Higher ratios and standardised training for OSHC needed to shed the Cinderella tag
Outside school hours care (OSHC) advocacy body, the National Outside School Hours Services Alliance (NOSHA), has called for higher ratios and a standardised level of qualification for those working in the sector, telling The Brisbane Times that OSHC is the ‘Cinderella’ of care services – invisible, of low status, and with poor working conditions.
With the continued growth of OSHC services, in response to demands driven by increased workforce participation, NOSHA Chairperson Kylie Brannelly, noted the high casualisation of the OSHC workforce, with a number of those working in the OSHC sector doing so without a qualification.
Comparing OSHC with early childhood, Ms Brannelly said there is far greater investment in the upskilling of the early childhood workforce “than OSHC has ever had”, noting the lack of qualification requirements driven at a national level, with each state and territory having different requirements.
Speaking with The Brisbane Times, Ms Brannelly said her alliance wanted “a new, nationally recognised, one-year course to be developed as the entry-level qualification for working in the sector, with this to be fully or partly funded by governments.”
Qualifications, however, are only part of the solution. There was also a need, she said, to ensure that ratios were sufficient to meet the demands on educators to supervise and ensure the safety of larger groups.
Currently in Victoria and New South Wales, the ratio is 1:15. This, Ms Brannelly said, is “not good enough” when services are dealing with large numbers of children and increasingly complex needs and behaviours.
Echoing Ms Brannelly’s concerns, Griffith University senior lecturer Dr Jennifer Cartmel told The Brisbane Times that there was ignorance about the sector, despite its long history and the growing number of children attending it, calling for OSHC educators to be supported to ensure the spirit and intention of OSHC was maintained.
“It’s meant to be a place of leisure, but a lot of learning and engagement happens,” Dr Cartmel said.
To read the original coverage of this story, please see here.