Jason Clare hints at educator mobile phone ban during ABC interview
Jason Clare, Federal Minister for Education, has hinted that mobile phone use by early childhood educators while working with children may soon be officially banned.
During an interview, ABC journalist Patricia Karvelas asked the Minister what safeguards would be put in place to prevent instances of the recording of abuse in light of the recent revelations that a former early childhood education and care (ECEC) worker from Queensland’s Gold Coast had been charged with 1,623 child abuse offences against 91 children in Brisbane, Sydney and overseas between 2007 and 2022.
“We were briefed on this as well yesterday,” Mr Clare said, “by the Federal Police but also by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). They’re doing a piece of work for us on safety in childcare (sic.) centres.”
“I won’t talk about the specific investigation that the police have been doing, but on the work that ACECQA are doing, they’re looking at things like banning the use of private mobile phones by educators in childcare centres,” he continued.
“They’re looking at removing waivers to ensure that there’s clear lines of sight to observe workers in childcare centres at all times. They’re looking at the different Working With Children Checks that exist in different jurisdictions and how to potentially improve or harmonise them. And they’re looking at things like teacher registration.”
Not all early childhood teachers (ECTs) are required to be registered with the relevant teachers registration board, depending on the rules for each state and territory, and the “overwhelming majority” of those who are working with children in ECEC settings are not ECTs, and therefore are unregistered.
“There’s no register for them at the moment, so they’re looking at things like that,” Minister Clare continued, “and they’re also looking at what sort of training or support could be provided to people who work in childcare centres to identify grooming when it happens and how to respond when you identify it.”
Ms Karvelas then asked if the rules around mandatory reporting of these kinds of incidents and teacher training would be strengthened again in a timely way.
“One of the points that’s been raised by ACECQA yesterday is the confusion around mandatory reporting,” Minister Clare responded, and that “sometimes the rules around it are unclear.”
“I don’t want to go into the detailed examples that they gave us for fear that there’s a matter before the court, but they are looking as part of this, (and) at how you might improve the information that’s provided to educators in childcare settings around mandatory reporting.”
To access the full transcript of the Minister’s responses, please see here.
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