New membership benefit

The IEU has partnered with the Teacher Learning Network (TLN) to provide access to free Professional Development (PD) for NSW/ACT members. TLN has been providing PD to teachers for more than 20 years and specialises in early childhood education.

This member only benefit is valued at $250 but now comes as part of your NSW/ACT IEU membership as an early childhood member. Many TLN courses are registered with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and will count towards your maintenance of accreditation. We will be emailing you details of how to access TLN PD over the next few weeks so watch your inbox. Let your colleagues know that the IEU is committed to providing professional services to our professional members.

IEU members in Queensland can also access TLN professional development opportunities. TLN operates on a membership basis and all kindergartens and early childhood services can join TLN and access the online courses. When a kindergarten or early childhood service joins then all staff in that centre can access TLN courses free of charge. It simplifies the process, where just one payment covers access to all courses. Membership is $350 for 12 months. Most TLN programs are offered online and so are readily accessible wherever you live in Australia (many schools in Queensland already make use of TLN online courses). Go to www.tln.org.au for the full list of 2017 courses and to join TLN, or email our early childhood specialist, Max Grarock, for more information mgrarock@tln.org.au

New NSW minister

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has named Sarah Mitchell as her new Early Childhood Minister in NSW. Ms Mitchell was previously Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Health and Western NSW. The Nationals MP is the second person to hold this relatively new portfolio in NSW, taking over from Leslie Williams. On leaving Ms Williams said she was proud to be leaving the Starting Strong initiative in place in NSW.

Ms Mitchell is also the Minster for Aboriginal Affairs and Assistant Minister for Education. Her background in rural Australia may give Ms Mitchell insight into some of the challenges facing preschools in rural and regional Australia.

NSW still has the highest childcare costs in the country, and problems around the Starting Strong funding in preschools, a long way to go to closing the gap and of course providing pay parity for early childhood teachers with school teachers. The IEU looks forward to a good working relationship with Ms Mitchell in 2017.

Protecting members’ rights

The IEU is providing legal representation at the Fair Work Commission for three early childhood members who have not received their redundancy entitlements from their employer. The once busy Norwest Childcare Centre in Sydney was sold to developers in December last year for around $9 million. The case was due before the Fair Work Commission in February.

Disability funding threat

Queensland early childhood education members have raised significant concerns about the future of a number of state government programs that currently support inclusion of children with disability, particularly as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is explicitly directed to provide intervention services rather than support for education.

Implementation of the NDIS commenced on a trial basis in north Queensland in 2016, with a complete statewide rollout expected by 2019.

Currently, Queensland kindergarten services that require funding and support for the inclusion of children with disability may obtain this from a number of federal, state and non government sources.

Education Minister Kate Jones has announced that Early Childhood Development Programs (ECDPs) are unlikely to continue past 2020, once the NDIS is in place and that the future of the Disability Inclusion Support for Queensland Kindergartens (DISQK) Program will be determined by the level of support provided by the NDIS.

Uncertainty around the future of these programs leaves families and teachers in doubt about how they will obtain important foundational and educational support for children with disability.

Implementation of the NDIS comes at a time when members are already frustrated in their attempts to provide support for students with a disability, especially in kindergartens with high numbers of students with diverse needs.

This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the nature of support provided or funded by government is already limited and cannot always be deployed in ways that would bring most benefit to the child.

A lack of clarity around the relationship between intervention and education contributes to this issue and creates unrealistic demands on teachers and inclusion support staff.

The IEU-QNT believes it is incumbent on state and federal governments to provide more frequent and transparent communication as the full rollout of the NDIS nears.

It is also imperative that full levels of funding for inclusion of students with disability is maintained.

Read more about the NDIS and early childhood education at www.ndis.gov.au/ecei .