Remarks at the National Child Care Accreditation Council Farewell, Sydney.

Speech
  • Minister for Child Care
  • Minister for Employment Participation

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It’s a pleasure to join you for this farewell and mark the many contributions of the National Childcare Accreditation Council. Minister Garrett is sorry he can’t join us today and has asked me to pass on his thanks and best wishes.

Whilst today certainly holds some sadness for many of you – it is also an important celebration; a celebration of the remarkable contribution NCAC has made to progress early childhood education and care in Australia.

I don’t need to tell you how vital it is that Australian children have quality early childhood experiences in safe, healthy and happy environments.

You have all played a critical role in achieving this over the last 18 years and I thank you for your dedication and hard work.

The NCAC and its contribution

In 1993 when the NCAC was established, the sector was fragmented across types of care, work practices and training.

NCAC quickly adopted a leadership role in driving change to harmonise and raise quality standards. Through the work of the NCAC, quality accreditation is now recognised as a vital contributor to sustaining a world-class early childhood sector.

Our community’s knowledge of quality assurance in Australian child care largely results from the professional work by NCAC, in implementing key strategies and standards of quality care for children’s services.

Over those 18 years we have seen a lot of changes. Of course the biggest is that we have seen the number of child care services grow from 2500 in 1994 to nearly 10 000 in September this year.

And in delivering for those services and for the families who use them, NCAC has an impressive record of achievements.

  • Since 1994 there have been 38 000 validation visits and accreditation decisions;
  • Some 69 editions of Accreditation Update and Putting Children First magazine have been published; and
  • Child Care Advisers have responded to more than 135 000 telephone calls.

Your activities to raise awareness among families have contributed to widespread community understanding of the vital importance of the early years in a child’s development.

The processes and resources you’ve put in place have helped education and care services to develop policies about interaction with children.

NCAC has also been instrumental in fostering the professionalism of child care staff. We know this has important benefits for children’s later development.

NCAC assistance in implementing the NQF

Your work has built strong foundations for the continued success of early childhood education and care quality systems in Australia.

It has been invaluable to be able to draw on the expertise and experience of current staff as we work towards implementing the National Quality Framework.

The willingness of the Board and staff to support the transition is much appreciated by all involved - your participation in the Phase 2 assessment visits has helped refine the assessment processes. And I appreciate the involvement of NCAC staff in the Working Groups reporting to the Early Childhood Development Working Group.

As you know this new framework means big changes for the early childhood education and care sector.

It will, for the first time, set a National Quality Standard for early childhood education and care providers across the country. It will improve staff-to-child ratios so that each child receives the individual care and attention they need. And it will also require staff to have formal qualifications so they are better equipped to lead the activities that help children learn and develop.

The National Quality Framework is the next step in the hard work that those of you here at NCAC began – the next step to recognise just how important those early years of a child’s life are and a recommitment to delivering the highest quality child care experience.

Conclusion

I’m sure you’re eager to catch up with your colleagues from across the years of the NCAC, so I will conclude but I want to stop and congratulate you once again.

Your contributions have given a whole generation of Australian children quality early childhood experiences, and will benefit generations to come. It is certainly an achievement worth celebrating.

Thank you.

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