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Early Childhood Update - February 2023

February 2023 edition of the Early Childhood Update e-newsletter.

The Early Childhood Update e-newsletter is sent to early childhood teachers and workers, but is open to anyone interested in best practice in early years education and evidence-based teaching approaches. Subscribe here to receive the e-newsletterExternal Link .

Department of Education
February 2023

Looking ahead to another big year for the sector

Registrations are open for the Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference.

Dear early childhood education and care services,

Welcome to the new year and the first week of kindergarten for both children and our new early childhood education professionals – welcome and thank you. I hope you have all enjoyed an opportunity to take a break and recharge, while staying safe and well over the holiday period.

Last year was an exciting time for the sector, and we have even more in store for 2023!

Last week, the Victorian Government announced the roll-out schedule for Pre-Prep, which will begin in selected areas from 2025 before progressively expanding across the state.

Under the staged roll-out, Pre-Prep will commence in Ararat Rural City, Gannawarra Shire, Hindmarsh Shire, Murrindindi Shire, Northern Grampians Shire and Yarriambiack Shire. Other local government areas will join the roll-out in following years. Vulnerable and Aboriginal children will be eligible in 2026 while disadvantaged children will be eligible in 2028.

In addition, with the implementation of Free Kinder for 3- and 4-year-olds benefitting up to 140,000 children, the beginning of work to build 50 new affordable and government-owned early learning centres, and continued investment in attracting and retaining the workforce we need for the future, we’ve got a lot to be excited about in Victoria.

I am looking forward to bringing together early childhood Educational Leaders from across Victoria, either in person or virtually, for the Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders ConferenceExternal Link .

We will link Educational Leaders to research and case studies that highlight the value of evidence in guiding change and improving practice and explore the critical role of quality in the reforms.

The conference will be held on Wednesday 15 February 2023 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) and online from 9 am to 5 pm. We want to help as many Educational Leaders as possible to attend, so we are offering backfill contributions and support for staff who need to travel long distances from regional areas.

For more information, please refer to the Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference web pageExternal Link . Please also share this information with the Educational Leaders in your services.

We are committed to implementing the reforms in partnership with all parts of the sector and there will be many opportunities to provide input as we work through the detail together.

Chaired by the Minister for Early Childhood and Pre-Prep, the Best Start, Best Life Taskforce Advisory Group (BSBL-TAG) will bring together staff, unions, peak bodies, early childhood experts, local government, kinder and long day care providers, parent and inclusion representatives, and other stakeholders. The group will inform the design and implementation of all parts of the reform.

The BSBL-TAG has begun meeting regularly and through this group, the department will continue to work in close partnership with all stakeholders.

In the next edition of Early Childhood Update in March, I will share information about further opportunities to provide feedback on the reforms through a full program of consultation and engagement activities.

Thank you for your continued passion and commitment to this vital work we do for our community and all the best for 2023.

Kim Little
Deputy Secretary
Early Childhood Education

Protecting against mosquito-borne diseases

Follow and share advice with parents and carers to help protect your community against mosquito-borne diseases.

A mosquito lands on a finger

This article contains important information to help all Victorian early childhood education and care (ECEC) services minimise the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as Murray Valley encephalitis virus and Japanese encephalitis virus infections.

Warm and wet weather can result in greater numbers of mosquitoes and increased risk of illnesses from mosquito bites.

The best protection against mosquito-borne illness is to avoid mosquito bites.

Please share this information with your staff and use the template newsletter textExternal Link with parents and carers.

On Monday 30 January 2023, centre-based ECECs in high-risk areas received an email with specific actions to assist them in protecting staff and children against mosquito-borne diseases.

This advice contains important information for ECEC services across the state.

How to protect against mosquito-borne diseases

Mosquitoes are generally more active around dusk and dawn but can also bite during the day. The peak mosquito period is from October to March.

Consistent with community health advice, there are some simple steps that families and staff can take to help protect against mosquito bites:

  • use mosquito repellent that contains picaridin or DEET on exposed skin if outdoors when mosquitoes are observed. It is important to review the instructions on repellent containers to ensure it is suitable for younger children. In some instances, repellent can be applied to clothing and should be avoided on young children’s hands, eyes and mouth
  • wear long, loose-fitting clothing if mosquitoes are around and cover exposed skin as much as possible
  • limiting outdoor activity when mosquitos are active.

Services can also reduce the risk of mosquito bites by:

  • preventing mosquitoes from getting inside, for example by closing windows and doors or using fly screens, particularly at times when mosquitoes are active. It is recommended you use air purifiers where available to reduce the risk of airborne illnesses
  • preventing mosquitoes from breeding around the service, for example by:
    • cutting back long grass and shrubs where mosquitoes can rest, especially around outdoor areas where people gather
    • removing or emptying containers capable of holding water (including rubbish bins, pots and bird baths)
    • checking and maintaining rainwater tanks and water storage vessels.

Staff or families with any health concerns should see their doctor or phone Nurse-on-callExternal Link : 1300 606 024 (available 24 hours).

Excursions to high-risk areas

As at Sunday 29 January 2023, the following local government areas (LGAs) are considered high-risk for mosquito-borne disease: Benalla, Buloke, Campaspe, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Indigo, Loddon, Mildura, Moira, Northern Grampians Shire, Strathbogie, Swan Hill, Wangaratta, West Wimmera, Wodonga and Yarriambiack.

If planning an excursion in a high-risk LGA, your service is advised to:

  • actively promote insect repellent application for staff and children (if age-appropriate – please read the label)
  • take preventative measures if mosquitoes are noticeably impacting children and staff (for example, pause activities to apply repellent and put on long loose-fitting clothing)
  • where possible, move activities indoors or into protected areas if mosquitoes are prevalent.

Insect repellent

For advice about using and purchasing insect repellent, please see Insect repellent.

Newsletter text

Newsletter textExternal Link is available to help services share this information with staff, parents and carers through their communication channels.

Find out more

For more information on protecting against mosquito-borne diseases, refer to Mosquitoes can carry diseases – Better Health ChannelExternal Link .

For information about mosquito-borne diseases known in Victoria, including, but not limited to Japanese encephalitisExternal Link , Murray Valley encephalitisExternal Link , Ross River VirusExternal Link and West Nile Virus/KunjinExternal Link , refer to the Better Health Channel.

For health advice contact:

Educational Leaders Conference in February

Limited seats and online streaming are available for the free Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference on 15 February 2023.

Girl studying for exam

Leading journalist Ellen Fanning will moderate the inaugural Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference, on Wednesday 15 February 2023 in Melbourne and live streamed.

The conference is an exciting opportunity for Educational Leaders to hear from internationally renowned experts and leaders in the field about practical, evidence-based approaches to early childhood education.

The conference program is available on the conference websiteExternal Link . The day will include a presentation from Professor Marilyn Fleer and a panel of Educational Leaders about putting evidence into practice, along with keynote presentations from international experts:

  • Professor Iram Siraj, Professor of Child Development and Education, University of Oxford
  • Professor Jane Bertrand, Program Director, Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation
  • Sir Kevan Collins, Board Member, Goodstart Early Learning and Board Member, Australian Educational Research Organisation.

One Educational Leader per funded Victorian kindergarten service (including long day care and sessional services) is eligible to attend the conference, virtually or in person.

Backfill and travel contributions

To support attendance, employers of Educational Leaders attending the conference in-person or online may be eligible to claim a contribution towards backfill for that day.

Employers of Educational Leaders undertaking long-distance travel to attend the conference in-person may also be eligible for a travel contribution.

More information and forms to claim these contributions are available on the conference websiteExternal Link .

Event details

Date: Wednesday 15 February 2023
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Platform: in person and online
Venue (in person): Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Cost: no charge.

To register for either in person or online attendance, refer to Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders ConferenceExternal Link .

Find out more

For more information about the conference, refer to Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders ConferenceExternal Link .

For further enquiries, please contact the department by email:

National learning framework updates

The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority has updated the Early Years Learning Framework and My Time Our Place.

Reading a story

The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has released updates to the 2 national approved learning frameworks, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)External Link and My Time Our PlaceExternal Link .

These changes will not impact services providing a funded kindergarten program who are required, as a condition of funding, to use the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development FrameworkExternal Link .

The original EYLF will remain in operation in 2023 alongside the updated version, to give services an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the changes. All services that are using the EYLF will need to transition to the updated framework by Monday 1 January 2024.

What has changed

In updating and refreshing each framework, ACECQA has introduced a range of minor changes that clarify and expand on the original frameworks.

Most importantly, 3 new principles of practice have been added to the frameworks, and other related amendments made throughout each.

The 3 new principles are:

  • sustainability
  • promotion of collaborative leadership
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

Find our more

For more information, please refer to:

For further enquiries, please contact ACECQA by phone: 1300 422 327

Respectful Relationships learning program for early childhood educators

Build your capacity to support children to develop resilience, confidence and respectful relationships.

Girl taking pencil in classroom

The Respectful Relationships initiative is offering free professional learning for early childhood educators (bachelor, diploma, or certificate III qualified) in Victorian Government-funded kindergarten programs.

The online learning program will run from March to May 2023. It aims to strengthen the capacity of early childhood educators to:

  • promote respectful relationships, positive attitudes and behaviours within their teaching approach, to enable children to build healthy relationships, resilience and confidence
  • understand the role of gender equality in the prevention of family violence, and learn practical strategies for promoting gender equality in their teaching practice
  • recognise and respond to family violence and build support networks.

About the professional learning program

We developed the professional learning program in collaboration with world-leading experts from Monash University. The program aligns with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework and the National Quality Standard.

The department is offering a financial contribution to services that need backfill for staff who join this training.

The professional learning is an item on the School Readiness Funding MenuExternal Link . Services can also use the menu to arrange for backfill or additional support.

Dates: March to May 2023
Format: online (one full-day workshop, one 2-hour, self-paced learning module)
Cost: free.

Find out more

For more information, refer to the Early childhood education training ­– health and wellbeing websiteExternal Link .

Effective Mentoring Program for experienced teachers

Learn how to support graduate and returning teachers to achieve full registration with the Effective Mentoring Program.

two teachers speaking

We are encouraging experienced early childhood teachers to register for the Effective Mentoring Program (EMP).

The EMP will begin in March and continue until September 2023, with registrations to remain open until the program is full.

The EMP will involve a mixture of in-person and online learning to strengthen the mentoring skills of experienced teachers.

Teachers who complete the program will have the confidence and skills needed to support their colleagues, including graduate and returning teachers, to achieve full registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT).

About the Effective Mentoring Program

The EMP is a partnership between the Department of Education and the VIT. The program is designed for experienced teachers who are mentoring provisionally registered teachers in schools and early childhood settings.

To successfully complete the EMP, participants are required to attend day 1 and day 2 of the program and complete pre and post online modules.

The program will be delivered from Term 1 to Term 3, 2023.

At the end of this program, participants will:

  • have mentoring skills to support all teaching colleagues, in line with the Mentoring Capability Framework
  • qualify to be the VIT-trained mentor on workplace recommendation panels
  • achieve certification (including professional learning hours towards VIT registration)
  • know about current research and practice in mentoring.

Refresher Program

Held in person, a 1-day refresher program is also available for teachers who have completed the EMP within the past 3 years.

How to register

Registrations are now open. To register, refer to the Combined day 1 and day 2 EMPExternal Link or Refresher EMPExternal Link .

Find out more

For more information about the Effective Mentoring Program, refer to the Victorian Institute of TeachingExternal Link website.

For further enquiries, contact the department by email:

Free TAFE boost for early childhood training

Changes from 1 January 2023 open new opportunities for priority training pathways.

Woman conducting training

Training to become an early childhood educator is now accessible to more people under changes to Free TAFEExternal Link and vocational education and training from Sunday 1 January 2023.

Under a range of eligibility criteria changes, Victorians can access a Free TAFE course for the first time regardless of previous qualifications.

This means, for example, that a degree graduate can re-train to become an early childhood educator without having to pay tuition fees.

The changes remove the upskilling requirement and once-in-a-lifetime limit on 70 Free TAFE courses for specified or priority training pathways such as early childhood, nursing, community services and building and construction.

While the changes make Free TAFE courses available to people with higher-level qualifications, they also allow people to access Free TAFE for multiple courses within the same pathway.

For example, a person who completed Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care as part of Free TAFE can also complete the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care as part of Free TAFE.

Find out more

For more information, refer to Free TAFE for lots of jobsExternal Link .

For further enquiries, contact the TAFE and Training line:

  • phone: 131 823

Shining a spotlight on bush kinders

Watch and share a new video about children loving learning in the local environment.

Group of happy children consoling a girl

A new Koorie Kids Shine video about bush kindersExternal Link shows how an outdoor learning environment is great for all children.

The short video is a resource for all kindergarten educators considering incorporating the local natural environment into learning, and for kindergartens considering joining the growing number of services offering a bush kinder program.

A focus on the environment supports children’s development, while providing an opportunity to connect with Country and learn about animals, nature, and Aboriginal culture and history.

The Victorian Government has recently announced $3.6 million to provide $6,000 grants to 150 kindergartens each year to help them establish bush kinder programs. Further information to be provided in coming months on this initiative.

We encourage educators to share the video with families and other community members, to help spread the message that outdoor environments make a positive difference to children’s learning.

To enquire about joining a bush kinder program, contact your regional Koorie education coordinator.External Link

Koorie Kids Shine

Koorie Kids ShineExternal Link was launched by the Victorian Government to help promote participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in kindergarten programs.

The Koorie Kids Shine videos show:

  • the benefits of kindergarten for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • how services create culturally safe places for Koorie children and families
  • how to enrol in free or low-cost kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-old children through Koorie Kids Shine.

Find out more

For more information, refer to Koorie Kids ShineExternal Link and Bush KindersExternal Link .

Using information sharing to support children during transition

Learn how to request and share information to support children as they transition into your service or a new school. Free training is available.

Happy smiling teacher greeting student

You can use the Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS)External Link and Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS)External Link to get the information you need to create effective, informed plans to support children as they transition into new environments and routines.

Under CISS and FVISS, you can request or share information to promote a child’s wellbeing or safety, or assess or manage family violence risk, from other services authorised to share information. These include:

  • early childhood centres (kindergartens and long day care)
  • out of school hours care (OSHC)
  • schools
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • GPs, general practice nurses and public hospitals
  • The Orange DoorExternal Link
  • Victoria Police
  • Child Protection.

By using CISS and FVISS, you can get the full picture of the children you work with, identify needs, risks and issues earlier, and put appropriate supports in place. Information sharing also directly supports the outcomes of the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, which prioritises wellbeing and safety.

If you know of children who would benefit from additional support as they transition to other services or into primary school, you can proactively share information with the child’s new school or service. Schools and other services can also request information from your service.

Stacey Brown, CEO of Yappera Children’s Service Co-operative, said children in her service will directly benefit from information sharing.

In this short videoExternal Link , Stacey discusses her insights into using the information sharing schemes.

Want to know more? Sign up for training

All early childhood services are authorised to request and share information under the reforms, including kindergartens, long day care and OSHC.

To learn more about your responsibilities and obligations under CISS and FVISS, you can access free eLearn or webinar training options through the Information Sharing and MARAM Online Learning System.External Link

To organise tailored information sharing training for your team, contact the department’s Victorian Child Information Sharing team by email:

Webinar: Information Sharing for Education Workforces

These 3.5-hour interactive webinars are presented by a team of educators and are appropriate for all early childhood professionals. Morning and afternoon sessions are available several times a week.

Register through the Information Sharing and MARAM Online Learning System.External Link To enrol, select the ‘Education Workforces’ tile and select from the webinar options available.

Funding is available to support early years educators who want to attend information sharing webinars. For more information, contact the department by email:

Find out more

For more information about the information sharing reforms, refer to Child protection in early childhood: privacy and information sharingExternal Link .

For further enquiries, contact the Victorian Child Information Sharing team by email:

Translated resources to support information sharing

Access written, audio and visual content about Three-Year-Old-Kindergarten, available in 30 languages.

Three children hugging

The department has launched a new translations webpageExternal Link to support services and providers to communicate with families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds about Three-Year-Old-Kindergarten.

Families can visit the page to access information across 30 languages, which promote the value of early childhood education and care, and the supports available for access and participation.

Assets on the page are available in written, audio and visual content.

Please share the link Link with your workforce and families, as an available in-language resource.

You can also order translated resources for your service through the Victorian kindergarten resources portalExternal Link .

Find out more

For more information, refer to Three-Year-Old-Kindergarten Information in Your LanguageExternal Link .

Reviewed 11 May 2023