ACA NSW launch a campaign to gather evidence of inequity in assessment and rating

by Freya Lucas

December 13, 2018

A monthly competition with the aim of collecting example assessment and rating (A and R) reports received by service providers, which highlight examples of “unfair” or “outrageous” reporting, has been launched by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA).

 

Services who submit their reports will go into the draw to win a $100 gift card, with ACA NSW terming the examples they seek as “doozies”. To enter the draw to win the gift card, services must visit the ACA NSW website, and complete four sections:

 

  • Contact details

 

  • Why is your draft/final A and R report “doozie”

 

  • Upload the draft/final A and R report

 

  • Upload the services response to the NSW Department of Education.

 

ACA NSW state on their website that all identifiable information about the service provider will be redacted, for privacy and legal purposes, adding the following statement:

“Please note that ACA NSW reserves the right to communicate publicly the story/essence of the contents of the A&R Report without revealing the identity of the service provider or source.”

The campaign – which is set to run until June 2019 – follows what ACA NSW describes as “continued engagement” with the NSW Government on behalf of service providers about the “apparent growing concerns about potential inconsistencies and possible unfair results with respect to service providers A and R results”.

 

ACA NSW has previously engaged with the NSW Government through the submission of a parliamentary brief outlining an overhaul of the A and R process, describing A and R officers in NSW as “confrontational” and “negative”, and the A and R process as “sluggish”

 

The sentiments of ACA NSW have been echoed in the past by ACA’s Queensland branch, who described the A and R process in an article published by the Sunshine Coast Daily as “not really fair”.

 

A review of statements submitted to the 2014 Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning – comments from people who work in education and care services reveals ongoing concerns about the consistency of the A and R process Australia-wide, including comments such as:

 

 “I am concerned that the lack of uniformity of this process is causing more distress and colleague dismay. If we are to provide a rich stage for reform and we truly want to support our services, children, families and staff, I believe the method and roll out should be honed, considered and the assessors be implementing the same core assessing attitudes and processes.”

 

– “We are concerned about the effectiveness of a quality assurance system that depends heavily upon the quality of written submissions and an assessment during an announced, planned visit and which is open to the possibility that centres are able to mobilise resources to achieve an outcome that is not truly reflective of their day-to-day operations.”

 

  • “Private long day care (LDC) will never get a good report from the assessment and ratings process as the Department of Community Services assessors are friends of the community based and not -for- profit sector centre directors and staff. Private LDC is given breaches by DoCS at the drop of a hat, yet if you happen to go into a not-for-profit or community-based centre, you will see many breaches of the child care law and regulations, but that very same centre will get exceeding in its assessment and ratings report.”   

 

  • “The regs are one size fits all. Council centres and large corporates have on-staff HR managers. HR staff, workplace safety staff etc. who can answer the assessment questions, however a family centre cannot afford these specialists, therefore fail assessment. There should be at least two tiers of assessment, one for the big end of town and one for a mum and dad centre. The new regs are driving out the family owned centres replaced by the corporates. Is this a good or bad thing??

 

  • “The National Quality Framework needs to be axed – it is pointless advising services when their assessment is going to be. I have heard of services that call in relief staff for the days to ensure correct ratio; centres swapping resources to ensure that they have adequate natural elements in programs (both inside and outside) as well as doing all of these wonderful things for sustainability and recycling (but they only happen at the service during the assessment visit).”

 

The ACA NSW campaign can be viewed here.

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