ACA NSW lobbies for ECEC COVID-19 waivers as Omicron challenges persist

ACA NSW lobbies for ECEC COVID-19 waivers as Omicron challenges persist

by Freya Lucas

January 27, 2022

The New South Wales branch of the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA NSW) has petitioned Sarah Mitchell, NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning, asking her to develop and implement a COVID-19 framework to facilitate temporary waivers for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. 

 

Specifically, ACA NSW seeks changes in relation to ratios (Regulation 123 and Regulation 271) and qualification of early childhood teacher ratios (Regulation 272) to children.


As NSW transitions to living with COVID-19, significant numbers of NSW educators and teachers are in temporary self isolation due to contracting COVID-19. 

 

In order to minimise disruptions and ensure consistent access to ECEC, ACA NSW noted its appreciation for the NSW Department of Education’s introduction of the Rapid Antigen Home Testing (RAHT) Test-To-Stay program that commenced on 4 January 2022 (based on the Exemption to the NSW Public Health Order on self-isolation).

 

Despite the Test-to-Stay program, services are still in a position where they are turning away families as they are unable to maintain ratio. 

 

“The existing higher regulatory requirement on NSW-based ECEC services compared to all other Australian states has existed for the last 10 years since 1 January 2012 when the National Quality Framework came into effect,” a spokesperson said. “This regulatory impost has also been highlighted as a concern by the NSW Productivity Commissioner’s Green and White Papers.”

 

ACA NSW believes a framework to facilitate temporary waivers of educators:children ratios and qualification of early childhood teacher ratios will significantly minimise disruptions to ECEC services due to COVID-19, in turn contributing substantially towards educating and caring for the maximum number of children possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

For the most up to date information about managing COVID-19 in NSW ECEC settings please view the Department’s website, here

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