ACA Qld introduces peer mentoring program
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > ACA Qld tackles workforce issues head on with peer mentoring program

ACA Qld tackles workforce issues head on with peer mentoring program

by Freya Lucas

June 05, 2024

The Australian Childcare Alliance Queensland (ACA Qld) has launched a Peer Mentor Program (PMP) initiative in partnership with Southern Cross University, University of New England, and the Manna Institute, hoping to address Queensland’s ongoing workforce issues in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. 


The PMP aims to comprehensively support early childhood educators to improve their well-being, job satisfaction and retention, and has been co-created and designed in collaboration with educators and leading researchers in the field as a practical response to the challenges facing the sector. 


Funded by ACA Qld, the PMP has a desire to enhance job satisfaction, foster community, and prioritise the wellbeing of educators at its heart. 


“We understand being an early childhood educator is both immensely fulfilling and uniquely challenging,” ACA Qld President Majella Fitzsimmons said.


“The program’s primary objective is to retain early childhood educators, which is a particularly important strategy in responding to the current workforce issues. Running for 12 months initially, the PMP seeks to extend its impact beyond this period, exploring avenues for continued support and growth,” she added.




The core of the PMP is the establishment of Communities of Practice (CoPe), consisting of experienced and less experienced educators who engage in peer-to-peer mentoring, guided by a facilitator. 


These groups convene monthly for face-to-face meetings, providing a platform for discussions ranging from professional challenges to personal wellbeing.


Each CoPe will also receive funds dedicated to professional development, empowering them to tailor their growth according to their needs, while regular mentor-mentee interactions throughout the month ensure continuous support and guidance.


The PMP is inspired by a successful Canadian model implemented over the past ten years which resulted in highly effective and quality outcomes for early childhood educators, children, and communities, Southern Cross University Associate Professor and program Leader Wendy Boyd explained.


Outcomes from the Canadian experience included improved educator wellbeing and retention.


“The Canadian evidence-based program is being piloted in Queensland as there are close similarities such as, multiethnic, multicultural, and First Nations communities,” Associate Professor Boyd added.


“It’s no secret the early childhood sector currently faces significant challenges. Educator attrition is more than 40 per cent in regional, rural, and remote areas, and many areas are unable to retain their early childhood teachers.”


In these areas, early childhood educators often feel unsupported in their roles and have little access to professional development opportunities and networking, she continued.


“The PMP aims to nurture and build the capacity of early childhood educators, leading to positive outcomes for the early childhood education workforce, address the professional disillusionment and create better quality outcomes for young children and diverse and disadvantaged communities.”


Early findings show that educators in the program agree that their job is demanding as there is a lot expected of them, yet the job is mostly satisfying owing to the nature of the work with children, families and staff,” she said.


The program’s evaluation and research are core aspects of the PMP, which ACA Qld hopes will demonstrate its efficacy, gather insights for enhancements, and to secure future funding to expand its reach.


“This program represents our commitment to nurturing and growing a supported community of educators who champion each other’s growth and success,” Ms Fitzsimmons said.


“We are excited about the potential of the PMP to elevate our educators and the early childhood education sector as a whole.”


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