the newsletter.

Australian Institute of Childcare Training provides extensive training courses that will supply you with all the necessary knowledge and experience to succeed in the childcare industry. We offer nationally recognised qualifications: • Certificate III in Children’s Services CHC30708 • Diploma of Children’s Services (Early Childhood Education and Care) CHC50908 and run EYLF workshops. Study now and pay later scheme is available as we are VET FEE-HELP approved. (conditions apply)

Ph: 1300 889 678 | Web: | email: RTO Provider No. 91067

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This is just a snapshot of some of the work that ACECQA has achieved in a short period of time. ACECQA is committed to engaging and communicating with stakeholders. We have met with the Australian Childcare Alliance and visited several members’ services since January 2012. ACECQA has also recently established a national consultative forum as a way to hear from the sector and to help support NQF implementation. The first meeting of the ACECQA forum will be held on 28 August in Sydney. Members will be asked to consider matters affecting the implementation of the NQF and to help ACECQA improve its services. It will also be an opportunity to promote cross-sector engagement. Members of the forum include providers of family day care, outside school hours care and preschool services, long day care, local and state government agencies, peak bodies, professional support agencies, and family, employer and employee associations. The forum also includes organisations with a focus on skills and training, research and inclusion.

The national focus of the forum complements ACECQA’s ongoing discussions at state, regional and local levels. The forum is just one of the many ways in which ACECQA connects with groups and individuals in the children’s education and care services sector. In addition to speaking engagements, participation in a listening tour and attending conferences and forums, ACECQA offers the ‘We Hear You’ blog, a Facebook page and Twitter account. No matter where you are or what time it is, ACECQA wants to hear from you to understand how the sector is adapting to the new framework. You can stay up-to-date with ACECQA’s progress through their blog, website, by subscribing to their newsletter, or by following ACECQA on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. From 1 August 2012, the ACECQA customer service telephone number is changing from 1800 181 088 to 1300 4 ACECQA (1300 422 327). You can also email for assistance.

Existing qualifications now require a degree


arly childhood education (ECE) is a changing profession, and with the correct qualifications you can be part of it. The Australia-wide standard for ECE teachers now requires a minimum of four years of undergraduate study. Educators who have previously worked in early childhood contexts are expected to

upgrade to degree level, and VCE graduates to progress directly to an early childhood degree. Deakin’s Bachelor of Early Childhood Education focuses on birth to eight years. It will be offered in flexible modes for completion of 32 credit points over nine trimesters – equivalent to four years’ study. The world is changing, and Deakin is changing with it.

WHEN THE WORLD CHANGES, THE WORLDLY ADAPT. In a world that doesn’t stop changing, Deakin University doesn’t just keep up, they take the lead. As a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education graduate you’ll be ready for employment with all the qualifications now required by the early childhood registering body. Discover how Deakin will prepare you for a changing world at CRICOS Provider Code: 00113B

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Settling in Starting a new centre or new room will involve settling a mass of young children, each with their own anxieties.


hildcare is a growth industry. With the federal government aiming to make formal care more accessible to families, there is great potential for new centres and expansion of current businesses. Childcare centre staff must be adept at settling large groups of childern and helping them adjust to their new routine. Principal of childcare training provider Australian Child Care Career Options (ACCCO) Narelle Cossettini said carers should expect children frequenting the centre more than twice a week to settle more quickly than others. The age of the child can also impact on how well they settle. ‘Babies less than six months old are often happy to be left with educators because they haven’t yet developed separation and stranger anxiety, which usually peaks at 12 months, though older children can also experience separation anxiety,’ said Ms Cossettini. She also noted that previous negative experiences could hinder a child’s ability to settle at a new centre. Another factor for carers to consider is how the centre is being portrayed by the parent. ‘Is the parent discussing the transition with the child in a positive light?’ Ms Cossettini said she often worked with children suffering from the ‘threeday syndrome’: ‘I often observed some children taking three days or times, before the novelty of playing dissipated and the realisation, ‘Hang on, I am being left here’ kicked in. Careful planning is crucial for an easier transition – and just be mindful that on day three the child may be a little melancholy.’ ACCCO Curriculum development manager Karen Little said the children who find the first days difficult

Explain to [parents] that the role of educators is to develop secondary attachments rather than weaken the primary attachment often adjust quicker than others. ‘Children will cry when their family leaves, become teary easily and are relieved to see their family members at the end of the day. Believe it or not, these children are usually the ones to settle in quickly and happily once they are familiar with the environment and routine of service.’ Briefing parents on steps to help settle their child, can help make the transition easier for children. Advise parents to list their child’s routine, and bring in comforter toys. Invite them to spend the first day with their child. Carers should spend time to help parents feel secure about the centre, so they can portray similar feelings of confidence to their children. Pre-enrolment visits are vital for establishing familiarity with a centre. Ms Cossettini said some parents need to be reassured about the role of the parent compared to the carer. ‘Explain that the role of educators is to develop secondary attachments rather than weaken the primary attachment,’ she said. Being quick to develop rituals with each child will help build the carer/child bond. Ensuring verbal comfort for children even if physical affection has been shunned, can help settle them. Ms Cossettini said even settled children experienced times of separation anxiety. ‘This may occur if a staff member leaves the Continued on page 27


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Smoke and mirrors The reform agenda for early childhood (EC) education is long overdue but, in my view, falls somewhat short of the mark.


e have an Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) that is not mandatory, but must be used unless an EC educator can put forward an alternative model. We have new National Quality Standards that have been introduced as though they are the answer to every EC educator’s dream! (At last an instrument to tell us how to provide quality education and care!) We have the mandatory inclusion of four-year trained EC teachers to lead pedagogical decision-making, particularly in programs for preschool-aged children. While this is to be applauded, the fact that the reform did not address the inequity of pay and conditions between four- year EC-trained teachers working in the EC sector and four-year EC-trained teachers working in the school sector means that in reality the school sector will continue to attract new graduates.

At an EC expo earlier this year, I had the opportunity to speak to many EC teachers who have dedicated their entire professional career to the provision of quality programs for young children. Alarmingly, many of these

experienced and dedicated professionals were talking about resigning. The reforms, they say, fail to address the critical issue of pay and conditions, and the EYLF did not excite them. They also complained about the pace of the reform, and rightly so! I cannot think of any other industry where sweeping reforms have been implemented almost overnight without regard for the impact on stakeholders and, in particular, the impact on already overworked and underpaid EC educators. This government and previous governments have failed to make a real commitment to EC education. The reforms fall far short of what a wealthy nation such as Australia should be offering to our youngest citizens to ensure that every child reaches their full potential in the critical early years of life. There is much back-patting and celebration about the EC reforms, but for those of us who have been around for a long time, it is simply smoke and mirrors! Karen Kearns Author of award-winning childrens’ services textbooks The Big Picture, Birth to Big School, Frameworks for Learning and Development and The Business of Child Care.

COMPLIANCE MADE EASY NQF Made Easy NQF Made Easy is a series of templates designed for use in any service to transition to the new requirements under the change in regulations. All templates are readily customisable to your service meaning you are able to maintain a strong focus on the policies that reflect your philosophy, children, families and community. INCLUDED IN THIS RESOURCE ARE DOCUMENTS FOR:

» » »

Mapped policy templates to the new regulations and standards, allowing users to simply cut and paste existing policies. Continuous Improvement pro-forma Additional resources


Sample Policies including: Governance Policy Physical Facilities and Environments Policy Incident, Injury, Trauma and Illness Policy Risk Assessment Plan

• • • •

These templates allow you to get up to speed fast, maintain your uniqueness and continue building on your existing systems while ensuring compliance.

QIP Made Easy


» » »

Business Planning Quality Improvement Planning QA 1 through to QA 7 Action Planning Strategic Planning

• •


Performance Evaluation KPI’s Workplace Skills Assessment PD Plan Continuous Improvement

• • • •

This resource provides the tools to conduct a self-assessment of your service against areas of the NQS and provides measurable outcomes which can then be acted upon. These products are only available for sale through International Child Care College and is a onetime purchase. There are no hidden fees and you get everything you need in the one easy to use format. Visit to purchase these or any other of the ICCC resources.


Both resources are supplied on USB stick.

QIP Made Easy is a complete set of self-assessment and reporting templates mapped to the 7 Quality Areas. All templates are readily customisable and are designed for use in any service to meet the regulatory requirements in relation to the Quality Improvement Plan.



IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE Expand your career choices as a childcare professional and become nationally qualified. Chisholm offers certificates and diplomas that combine theory with practice. You can also combine work and study as a trainee or study on campus. Your experience and knowledge in the field could also be recognised and may shorten the length of your study. We offer: • Certificate III in Children’s Services • Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care • Plus a range of tailored programs for childcare practitioners Our courses also offer pathways to the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education with our partners Deakin, Monash and Victoria universities.

1300 244 746


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Continued from page 24

room or the service, or when a child is moving to an older age group. Usually this transition occurs at the beginning or middle of the year with a group of children; however, it may occur at different times of the year.  Where possible, transition children in groups rather than individually or introduce them to a “buddy” in their new group,’ she said. Ms Cossettini said keeping parents abreast of room changes and garnering their support, would follow through to the children. ‘If parents are not supportive of the move, then the child may mirror the parent’s anxiety,’ she said. Swapping group leaders with the older group, combining group activities or inviting the younger children into the older room will help develop children’s familiarity in the upper area, to help them settle. Ms Cossettini said while most children settle eventually, sometimes the transition doesn’t work. ‘I remember many years ago, a 14-month-old didn’t settle into the long day care childcare service. The educators tried all strategies to no avail, so they suggested family day care. The family listened to the advice and the child transitioned successfully to the family day care environment, and later returned to the

long day care service a year later with no transition problems,’ she said. Ms Cossettini advised carers to look for all the possible reasons why a child may not settle. She said if families are not ready to use childcare then it can be reflected in the children. ‘If in doubt, encourage the family to seek the assistance of an external professional, such as their GP,’ she said.

Questions caregivers need to ask themselves: • Do I understand the importance of establishing a relationship with the children while their parents are still present? • Do I know how to encourage parents to stay with their children while they are settling in? • Do I know how to respond to a parent or a child who is showing signs of distress during separation? • Do I understand the importance of actively engaging with a child, even though they may not be showing signs of distress at separation?

FREE Activity Book Availabl e now !

Don’ t miss out ! G e t you r FREE c op y of Child Car e Su p e r’s


B e ary G ood F r i e nds Ac t iv i t y Book now.

s activity idea O










for centres s from centre

The Activity Book draws together the 10 most popular activities conducted by Centres who participated in the Beary Good Friends initiative during Child Care Week 2011. Each activity encourages the children to involve their beary good friend (favourite soft toy), in things like a teddy bear picnic, careers day or colouring in! The Activity Book provides an easy guide to help conduct these programs at your centre.

For a copy of your free Activity Book, call us on 1300 365 899 or visit us at For information on Child Care Super, including the Product Disclosure Statement please visit or call the Customer Service Team on 1800 060 215. Guild Trustee Services Pty Limited ABN 84 068 826 728, AFS Licence No. 233815, RSE Licence No. L0000611 as trustee for Child Care Super (Guild Retirement Fund) Fund Registration No. R1000030, ABN 22 599 554 834. GLD2357A 07/12

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education training education + +training

Early childhood education Exit Point: Certificate III (National)

Holmesglen Degree completion

Exit point: Diploma (National)



















Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Diploma of Children’s Services (Early Childhood Education & Care)

Diploma of Children’s Services (Early Childhood Education & Care)

Certificate III in Children’s Services (compulsory pre requisite to Diploma)

Year 2: Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (for degree articulation “Care for Babies” must be included in Diploma studies)

Year 3:

Year 4:

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Vet entry qualification pathways

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

*Year 1:

Year 2:

Year 3:

Year 4:

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Apply through VTAC)

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Year 3:

Year 4:

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education

Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education Holmesglen’s Associate Degree is no longer taking enrolments and has been superceded by the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. However, previous graduates may seek Advanced Standing to the BECE. Higher education entry - bachelor of early childhood education *VCE or Mature Aged entry available – Literacy and Numeracy requirements apply to all Higher Education applicants.

Please contact Pauline on 9564 6423 or Flora on 9564 6267 for further information;

Contemporary and responsive – working for the future of children and early childhood professionals


veryone wants the best for their children; highquality care and education in the early years provide the optimum platform for our young children to make their way in the world with confidence, a strong sense of security and a thirst for learning. The department of Early Childhood Education at Holmesglen has a proud history of excellence in Vocational Education and Training (VET) for the early childhood field. Our VET programs include the Certificate III, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Children’s Services, the Certificate IV and Diploma in Outside of School Hours Care, and now also the Certificate III in Education Support (Integration Aide). All programs are available full-time and part-time; flexible delivery and traineeship options also exist for eligible applicants. As an accredited higher education provider, we now also offer our flagship program, the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. This contemporary and


innovative teacher education degree was developed in response to federal and state government priorities as well as the needs of the early childhood field. The degree is accredited by the Victorian Institute of Teaching, enabling graduates to teach in all educational settings for children from birth to eight years of age – including kindergartens and primary schools. All Early Childhood Education courses are located in our new, state-of-the-art facilities at the Waverley Campus; the Certificate III in Children’s Services is also available at our Moorabbin Campus. Watch this space for future offerings at Holmesglen’s brand new City Campus. Study pathways and recognition of prior experience and study are available in all Early Childhood Education programs.

education++training training education

Lessons not just for today, but lessons for the future as well SELMAR Institute of Education was established as a private National Registered Training Organisation (RTO #121531) in 2004. SELMAR is considered to be one of Australia’s leading children’s services training organisations, with record growth each year since inception.


ere we ask Marcus Sellen, CEO and Founder of SELMAR, for his expert advice on how to get into the children’s services industry.

What can I do to get employment in the children’s services industry? The first thing you need to do is get your Certificate III in Children’s Services. In 2012, legislation changed and those seeking work or currently working in the children’s services industry must have their Certificate III in Children’s Services as a minimum qualification. The course is designed to give students enough knowledge to interact effectively with children, families and other educators, provide quality care to children, facilitate their leisure and play and enable them to achieve their developmental outcomes using ‘best practice’ methodologies, as well as food safety and hygiene, first aid and child safe environments.

What types of positions can I get after I complete the course? Possible employment outcomes for students that have a Certificate III in Children’s Services qualification include: • • • • •

childhood educators playgroup supervisors family day care workers nanny kindergarten assistant.

We believe that along with the theoretical components of the course, hands-on work experience is the key to success in the children’s services industry. For this reason, industry work placement is organised by SELMAR for all our students. Our students train in over 300 child care centres across Melbourne. Studying with SELMAR means our students have access to our industry networks, allowing them to easily identify employment opportunities. With a Certificate III in Children’s Services from SELMAR, we know that when you get the job, you will be ready!

What makes SELMAR different from other course providers? From the very beginning we have asked ourselves the fundamental question: ‘when do we stop learning?’ The answer is, ‘we never stop learning’. We believe education has the power to connect you to new ideas, a broad range of experiences, qualifications and networks that enhance your life – both in and beyond the classroom.

Employment in children’s services is expected to increase rapidly and an unusually large number of job openings will result each year from that growth.

We believe our approach to education provides you with the ability to unlock your potential and create better opportunities in life.

How will SELMAR assist me in getting a job after I complete my course?

Lessons not just for today, but lessons for the future as well.

The SELMAR name is synonymous with quality children’s services training. Our staff are industry experts with current industry experience, and respected relationships with institutions, brands and communities.


Marcus Sellen

education + training

Recruiting the right staff Do you know how to find the right staff and keep them?


hildcare employers need to check their centre’s working conditions if they are looking to hire reputable staff. Director of Buzz Childcare Recruitment, Victoria Sharp, said incentives like paid study, access to rostered days off (RDOs) and open communication channels were appealing to new employees. She said providing opportunities for performance recognition as well as career guidance will help attract the right staff. Given the community service that childcare centres provide, Ms Sharp said directors committed to providing a great environment for attending families will foster better personnel. ‘Educators are often more likely to stay with a centre if they have a highly motivated centre director/owner who is passionate about what the staff do and the care they provide,’ she said.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, September 2011, most childcare employees were women (96 per cent) and over half were between the ages of 15 and 34. Given that many employees were in the formative years of their career, 88 per cent of workers had completed year 12 and 28 per cent were enrolled in further study. Nearly 60 per cent of workers in childcare centres were part-time. Ms Sharp said increasing part-time roles was a great way for employers to retain staff in an industry with such a high turnover. ‘Parents want to know who cares for their child. One of the main concerns for parents when it comes to a centre is retention levels – are they putting their child in a centre where they are going to receive consistency of care?’ She said part-time positions alleviated parental concerns and assisted managers

Exceptional student support


he Early Childhood Training And Resource Centre (ECTARC) is an awardwinning, registered training organisation (RTO) that specialises in early childhood training and professional development. ECEC qualifications are offered as distance study, traineeship or funded programs and can be commenced at any time of the year. ECTARC also offers live online professional development workshops that can be accessed by educators nationally. Established in 1998, ECTARC is well known for delivering exceptional student and employer support. Students are supported by telephone, email, online study sessions and a students-only resources website. Enrol online today at and discover why ECTARC is a leading Australian RTO.


Certificate III & Diploma ECEC qualifications via distance study nationally Live online professional development workshops eg EYLF Traineeship qualifications delivered in NSW & QLD Funded training programs

ECTARC is a respected, award winning RTO that is well known for the high level of support given to distance students and trainees throughout their studies. Enrol online today. 322160AE_ECTARC |1820.indd 1

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in recruiting reliable staff through flexible employment conditions. Given that females dominate the industry, Ms Sharp said ‘part-time has to be encouraged to ensure excellent educators are coming back into the workforce after having children.’ With the introduction of the national Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), more staff need extra training to update their qualifications and part-time positions allowed this.

Victoria Sharp

Ms Sharp said many employers offer traineeships to complete a Certificate III qualification (the entry level early childhood qualification), allowing employees to study and work at the same time. From 2014, the EYLF will require all early childhood carers to have a minimum qualification of Certificate III and

another 50 per cent of staff will require a diploma. Ms Sharp said because staff can be counted if they are studying towards these qualifications while employed at a centre, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of traineeships or employees studying towards these qualifications. Aside from the benefits of part-time employment, it is still important for directors to hire a number of casual staff. ‘Many casuals often don’t wish to pursue a career in childcare but love working with children and working casually allows them the flexibility of earning whilst doing a job they enjoy,’ she said. Ms Sharp said employers should look for passion and committment when interviewing for staff. ‘If a candidate comes to me and shows enthusiasm and a real dedication for ensuring the safety and welfare of children then I get excited! People who work in childcare love their job and they wouldn’t do anything else.’ Key characteristics of good staff include: excellent communication skills, the ability to work within a team environment and a solid understanding of an educator’s role and the responsibility involved in caring for children.

New activity book invaluable for centres

Child Care Super continues to be a great supporter of the industry and values the fantastic community contribution that Centre Directors and staff make to educating future generations.


activity ideas









for centres from centres


Centre staff, children and parents enjoyed these activities so much that Child Care Super has created an Activity Book that provides all you need to run these in your Centre. Centres can obtain a copy of the book by calling Child Care Super on 1300 365 899 or visiting

They are proud to be the major sponsor of Australian Child Care Week. Visit www.childcaresuper. to get a sneak peak at the new activity that has been developed to make it easy for you to participate in 2012 Child Care Week and help increase your community profile.



s part of 2011 Australian Child Care Week, Child Care Super worked with the industry to develop a series of Beary Good Friends themed activities that promoted the enduring friendships that children have with their cuddly toys.

Beary Good Friends Activity Ideas

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Copy of the Activity Book available free to Child Care Centres

For information on Child Care Super, including the Product Disclosure Statement please visit or call the customer service team on 1800 060 215. Guild Trustee Services Pty Limited ABN 84 068 826 728, AFS Licence No. 233815, RSE Licence No. L0000611 as trustee for Child Care Super (Guild Retirement Fund) Fund Registration No. R1000030, ABN 22 599 554 834. 322176E_Child Care Super | 1820.indd 24


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Get the Gowrie advantage


owrie Victoria is an early childhood organisation working with educators and families to deliver services that support the education of early childhood professionals to achieve the best outcomes for young children. We have three areas of professional learning designed to enhance the practices and professionalism of the sector:

1. Professional learning in small classes and online Australia-wide Gowrie Victoria offers a range of professional learning opportunities linked to the National Quality Standard, and underpinned by the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF), the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), and My Time Our Place, the Framework for School Age Care.

2. Customised training delivered anywhere in Victoria Get the Gowrie advantage with our training programs designed specifically to meet your particular needs: • experienced Gowrie Victoria consultants and guest speakers

• seminars, workshops, conferences and education programs • training at times to suit you, including evenings and Saturdays.

3. Demonstration Services Experience the Gowrie Victoria philosophy in action through our range of demonstration services where you can learn about the Gowrie philosophy, curriculum and documentation or the state-of-the-art design of our children’s centre in the urban landscape of Docklands, Melbourne. Contact us on 9347 6388 to book or go to for more information.

Gowrie Victoria Professional Learning Suite Customised Training anywhere in Victoria Get the Gowrie Advantage: •

experienced Gowrie Victoria consultants

strategies and solutions tailored for your group

at times to suit you, including evenings and Saturdays

We organise guest speakers, seminars, workshops, conferences and education programs. Go to and complete a customised training enquiry form.

Professional Learning

Demonstration Services

Gowrie Victoria provides specialist education in small classes and online for anyone working in the Early Years sector throughout Australia.

To experience the Gowrie Victoria philosophy in action, explore the curriculum and documentation or the state-of-the-art design of our children’s service in the urban landscape of Docklands, contact us on 03 9347 6388 to book or for more information go to

Our professional learning is linked to the National Quality Standard, and underpinned by the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF), the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), and My Time, Our Place, the Framework for School Age Care. Go to to browse and book into our courses.



education + training

Give feedback, not praise BY MEGAN MCGAY

Experts are warning against parents and caregivers being too liberal with praise.


ustralia is suffering from a narcissism crisis in its younger generations, according to a leading psychologist. RMIT psychology lecturer Professor Helen McGrath said the last 30 years has become increasingly known as ‘the failed self-esteem movement’. She said American research from psychologists and professors Jean Twenge and Keith W. Campbell had found an increasing sense of self-esteem in young people, paralleled with a widening narcissism and a drop in empathy. This research has been coupled with other leading studies about bullies and their own sense of self-worth. ‘What we know with a developing body of evidence, is that many children who bully have quite high self-esteem and in some cases inflated selfesteem, which often means they think they are better than they are,’ said Professor McGrath. She said this inflated view of one’s self was true of a significant number of bullies as well as repeat bullying offenders. ‘Although there are lots of people with high self-esteem who are grounded and have got good reason for it, there is a danger that you can hit that stage of feeling superior or more powerful, and if you’re the kind of kid to take up bullying to build up power, then you’ll do it that way.’ The ‘failed self-esteem movement’ or the ‘dark side of self-esteem’ originated from an understanding amongst parents and educators that self-esteem led to great successes in life. ‘It doesn’t appear to be the

many children who bully have quite high self-esteem and in some cases inflated self-esteem, which often means they think they are better than they are case because we can’t find any good research that tells us that continuing to develop self-esteem makes a lot of difference to anything but it has this risk factor of making some people quite narcissistic,’ said Professor McGrath. To counteract the effects of the movement, Professor McGrath developed the Bounce Back program with her colleague, educational psychologist Toni Noble. Teaching both parents and educators, Professor McGrath hopes the program will change the direction of parenting. It focuses on building resilience in children and giving them quality feedback instead of constant praise. Continued on page 36


education education++training training

Research in early childhood education at Monash


onash University’s Faculty of Education has approximately 700 students studying degrees in early childhood education – from Bachelor level to PhD. Students are taught by a team of wellregarded, international academic staff and active researchers in early childhood education. The Faculty is home to several active research groups. The early childhood education engages in research that reflects a range of interests in the early childhood field. The International Early Childhood Research Group is led by Professor Marilyn Fleer, who is an internationally known researcher. Professor Fleer is especially known for her research about science and technology and play. Other members of the team have research interests in child development, families, inclusive education, environmental issues, curriculum, well-being, literacy, numeracy, new technologies and the arts. This research includes the perspectives of children, families, educators and communities. Monash lecturers engage in research in Australia and they also have wider international networks. The research CRS-12P-773-EDU_ECE.pdf 1 8/2/12 2:52 group is noted for the International Research inPM Early

Childhood Education (IRECE) conference and journal. This year, the IRECE conference was held in Ghana. Members of the early childhood team present at local and international conferences. They are also members of the CRN network, a national initiative that signals close collaboration with Queensland University of Technology and Charles Sturt University, to develop high-quality research in the early childhood field. For more information, please email


education + training

Continued from page 34

The self-esteem movement caused great inflation of young minds; parents felt they needed to give their children copious praise because they didn’t want them to feel bad about anything. ‘Kids for awhile weren’t allowed to be in a situation where they might have felt like they failed at something,’ said Professor McGrath. Now, the new movement to build self-respect and create resilience is about encouraging kids. ‘So when they fail something, they say, “okay which part of that is my responsibility and which part of that was it that I hadn’t been taught properly?” and work out what they need to do to fix it,’ said Professor McGrath. ‘What my colleague and I have been doing is working on resilience; the bigger picture,’ said Professor McGrath. She believes that over-praising children without them working hard leads to low resilience. ‘Most of life is about ups, but inevitably, when you take on challenges, you’re going to have downs. You’re going to have times when you fall on your face, you get let down by somebody or something tragic happens. If you don’t have the skills of resilience, you can be so knocked over by those events that it’s very hard to get back up again,’ she said. Professor McGrath further discussed the downward spiral that low resilience caused such as adolescent depression where youths react through drug abuse, alcohol, or engage in very high-risk behaviour. The drop in empathy among children raised throughout the last 30 years has concerned professionals like Professor McGrath. She said some children began showing signs of empathy from age three, particularly those that had a genetic predisposition for it. ‘Some kids seem to be hardwired to be empathic from a young age and kindness is also genetically predisposed,’ she said. While empathy can be seen in preschoolers, Professor McGrath said they don’t fully grasp imagining someone else’s situation. ‘That happens more at seven or seven-and-a-half. So it starts at three and starts to go up like that, depending on what they are being taught in school and at home.’ Professor McGrath suggested childcare workers help children to build their empathy skill, when they start to display it. ‘It’s a really important skill to have in life,’ she said. Equally, building self-respect is more important than growing self-esteem. She said children with selfrespect learn to work without approval from others. They like to receive it, but they can function easily without it. ‘So self-respect is a more grounded alternative to self-esteem although there are similarities between both of them. Self-respect is based more on matching your achievements with humility, rather than thinking that


because you achieved something you’re better than other people,’ she said. Childcare workers are critical to the early development of their charges and can help build resilience in them. ‘I think all the time, you can give positive feedback to a child about the child’s strengths…but not praise,’ said Professor McGrath. She gave the example of providing pointed feedback: ‘that was very kind of you to do that, Emma’ instead of easy praise: ‘you are so kind, Emma.’ Specific feedback can help a child to identify what they are doing correctly, rather than general praise. Professor McGrath is concerned that liberal praising may result in children working less to better themselves, whereas feedback on particular actions help children to build a good understanding of themselves. She said building resilience made children well-grounded with a good sense of self-knowledge. It gave children values and respect for others while teaching ‘to achieve as highly as you can but being humble and not arrogant when you find you can do something that others can’t.’ Through her own Bouce Back program, Professor McGrath has found people to be receptive to this new change in parenting. ‘Today’s parents are loving their kids and trying to do their absolute best for them. They are thirsty for knowledge about this area. I have found that most parents we have presented sessions to, have been very appreciative of getting a clearer understanding of how parenting can be slightly rebalanced towards making kids resilient.’ Professor Helen McGrath’s website:

education + training

education + training

Attraction and retention of skilled employees: the key challenge

for leaders in early childhood education


.he early childhood education sector is going through important changes: demand for staff is growing across Australia, and wages are expected to rise by over four per cent, as the implementation of the National Quality Framework designed to boost staffto- child ratios and qualification levels is phased in by 2014.

The report also highlights the key attributes employees value in a job. Interestingly, a lack of opportunity for growth and development is the main reason why people plan to leave their jobs. On the contrary, good work/life balance and flexible work options are the main reasons for staying for more than half of those planning to stay in their current jobs.

As early childhood education evolves into a competitive modern profession, it is facing increasingly complex human capital challenges. With baby boomers moving into retirement and demand for qualified staff rising, talent attraction and retention, together with an understanding of employees’ desires and priorities, have clearly become crucial for success. According to the Randstad Education Early Childhood World of Work report, filling critical vacancies is the biggest concern for 62 per cent of early childhood employers for the year ahead. In the same period, a third of employees intend to leave their jobs.

According to Matt Hodges, General Manager at Randstad Education, one issue in particular needs to be addressed urgently to ensure ongoing growth and success of early childhood education centres: ‘the Randstad Education World of Work report highlights a divide between what’s expected of leaders and what they are delivering in the sector. Employers definitely need to develop integrated and informative human capital strategies. Only leaders well-versed in human resources and recruitment issues will attract and retain the talent needed to grow’. Matt Hodges, General Manager, Randstad Education – Australia To download a copy of the report please visit

education recruitment specialists Everyday, the team at Randstad Education work alongside 120,000 children to positively shape their lives in Early Childhood centres and School we call this ‘Shaping the world of Education’. You can trust Randstad Education to deliver all your casual and permanent staffing needs for your Early Learning Centre, Preschool, Occasional Care or Outside School service. To find out how Randstad Education can help you, contact your local office 24hrs / 7 days a week. T: 1300 360 014



education ++ training training education

Childhood educators The Malka Group (TMG) registered training organisation #21694 offers nationally recognised children’s services qualifications at Certificate II, III, Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels.


ualifications can be delivered in your workplace, via workshops, classroom or acombination of online and workshops.

Training topics offered (counts towards annual PD): • child abuse prevention, identification and reporting • child development and learning • health, safety and nutrition • working with families and the community • program management • teaching and learning and inclusion practices • observation, documentation and assessment


• interactions and guidance • professionalism • topics to meet your team’s needs. TMG offers ESL training to improve workplace communications, report writing and an understanding of compliance requirements. A well-trained childhood educator offers quality care and learning opportunities to children and attracts parents to your childcare centre. Call TMG on 9890 3350 or 9749 7616 for further information on the various training, compliance and online induction services offered by TMG. Visit our website at

YOUR CENTRE, YOUR STAFF THE BEST THEY CAN BE Child care is one of the most important and regulated industries in our society – make sure your staff are the best they can be, the best for the children in your care and nothing less than parents expect. The Malka Group offers accredited qualifications in childcare – delivery in the workplace, classroom, blended mode (online and face to face) which can upskill your existing staff or equip new staff with the skills they need to make your centre the best it can be. The Malka Group (TMG) is one of Australia’s leading training provider for individuals, business and community groups with a 15-year track record of success in designing and delivering Government funded* and nationally recognised training qualifications that reflects industry standards. Qualifications include: CHC30708

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technology++education education technology

‘Boogie board’ device creates waves in kids’ educational technology An over-reliance on popular iPad products as a key educational tool for Australia’s preschool and schoolchildren is not producing the desired outcomes when it comes to developing writing skills and building confidence. This is the view of a leading educational technology product business owner, Jono Ladmore of Crayons.


good example of the utilisation of the Boogie Board device producing positive outcomes is at Adventure Preschool in Regentville, near Penrith. Kellyanne Gianatti is the Owner and Director of the preschool, which has a complement of 18 children, some of whom are special needs children. The writing tablet is a quirky and practical way for children with poor control or muscle tone to learn to write. Ms Gianatti is emphatic that the tablets have made a significant difference – one of several products that the children have embraced as part of their learning curve to develop skills for the next stage of school.

Those children at Adventure Preschool who were previously reluctant to practice their writing are now encouraged to do so because of the user-friendly Boogie Board technology whereby the device creates lines of different thickness based on how hard one pushes the tablet with the stylus. The technology enables the children to feel as though they are actually writing but with the added play factor of being able to instantly erase their writing and start again. ‘The “Boogie Board” encourages handwriting and literacy skills, which are key aspects of the children’s development. I still believe that the old familiar method of learning through writing and drawing using paper and pencils is still necessary, but the Boogie Board is very useful for those less inclined, or who have problems in holding a stylus pen and using it effectively. One of the children had issues with the traditional type of usage but is now quite happily using a printable version of the Boogie Board. The stylus glides over the board and is easy to hold so the convenience aspect is there for all to see,’ said Ms Gianatti. According to Mr Ladmore. ‘At Crayons Educational Technology for Kids, we believe that when you use any technology, the success of it will be determined by the thing you create and the learning that occurs along the way. The software and the applications that we


use directly affect these outcomes. The focus has to be on the end result. The hardware is not what education technology is all about. As long as the hardware runs the applications, then it doesn’t matter what sort of processor it is.’ Even though Crayons manufactures hardware, Mr Ladmore is adamant the focus has to be on the software application. ‘For example, all our product netbooks come pre-installed with a variety of software for kids to use and our new Crayons Pad comes with applications pre-installed. We work closely with educators, mapping the applications and activities to the defined educational outcomes (EYLF and K-6). As we learn more and discover areas for improvement, we will write our own software to assist parents, teachers and children to achieve greater educational outcomes.’

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technology++education education technology

Cutting-edge learning tools Link Media, a division of Vista Visuals Australia, is one of the country’s fastestgrowing suppliers of innovative information technology products. Our mission is to supply cutting-edge solutions to schools that engage, inspire and connect users in today’s fast-paced communication environments.

The Megaboard – World’s Largerst Interactive Whiteboard.

TouchIT Evolution 65” Interactive LED on a motorised VeriTable


t Link Media we pride ourselves on meeting our clients’ needs by thinking outside the box and delivering customised products that are built to last. Whether you require an interactive learning centre or a large multi-touch system for complex media presentations, Link Media has you covered.

Unique products Link Media produces unique products that are unmatched by other manufacturers in Australia, including: The Megaboard – Australia’s largest interactive whiteboard with a maximum width of 12.5 metres; the TG-650 – a link media interactive whiteboard, with tablet-style gesture recognition and a multi-user porcelain surface; and the Touch IT Interactive Early Learning Centre – an integrated touch screen learning centre designed for early learning environments. These great products are exclusive and only available from Link Media Australia.

Training is the key Our service does not end when you walk out the door. We understand that new technology takes time to get used to, which is why we provide comprehensive


training and support programs with most of our products. Our team of skilled trainers will guide you through the early stages of product use to ensure that you and your staff always have the assistance you need to get the most out of our products.

Expanding our horizons At Link Media, we are proud to announce a very special initiative. In partnership with AUSAID and The Nepal Project, we are offering our customers the opportunity to trade up to the NEW TG-650 and help children in developing countries at the same time! For a limited time, Link Media customers can trade in their old interactive whiteboards to receive a discount on the NEW TG-650. We will then collect the pre-used board, refurbish it and ship to a destination school in East Timor or Nepal for continued use. It’s that easy!

Australian-made for Australian schools At Link Media, we believe in supplying Australian schools with Australian-made products. The majority of our presentation products are manufactured right here in Australia, so our clients can rest assured that the product purchased is manufactured to Australian standards under approved Australian working conditions, while providing the maximum benefit to Australia’s economy. Call or email Link Media today Phone: 1800 811 225 Email:

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educationalresources, resources, programs + planning educational programs + planning

Creating engaging learning environments


arly childhood educators are almost endlessly resourceful. We recycle, reuse and reclaim whatever we can to make our work with children as interesting as possible. We can think of a thousand possible uses for the most mundane of objects and we are constantly on the lookout for those pieces of scrap that no one else wants but that we can see as the centrepiece of a child’s creation. This resourcefulness is one of our greatest strengths. Unless we are careful, though, it can lead us to discount the importance of good quality resources and a well organised learning environment. Sometimes, because we are so resourceful, we imagine that our ingenuity and creativity is all that we need. It’s true that beautiful furnishings, play equipment and toys are, by themselves, no guarantee of quality. Ultimately, the quality of a service rests on the quality of the relationships, interactions and experiences that happen within it. Yet a well resourced environment is the foundation for almost all quality early childhood programs because it supports and enables positive interactions and experiences to happen. Without a basic level of resourcing it is harder to be an effective educator. Our physical environment either works for or against us. Without a well organised and resourced play space we will find ourselves having to work harder to compensate. In all likelihood children will be less engaged, interest and enjoyment will be


lacking and behavioural challenges will be greater. As educators, we will spend more time policing behaviour and enforcing rules than we will engaged in supporting and enriching children’s learning. In contrast, a well organised learning environment provides a rich mix of challenge and interest that helps to engage children in meaningful and extended learning. When children are deeply involved in play, educators are better able to spend their time involved in genuine interactions and in supporting children’s learning. Skilled educators working with quality resources are better able to stimulate children’s thinking, curiosity and problem solving, provide opportunities for children to discover and explore new interests, and take advantage of spontaneous opportunities to extend and enrich children’s learning. All of which leads to better outcomes for both children and educators – deeper and more meaningful learning for children and a more satisfying and rewarding experience for educators. Ingenuity and resourcefulness coupled with the right resources are hard to beat. For the sake of children, and of ourselves as educators, we need to ensure that we have both, and that we make sure to use them to their full effect. Luke Touhill Early Childhood Consultant

educational resources, programs + planning

In your words with Barbara Langford Former dental hygienist Barbara Langford changed career and passions after becoming a mother. Now, she is director of four South Australian Montessori preschools and vice-president of Childcare South Australia. These are her words…


originally came across the word “Montessori” just by reading it as a pregnant mum-to-be, not really knowing what it was. I liked the sound of what Montessori did to nurture the capabilities of the child, and that is how I wanted to be as a mum. ‘Soon after that time, my mother actually showed me an advert in the paper of a Montessori school opening up. It was like a training school to start with. I went along to their open day and effectively I walked out of that open day having signed up to study as a Montessori teacher! Although my aim was not to teach, I wanted to learn about the methodology to help my parenting skills. ‘I guess, with that knowledge, when my son Scott was born, I felt I needed to find a place that gave him that initial nurturing environment in the early years. I searched fairly extensively, and found a little homebased preschool that was the only centre available employing the Montessori methodology. The lady there had engaged a teacher, applying Montessori philosophies with only 10 children in her home. It was a wonderful, nurturing environment for my son. ‘A couple of years later, after I had completed my study and my daughter was born, that little preschool Scott was enrolled in had closed down. There was nowhere else for my daughter to go and the teacher that had taught my son was then unemployed. She said to me, “Why don’t you start your own?” So we had a little contract that if I found somewhere and started it, she’d come and work for me. That was the beginning of my journey. ‘I was very lucky that my husband supported me and helped me find some premises: a little home we transformed into a preschool. There were lots of council regulations to follow and challenges that I hadn’t anticipated, but eventually we started Jescott Montessori Preschool in Magill. That’s where my

when my son Scott was born, I felt I needed to find a place that gave him that initial nurturing environment in the early years daughter Jessica started as one of the first students. Now she is the director of that centre, 21 years on. ‘I still teach there two days a week, even though I manage all four centres. Not only do I still love working with the children, I love working with my daughter as a colleague and, in fact, she challenges me all the time to think more broadly, question things and be innovative. ‘It took eight months to initially get Jescott ready. One of the hardest parts about finding a preschool is the council permits, which change depending on what council you are in. There are major requirements; such as whether the zoning for car parking is correct. Given that we bought a residential home, we had to have the zoning changed for the school to Barbara Langford


educational resources, programs + planning

Jessica Langford, director of Jescott Montessori Preschool.

proceed. That in itself was a fairly major thing. We had an objection from one neighbour, so there were a lot of difficulties initially in getting that approval. Then we had more issues, such as the school being located in a place that was prone to one-in-100-year flooding. We had to implement lots of things so the gates, front fences and doors would be able to withstand that potential flooding. There were really fairly major mountains to climb as far as getting the approvals done. ‘At that time, you were legally not allowed to advertise that you were starting up a centre until you had approval from the regulatory authorities. Effectively, you had to do everything to set it up without ever knowing whether you would get one student through the door. It was a big challenge and a big risk. If I hadn’t had my blinkers on and that passion to do it, I wouldn’t have done it. Maybe that’s what life is: using the challenges as stepping stones and dealing with them when they come up. ‘I was not a registered teacher beforehand; I was a dental hygienist. So it was quite a change for me. In my instance, I didn’t do a registered teaching degree

first, I went straight ahead and did the Montessori Diploma. That has allowed me to work in the early childhood sector, like the Children Services Diploma, but specialising in the Montessori philosophy. ‘Many of the teachers I employed have [worked in mainstream education]. The teachers who have become completely motivated by teaching in the Montessori environment are often those people who found the philosophy of mainstream didn’t feel right to them.’ ‘Mainstream: a lot of it is about the teacher being in control of what happens in a day, planning the day and being the main person in the class delivering information to children. In Montessori, it is the other way around; it’s about letting go of your ego as the main person and disappearing into the classroom with the children, and allowing the environment you’ve set up to do the work. Montessori encourages children to be responsible for themselves and we just come in as a support for that child and a facilitator of that learning. It takes quite a different tack from staff who have worked in mainstream because they often had to be the alternative. Continued on page 48

Keen observations

Playing with the dressing frame


Emily playing with knobless cylinders.

educational resources, educational resources,programs programs ++ planning planning

LIFTing the paperwork burden!


pending more time doing paperwork than teaching? Julia of Peter Pan Childcare (Queensland), argues ‘We need to find ways to work smarter, leveraging opportunities provided by technologies like LIFT. This online database does away with costly, time-consuming printing, photocopying, gluing and pasting, not to mention finding space for those ever-increasing files. LIFT enables educators to create children’s e-portfolios, programs, reflections and link calendar events, all at the touch of a button.’ Parents have unlimited access to their child’s learning journey, can upload photos and share comments. Leanne of Precious Momentz (Australian Capital Territory) loves the improved parent engagement, ‘after extensive research, we‘re so happy we chose LIFT. It is easy to use; even those intimidated by computers were surprised at how quickly they picked it up.  Parent response has been awesome, they love being able to access LIFT even on their mobiles.’ Fraser of Nikki’s Kids Town (New South Wales) agrees, ‘We’ve fully implemented LIFT across three centres. Educators are RaiseLearning-ad-BBB - ad.pdf



hooked and parents are amazed. LIFT has brought us out of the paper portfolio dark ages!’ Jean of Smartie Pants (Victoria) adds, ‘LIFT saves time and provides peace of mind.’ Register today for a free trial at

10:19 AM

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educational resources, programs + planning

Continued from page 46

‘I haven’t personally experienced teaching in mainstream schooling, but I hated my experience in it as a child. I never understood it. I used to think I was completely maths-illiterate, but when I did my maths training at Montessori, that changed. The materials are concrete, you can manipulate them and see the real thing to understand the concept. I remember it was almost like a light globe moment where I said, “Yes! I understand this now because I am using this in a concrete form and I get why I had to learn those formulas because this is what the formulas mean!” For me, it was an amazing transformation, particularly in maths. I thought, “Gee, if all children had this experience before they went into primary school – to manipulate the materials, to actually understand what it is – we’d have a lot more children who are interested and excited by maths because they understand the reasoning behind it.” ‘A play-based curriculum doesn’t just mean letting children have free play, it’s meant to mean “meaningful activity: full engagement of a child’s whole being.” It’s not just about going out in the sandpit and having fun with sand or water, it’s about children learning to concentrate, engage and explore their environments and so in that context, yes Montessori is very much about that. Montessori is about children doing things for themselves and finding out and asking questions and becoming interactive with everything they confront in their day. It’s about giving them the opportunity to explore and understand the connections with what they’re using and the real world. In Montessori we call it “work” rather than “play”, to try and differentiate for children to give them a sense of importance about

Building blocks


what they are doing. Often play is interpreted, as “lets get together, make a lot of noise and muck around, that sort of stuff”. In our situation, we call it work, so the children can understand that work is an engagement that’s pleasurable. We want children to understand that work is great; it’s what we do as human beings and that’s a really wonderful thing and they are producing something that has relevance and that’s important. ‘Maria Montessori could’ve written the Early Years Learning Framework 100 years ago. It’s descriptive of the Montessori methodology. That’s what we do and it’s exactly the outcomes of what we believe. So the EYLF and Montessori sit hand in glove, it’s beautiful. The only difference for us is the way we achieve some of the outcomes, but our job as Montessori educators is to be able to explain that to parents and assessors, so they can see what we are doing is giving the equivalent outcome. ‘We have intentional teaching, which is done before the children are there, so we have programs that we think about and discuss as a team: things we might want to introduce to the classroom, or an additional focus in the classroom for the general availability of the children’s environment, and that’s done out of hours by a group of teachers together. Then we prepare that environment before children step into it. When children are there, programming is sparked by the children. ‘I, like each teacher, have a certain number of “focus children”. I know what their capabilities are, I consider what might be new challenges for them and I watch for the moments where I can go in and

Jescott Montessori Preschool, Magill.

educational resources, programs + planning

My hope for children is that they’ll leave our centre with that lovely sense of self-worth: they can be capable, they can learn with great joy and they can look after themselves present that, when the children are ready for me to step in. Then, I invite them to come work with me and I record their progress. It’s my job to work out their next challenge and how I can extend them. So it starts from the child, but before the child enters the room, it starts from the environment. Every child has someone recording their individual progress and that teacher is responsible for making sure they know exactly what is happening in the child’s life. We get to know those children really well, their records are kept adequately and their progress notes are discussed with families.

from looking at themselves and what they are capable of doing. They are not reliant on an adult having to say, “good job” or “good on you”. It’s about how they feel. We ask children to think about their achievements from their own perspective and feel proud of themselves. We help them develop this inner discipline and inner sense of self-worth. That’s a gift. If a child comes away from one of my centres having achieved that ability to self-assess, it’s a gift they’ll carry with them through life – they don’t have to wait for someone else’s approval to feel good about themselves. ‘I think any centre can have the Montessori philosophy in place without any of the Montessori materials, but staff will need additional training to understand how and why it works so well. It’s a matter of finding someone who can mentor the staff about the values of incorporating the Montessori philosophy and understanding how to respect children and give children that credibility to work on their own: trusting them to do better than what you think they can do. We have to give children the tools to help them be independent.’ The Montessori Australia Foundation Images courtesy SA Montessori

‘The majority of my families would not have gone into Montessori schooling because it is fairly rare… so the majority have gone into mainstream schools. The reaction and feedback I get from primary school teachers is that they can tell the Montessori children because they are self-sufficient. They are the ones who go in on the first day and know how to hang up their bags and listen and know how to be occupied. They are not the ones sitting there wondering what to do next. They have that self-confidence. Montessori provides children with a lot of wonderful exposure to literacy and mathematical concepts, because that’s built into the whole environment, but our aim is not to just teach children to read and write. Rather, our aim is to equip children with all of the preceding skills that will enable them to read and write when they are individually ready, which may be in the later years. My hope for children is that they’ll leave our centre with that lovely sense of self-worth: they can be capable, they can learn with great joy and they can look after themselves. I hope they gain a sense of independence and self-esteem from self-assessment, rather than by external reward or the judgment of others. ‘I guess the difference is often that children in a Montessori centre should have received a lot of values

Barbara Langford with daughter Jessica.


educationalresources, resources, programs + planning educational programs + planning

Inspire, challenge and entertain


oddlerTown is an Australian-owned online toy shop, based in Sydney. Toddlertown was founded in 2008 by a mum with young children wanting to provide quality educational toys, games, puzzles and books that open up a world of fun and learning to inspire, challenge and entertain the special little ones in your life.

ToddlerTown is filled with toys our kids love. We hope yours will too.

Through play, a toddler learns so many vital skills. After searching far and wide, we have found an innovative range of unique, high-quality toys that are an alternative to the mainstream, and will help you to provide a richer, more stimulating environment in which to watch your child grow and learn, but most of all have fun. We’re confident you’ll find ToddlerTown an enriching and inspirational resource, and a place you can find toys children will treasure forever and at a competitive price. Our customer service is second to none and will take the hassle out of shopping for kids, saving you precious time, and all from the comfort of your own home.

ToddlerTown Po BOX 446 Springwood NSW 2777

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nutrition + menu planning


How healthy is your centre’s menu? Review it with some advice from Nutrition Australia Queensland.


enu planning for early childhood settings can be a challenge. Nutrition Australia Queensland works closely with cooks in early childhood facilities, delivering menu planning workshops and providing a menu review service for facilities across Queensland. Here are some frequently asked questions with strategies and key points that can help early childhood facilities to successfully develop and implement a menu that provides healthy and tasty food that children enjoy.

When starting to plan a new centre’s menu, what are the key guidelines around which to base it? Aim for a minimum of 50 per cent of the daily requirements from the five food groups. Note that the five food groups and Australian Dietary Guidelines ( are currently under review.

The expected release date of the new guidelines is September 2012.

How adventurous can chefs be with children who are fussy eaters? The early childhood years are a critical time for experiencing different foods and developing eating behaviours and food preferences. The greater the variety of foods that children are exposed to in their early years, the greater the likelihood that they will eat a wide range of foods as an adult. Adults who include a wide range of foods in their diet are more likely to be healthy, and increase their defence against lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Some ways to promote food variety (fussy eaters included): • Promote mealtimes that provide a safe environment for children to explore and try a variety of new foods. • Encourage/provide meals that offer a variety of tastes and textures. • Regularly offer new foods as well as familiar ones. Even if the food is refused on the first few occasions, continue to offer them. Children may need to try new foods up to 10 times before they find them acceptable. • Praise children for tasting new foods, even if they don’t eat much of the food. • Staff can discuss the variety of foods included in the group’s meals during mealtimes. • If your facility’s policy is that parents provide the food, include information sheets and lunchbox ideas in enrolment packs and display this information for parents. Encourage parents to pack lunchboxes with a wide variety of foods.


nutrition + menu planning

• wholegrain breakfast cereal topped with fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Some centres offer a late snack following afternoon tea for children picked up close to dinner. What are good options for that time of day that won’t fill their tummies up?

Adults acting as role models can also assist children who are fussy eaters. Ways to promote this include: • sitting with children at meals and encouraging healthy behaviours. Both staff and parents can support children’s healthy eating habits • where meals are provided, encourage staff to eat the same foods as the children • aviod discussing personal likes and dislikes of food when eating with children

Snacks need to provide nutrients in proportion to their energy value. Snacks that provide energy (kilojoules) without their fair share of nutrients should not be offered on a regular basis. These are ‘sometimes foods’ and should not be consumed every day. It is best to ensure the serving size of snacks is kept small. Suitable ‘everyday’ snacks contain fruit, vegetables, bread or cereals, and milk-based drinks. Good options include: • corn on the cob • celery/carrot/cucumber sticks with low-fat cheese spread and sultanas^ • celery sticks and peanut paste*

• let children choose what and how much to eat from what is offered

• vegetable kebabs – cherry tomatoes, cucumber, celery, capsicum, ham and cheese

• allow children to serve themselves as much as possible. Make sure they wash their hands first

• fresh whole fruit (Apple, apricot, banana, kiwi fruit, nectarine, orange, pear, plum)

• never give or deny food as a reward or punishment.

• tinned fruit in natural juice

• during mealtimes, maintain a relaxed and positive environment. Talk to the children about happy or interesting things about the meal, for example where certain foods come from, textures or tastes.

• dried fruit – sultanas, dried apple, dried apricot, prunes, dates

What are good breakfast options? It is difficult to obtain sufficient nutrients in a day without the nutritional contribution of breakfast, making it a very important meal of the day. Missing breakfast leads to hunger, poor concentration, and often the desire to eat less nutritious snack foods. Establishing a routine for young children that involves eating a healthy breakfast lays the foundation for a pattern in later life. If breakfast is not offered in the setting, have some healthy food available for children who arrive without breakfast. When a setting offers breakfast daily, varying the menu adds interest. Healthy and easy breakfast ideas include: • porridge with fresh or canned fruit and a glass of milk • yoghurt and fruit or a fruit smoothie • toast or a crumpet with cheese and slices of fruit • pikelets topped with ricotta or yoghurt and fruit • boiled egg and wholegrain toast • baked beans on toast


nutrition + menu planning

• fruit salad with reduced fat yoghurt/custard • fruit slushies – blend fruit, add extra water if too thick then freeze • frozen fruit – eg. orange, banana, watermelon, grapes^ • smoothies – yoghurt, milk and fruit, for example banana or berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) • fruit kebabs – bananas, watermelon, honeydew, strawberries and grapes^ • milk • yoghurt or custard – for children over the age of two years, reduced-fat • cheese – dairy is recommended • raisin toast • english muffin with peanut paste* and banana • rice cakes with vegemite or peanut paste* and honey • Weet-Bix™ with honey • pikelets topped with chopped fruit • vegetable pikelets • jaffles filled with baked beans, mashed potato or cheese • baked potato filled with tuna or creamed corn and topped with cheese • fruit flower – balls of melon surrounded by orange segments with a stem of banana • traffic lights – rounds of kiwifruit, watermelon and banana • pita bread nachos – pita bread slices baked in oven until crisp, sprinkled with cheese NOTE: For more recipe and food ideas go to ^ Some of the above foods are high-risk foods for choking, these include hard foods (like celery

and carrot), and small and/or round foods (such as whole grapes). These foods are not suitable for infants. Supervision is required when toddlers are eating these foods. * Peanut paste needs to be avoided if children have a peanut allergy or if they are going to eat the snack at a setting where there is a nut-free policy.

How regularly should the menu change? Seasonal menus can work well in early childhood settings. Changing a menu with the seasons allows for meals to be tailored to include seasonal produce which can be more economical for early childhood settings. Changing the menu helps provide variety and weather-appropriate foods – such as soups in winter and salads in summer.

How many serves of fresh/ dried fruit be offered a day? The fruit food group includes fruit in many forms, such as: whole fresh fruit, fruit salad, tinned fruit in natural juice, and dried fruit. The current guidelines (new guidelines due for release September 2012) state that whilst in care children should be offered half to one serve, where one serve equals one medium piece of fruit (apple, banana), two small pieces of fruit (apricots, kiwifruit), a half-cup (125 millilitres) fruit juice or two tablespoons of dried fruit. Note: If juice is offered it should be 100 per cent fruit juice and diluted 50:50 with water. Some dried fruits (such as sultanas) can be high-risk foods for choking (similar to other small and/or round foods). These foods are not suitable for infants. Supervision is required when toddlers are eating these foods.

Should centres offer low-fat milk to preschool-aged children? Low- or reduced-fat milk can be offered to preschoolaged children. Low-fat milk is not recommended for children under the age of two years.  

What are good lunch options? Base lunches and dinners around the five food groups to provide children’s growing bodies with vital nutrients and energy throughout the day.


nutrition + menu planning

• salmon and avocado pasta • sushi - tuna and avocado or grated carrot, cucumber and lean meat • hawaiian rice – rice, corn kernels, celery, pineapple pieces, spring onions, lean ham In addition to bread, rice, pasta or noodles, vegetables can be served in a number of tasty ways such as salads, quiches, soups or on their own.

Salads • nibbler’s salad – celery sticks, boiled egg, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, dried apricots, pineapple pieces and low-fat cheese wedges • potato and tuna salad – diced potato, tuna, spring onions, natural low-fat yoghurt and curry powder

Quiches/flans/omelettes: make without casing or use bread instead of pastry • ham and asparagus

The five food groups


1. Bread, rice, cereal, pasta

Bread/ bread rolls, wraps, rice,

and noodles

pasta, wholegrain cereal

• tuna and corn

Soup • tomato or minestrone • pumpkin

2. Vegetables and legumes

Salad, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, baked beans, avocado, potatoes

• chicken and vegetable

Jacket potatoes • tuna and corn

3. Fruit

Whole fresh fruit, fruit salad, tinned

• baked beans

fruit in natural juice, dried fruit

• savoury mince

4. Dairy foods

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, custard

5. Meat and alternatives

Sliced meats, chicken, red meat, eggs, tuna/salmon, nuts, legumes

Lunch ideas Scrumptious sandwiches/wraps • cream cheese, turkey/chicken and cranberry sauce • cottage cheese, tuna, celery and sprouts • cheese, chicken and avocado • hummus and salad

Mini pizzas: use english muffins, pita bread, lavash bread or focaccia • ham, cheese, pineapple • mushroom, onion, capsicum, olives, feta

Rice, pasta and noodles can be served as hot or cold dishes for lunch • fried rice – rice, egg, chicken, peas, corn, spring onions and bean shoots


We encourage you to use these strategies and tips to help ensure the food provided by your setting both meets the nutritional needs of children in your care, and allows them to experience a wide variety of tastes and flavours that will assist them to enjoy a healthy future. If you are based in Queensland and would like any additional menu planning or other early years nutrition advice, please contact Nutrition Australia Queensland’s Early Years Nutrition Service by phone 07 3257 4393 or email: Contact details for other states are listed on Nutrition Australia’s website: Nicole Frederiksen, Dietitian Nutrition Australia Qld – Early Years Nutrition Service Abbey Harding, Public Health Nutritionist Nutrition Australia Qld – Early Years Nutrition Service

nutrition nutrition+ +menu menuplanning planning

Your centre food requirements made easy!


ids Gourmet Food is a long-established catering company exclusively devoted to the service of food for children in long day care. Kids Gourmet Food (KGF) is currently servicing both Sydney and Melbourne. KGF delivers quality, healthy meals on a reliable daily basis. The food is freshly cooked, not frozen, using premium grade produce. All meals are prepared by a team of qualified chefs supervised by a head chef with over 20 years’ experience in food handling and preparation. KGF do the menu planning, food shopping and cooking. All you need to do is heat, serve and enjoy the fresh, delicious and nutritionally balanced meals that are delivered to your kitchen daily.

KGF offers two main menu groups that operate on regular rotation. • Menu A: children one to five years of age – includes a large selection of fresh fruit with morning and afternoon tea, plus freshly cooked vegetables with lunch. • Menu B: children six to 12 months of age – includes five fruit and vegetable purees daily. Allergy/intolerance and vegetarian alternative meals are available as well as Halal meat if required. KGF do not demand long-term supply contracts and are able to supply food to your centre whilst your cook takes annual leave. Take advantage of their trial offer by calling 1300 870 054 today.

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Kids Gourmet Food 1300 870 054

Specialist Catering for Child Care Centres


finance,business business++property property finance,

Franchising and childcare services The demand for childcare services is ever increasing.


s with any regulated industry, there is constant change, a need for ongoing compliance and, at the same time, meeting the needs of parents and the changing market. This additional legislative and regultory compliance means greater cost and pressure on childcare owners and operators. Being an independent business owner is becoming more and more difficult. Being associated with a known brand and one that provides systems, training and support is now preferred by many smaller business operators over the complexity of being an independent. The corporatisation of certain industries has had a torrid history. ABC Learning Centre was one case on point and well known to those in the industry. There is a need to balance the growth and/or corporatisation of the industry with the need to ensure that individual childcare centres continue to provide professional and personal care to their community. Mum, who drops little Oscar at local childcare, is not concerned about the corporate structure unless it fails (as in the ABC Learning collapse). Her concern is the quality of service and care being provided to little Oscar.

So why franchise? Franchising is an established and recognised business model that has evolved beyond the traditional fast food and retail sectors. The franchise model can be adapted to virtually any industry. The cost of establishing a franchise can be substantial by the time you establish the corporate structure, obtain proper tax advice, register and protect your IP, prepare systems and operating manuals, conduct demographic research and then finally prepare the suite of documents, namely the Disclosure Document and Franchise Agreement needed to comply with the Franchising Code of conduct (a mandatory governing scheme). Franchising is not a short-term or quick-return business model. The franchise models that have achieved the best results are those with a sustainable business model that can adapt and grow as franchisees come on board.


The mindset Operating as a franchisor is a completely different mindset to operating a successful company-owned operation. In the traditional company-operated model, growth needs to be self-funded and working capital tends to be stretched. Sourcing the right employees and managers can be difficult, as can retaining them. One of the greatest advantages of a franchise model over other corporate models is that franchisees operate as an independent business operator under a licensed brand, mark and system. The franchisee invests their own money in establishing the business. They have skin in the game and an incentive to work hard and commit to the business model, unlike an employee.

The first steps to consider and plan to franchise: • Ensure your existing business operations are successful, well managed, systemised and financially viable to withstand the investment of establishing the new franchise business model. You need capital reserves to establish the franchise model in the range of $50,000 to $80,000. • Seek advice from a specialist franchise lawyer, accountant and advisors to consider if franchising is the right business model. • Protect your personal assets and other business operations from the franchise business risk and ensure that you have established the right corporate structure to operate your franchise system and to access CGT concessions when you eventually sell. • Ensure that you have protected your brand marks and intellectual property. • Conduct feasibility and market research, and prepare your dedicated franchise business plan. This will involve your key team of advisors, your lawyer, accountant and franchise consultant who can assist you to establish your operations manuals and in-house franchise systems. • Consider establishing a pilot franchise through which you can develop, improve and refine the system before going out to the market. By following these basic steps, you will limit your exposure and risk, and ensure a successful long-term brand in the market.

Wisewould Mahony Lawyers Accredited Business Law Specialists Franchise Specialists with Industry Knowledge • • • • • • • •

Child care services compliance and regulation National Quality Framework advice Company structure advice Workplace agreements OHS compliance Establishing franchise systems Franchisee reports and assessments Dispute resolution, mediation/solution and strategies

We can provide support for all your business requirements in a highly regulated industry We also provide fixed fee services to our clients based on the scope of work FCA Member

(Franchise Council of Australia)

IFLA Member

(International Franchise Lawyers Association)

FANZ Member

(Franchise Association of New Zealand)

Call for a complimentary guide to franchising: Contact: Robert Toth | t: +61 3 9612 7297 | e:

finance, business + property

Marketing your centre BY MEGAN MCGAY

Childcare is a highly competitive industry. How can you maintain integrity and build your business?


hildcare centres build business on caring for people’s most prized possessions: their children. Belonging spoke to two marketing experts about their approach to increasing a centre’s client base. Director of Marketing Space Linda Delphin said it was important for centres to appeal to their audience on an emotive level. ‘This means you have to connect with people’s feelings, not just with their practical requirements. No parent is going to choose a childcare centre that doesn’t feel right,’ she said. Directors need to be aware of creating positive first impressions and continuing to maintain thoughtful interactions with potential customers. Ms Delphin said operators must consider how their centre is being talked about by current clients and the media. She said building a credible reputation started from inside the centre. Do staff members smile and appear excited to be with a child being dropped off? Does the centre look clean, tidy, safe and healthy to visitors? Are there

operators should identify what makes their centre ‘fabulous’ and promote it on the website or through a brochure visible examples and demonstrations of the children’s activities? Ensuring current families are happy with the centre will increase the amount of positive referrals. Ms Delphin said while the internal reputation is being consolidated, activity could begin outside the centre. She said operators should identify what makes their centre ‘fabulous’ and promote it on the website or through a brochure. She said to ensure brochures print more than opening hours or rates, so potential customers can ‘feel what you are about’. Marketing consultant from The Institute of Wow John Dwyer said letterbox brochures are the most sensible method of marketing to a centre’s target audience: residents or workers within five to six kilometres of its location. ‘My favourite piece of advice for small business owners is to go down the “direct response” path,’ he said. Mr Dwyer said the five-kilometre radius is what real estate agents term “the farm”. ‘If I was a childcare owner, I’d be sending out letterbox brochures regularly, at least once a month, to “the farm”,’ he said. Creating media attention in local newspapers is another method for exposure, said Ms Delphin. She said promoting a particular centre’s learning programs through news articles would aid its profile. Local public relations (PR) could arise from sending in story ideas Continued on page 60


When it comes to Child Care Centre Sales - we don’t kid around

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Continued from page 58

Mr Dwyer likened it to a butcher with a sausage sizzle outside his shop. ‘That butcher is always going to do better than the one across the road that doesn’t’ or even submitting fully written articles on the topic. If newsworthy enough, the PR may eventuate in a published story. Mr Dwyer said to avoid paid advertising in local newspapers. ‘Most childcare centres would only be able to afford to take out a little quarter-page ad at the most, so you’re in the paper with a million advertisers. But the beaut thing is, if you’re in the letterbox, you’re only in there with BIG W every now and again. Chances are you’re going to be in there with less clutter than a newspaper and that’s why I favour a letterbox drop.’ Another method to increase centre awareness is to open its doors. Ms Delphin said encouraging local parents to attend an open day or morning tea will help them experience the centre and see what childcare is all about. She said to encourage staff to ‘spread the word and talk about what’s great about “their” centre.’ In addition, it is important for centre managers to be aware of staff satisfaction levels and seek to maintain happiness. Other external activities to promote the worth of a centre include supporting relevant charities such as SIDS and Kids or CanTeen, said Ms Delphin. She also said sponsorship of local school or sporting club events help to increase credibility and awareness with

the centre’s potential customer base. Researching your local demographic and understanding who they are will also assist in the type of marketing approach to take. Ms Delphin said to consider whether new customers are pregnant, already parents or newcomers to an area. She said to work out how a centre could become most obvious to these people: through word-of-mouth, community lists in child health centres, Internet searches or local papers. Mr Dwyer said to be mindful of local papers and their diminishing readership. ‘Those figures are out there for everyone to see: of the 25 leading newspapers in the world, 24 had a declining circulation.’ Mr Dwyer said childcare owners need to identify their ‘wow factor’. ‘Other marketing agencies will call this the unique selling proposition or USP,’ he said. ‘They need to come up with a distinguishing “wow” factor that sets them apart from their competitors. It may be that they offer their first week free.’ Mr Dwyer likened it to a butcher with a sausage sizzle outside his shop. ‘That butcher is always going to do better than the one across the road that doesn’t. And the icecream shop that gives out samples is always going to do better than the one that doesn’t.’ Mr Dwyer said in his experience, if customers sample something and like it, they will go back. ‘Centres could offer a week’s care for free to new customers or sign them up for three months and valueadd by offering new DVDs for the children.’ Mr Dwyer said any ‘wow factor’ marketing approach should be followed up by testing and measuring. ‘Lets say the free week’s trial doesn’t work as well as intended, then move on to the free DVD, if that doesn’t work, come up with another idea. You keep testing and measuring until… you find the silver bullet.’ The silver bullet for supermarket giant Woolworths was its petrol discount, which according to Mr Dwyer, it offered well before Coles, stealing three years on the market. He said the USP for retailer Harvey Norman was the ‘two years interest free’ offer. McDonalds distinguished themselves from competitors by offering a toy with a child-sized meal.


finance, business + property

Both Mr Dwyer and Ms Delphin agree that appropriate signage is essential to building awareness of a local centre. Ms Delphin said a banner could assist a pre-launch campaign in attracting applicants. It could be ‘as simple as a billboard at your site saying “opening soon, apply now”, she said. Mr Dwyer said the right signage was critical. ‘Don’t make your sign a giant business card, such as the name of your business up the top and your contact details under that.’ Instead, Mr Dwyer proffered a ‘problem/solution’ approach. ‘Emotional direct-response advertising is all about problems and solutions… that’s what people want to hear.’ Mr Dwyer suggested signs that read, ‘Busy working two jobs and don’t know what to do? We’ve got your solution here at our childcare centre’ would gain better reactions from potential customers. Ms Delphin said signage was only one part of a broader strategy to increase a centre’s visibility. ‘Great branding… a website, registering to be on the local council childcare centre list and registering a local google listing for your centre (google places)’ were also necessary. Ms Delphin suggested listing with a large-scale childcare directory like as well. She said to consider having an official launch event to open the centre. ‘Invite some key locals such as complementary businesses who also work with parents and kids and build a great impression of your centre from the start!’ For centres using a website, Ms Delphin recommended adding an ‘apply now’ or ‘register for care’ button on the main page.

The silver bullet for supermarket giant Woolworths was its petrol discount, which according to Mr Dwyer, it offered well before Coles, stealing three years on the market. He said the USP for retailer Harvey Norman was the ‘two years interest free’ offer. McDonalds distinguished themselves from competitors by offering a toy with a child-sized meal She said this must be coupled with an effort to respond to all enquiries. Ms Delphin said to reiterate the ‘fabulous’ factor identified in a centre’s brochure and to always remind clients of its content. Older, more established centres shouldn’t be complacent with their marketing strategies. ‘Maintaining a core marketing presence will help keep a business in the minds of the market as a key service provider,’ said Ms Delphin. She said that while older businesses wouldn’t need the same amount of marketing, core aspects like a website, good signage and ensuring customer satisfaction will help a centre stay viable. Linda Delphin, director Marketing Space John Dwyer, director The Institute of Wow


finance, business + property

Business and wealth In, each edition of Belonging, independent financial planner Matthew Ross will provide business and wealth advice relevant to the childcare industry.


hat motivates people to start their own businesses? Many studies have been done to answer this question, because if you are a business owner it’s important you’re doing it for the right reasons.

In the studies we’ve reviewed, the main reasons for starting a business were: • a desire to control your own destiny • to take advantage of an opportunity • for the financial reward that entrepreneurship can bring. On a daily basis, your mission is to provide a safe environment for children to develop; however, the harsh reality is this: as a business owner, you are exposing yourself to more risks than if you were an employee working for someone else. If you are not making more money as a business owner per hour than what you would earn as an employee, then you’re taking risks for which you’re not being rewarded, and it does not make sense. The numbers that show you are being rewarded for risks are boring and complex to some people; however, as a business owner you need to either be on top of the risks or have an expert in your life who helps you keep on top of them.

What numbers am I referring to? Profit in terms of dollars and as a percentage of sales will ultimately be the most important figure if you are buying someone else’s business; however, if you are starting from scratch, then achieving 70 per cent capacity (a minimum required to stay viable) would be something that you are more concerned about in the short term.

As you grow and become more successful, your focus will move from a revenue focus to a profit focus. To be successful, we strongly recommend that you have strong bookkeeping systems in place the day before you open your doors for business. If your doors are open right now, and you’re not on top of your bookkeeping, then your mission tonight is to check out Saasu (, Xero ( or MYOB ( and find a bookkeeper and/or accountant who can help you get the most out of the software. The sign of a successful business is that its bookkeeping for the previous financial year is complete within the first two weeks of the new financial year. How organised are you? As a business owner, there are many other issues such as insurance, succession planning, legal structures, debt, cashflow, and possibly one day purchasing the premises that you started off renting. In each edition of Belonging we will bring you information, strategy and knowledge about one of these issues so that you can assess whether you are crossing all your Ts and dotting all your Is. More importantly, we’ll also point you in the direction of experts to whom you can go to for help because life is easier when you get help from the right people.

Continued on page 64


Matthew Ross

finance, finance,business business++property property

Get a bookkeeping advantage with your accounts


t Accounts Advantage, we understand that childcare centre owners are concerned about many things that will make their childcare centre successful and profitable. Most childcare centre owners, like all small business owners, are time poor and are discovering that outsourcing their bookkeeping saves overhead costs and a step towards freeing up valuable time. As a business owner, your time is best spent doing what you do well – working on your business. Accounts Advantage becomes your payroll office, processing wages, providing reports, reporting superannuation and PAYG summaries. We also become your accounts department by paying the bills, liaising with suppliers and sending remittances. We are BAS Agents, and are responsible for having your BAS/IAS reported on time. We liaise with your Magazine Ad_V2.pdf



accountant to provide all your financial data for all your taxation requirements. We provide timely reports to you, which is the most valuable tool for you to make all the right business decisions based on essential operating realities. By outsourcing your bookkeeping to Accounts Advantage, which is our core competency, you will have the ability to become more profitable, more efficient and more competitive by focusing on the tasks that are more important to you.

11:58 AM

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finance, business + property

Continued from page 62

The reason we advise our clients to fix only 50 per cent of the loan is that this enables you to still have the flexibility to repay some principal on the variable rate loan if you have surplus income available.

It’s also important to separate your business finances from your personal finances, so we’ll touch on one personal financial planning issue for you to focus on.

Should I consider fixing interest rates on my home loan? When interest rates are below seven per cent per annum we start to think about recommending to our clients that they fix 50 per cent of their home loan. When they drop below six per cent we start discussing it with clients. If they drop below five per cent it’s almost a no-brainer.

Over the long-term, variable rates are lower than fixed rates but the reason to consider fixing half or more of your home loan should be based on your personal situation not a forecast of what you (or some other supposed “expert”) believe. The current three-year fixed rate is around 5.8 per cent so how would you feel if interest rates went up to eight per cent? Would you feel like you missed an opportunity? More importantly, could it possibly put more financial pressure on you? If, on the other hand, interest rates dropped to as low as four per cent, you may feel foolish for locking in some of your loan at a higher rate but with only 50 per cent locked in, the other 50 per cent would be benefiting from such low rates of interest which is only going to help you pay off more debt sooner. Disclaimer: the advice in this article is general in nature. For specific advice, please seek guidance from a certified financial planner. Matthew Ross is a Certified Financial Planner and director of Roskow Independent Advisory,

Customer owned customer driven Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank provides a competitive range of banking services to the Education Community: n Everyday banking.

n Insurance.

n Loans (Home and Personal).

n Financial Planning.

Our dedication to helping our customers build and protect their finances at every life stage is our priority. For more information call 1300 654 822 or visit This information does not consider your objectives, financial situation or needs - consider the suitability of this information and refer to Terms and Conditions or Product Disclosure Statements before acquiring a product, available at our branches or call 1300 654 822. Victoria Teachers Limited, ABN 44 087 651 769, AFSL/ Australian Credit Licence Number 240 960.


17/07/12 4:10 PM

finance, business + property

finance, business + property

Don’t give your money away – roll over! You’ve earned your super, so when the time comes, make sure that you get to enjoy every cent of it. This means making the most of what you have.


ne of the ways you can do this is to make sure you have only one super account. That’s because super funds charge fees. So, the more accounts you have, the more fees you’re likely to be paying. And if, like the average working Australian, you have extra super accounts, the multiple fees could be eroding your retirement nest egg. Plus, you’re losing the chance to earn future compound interest (interest earned on interest) on any fees saved, which helps grow your super over time.

3. Know your benefits While you’re talking to each fund, ask them what benefits – such as insurance – you’re receiving through them. Compare the benefits and fees to work out which fund suits your needs best.

4. Fill in the form Download a transfer form at or free call 1800 813 327 for a copy.

So, rolling over – or consolidating – your super into one account makes sense and it could mean more money to retire on.

Complete one form for each account you’d like to roll into HESTA, along with a copy of certified identification (ID) documents for each fund you want to roll over. We’ll get things moving, although your other fund(s) may contact you to confirm the rollover.

Simply follow these simple steps!

5. Get your ID certified

1. Find your lost super One in two Australians have lost super, with billions of dollars just waiting to be claimed. It’s worth doing a quick check at and if you’ve ever had more than one job, changed your name or address.

2. Gather your super account details Find statements for all your super accounts or call each of the funds you’re with and ask for your member number and account details.

All copied pages of original proof of ID documents need to be certified as true and correct copies. This is very important to protect your super account(s) and to ensure that there isn’t a delay in processing your request. Details about acceptable ID and those people who are authorised to certify documents are outlined in the transfer form. For more information on HESTA, your health and community services industry super fund, visit or free call 1800 813 327.

This material is issued by H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd ABN 66 006 818 695 AFSL No. 235249, Trustee of Health Employees Superannuation Trust Australia (HESTA) ABN 64 971 749 32. Information provided is of a general nature. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or specific needs. You should look at your own financial position and requirements before making a decision and may wish to consult an adviser when doing this. This information contains H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd’s interpretation of the law but should not be relied upon as advice. For more information, free call 1800 813 327 or visit for a copy of a Product Disclosure Statement which should be considered before making a decision about HESTA products.



finance,business businessand + property finance, property

Child’s play is big business


hild care centres are shaping up to be one of the best investments around. There’s been such a significant shift in investor confidence that there’s not enough stock to meet buyer demand. We know because we are one of the largest child care agencies in the country. In Queensland alone, All Child Care turned over $48 million in sales in the past 10 months, and we still have buyers knocking on our doors. All Child Care is run by a highly successful commercial property group in Brisbane, and the key to our success is that we don’t just act as brokers. Over the past 15 years we have pulled together a dedicated team that has first-hand experience in owning and operating child care centres. They know all there is to know about this industry and provide expert advice about purchasing, leasing or selling a centre. They also understand the importance of abiding by the rules of strict confidentiality so that the privacy of all parties is protected. So if you have been feeling apprehensive about selling your centre or you think that you may not achieve your desired price, you couldn’t be more wrong. Investor interest is peaking. The word is out that a great ROI can be achieved whether the buyer wishes to purchase a centre freehold or if they want to run the centre


themselves as a business. To put any lingering doubt to rest, all you need to do is look at the listing of recent sales on our website and see the prices they sold for ( With more demand than supply, this is definitely a sellers’ market. With fewer centres available for sale and a growing pool of buyers in the marketplace, this looming lack of supply is pushing prices up. All Child Care is a leader in the child care centre industry and our website is the engine of our business. We have an extensive database that is regularly updated with listings of qualified buyers, investors and current centres for sale or lease. Buyers and investors can register with us online to get first-hand notification of opportunities as soon as they come on to the market. At the same time, we work to obtain the highest possible price in the shortest possible time for our vendors and put them in contact with specialists to make the sale of their centres as smooth as possible. Whether you are looking to buy or sell a centre, All Child Care has the expertise, experience and industry alliances to help achieve the best outcome for all parties. Simon Morris Managing Director All Child Care



• 10+10+5 Year lease comm Dec 2011

• 10+10 Year Lease comm July 09

• 8100 m²

• 65 Place

• 119 Place

• Huge 10% Yield

• Net Rental $160,800 P.A

• $1,090,000 FIRM

• Surplus land (developmental potential)

• Net Rental $109,111 Approx as of July 2012

• $2,050,000 FIRM


• Cranbrook – 36 Place, $690,000

• 10+10+5 Year Lease comm Dec 2011

• White Rock – 74 Place, $1,745,000

• 63 Place • Net Rental $130,000 P.A • $1,625,000 FIRM

SUNSHINE COAST INVESTMENT • 10+10+5 Year Lease comm Dec 2011 • 75 Place • Net Rental $110,000 P.A • $1,375,000 FIRM


• Gracemere – 88 Place, $2,900,000 • Logan Central – 70 Place, $1,700,000 • Mt Isa – 74 Place, $1,745,000

CHILDCARE LEASEHOLDS • Capalaba – 150 Place, $1,350,000 • Cairns – 50 Place, $450,000 • Red Hill, ACT – 39 Place, $590,000 • Kingston – 74 Place, $650,000

CHILDCARE SITES • Toowoomba – 150 Place Da Approved - $950,000

• 10+5+5+5 Year Lease comm Aug 08

• Burpengary – 75 Place Da Approved - $650,000

• 4047m² land

• Mount Crosby – 75 Da Approved - $800,000

• 150 Place

• Burpengary – 75 Da Approved - $600,000

• Bruce Highway Exposure • Net Rental $212,180 Approx as of Oct 2012 • Huge 9.0% Yield • $2,350,000 FIRM

For various other Investments, Freehold, Leasehold And Childcare Sites please visit or contact agents:

Simon Morris P: 0407 000 076

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT SUPERIOR PROPERTY GROUP – ALL CHILDCARE SALES Commercial – Residential – Management – Childcare P: (07) 3848 3000 F: (07) 3848 1515

David Jurgensen P: 0408 799 578

human resources management

Managing complaints Prickly parents and defensive staff could lead to a combustible complaint dispute. Belonging reviews the best procedures to follow.


hildcare centres, like any small business, need a solid policy on handling complaints. Yet unlike most businesses, the industry is caring for children; both vulnerable and valuable. It can bring with it heated arguments, and aggressive complainants. While all approved childcare providers are required to make sure they have complaints policies, the National Law and Regulations do not set out how a complaints policy and procedure is created or communicated to parents. The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), advises providers to contact their state and territory professional support coordinators or peak bodies for help. Organisational and counselling psychologist at JSA International Communications, Jasmine Sliger, said childcare centre directors and managers need to adequately train staff to equip them with the right skills to manage and quell parent concerns. After being solicited to work with Toyota, Ms Sliger addressed a situation where the staff had become overwrought and exhausted by a small number of clients. ‘The staff was just worn down, so what we would do as a matter of course once a week, was hold a meeting called, “Difficult Issue”. In it, someone from the sales team would talk about a difficult issue or difficult customer story that they had to deal with, and we would work through it.’

Ms Sliger said Difficult Issue meetings gave staff consistency and allowed all the employees to see how other people were dealing with problems. She advised childcare centres to hold small Difficult Issue meetings three times a week. ‘You should be meeting three times a week, because childcare employees are working in real pressure-cooker environments,’ she said. Time for the Difficult Issue meetings need to be scheduled in, ‘otherwise, you shouldn’t be running a business,’ Ms Sliger said. ‘You have to have realistic expectations of your staff, and if you want to create goodwill, you have teach them to listen to parents.’ Through her counselling practice, Ms Sliger has dealt with many dual-career families, and said such clients could be difficult because of their many competing priorities. ‘Your whole service is to listen to that parent and make them feel like they matter. Whatever you do, don’t lie; I think it lowers the credibility of any establishment.’ Frequent staff meetings and adequate training on the centre’s protocol will help staff to become familiar with its policies and philosophies. ‘Essentially you have to empower your employees and help them to analyse things on their own,’ Ms Sliger said. Managers need to demonstrate the right behaviour themselves. ‘If you are a childcare director and you let people know what good service is and you know how to deal with conflict, then people who work for you will feel better-equipped. The most important skill is listening; whenever there is a complaint or the beginnings of a conflict, listen carefully,’ she said. Continued on page 70


The RighT eaRly Childhood STaff Can TRanSfoRm a Child’S eduCaTion Are you looking for dedicated staff? Or are you looking for a new career opportunity? Quality early childhood staff are in demand. We can assist your centre in finding the best staff in the market and also help you find the job that is right for you. We’re proud to be a major recruitment partner with many of Australia’s leading early childhood providers including large and small not for profits, council centres, corporate centres, community centres and private centres. We recruit staff for permanent, temporary and contract opportunities, as well as casual staff at short notice and for day to day cover. We also recruit staff for vocational care and out of school hours roles. While each state across Australia has different employment processes in place, we have the specialist expert knowledge to deliver an unrivalled recruitment service that meets these processes and delivers exceptional early childhood staff. If you are an experienced early childhood professional, we have a range of options available from permanent positions, long-term blocks and daily casual work. The types of early childhood roles we recruit for include: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Area Managers Centre Directors Authorised Supervisors 2ICs Early Childhood Teachers Room Leaders Diploma qualified staff Certificate 3 qualified staff Cooks Unqualified staff Out of school hours staff (OOSH) Vacation care staff

To register a vacancy or to find your next exciting opportunity please contact us in your closest capital city. nSW - Sydney T: 02 8226 9744 e: ViC - melbourne T: 03 9604 9528 e: aCT - Canberra T: 02 6112 7651 e: Sa - adelaide T: 08 7221 4144 e:

human resources management

Continued from page 68

The National Quality Standard includes some standards and elements relevant to how a service manages grievances and complaints. An ACECQA spokesperson said, ‘Element 7.3.4 says there should be processes in place to ensure that all grievances and complaints are addressed, investigated fairly and documented in a timely manner.’ The spokesperson advised childcare directors to review ‘Collaborative partnerships with families and communities,’ from the National Quality Standard, when creating a complaints policy: • Standard 6.1: Respectful supportive relationships with families are developed and maintained • Element 6.1.2: Families have opportunities to be involved in the service and contribute to service decisions • Standard 6.2: Families are supported in their parenting role and their values and beliefs about child-rearing are respected. The ACECQA spokesperson said a complaints policy should include information about notifying the regulatory authority of any complaints alleging that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child was compromised while the child was cared for by the service. Approved providers must notify their regulatory authority about these complaints within 24 hours using form NL01. Under the law, one of the functions of regulatory authorities is to receive and investigate complaints arising from the National Quality Framework. If an issue is unresolved, a parent may choose to go to the regulatory authority. If complaints are made to the regulatory authority, they will assess them on a case-bycase basis and decide what steps to take.

If complaints are made to the regulatory authority, they will assess them on a caseby-case basis and decide what steps to take Ms Sliger does not recommend involving management in potential disputes unless it is warranted. ‘I think you only escalate it to that when it needs to be. Let’s say, for example, you have highly emotional parents who are screaming – you’re likely to bring in somebody to stabilise the situation if your staff feel threatened.’ Quelling fear in staff is important. Ms Sliger said it is problematic when a staff member is worried about the implications of a parent’s complaint, ‘If you start, in your mind, seeing the parent as some important factor who could lose you your job, you’re in trouble.’ Professionalism and a courteous nature are essential for resolving conflict. ‘Always be clear and put yourself in the parents’ shoes – and treat parents like they matter. As a family therapist and mediator, I deal with people who are quite irate. Don’t get irate with them, just say, “okay, I think we need to work through this, I think we need to work together, how can we best work together?”, because that’s what you’re doing. You are trying to work together with the parents for the benefit of the child,’ she said. Ms Sliger said staff members can calm frustrated clients by using the right tone and setting rules. If, while mediating a family, someone interrupts her or screams, Ms Sliger will say, ‘Look, I’m really sorry, but I can’t hear you when you yell and I can’t hear you when you just go ahead and speak for three minutes. What I think needs to happen is you need to tell me what is important for you and I need to respond in an appropriate manner to you.” She said lowering her tone and using the right body language helps to convey the message of listening and helps the person to feel respected. ‘That’s what parents need to know: that they matter.’ A listing of state authorities in charge of childcare centre complaints can be found here:


corporate profile

corporate profile

RiskEquip for childcare – your online tool for managing risk


ith a broad range of risks facing centres for early childhood education and care every day, an awareness of these risks and how they can be managed provides opportunities to ensure that both you and your centre are providing a safe and effective learning environment for children. This is particularly relevant as changes in the economic and legislative environment introduce more and more complexity to how centres can operate. In the current environment, centre managers can be left asking themselves: • How do I manage the risks associated with supervising children? • I know safety is important, but where do I start?

• What should I do to ensure that my centre is secure against robbery/burglary? • How can I protect my centre from fire? The information provided in RiskEquip can give you the answers to these questions and more. RiskEquip content is based on the 20 years of experience gained by Guild Insurance in handling complaints directed towards centres for early childhood education and care and their operators. The site also contains articles that will advise you on how you can manage risk. Complete a ‘Self Check’ survey to assess how you’re managing your risks by visiting

The risks in your centre aren’t always this obvious Risks in your centre may not be easy to see. Some could cause minor disruption to your operation, while others may see you in court. Let RiskEquip show you how effective risk management can lead to greater efficiency, profitability and success within your business. Stop and take some time to assess the risk in your centre by visiting:

INT0353 Child Care Risk Equip Advert July 2012 Belonging. Guild Insurance Limited ABN 55 004 538 863 AFSL No. 233791

A5 Risk Equip.indd 1


4/07/2012 12:02:48 PM


human resources management

A happy place to work BY LUCY OCKENDEN

Boost workplace productivity by making staff happy.


entre managers have the power to change the culture of their workplace, according to a leading psychologist.

Australian Catholic University psychologist Jim Bright said improved workplace morale can lead to lower levels of absenteeism, high productivity, loyalty, and ultimately, profitability. This comes at a time when debate over the country’s flat-lining productivity is raging in the nation’s capital, as business and labour leaders try to work out the best and fairest way to squeeze more out of each employee. Addressing contentment in the workplace is one way to manage productivity, said Mr Bright. The Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom has studied links between economics, productivity

and mental health. It found, among other things, that positive emotions tend to invigorate humans. The opposite is also true: negativity de-motivates people, where some employees don’t care about their work and are only there because they feel forced to be there. While the Warwick Business School study is based on economics and productivity, the lessons learned highlight the need to keep employees happy in Australia’s childcare sector. It’s a conclusion also backed up by Peter Sullivan from Australian Business Training, who designs in-house training programs on positive psychology. ‘There’s really good evidence now that positive workplaces are more productive, people are more flexible, more resilient, more resourceful and they perform better,’ he said. Mr Bright agreed that it’s important to have a positive workplace. ‘It’s about creating an environment where people feel supported at work, they feel that the work they are doing is meaningful and valued, and that their workplace is a pleasant place to work,’ he said. ‘There are three fundamental factors that influence employee wellbeing in the workplace: job demands, workplace control, and workplace support.’The first factor, job demands, is about ensuring that the workload for each employee is reasonable: ‘reasonable for the pay, reasonable for their conditions, whether that is full-time or part-time, and reasonable in terms of their health, so that they can actually get that work done well, safely, and accurately within the amount of time that they have,’ he said. The second factor, workplace control, refers to the amount of decision-making control that individuals are given to be able meet the demands of their work. Mr Bright says that an individual’s control is an even more important factor than the amount of work they have.


human resources management

Generate a culture where it’s okay to provide feedback in both directions, not just from management to staff, but staff to management as well ‘The more the individual has control over how they meet the demands of their work, the happier and less stressed they will be,’ he said. Employers need to develop a culture of trust in their workplace, which allows employees to have the confidence and control over completing the tasks of their work in their own way. The third factor, workplace support, involves both emotional support – paying attention to the emotional needs of the employees and treating them with

respect – and technical or physical support. Mr Bright said it’s vital to provide support for staff, ‘which can be anything from an ergonomic chair to having up-to-date software that actually works at a reasonable speed so people can get through their work.’ Communication is crucial to improving workplace culture. Mr Bright said it was necessary for managers to communicate to staff members and provide feedback on their progress. He said good communication assisted employees in gauging success in their role. Being open and forthcoming with feedback could help prevent staff feelings of anxiety. ‘Generate a culture where it’s okay to provide feedback in both directions, not just from management to staff, but staff to management as well,’ he said. ‘Small gestures such as recognising people’s birthdays with a card or a cake, or organising a dinner or a lunch can go a long way.’ A report last year from the Australian Productivity Commission found thousands of extra childcare staff will be needed under reforms to the sector. The federal government sets children-to-staff ratios, which need to be met by childcare operators. It is therefore imperative managers and team leaders implement strategies into their work environments to increase positive attitudes at their centres as more staff come into the childcare


human resources management

Where researchers have asked employees what they would like to see more of in workplaces, many respond with simple things like nice chairs and faster computers. But according to Mr Sullivan, a majority placed the greatest importance on more social events sector. It is more valuable for employers to keep staff turnover rates low, as training and inducting new staff can become costly. Mr Bright said workers who experienced more positive emotions at work and were more engaged, were the ones who were less likely to participate in withdrawal behaviours or leave. It is also more beneficial for the children to be surrounded by positive and familiar environments to minimise harm. ‘If staff become very stressed because of the conditions of their employment, they may become short-tempered, inattentive and may not spot hazards as easily,’ Mr Bright said. ‘You also start to see a whole bunch of negative behaviours in the workplace. For example, increased workplace accidents, increased workplace theft, increased interpersonal disputes in the workplace, lower levels of productivity, higher levels of absenteeism, higher levels of “presenteeism” – where employees turn up but they don’t actually do very much,’ said Mr Bright. Mr Sullivan said that while staff are responsible in some ways for how they behave at work, it’s often down to management to ensure the place of work has a good culture.


‘Management has a critical influence over the team and how the team feel. Emotions are so contagious,’ he said. ‘If the manger even looks a little bit upset, that can affect the team.’ ‘The biggest de-motivator of all is inept criticism from the boss. That will put negative emotions in the team more than anything else.’ Mr Bright argues management sometimes see their staff as an individual entity, which causes problems. ‘Get to know your staff, and understand what drives them. Not everyone will be motivated in the same way. Human beings aren’t like that. We don’t all like the same thing,’ he said. The key factor here is to address staff as individuals, something stressed in the educator-student relationship but perhaps forgotten amongst childcare professionals. Where researchers have asked employees what they would like to see more of in workplaces, many respond with simple things like nice chairs and faster computers. But according to Mr Sullivan, a majority placed the greatest importance on more social events. He said research showed 96 per cent of workers surveyed said going out with colleagues helped them build a better working environment. But one thing is certain to turn employees off: too many meetings. ‘Meetings can be a bane of people’s lives and can actually become a stressor themselves,’ said Mr Bright. ‘You can get into a culture of just endless meetings. There are different ways you can communicate information to people. Meetings that are reasonably regular, which could only be quarterly, are a good idea. But unless there is something clear and on the agenda that has to be discussed, it’s not always such a good idea.’ At the crux of it, happy employees are, well, happy. And beyond the obvious benefits to them it makes for a more effective work environment. Happier and engaged employees are more productive, more engaged and more attentive. The obvious advantages of low absenteeism and loyalty aside, a happy workplace is essentially important in creating a stable and positive environment in the childcare industry.

caring for babies + toddlers

Colic babies BY ADAM O’BRIEN

How do you deal with colic in childcare?


over four hours and may continue for several months, generally starting around or just before the six-week mark.

Continuous crying can cause tremendous distress for parents and childcare providers. But colic is often used as a label for many infants who are simply showing normal crying behaviours. Although constantly in flux, current wisdom states that colic-related pain is caused by excessive wind or reflux.

According to Ms Barker, a certain amount of crying is normal, despite the fact that all that fuss can make it sound as though something is wrong. ‘Wessel’s Criteria’, named after Yale professor of paediatrics Morris Wessel, is the traditional measure for colic behaviour: babies who cry for more than three hours a day, for three days in a row, for at least three weeks. If babies clearly exceed these parameters, a medical professional, ideally a paediatrician, should be consulted to eliminate any underlying ailment besides colic.

irstly, what is colic? A contentious issue, but according to Baby Love, the comprehensive baby how-to guide written by Robin Barker, a registered nurse, midwife and parentcraft nurse with 30 years’ experience with families and babies, ‘Colic is a general term which means acute paroxysmal pain’. The definition continues on to point out that ‘Nowhere else in medicine do we use the word ‘colic’ without describing the site of the pain – for example, renal colic, biliary colic, menstrual colic’, she said. Hence, ‘The word ‘colic’ as a diagnosis for a baby’s crying really means ‘This baby is crying a lot and we don’t know why’.’

Ms Barker said, ‘Babies cry, get red in the face and pull their knees up to their chest and can fart loudly, which is why colic is commonly associated with a pain in the gut.’ Instances of these attacks can last for

In the vast majority of situations, babies are healthy and developing normally. ‘eighty per cent of babies, within 24 hours, will have a period of time in the day when they are inconsolable,’ she said. This varies for all babies, but is often in the early evening or morning, which, thankfully for childcare providers, means that they are usually at their calmest during the day.

‘A care provider needs to understand the normal range of sleeping and crying babies do,’ said Ms Barker. ‘At that age they sleep around 12 to 14 hours out of 24 – less than what some people assume.’ Parents and providers try numerous ways to find the source of a baby’s crying by feeding, changing, rocking and cuddling, often to no avail. The real root cause of ‘colic’ is unknown. It may be due to swallowing excessive air, a reaction to a food, or simply a baby’s general adjustment. This hasn’t stopped the hunt for a cure. ‘When helping parents with crying babies, we’ve always wanted to call crying something, which [to the parents] means there is a cure,’ said Ms Barker, who isn’t fond of the term ‘colic’ as it’s a generalisation. ‘But talk to 10 healthcare professionals and they will all tell you something different, and if you include natural therapies, naturopaths and the like, well… In my 30 years of experience, no medication has had


caring for babies + toddlers

any prolonged effect.’ Oftentimes, medication acts as a placebo for the parents as much as an effective treatment for the baby. Ms Barker believes colic can sometimes be due to not sleeping, and the crying and fussing involved further prohibits sleep – a vicious cycle – so it seems that facilitating rest is a good starting point.

The Raising Children Network has some tips to help calm a colic baby: • Check if the baby’s comfortable – see if his nappy needs changing, or if he’s too hot or cold. • Offer a feed if you sense the baby might be hungry, or if the last feed was more than two hours ago. Sometimes a baby isn’t hungry but wants to suck. You could offer a pacifier. You could also encourage her to soothe herself by helping her find her own fingers or thumb to suck. • Speak softly to the baby, or sing to him, or play soft music. He might just want to know you’re nearby, or your voice might soothe him. • Gently rock or carry the baby in a baby carrier or sling – sometimes movement and closeness can soothe babies. • Some babies are bored and need the stimulation of being held, rocked or spoken to. But others seem to be easily overstimulated and need peace and quiet. Turn down the lights, and try to calm things down. Some babies like low-level background noise. • Try baby massage – has a video demonstration of baby massage as well as an illustrated guide. • Try to establish a pattern to feeding and settling, so a baby knows what to expect and can develop some self-regulating abilities. (Consult parents to get an idea of what’s been established.) These approaches won’t magically stop a baby from crying, but they might make things easier and more bearable until your baby gets older and can tell you what he needs. Various strategies will help different babies. Also, something that worked well one day might not work the next day – you might have to try something different. You can try these approaches in any order. You can also experiment to see which ones are most likely to help your particular situation. If one of these strategies doesn’t work after a while, try another.

Things that probably won’t work: Drugs have a very limited place in the modern management of colic. There’s no evidence that babies suffer from wind or intestinal spasm, so colic mixtures have no logical or scientific basis. They aren’t recommended as a substitute for – or as an addition – to the strategies listed above. The things that are likely to work and that cause no harm to your baby are physical rather than pharmacological. ‘My advice to childcare workers would be to communicate to parents [that drugs should be avoided],’ added Ms Barker. Changing what mum is eating (if breastfeeding) or changing the formula (if bottle-feeding) aren’t generally helpful. There’s very little evidence that babies are allergic to a particular type of milk, or to substances that mum eats and passes to baby in the breastmilk. True milk allergy is uncommon, and changes of formula can be demoralising for parents – and, in most cases, quite unhelpful to the baby. Occasionally, mums will notice a change in their baby’s behaviour after they’ve eaten something in particular. If this occurs, this substance is best avoided. But changes in the diet of mum or baby are rarely helpful as a treatment for crying and fussing. Ms Barker recoiled at the mention of the dreaded ‘controlled crying’ method, where babies are left to cry themselves to sleep. ‘I don’t believe you can do that with babies, controlled crying, especially within the first six months,’ she said. ‘But leaving the baby to cry for 10 to 20 minutes doesn’t hurt the baby. It’s certainly not to teach a lesson, it’s just that sometimes there’s nothing else to do.’ A major part of dealing with a colic baby for a care worker is also dealing with the baby’s parents. ‘Peopleskill counselling is a big part of it,’ Ms Barker noted. Often parents feel frustrated and helpless. Positive words of encouragement that the behaviour usually does not last beyond four months and that their child is healthy can be reassuring to parents. Directing them to talk to other parents who have experienced similar circumstances can also be helpful. At the end of the day, babies are going to cry, and cry with gusto, but cooler heads will prevail. The calmer parents and care workers are the better for all concerned. ‘Be honest but reassuring about a baby’s behaviour on that day,’ said Ms Barker. ‘Don’t panic the parents. Point out the nice things about their baby.’ Baby Love, By Robin Barker, Pan Macmillan Australia, pb RRP $35.99 The Raising Children Network,


caring for babies + toddlers

caring for babies + toddlers

Bublove™ – your pregnancy every step of the way


e used to wait for the second trimester ultrasound to get a glimpse of what was going on inside a pregnant belly. Apps have changed all that. Imagine tapping your iPhone and watching the weekly progress of your pregnancy, from what’s happening to your body to how your baby is growing? There are hundreds of pregnancy apps around, but this is one with a difference. Bublove™ Pregnancy by Epworth Freemasons is the first pregnancy app in Australia to be developed by a maternity hospital – Victoria’s biggest private maternity hospital at that (more than 3500 babies are born there each year). Bublove™ includes great tools – a pregnancy journal, appointment list and reminders, a comprehensive baby name list, important phone numbers and profiles of obstetricians and specialists. It even has a contraction timer, so nervous partners


can have lots of practice before arriving at the hospital for the big event! For mums, it is easy to use and contains some great graphics to keep people informed about what’s happening in there. It’s an exciting time that can be shared with partners/grandparents/ the baby’s older brothers and sisters, and friends. It’s FREE for everyone and available at the App store from September.


play area areadesigns designs play

Top design for happy children Timberplay specialise in designing, constructing and delivering natural play environments for childcare centres and playgrounds.


nhancing positive play areas through nature play encourages children’s development, and that is Timberplay’s goal and we are voted number one because we provide top design, sustainable quality, installation and most of all, happy children! With our considerable range of knowledge, skills and experience, our playground designers work closely with you to help you identify and deliver the very best outdoor play and activity solutions. Timberplay specialise in the installation of Timberplay specialist play equipment for the child care industry.

Benefits of nature International research shows that contact with nature is associated with positive physical and mental health for children, as it supports their personal and social development.

Childcare centres Timberplay understands the implications of the new Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Early Childhood Education and Care Quality reforms. We can walk you through any compliance requirements. Timberplay has earned a fantastic reputation for creating natural play environments for childcare centres, schools and homes all over the country. Our natural playgrounds establish an inspiring setting for young children to explore, create and learn, where children of different abilities can invent and direct the focus of their own play through open-ended activities and learn together in age-appropriate play. By using natural play equipment and creative thinking, we offer our clients the best possible playground solution, tailored to their area, children and budget. Timberplay specialise in working with your team of landscapers and we have extensive experience managing the whole design profile including


landscaping, soft fall and sail shades so that your play area is completed by one company. Calvin is also a certified playground inspector – take a look at his certificate on our website.

Our approach to education So when you choose Timberplay for your childcare centre, you are assured of a well-constructed, durable and safe product for children. Kids should enjoy being kids and you should feel confident that they’re safe when playing. That’s why a Timberplay playground is a great addition to your outdoor space. For further information go to or call 07 5503 0692

Five reasons to choose Timberplay: •

Timberplay is a leading supplier of Australian-designed, premium-built, quality, safe and fun playground equipment for the childcare industry.

Timberplay has a wide variety of standard designs or can custom design to suit your specific childcare centre.

Timberplay has extensive experience partnering with architects and childcare centre owners.

Timberplay meet and exceeds all Australian standards and design manufacturing codes.

Timberplay will deliver Australia-wide with the option of self-installation or experienced professional installers.

play area designs

The great outdoors BY MEGAN MCGAY

The outside play space is not just a place for children to run and throw balls, it should also offer them an area to contemplate, socialise and challenge themselves.


hildcare directors need to consider the outdoor play space equally with the indoor play space, an early childhood expert said.

Early childhood education senior lecturer at the Australian Catholic University, and editor of The Outdoor

I think in early childhood we recognise that indoor and outdoor learning environments are equally important

Digging patch at Lady Gowrie, Melbourne


Playspace Naturally, Sue Elliott said children needed access to outdoor environments for sustained and engaged play. ‘I think in early childhood we recognise that indoor and outdoor learning environments are equally important. It’s not a case, as in schools, where some people perceive that the real learning occurs indoors; in early childhood, [they are] equally valid learning environments, with much to offer young children in terms of their learning and play.’ Ms Elliott said often the outdoor area was given less consideration in new centre planning. ‘I’ve seen too many instances where an architect has been involved and they didn’t have an understanding of early childhood, and their emphasis was often on the indoor areas. By the time they reached the outdoor areas, there was no thought put into the design, it was unworkable and there was no money left to do anything much,’ she said.

play area designs

A textured path provides a sensory experience

Early childhood outdoor play builds both emotional and physical skills of young children. ‘The outdoors contributes to their physical development: their coordination skills, their stamina and their spatial awareness. For many children it’s also a part of their social and emotional wellbeing,’ she said. Ms Elliott remarked that educators often state that children interact and socialise differently when they are outside compared to inside. If the centre provides good challenges for the children, then they ‘are also developing skills such as resilience and risk management as part of playing outside,’ she said. Ms Elliott coordinated the book on outdoor play areas after noticing a trend towards synthetic environments in new centres. One of her greatest concerns is the use of rubber surfaces. ‘More often than not, educators have a negative story about the problem with synthetic surfaces and it is a big issue. The South Australian Department of Health put out a heat hazard warning a couple of years ago in relation to synthetic surfaces, because they can become very hot and burn children. So that’s a major safety issue with rubber surfaces.’ She said there were further concerns with its rebound ability. ‘Research by Associate Professor David Eager from the University of Technology, Sydney, shows that rubber surfaces have too much bounce, so when children fall on them, there is a rebound that you don’t get from tanbark surfaces. And what David Eager is suggesting is that rebound is causing long bone fractures.’

I have many anecdotes of what’s happening in centres in relation to synthetic surfaces, and they are all negative, so we need to move away from them and back to tanbark Ms Elliott cited further issues with drainage, cracking and crumbling of wet-pour rubber surfaces. ‘I have many anecdotes of what’s happening in centres in relation to synthetic surfaces, and they are all negative, so we need to move away from them and back to tanbark.’ Ms Elliott has been pleased with recent regulations that require natural elements in outdoor play spaces. She said centres need to review what natural elements they can incorporate in their setting, such as potted plants, hay bales, or mobile trays of gravel and dirt. She said adding these natural features will help soften the synthetic materials of outdoor spaces.


play area designs

Ms Elliott said her concerns about synthetic materials were shared by her colleagues. ‘There are a number of people in early childhood and in landscape design who are concerned about the way we are creating outdoor play spaces; the spaces are becoming more generic and synthetic and not giving children the best opportunities for learning through play outside.’ She said a lack of creativity and innovation meant some centres were sticking a sandpit in the corner and a climbing frame in the middle. ‘That’s not enough to engage children and it doesn’t reflect some of the principles and theories around what outdoor play is about and how it should be promoted’ she said. Ms Elliott was concerned that the increase in synthetic play areas was a result of minimising risk for children. She said natural surrounds provided challenges for children and an opportunity for staff to engage in a dialogue with them about risk management. Following her visits to forest preschools in the United Kingdom and Denmark, where young

children spend up to six hours a day in extreme weather conditions, Ms Elliott noticed a shift towards involving children in risk management. ‘A staff member might be talking to a child and asking, “how can we climb this tree?”, “do you think it is a safe tree to climb?”, “what is the best way to get on to the tree?”, and “how high should we be climbing?”’. Ms Elliott said the children were learning to look for insect damage in trees and whether the branches were thicker than their arms to gauge the trees’ strength. She said these processes involved them in risk management and taking measured risks. ‘The argument is that it is far better involving children in the risk management process in an early childhood setting or in a school than when they are 18, driving a car and drinking.’ Trees are not the only attributes to a functional, challenging, natural setting. In her book, Ms Elliott highlighted the beauty of indigenous gardens, meandering and tactile paths and specifying particular areas for different purposes. ‘To me a beautiful play space is one that is dominated by natural elements, has lots of opportunities for children to manipulate materials, and has a malleability or a flexibility that children can engage with, so it becomes a dynamic space.’ Ms Elliott said increasing wildlife to the area will also encourage sustained play for children. ‘Making use of indigenous planting will encourage local wildlife and increase the biodiversity of the area as well as create lots of opportunities for different learning experiences with children.’ Including natural slopes and textured paths will also help children to develop their physical skills, and sensory integration processes. ‘What you are trying to

Trickle stream decorated with pebbles and hardy plants


The argument is that it is far better involving children in the risk management process in an early childhood setting or in a school than when they are 18, driving a car and drinking

play area designs

do outside is build up the sensory repertoire of children, and it’s important paths have surfaces which have some texture to them, because it supports children’s sensory integration.’ Ms Elliott has been concerned by the potential impacts of children growing up in an environment filled with only flat asphalt and synthetic surfaces. Another key development tool for the outdoor area is delineating between active, open and quiet areas. Ms Elliott cited early childhood consultant Prue Walsh’s work, on the different spaces required in early childhood outdoor play settings. ‘When you look at an outdoor play space, you need to identify that you have open, active and quiet areas for children, so that you are meeting a diversity of play needs and play opportunities for children.’

A manual water pump provides a simple technology experience

Open areas are often flat surfaces with grass, paving or compacted granitic sand. Ms Elliott said the open area needed a lot of flexibility so children could play a ball game, run, or create a low obstacle course. She said it could also be used for block-building and creating cubbies. The active area is typically a climbing area. It requires a soft-fall surface and good vantage

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play area designs

points around it for supervision. Ms Elliott said it was important to define spaces well so that play in one area doesn’t intrude on the play in another. Ms Elliott said that without borders to define open areas, the broad outdoor space communicates “run” to children, who then run from one end to the other. Having those defined smaller spaces or multi-habitats is important, and a strong feature of good designs. The areas could be separated with garden beds, pot plants, hay bales and native grasses. ‘And that way you achieve a more harmonious outdoor play space and you’re not creating potential safety issues for children,’ she said. Unlike the active and open areas in an outdoor setting, quiet areas tend to be semi-enclosed. A garden bed or some bushes could delineate the quiet areas and help reduce the size of them. In these smaller areas, children’s social interactions and language skills are promoted. ‘You might plan to have a water trough outside, but you need an area where children can be

and how that will work with the physical space you are dealing with and how that interacts with the indoor space as well.’ Ms Elliott advised centre directors to create a mudmap for any redevelopment or retrofitting of their current setting. She said often the best approach for redevelopment was identifying key areas and changing slowly, so as not to impact on the rest of the play area. Ms Elliott said there were two Australian public gardens that could help provide inspiration for early childhood settings: The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, and Rio Tinto Naturescape in King’s Park, Perth. Ms Elliott was previously a sessional educator at the Botanic Gardens and said they were inspiring at an international standard. ‘Looking at the garden can offer lots of ideas about how to create natural play spaces for children. It’s well worth a visit.’

Ms Elliott said that without borders to define open areas, the broad outdoor space communicates “run” to children more focussed on that sensory experience so having a quiet area gives you a place to put that. You might also decide to have a painting easel out another day; you’re not going to put it out in an open area, where there are potentially ball games – you’ll put it in a quiet area because it supports the contemplation and intense concentration that painting requires,’ said Ms Elliott. Ms Elliott said centre directors should speak to early childhood staff about their thoughts on what should be part of the outdoor space and seek local inspiration: ‘have a look at some good early childhood outdoor play spaces in the local area to get some ideas.’ Ms Elliott said part of the outdoor creation process was making a mud map with the ideas for the play space. ‘Take note of the prevailing weather conditions, the aspect, the geography, and the landscape and work out what sort of play elements you want to put in there


Climbing rope for children to experience calculated risks at The University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre Abbotsford

play area designs

A quiet area to contemplate

A varied topography will help create an ideal outdoor setting. ‘Sometimes there is a perception that if you have a slope in an outdoor play space then it must be flattened... If you work with the local landscape, slopes can be used to great advantage,’ she said. Features such as vegetable gardens, indigenous plants or bush tucker plants are other ways to increase enjoyment outside. Ms Elliott said to consider digging patches and sandpits with natural borders, and trickle streams because of their ability to engage many children. Features that provide malleable materials,

Sometimes there is a perception that if you have a slope in an outdoor play space then it must be flattened... If you work with the local landscape, slopes can be used to great advantage

physical and sensory experiences will hold the attention of children and create sustained and engaged play. ‘If you put the effort into designing the play space and working with the plants and the local geography, then you’ll create those sorts of opportunities for children,’ she said. Creating natural shade throughout the outdoor area is another way to increase the natural elements in the space. ‘Putting money into planting mature trees and putting them in the right positions, strategically, will help maximise shade. Or using pergolas with deciduous creepers over them can also work quite well,’ she said. Ms Elliott said shade sails could complement the space but it was important not to rely solely on them. ‘Some areas will need shade sails but think about the number of poles you are introducing... If you’ve already got a verandah with poles and the shade sails have four poles, then you end up with lots and lots of poles that can restrict what you can be doing in that outdoor play space.’ Ms Elliott said to consider putting pot plants around poles instead of padding, to create a more natural environment. She also suggested attaching wind chimes to a pole to make it a more interactive part of the play space. For further information: The outdoor playspace naturally: for children birth to five years, Edited by Sue Elliott, published by Pademelon Press, Rio Tinto Naturescape Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden Images courtesy of Pademelon Press


play area areadesigns designs play

One-stop shop for sustainable cleaning Taren Cleaning Supplies is a leading supplier of compliant and affordable products to the childcare sector. Taren offers a wide range of cleaning products and consumables that meet, where possible, all industry and legislated requirements. Taren also offers solutions to meet QA2 with regards to hazard reduction and safety. These include: • screen printed bottles for all supplied products – no more label breaches! • MSDS and wall charts • child-resistant caps on all liquid products • safe sandpit sanitising options • wipes with MSDS – many centres do not have these. Wipes and sunscreen are two of the most hazardous products you have at your centre as you put these directly onto the child’s skin! • fridge thermometers and colour-coded chopping boards.


aren currently supplies around 1500 centres nationally.

Taren has a full online ordering facility for each customer, with secure login and password for each account. What sets Taren apart from other suppliers is its understanding of the New National Childcare Framework – specifically offering solutions and suggestions for QA2 and QA3 of the framework. To assist centres with embedding environmentally sustainable solutions into their service and meeting QA3, Taren offers: • recyclable containers for all products • phosphate-free or low-phosphate products • all products non-hazardous and biodegradable • scheduled ordering – reducing the number of deliveries per annum, thus reducing your carbon footprint • Invoicing and statements sent electronically – no paper or postage! • recycled garbage bags and toilet paper options.


Taren founder and National Sales Manager Murray Stanton says: ‘Taren Cleaning Supplies was created to meet the ever-growing needs of the childcare sector. ‘With the constant need to meet all the legislative and National Childcare Framework Regulations, Taren sets out to provide an affordable, sustainable yet compliant list of products to the sector. ‘To have the convenience of ordering “online” was a must. ‘We now also supply online training as part of our package at no cost to all our account customers. ‘We are now establishing relationships with many of the industry’s peak bodies to assist us with staying up to date with developments within this sector. ‘Please give us a try. Our friendly team is always willing to assist and we believe our customer service is the best in the business. We are a “one-stop-shop” reducing time placing orders and office administration. I am sure you will not be disappointed!’ Please go to and set up your account online! 10 per cent storewide discount to all readers!

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Whooping cough update Is whooping cough still at epidemic proportions?


ecent budget cuts to the whooping cough vaccine in Australia could imply that the epidemic is under control, but the Australian Medical Association (AMA) said the illness is still affecting a massive part of the population. AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said there is a peak in whooping cough (pertussis) every three to four years and recent statistics indicated 2011 was the epidemic’s peak year. He hopes Australia is now recovering from the worst of it: ‘We won’t know that the numbers are starting to fall until later in the year.’ In 2011, 38,600 cases of pertussis were recorded. Prior to the epidemic, just 4800 were notified in 2007. Approximately one in every 200 babies under six months will die from whooping cough, and others will survive with permanent brain or lung damage. Eight babies have died from the illness since 2008. Babies are considered to be protected from pertussis after their third vaccination at six months. Dr Hambleton said early figures showed pertussis was still within epidemic proportions. ‘Despite the fact that we hope we are at a turning point in the incidence of the disease, the amount of whooping cough we’re seeing from January, February and March of this year is still well and truly above every single year that was recorded going back to 1991, apart from the last few years. It has fallen and we hope that trend continues, but there is a lot of whooping cough still in the community,’ he said. Dr Hambleton said the cocoon theory was most effective at protecting young babies from the illness.


Whooping cough (or pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory infection that begins with flu-like symptoms such as a blocked or runny nose, sneezing, mild fever and mild cough. Thick, sticky mucus can develop in the windpipe, which makes it difficult to eat, drink and breathe. Whooping cough was called the 100-day cough because of its lingering effect on people

‘If you have a young baby who’s actually susceptible, then vaccinate the parents, grandparents and adults that are going to be intimately exposed to the baby. You can cocoon the child while you are vaccinating the child and bringing its immunity up, to avoid infecting the child.’ State health departments had offered free pertussis vaccines to parents of young babies in an effort to stem the latest epidemic. Following the Victorian Government’s cessation of funding for the adult pertussis vaccine, the New South Wales Government limited their supply to only mothers of babies under two weeks of age from 30 June, 2012. Similarly, the Queensland Government cut funding to all adult caregivers, including parents, from the end-of-financialyear. Regardless of subsidies, Dr Hambleton said all medical practitioners, parents, grandparents and carers of children under 12 months should be vaccinated and revaccinated every 10 years. He said

child safety

immunity was difficult to measure: whooping cough sufferers may be immune from further bouts for 10 to 20 years but vaccinated people may only have immunity for less than 10. ‘We’ve certainly had cases of whooping cough in children that have been fully vaccinated, and the two questions you have to ask are: how effective is the vaccine, and how long does it last?’ he said. New Queensland research measured the efficacy of the current vaccine, introduced in 1999, and found it was contributing to more pertussis infections. The joint study found that children vaccinated against whooping cough with the current vaccine, were three times more likely to develop the highly contagious respiratory infection than children who received the vaccine, prior to 1999. The University of Queensland, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute (QCMRI) and the Royal Children’s Hospital findings were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in August 2012. Although known to be safer than its predecessor, results from the study conducted by QCMRI researcher Dr Sarah Sheridan showed the current vaccine is less effective. QCMRI Senior Research Fellow Associate Professor Stephen Lambert said the new vaccine for whooping cough had been introduced in 1999 into Australia’s national immunisation schedule because it was found to have fewer side effects than the previous vaccine.

Associate Professor Lambert said there were a number of important messages from the new research for both clinicians and parents. ‘The message for clinicians is not to exclude whooping cough as a diagnosis just because a child has had all of their vaccines,’ he said. ‘And for parents, they should be reassured that vaccination still offers the best protection against developing whooping cough. Infants who aren’t vaccinated have a much greater risk of contracting the disease and developing serious complications.’


child safety

Whooping cough is very infectious and around 80 per cent of people in the immediate vicinity, who are susceptible, will actually get [it] Better testing and recognition of the illness had helped practitioners to pick up cases in children that were not showing the classic ‘whoop’ (the inhalation noise following a long coughing bout). ‘Some children don’t whoop, they just get apnoea. That’s a terrible thing that happens with whooping cough. If you’ve heard a child gasping for breath because of the coughing, you’ll never forget it,’ Dr Hambleton said. Associate Professor Lambert said that before 1998, the whooping cough vaccine was made up of whole cells of the dead Bordetella pertussis bacteria. ‘While it was generally a highly effective vaccine, it commonly caused local reactions such as redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site, and less frequently caused systemic adverse events such as fever and prolonged crying,’ he said. In 1998, an acellular vaccine, comprising less parts of the pertussis bacteria, was introduced with fewer side effects and what was thought to have roughly similar efficacy. The QCMRI study looked at more than 40,000 Queensland children born in 1998 who were vaccinated against whooping cough. It found that those treated with a full course of the newer vaccine were three times more likely to have developed whooping cough in the current outbreak than those who received the previous whole cell vaccine. ‘The increase in risk associated with the switch to an acellular vaccine is small, representing about one extra case of whooping cough each year for every 500 fully vaccinated children,’ Associate Professor Lambert said. Associate Professor Lambert warned however, that it was still absolutely critical that all parents made sure their children were vaccinated against the serious disease. ‘We know from Queensland data that the 90 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1 2012

current acellular vaccine is still highly effective, and those who are unlucky enough to get whooping cough after being vaccinated will have a milder illness for a shorter period of time, and be less infectious to others than those who have not received the vaccine,’ Associate Professor Lambert said. ‘But these findings could go some way to explaining why we are currently seeing a resurgence of pertussis in younger age groups in Australia.’ Dr Hambleton noted the pertussis outbreak was difficult to manage because of its infection rate potency. ‘Whooping cough is very infectious and around 80 per cent of people in the immediate vicinity, who are susceptible, will actually get [it]. Coughing spasms are the clue; babies, for example, might have 20 to 30 coughing spasms a day. Older children have slightly different coughing fits, but it’s a repeated cough that goes on and on,’ he said. Dr Hambleton said it was critical to confirm a diagnosis early in the coughing period, with the infectious period passing within the first few weeks.

child safety

child safety

Driveway safety campaign


ince 2000, 14 young children have died as a result of a vehicle being accidentally reversed over them in their family driveways; and more than 80 young children with non-fatal injuries have been admitted to the Royal Children’s Hospital Trauma Service. On 24 July 2012, the Victorian Minister for Community Services, the Hon Mary Wooldridge, MP, launched a driveway safety campaign. The campaign’s key message, Just because you can’t see me, doesn’t mean I’m not here, is designed to remind parents of children under the age of six, of how invisible a child can be behind a vehicle. The call to action, Never reverse unless you know where they are, is designed to help parents make sure they know where children are safely located before they reverse a vehicle in their driveway.


‘I am now seeking the assistance of the early childhood sector to promote the campaign’s important messages, through displaying the campaign’s poster at centres, where it can be seen by the parents of young children. ‘I have directly emailed children’s services and provided them with a pdf copy of the poster in addition to information about how to order copies of the poster through our free online orders at ‘The campaign involves a partnership between my office, The Royal Children’s Hospital, VicRoads, Victoria Police, RACV, TAC, Kidsafe and the MAV.’ Bernie Geary OAM Child Safety Commissioner


Kids die in driveways. 92% of runovers occur at home. A parent or family friend is usually the driver.

Never reverse until you know where they are.


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hat’s why we offer a comprehensive and affordable range of hygiene services – at a quality you can always count on. Our solutions can be tailored to meet your specific needs; our customer service is efficient, timely and hassle-free; and our professional and friendly team are always on-hand 24/7 for emergency call outs. Our products and services are delivered with total reliability by a professional and caring team that will never let you down. It’s a simple formula that means you can get back to business as usual, with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re in good hands.

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child safety

Protecting small feet Enforcing your shoe policy will help protect vulnerable bones.


he first few years of a child’s foot development are critical, as the feet are formed from soft, pliable cartilage.

Paediatric podiatrist at Children’s Podiatry Clinic Melissa Biedak said, ‘Due to a child’s increased flexibility, the soft cartilage can easily be bent out of shape, which makes them susceptible to deformation from abnormal pressure. This pressure can be as simple as a sock that is too small causing toes to curl, or a poorly fitting shoe that bends the foot out of shape or causes in-growing toenails.’ She said all babies’ feet will look flat at birth due to a fat pad in the arch area. ‘Then the foot and leg muscles develop with standing and walking. Most children will learn to walk between eight and 18 months of age and usually arches will form between the ages of two and five.’ A child’s foot develops rapidly and it is necessary to change shoe and sock sizes regularly to allow the feet to grow without impediment. A general rule is every two to four months.

As no two children’s feet develop at the same time or have the same structure, children’s shoes should always be brand-new. ‘Hand-me-down shoes can cause balance difficulties, foot abnormalities and postural problems. The bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted or distorted without the child being aware of it,’ said Ms Biedak. In a childcare setting, regardless of the weather, children’s feet must be protected. Ms Biedak said bare feet are susceptible to splinters from bark chips and wooden play equipment, injuries, and even the verrucae (wart) virus or fungal infections. Children who have balance issues or walking (gait) problems and are constantly tripping and falling can be at increased risk of injuries such as sprained ankles and bruised toes. ‘Most often I recommend a children’s runner for childcare or an enclosed sandal. Generally they are easy to wear and affordable. Fashion shoes such as ballet flats and crocs should be avoided for all day, everyday activity, and thongs should never be worn,’ she said. Footwear should be checked every two to four months for the growing child. Ms Biedak’s tips on choosing the appropriate footwear are: • Choose a breathable, lightweight material. Soft leather is best. Avoid extremely stiff leather shoes, which impede foot development, and synthetic shoes, which don’t breathe. • Bend the soles. A great shoe for children will only bend at the toes and have a non-skid rubber sole with ridges, offering good traction. • Velcro or laced shoes are preferable. These allow for easy adjustments as your child’s foot grows, and ensures the shoe will not slip off during play or activities. • Always check the fit. Have the child stand up and ensure that you are able to have 14 millimetres or a thumb’s distance between your child’s longest


child safety

Despite the trend of ballet flats in children’s shoes, Ms Biedak said they are not appropriate for childcare. ‘Ballet flats with the “easy slip-on, no laces approach” are quite popular. I do not believe they are appropriate for childcare and everyday wear.’ She said the use of ballet flats should be controlled and minimal. Eliminating a particular ‘type’ of shoe can ruin a child’s relationship with wearing shoes and also become a daily battle for some parents, and therefore boundaries need to be set for their use.

Ballet flats create problems for a child’s gait due to their lack of support, making it more difficult for them to walk

toe and the front of the shoe. You should also be able to put your little finger between the child’s heel and back of the shoe. If your child’s toe or foot is hanging over the edge of the sole, the shoe is too narrow and is inappropriate. • Children’s shoes should not need a ‘breaking-in’ period. Let your child walk around the shop in the shoes to see if they are comfortable. When taking the shoes off, check for any irritated areas on the foot. In summer, sandals are a popular choice for children at childcare; however, some sandals are better than others. ‘A sandal in younger children should have an enclosed heel, good support around the midfoot and forefoot via velcro straps, with a sole that will only bend at the toes,’ said Ms Biedak. ‘In younger children, sandals that only offer a strap as support at the heel can be quite destabilising and cause the child to trip or claw their toes to keep balanced.’


Ballet flats create problems for a child’s gait due to their lack of support, making it more difficult for the child to walk. ‘This lack of support can cause balance issues, increased tripping, a shuffled gait, clawed toes, corns, calluses and blisters, and even juvenile bunions. Continual daily wear of ballet flats significantly increases these risks, therefore it’s best to avoid them in a childcare setting,’ she said. Another popular shoe choice is the rubber-made Crocs. Similar to ballet flats, they do not provide enough support for growing feet. ‘Whilst Crocs may have some therapeutic benefits for adults, they are questionable as everyday wear for children’s feet. Children require foot support while their feet are growing, and unfortunately Crocs do not deliver this,’ she said. Crocs lose their stability when wet, increasing the likelihood of tripping incidents. Ms Biedak said childcare directors can review their shoe policy to ensure it protects feet and aims to guide a child’s balance and stability. ‘This will have a twofold benefit for both children and the childcare centre by decreasing the number of injuries directly to the foot from tripping/falling, in addition to stopping the transmission of warts and fungal infections.’ She said caregivers could encourage parents to purchase shoes with a gripping sole that only bends at the toes, a supportive enclosed heel counter (no slip-on shoes, thongs or shoes that do not support the child’s heel and easily become deformed), Velcro or laces across the top of the foot, made of breathable material, and a shoe that is lightweight.

child safety

Developing a lifetime habit Teach young children to be SunSmart now and saves lives in the future.


ustralia, along with New Zealand, has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. In Australia, one in two people will develop skin cancer by age 85. Childcare centres not only have a responsibility to protect children and babies’ sensitive skin from sunburn and skin damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, but they must also take the opportunity to teach sun protection behaviours to the next generation and ultimately help reduce the burden of skin cancer in Australia in years to come. Exposure in childhood can greatly increase the risk of developing skin cancer – a disease that kills over 1800 Australians every year – later in life. The good news is that skin cancer is largely preventable.

How can you protect the children in your care? • Minimise time spent outdoors during peak UV periods.

• Peak UV periods vary depending on where you live in Australia. During summer in southern parts of Australia, and all year round in the north, minimise outdoor activity between 11am and 3pm when the UV level is high, and make sure children and staff, alike are wearing sunscreen and sun protective clothing whenever they’re outside. • In winter in southern parts of Australia, where UV radiation levels are usually below three, sun protection isn’t necessarily needed. Always check the UV alert issued by the Bureau of Meteorology in newspapers, on or, or download an app for your smartphone from • If you are concerned about children getting enough sun to produce vitamin D, know that in Australia most children can produce enough vitamin D through incidental sun exposure during their day-to-day activities outside of peak UV radiation periods.


child safety

Use shade for outdoor play Staying in the shade is one of the most effective ways to reduce exposure to the sun because it blocks or filters UV rays. However, shade doesn’t guarantee total protection, so other sun protection methods such as SunSmart clothing, hats and sunscreen are still needed.

Wear SunSmart hats Wearing a hat with a six-centimetre brim can substantially reduce the amount of UV radiation reaching a child’s neck, ears, temple, lips, face and nose, all common sites for skin cancer later in life. Staff should wear broad-brimmed hats with a brim of at least 7.5 centimetres. Baseball caps and sun visors don’t protect the neck, ears and cheeks and are not recommended.

Wear SunSmart clothing Clothing protects the skin by providing a barrier between the sun’s UV radiation and the skin. Staff and children should wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible, especially the shoulders and back. Recommended clothing for both children and staff: • loose-fitting shirts or dresses, with collars and sleeves • trousers or longer style shorts and skirts.

Apply SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen before going outside Sunscreen protects exposed skin that can’t be covered with clothing. Liberally apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours.

Use sunscreen that: • has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30+. The SPF tells you the level of protection. SPF 50+ sunscreen will be available within the next year; however, it offers little more protection than SPF 30+ so the Cancer Council will continue to recommend using SPF30+, which provides sufficient protection when applied correctly. • is broad-spectrum and water-resistant. Broadspectrum sunscreen blocks out UVA and UVB rays, both of which contribute to skin damage, sunburn and skin ageing. For more information visit


Make your sun protection measures official The SunSmart Early Childhood Program is a free and successful national program run by Cancer Councils in each state and territory. It supports childcare services to develop and implement a sun protection policy that reduces children’s exposure to UV radiation and reduces the risk of skin cancer. Hundreds of childcare services across Australia have already become SunSmart.

The SunSmart program can help your service to: • develop a best practice policy • develop a comprehensive policy so you can be confident you are providing a safe environment; you may already have a sun protection policy, but is it up-to-date and does it cover all the strategies it should? The SunSmart program can help you.

Meet licencing and accreditation requirements The Department of Community Services and the National Childcare Accreditation Council refer childcare services to the Cancer Council for information and advice about their sun protection policy.

Show your commitment Becoming officially SunSmart is a great way to show families and the community that you are committed to sun protection. SunSmart services receive a large metal sign to display, which recognises and promotes your work in sun protection.

Stay up-to-date SunSmart services receive newsletters, resources and information for staff, families and children, and ongoing support from the Cancer Council’s SunSmart team. For more information on the SunSmart Early Childhood Program in your state or territory, please call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

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