Childcare Union: Coag Reforms Encouraging But Falls Short Of Best Practice

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8th December 2009, 01:35pm - Views: 969
COAG decision on childcare encouraging but falls short of best practice, says childcare union

LHMU the childcare union says yesterday's agreement by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on childcare reform is a significant step forward.

Sue Lines, LHMU Assistant National Secretary says "This decision by COAG means families and childcare professionals can look forward to a higher quality standard in early childhood education and care (ECEC).

"However, we are disappointed COAG has not gone far enough on several critical areas leaving Australia still short of evidenced-based best practice, including staff to child ratios, the time frame for implementation of the reforms, and wages - the ever present elephant in the childcare room.

"COAG's new staff to child ratios fall short of best practice:

Birth to 24 months
Best Practice - 1:3
COAG decision - 1:4 by 2012

25 - 35 months
Best Practice - 1:4
COAG decision - 1:5 by 2016

36 months to school age
Best Practice - 1:8
COAG decision - 1:11 by 2016

"This is a surprising decision. Many providers are already operating successfully with best practice ratios. We are also disappointed in the long implementation period. Australian Governments and the community need to decide when Australia can afford best practice ECEC. It should be soon.

"We wonder if this decision was influenced by a few organisations out of step with sector and community views. Quality education and care for Australia's children is important. The cost to parents is minimal and parents have said they are willing to make the investment in their children's future. It is disappointing children may be missing out because of the scare tactics of a minority.

"COAG has decided on a new minimum entry qualification of a Certificate III. Also, at least 50% of staff will have to have a Diploma level qualification. This is definitely a big step in the right direction. It will move the sector from two-thirds of staff having no formal qualifications to the entire workforce holding an appropriate qualification by 2014.

"We welcome this change for which childcare professionals have fought long and hard. It is now important the Government assist 40,000 existing experienced childcare staff gain appropriate qualifications.

"Childcare professionals look forward to working with all of Australia's Governments on implementing these reforms and on continued universal improvements to our childcare sector," says Sue Lines.

Contact: Nada Vlatko - 0425 242 691


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