Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Childcare worker shortage looms

Sunday, 20 March 2011
Michelle Griffin
The AustralianTHE job listings tell the tale: throughout Australia, hundreds of childcare centres are advertising for qualified workers, but there simply aren’t enough. And even the industry’s most enthusiastic training advocates admit there will still be a skills shortage next year when new federal government reforms make professional qualifications compulsory.By January 1 next year, staff-to-child ratios for looking after children aged under three increase from 1:5 to 1:4 and from 1:15 in the preschool rooms to 1:11, which means centres must either reduce places or put on extra staff.By January 1, 2014, every childcare worker in Australia must have, at a minimum, a certificate III qualification. Half the staff must have at least a TAFE childcare diploma. And every single childcare centre must have a degree-qualified teacher on site all day.

Victoria’s 1141 long-day-care centres already compete for qualified staff, as state regulations introduced in May 2009 require all new childcare employees to have certificate III as a minimum. Yet three out of 10 childcare workers in Victoria – 5716 workers – still have no qualifications, according to a 2010 workforce census. Only untrained staff with five years’ continuous full-time experience or 10 years’ part-time experience have until January 2014 to get qualified. All others must at least start formal training by January 1. Less than half of Victorian childcare workers [43.5 per cent] have diploma-level qualifications.

There are now 29,494 unqualified childcare workers who must get their certificates in the next 2½ years. ”This is not an unrealistic expectation,” says Sue Lines, the assistant national secretary of their union, United Voice, formerly the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union.

”The teaching issue is the hardest to address,” said Ms Lines, citing greater demands, longer hours and poorer conditions at childcare centres than at primary schools and early learning centres. ”If you could work at a school, you’d probably choose that.”

“We’ll only get improvements in quality this way [by legislation],” says Barbara Romeril, the executive director of Victoria’s Community Child Care Association. “If we left it to the market, it wouldn’t happen.’’

“There is always going to be a transition time. We do know there will be challenges [in training] and we know this will lead to higher fees.”

Estimates of price hikes range from $4 to $13 a day for each child.

State childcare centres

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Sunday, 20 March 2011
By Hannah Martin
The Mercury

TASMANIAN childcare operators are failing to meet basic safety and hygiene standards set by the industry’s national assessor.

Children’s advocacy groups and federal Childcare Minister Kate Ellis are outraged at the latest findings from the National Childcare Accreditation Council.

More than 35 per cent of long day-care services assessed by the council in Tasmania between July and December last year did not supervise children at all times.

Children were at risk from potentially dangerous products, plants and objects in almost 30 per cent of the 14 centres and more than one third had unsafe food and hygiene practices.

Nineteen per cent of the 21 after-school care operators also had unsafe food handling and hygiene habits.

One of the two family daycare centres assessed by the council had failed to provide a safe environment, adequately protect the health and safety of children and consistently comply with legislation relating to the protection and wellbeing of children.

Across all types of child care, children were subjected to negative nappy changes and toilet experiences.

Early Childhood Australia national deputy president Ros Cornish said childcare operators had dropped the ball.

She said it was simply not good enough for centres to fail in areas involving hygiene, health and safety.

“We would think these things should be common sense,” Ms Cornish said.

“Things like wearing gloves to change nappies should be automatic, but for too many people it’s not.”

Ms Cornish, who is also the chief executive officer of Lady Gowrie Tasmania, said the latest findings were “symptomatic” of the industry.

“It’s undergoing significant change as part of the national reform agenda.

“Childcare services are trying to focus on a myriad of changes and maybe they’re taking their eye off the ball in some parts,” she said.

Ms Cornish said childcare service providers were plagued by a critical skill shortage and ongoing retention and recruitment issues.

She encouraged parents to thoroughly research operators.

“Ask the appropriate questions and ask to look at their quality assurance profile,” she said.

All childcare providers have to prominently display a copy of their latest National Childcare Accreditation Council assessment results, so parents can see where they may be falling short of national standards.

However providers do not have to notify parents if they fail to receive accreditation after an assessment.

Ms Cornish said most parents were primarily concerned with simply securing a placement with a provider they could afford.

She said many parents wrongly assumed that providers had to be fully accredited in order to operate.

“In reality, you could have a child in an unaccredited centre for all of their early learning life.

“They might never be exposed to a quality service.”

Ms Ellis said although most Tasmanian childcare centres were doing well, “too many are still failing to meet important educational, hygiene and safety stands”.

“The 800,000 [Australian] families who put their children in care each week deserve to know that their children are safe and being well looked after,” she said

Childcare to teach kids properly or face fine

Friday, 18 March 2011
By Patricia Karvelas
The Australian

CHILDCARE centres that continue to babysit children rather than introduce a formal learning framework would be fined up to $20,000 under a tough new national system.

There would also be new fines aimed at providers who failed to provide enough staffing and adequate hygiene at centres.

Under the new draft laws, an approved provider who failed to deliver a program based on an “approved learning framework” that responded to each child’s “needs and abilities” could attract a penalty of up to $20,000.

Childcare Minister Kate Ellis defended the tough new laws yesterday, saying that only this week data had revealed that while most Australian childcare centres were doing well, too many were failing to meet basic educational, safety and hygiene standards.

“These historic reforms to boost the quality of childcare in this country will see all Australian governments working together to put in place and enforce nationally consistent standards for the first time,” Ms Ellis said.

But Childcare Alliance spokeswoman Gwynn Bridge said $20,000 was a “huge fine” and she was concerned about how a regulator would assess whether the education provided to children was adequate.

“It’s quite open-ended . . . A child that goes five days a week would be in a very different situation to a child that is in there for one day a week,” Ms Bridge said.

“The concern is whether we can trust the assessment process, and at this point we don’t know what that process will be.”

State-based regulators would have the power to prosecute for offences, and to issue infringement notices and compliance directions that must be followed before heftier fines and legal action were imposed.

The National Childcare Accreditation Council report for July to December last year found 29 per cent of childcare centres did not have effective food, safety and hygiene practices.

ABC Learning chief to

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face hearing

Friday, 18 March 2011
Business Spectator

The former chief executive of ABC Learning Australia and New Zealand, Martin Vincent Kemp, will have a committal hearing in July over allegations he breached corporations law leading up to the collapse of Australia’s biggest childcare chain.

Mr Kemp and Eddy Groves, ABC’s founder and former global chief executive, allegedly breached the Corporations Act when Kemp organised to sell three childcare centres owned by companies controlled by him to ABC Learning in early 2008, just months before the chain collapsed.

The Australian Securities

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and Investments Commission (ASIC) alleges in January 2008, with the approval of Groves, ABC paid deposits of $3.082 million, approximately 75 per cent of the purchase prices, to companies associated with Mr Kemp, Volbane Pty Ltd and Silipo Pty Ltd.

It is alleged

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the board of ABC was not informed of the transactions.

Mr Groves is charged with one count of breaching the Corporations Act.

ASIC alleges he failed to discharge his duties as an ABC director in good faith and was dishonest by approving the payments made to Mr Kemp’s companies between 9 and 12 January 2008.

Mr Groves, from Palm Beach, pleaded not guilty and has been committed to stand trial at a date yet to be fixed.

He is on bail.

Mr Kemp, from Daisy Hill, was charged with three counts of breaching the corporations act by failing in his duties as a director and using his position to dishonestly gain an advantage for himself.

The charges arose from a two-year ASIC investigation after ABC Learning collapsed beneath $1.6 billion of debt in November 2008.

Mr Kemp’s case was heard in the Brisbane Magistrates court on Friday morning where a date for a 10-day committal hearing was set for July 18.

Mr Kemp is on bail and will be required to appear before the committal hearing.

Milon Craig Chowdhury for the Director of Public Prosecutions told the court a number of witnesses will be heard, including former ABC Learning chairman David Ryan, company secretary Jillian Bannan and independent valuer Michael McLifty.

All of the criminal charges carry a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $200,000 fine.

The three childcare centres at the centre of the case are Hamilton House Early Childhood Centre at Hamilton, Brisbane; Parklands Drive Early Childhood and PreSchool Centre at Boronia Heights and Children’s Centre of Beenleigh, both in Logan, south of Brisbane.

Historical Independent Consultant Articles

Article Title Article Provider Date

Australian Industry Newsletter – 10 February 2012
Australian Industry Newsletter – 16 January 2012
Australian Industry Newsletter – 4 November 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 31 August 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 24 August 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 04 August 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 29 June 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – Tuesday, 15 June 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 08 June 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 01 June 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 30 March 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 23 March 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 16 March 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 23 February 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 16 February 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 09 February 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 26 January 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 10 November 2010
Australian Industry Newsletter – 03 November 2010
Australian Industry Newsletter – 27 October 2010

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