Outside School Hours Council of Australia launches as new peak body for OSHC sector
A coalition of Australia’s large Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) service providers have today announced the launch of Outside School Hours Council of Australia (OSHCA), an association established to represent, support and advocate for the interests of the national OSHC sector and the children and families receiving care.
The new peak body, whose members currently employ around 10,000 educators and leaders across 1,500 services, accounts for more than 30 per cent of the national OSHC market and consists of both for profit and not for profit providers including Junior Adventures Group, TeamKids, Camp Australia, TheirCare and YMCA.
The collective purpose of the group is to leverage its organisational reach to work collaboratively with decision-makers and the wider sector to promote an understanding of the OSHC sector and improve standards, practices and outcomes for OSHC settings.
Sinead Ryan, Inaugural President and Founding Member of OSHCA said, “OSHCA exists to advocate for Australia’s childcare system, ensuring it is innovative and robust enough to support the specific needs of the OSHC sector and advance the wellbeing and development of primary school-age children.”
“This will involve a strong focus on building the skills and expertise of the OSHC workforce so we can continue delivering the high-quality out of school hours care that Australian families need and expect,” she added.
The formal launch of OSHCA comes after a period of extreme disruption for the OSHC sector caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, which brought with it almost an overnight collapse in attendance and widespread job insecurity across its mostly casualised workforce.
In light of these challenging conditions the group recognised a need for a vocal representative body to promote and advance the interests of the sector across Government and other decision making bodies in order to safeguard its long- term viability.
“What really came to the fore this year is that the unique operating environment of the OSHC sector, compared to other segments of childcare, is not widely understood by decision-makers and the community at large.” Ms Ryan said.
“It’s therefore been encouraging to see such strong engagement from governments across Australia, including their willingness to support the OSHC sector, and we look forward to continuing to build on this.”
In addition to OSHC sector advocacy objectives the group will also focus on fostering new skills and development among the OSHC workforce in order to help rebuild confidence in the vocation, which was hit hard following the shutdown of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of some OSHC services as a result.
“As OSHC providers, we understand the unique and diverse needs of the OSHC sector, and we also recognise the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on families, children, the workforce and the providers who support the delivery of OSHC services in Australia. We very much look forward to working for and in the interests of Australian families who depend on this essential community service” Ms Ryan said.
To learn more about OSHCA please, including its Charter and Constitution, please click here.