Page 3184 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015

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The ACT government and the minister understand how important it is to plan for childcare arrangements around preschool hours, to plan for your other children’s schooling and childcare needs. So I was a bit alarmed to hear the shadow minister for education not appearing to understand what the arrangements are for preschool and non-government schools. I am sure he will seek some further advice from Minister Burch after this debate today and be able to get back to all his constituents and explain why the delay was necessary and why today the ACT government has confirmed that it will certainly fund this very important initiative.

The ACT government continues to significantly invest in growing and upskilling the education and care workforce. To achieve this, the government has ensured a range of vocational education and training programs are available that meet the needs of educators and employers. For example, traineeships funded through the ACT’s Australian apprenticeships program have grown strongly in the early childhood education and care sector since 2010. In 2014, 312 trainees completed a formal qualification approved by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority. Thirty participants completed a certificate III in early childhood education and care. Another 46 completed a relevant skill set, preparing them for further study towards a full qualification. And in 2015 the ACT’s new training initiative, skilled capital, will contribute well over $2 million towards at least 570 training places in a wide range of approved early childhood education and care qualifications.

Additionally, the early childhood scholarships program established in 2012 to assist the sector to meet new minimum qualification requirements continues, with a new round of places offered just last month. The scholarship covers full course fees for a certificate III qualification, a start-up and completion incentive, and funding to release working educators to study or attend classes. Including this year’s allocation, the program has provided 145 places. A further 30 places will be offered in 2016. Fifty-seven students from the first round of funding have now achieved a certificate III in early childhood education and care. This qualification develops educators’ skills in developing respectful relationships with children, supporting their development and using the early years learning framework to guide their practice. It also supports educators to work with children and families in culturally appropriate ways.

Under the national quality framework, all early childhood educators counted in educator to child ratios are now required to be working towards this qualification. This gives us confidence and our families confidence that our young children are being educated by professionals with appropriate skills and knowledge to work in partnership with families to maximise children’s potential.

I want to close by thanking the minister for moving this motion today and putting on record the ACT government’s strong commitment to family day care, to the national quality framework and to ensuring that every ACT family has access to affordable and high quality childcare, and I congratulate her on her announcement this morning about 15 hours of preschool.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Racing and Gaming and
Minister for the Arts) (11.53): I want to thank those in the chamber for their

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