Department of Education
4 May 2023

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-newsletter.

Celebrating and supporting the sector

In this edition, we have an article seeking your views on the Best Start, Best Life reforms by completing a short survey through the Engage Victoria website.

Dear early childhood education and care services,

We’re entering an extremely busy period of the year, as we continue consultation on our nation-leading reforms, are communicating about 2024 kindergarten enrolments with our community, look ahead to the Victorian Early Years Awards, and anticipate the fun and adventure of Education Week.

In this edition, we have an article seeking your views on the Best Start, Best Life reforms by completing a short survey through the Engage Victoria website. The insights from this survey will help shape early childhood education in Victoria over the next decade, and to shape the unprecedented $14 billion Best Start, Best Life investment.

The survey should take between 5 to 8 minutes to complete and will close on Sunday 14 May 2023. Please share the link with your colleagues, networks and families.

Last month, we saw the announcement of an additional $159 million to support the kindergarten workforce. This investment will help recruit and upskill the quality, skilled staff integral to achieving the best start for Victorian children and provide opportunities for existing educators, teachers and service leaders, no matter where they work across Victoria.

The funding will assist 780 diploma-qualified educators to become degree-qualified teachers, improve placement and mentoring experiences for 550 students, and enable up to 200 trainees to undertake a paid traineeship in an early childhood service.

This initiative is about supporting people to build careers in the early childhood education sector, grow in their current roles and ensure our services can continue to support children on the path towards their best life.

We’re already seeing so many positive results. I am proud that we are creating opportunities for people such as Chelsea Ford, from Merri Community Childcare Centre in Thornbury. I hope you enjoy this video of Chelsea in action.

Chelsea is one of thousands of Victorians who have benefited from financial support to pursue a career in early childhood education, and to take up positions making a lasting difference to children and families in their communities. This video shows what our workforce investment is all about, and I look forward to sharing more information about these programs in the coming months.

As we continue to showcase great examples of outstanding educators, teachers and practice within the sector, it’s time to turn our attention to one of the highlights of the year: the Victorian Early Years Awards.

The 2022 awards were a wonderful success, and I am looking forward to another great year. Nominations for the 2023 awards are open until Wednesday 14 June 2023, and I am excited that this year we have introduced 2 new award categories.

Acknowledging the dedication and skill of the early childhood education and care workforce gives us yet another view into your fantastic achievements across the state. Thank you very much for everything you continue to do to support Victoria’s children, families and communities.

Kim Little
Deputy Secretary
Early Childhood Education

Help shape the future of early childhood education

Contribute to the Best Start, Best Life reform – participate in a short survey by 14 May 2023.

A teacher sitting with some students in a classroom.

If you work for a service that provides early childhood education, we’d like to hear from you.

Public consultation is now open for the Best Start, Best Life reform, which represents the most significant change to Victoria’s early childhood education sector in a generation.

You can play a part in shaping the implementation of this reform by completing a short survey through the Engage Victoria website.

The survey should take between 5 to 8 minutes to complete and will close on Sunday 14 May 2023.

Please share the survey with your networks

We are also seeking feedback from parents and carers, and members of the Victorian public with an interest in early childhood education.

This could include those who are part of the broader early childhood sector, such as maternal and child health nurses, allied health professionals, social workers, or anyone with an interest in early childhood education.

Anyone can access the survey through the Engage Victoria website.

Please share this survey link with your colleagues, networks, and families.

We are excited about the opportunities for early childhood education over the next decade and look forward to continuing to work with you to shape the reform.

Find out more

For more information on the reform, refer to Best Start, Best Life.

For further enquiries, contact the Best Start Best Life Taskforce Advisory Group Secretariat by email:

Information sessions on the new Coaching Program for Returning Teachers and Educators

Learn more about the new coaching program delivered by Gowrie Victoria on behalf of the department, at an information session in May.

A teacher showing toys to a student in a classroom.

A new, free coaching program is open to support teachers and educators returning to, or joining, the Victorian early childhood workforce, with information sessions coming up in May.

The program, delivered by Gowrie Victoria in partnership with the department, aims to support returning teachers and educators to access local networks and development opportunities. Gowrie Victoria is accepting registrations from people keen to participate in the coaching program.

Join an online information session on either Wednesday 24 or Tuesday 30 May 2023 for a briefing on the program and its benefits. We encourage sector leaders and experienced early childhood professionals to attend these one-hour sessions.

Please share this information with your colleagues.

Session details

Gowrie Victoria will deliver 2 Coaching Program for Returning Teachers and Educators information sessions in May. Refer below for session and registration details.

Date: Wednesday 24 May 2023
Time: 4 pm to 5 pm
Platform: Microsoft Teams
Cost: free.

Date: Tuesday 30 May 2023
Time 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Platform: Microsoft Teams
Cost: free.

To register to attend one of the information sessions, please email:

Find out more

For more information about the program, visit Gowrie Victoria.

Victorian Early Years Awards for 2023 are open for nominations

Please submit a nomination by 14 June 2023. (anyone can nominate, staff, managers, parents, you and me)

Victorian Early Years Awards for 2023 are open for nominations logo

The 2023 Victorian Early Years Awards (VEYA) are now open for nominations.

Everyone can submit a nomination for the awards, which recognise the achievements of those working at the heart of Victoria’s education system.

The awards, now in their 18th year, celebrate the individuals, teams and organisations improving the health, learning, development and wellbeing of Victorian children and their families.

This year’s awards introduce 2 new categories:

  • recognising the importance of Aboriginal inclusion and perspectives in ensuring all services are accessible to Koorie children and families. This award commemorates the work and legacy of Aunty Rose Bamblett (dec)
  • recognising early childhood educators who make a vital contribution to early childhood services and children’s learning outcomes.

Recognising dedication and skill

Kim Little, Deputy Secretary, Early Childhood Education, encouraged everyone in the sector to submit nominations for the awards.

‘Victoria’s early childhood professionals should feel proud of all you have achieved – don’t hide your light under a bushel, put yourself or your colleague or organisation forward for an award,’ Kim said.

‘There's never been a better time to recognise and celebrate the great work happening every day in the early childhood sector.’

In addition to the 2 new categories, the other awards categories focus on:

  • improving engagement in learning
  • supporting parents
  • building collaborative community partnerships
  • improving child health and wellbeing
  • exemplary practice in early childhood education
  • effective leadership
  • significant improvement in learning and teaching practices.

Winners of each category will receive a grant of $15,000 for professional development or to support their nominated initiative. The finalists and winners in each category are also eligible to win the prestigious Minister’s Award, selected by the Minister for Early Childhood and Pre-Prep.

How to nominate

It’s easy to submit a nomination for these awards. You can nominate yourself, a colleague or an early childhood leader, service or organisation that has demonstrated leadership, outstanding achievement, exceptional dedication or innovation.

To read the nomination guidelines and submit a nomination, visit Victorian Early Years Awards.

Nominations opened on Tuesday 2 May 2023 and close on Wednesday 14 June 2023.

Find out more

For further information, contact Vicki Elliott, senior policy officer, by email:

Safety alert for poisonous mushrooms

Understand and share advice about poisonous mushrooms.

Image of mushrooms

All early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, staff and families should be aware of the dangers of wild mushrooms. During autumn, all ECEC services are asked to regularly inspect their grounds for mushroom growth, and be vigilant during bush kinder and excursions.

This follows the health alert issued by the Victorian Department of Health Chief Health Officer on Wednesday 12 April 2023 about the danger of consuming potentially poisonous mushrooms, particularly death cap mushrooms and yellow staining mushrooms. These mushrooms commonly grow in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. You can view images of the 2 poisonous mushrooms on the Better Health Channel's Mushroom poisoning webpage.

The toxin in death cap mushrooms remains even after cooking, peeling or drying. If ingested, poisoning can cause nausea, stomach cramps and/or long-term liver damage resulting in death.

Yellow staining mushrooms look similar to field mushrooms commonly found in supermarkets but can be harmful if consumed. Symptoms experienced after consumption include nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The severity of symptoms varies with the amount eaten.

What to do if you find mushrooms on ECEC grounds

Do not pick or eat wild mushrooms. Please let families and children know about the dangers of these mushrooms and reinforce to them not to touch any mushrooms they find. ECEC staff should:

  • while wearing gloves, pick and remove any mushrooms growing
  • carefully place mushrooms and used gloves in a bag and dispose of them in a closed rubbish bin
  • wash hands thoroughly.

If a mushroom is consumed at an ECEC service

Do not wait for symptoms to occur before seeking medical attention.

If you suspect mushroom poisoning, phone Triple Zero (000) or the Victorian Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 (24 hours, 7 days a week).

Please carefully collect any remaining mushrooms for identification, using the same safety steps as noted above.

Incident reporting

Approved providers must notify Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD), the Regulatory Authority, within 24 hours if children are unwell due to contact with mushrooms and medical attention is required, including if emergency services attend.

Read about when providers must notify the Regulatory Authority about incidents and complaints.

Policy, guidance and resources

Help in languages other than English

If English is not your main language and you need an interpreter:

Find out more

For more information, refer to Mushroom poisoning – Better Health Channel.

Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference resources

Access resources and recordings from the conference sessions to catch up on expert presentations and panel discussions.

A group of individuals in a conference

The inaugural Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference on Wednesday 15 February 2023 brought together more than 2,000 early childhood Educational Leaders, experts and practitioners from across the state.

The conference theme, ‘Evidence for impact: giving children the best start’, encouraged strong, evidence-informed discussion about early childhood education.

Recordings and further resources from the conference sessions are available on the conference website, including:

  • recordings of the panel discussion on using evidence and reflective practice; the keynote from Professor Jane Bertrand; the presentation from ARC Laureate Professor Marilyn Fleer; and the keynote from Sir Kevan Collins
  • links to research from Professor Iram Siraj OBE on the evidence for educational leadership in improving quality.

We hope attendees were inspired by the world-renowned experts and local practitioners and have new ideas ready to put into action.

Find out more

For further information about the conference, including accessing the recordings, refer to Best Start, Best Life 2023 Educational Leaders Conference.

Get active during Education Week 2023

Ideas to celebrate and get children moving and making during Education Week, from 14 to 20 May 2023.

A teacher playing with a kid in a kindergarten.

Education Week is an annual celebration of public education in Victoria, and this year it’s from Sunday 14 to Saturday 20 May 2023.

It’s an opportunity for early childhood services to celebrate with their children and families, and to share what makes your service great.

This year’s theme ‘Active Learners: Move, Make, Motivate’ focuses on some of the amazing ways children learn through physical activity and hands-on learning.

What services can do

There are many ways to celebrate Education Week in your early childhood service:

  • use your regular communications with parents and carers to promote how your service uses physical activity and hands-on learning in early childhood education.
  • visit the Education Week website to watch a video of Aunty Fay reading her book Birds in the Bush, which was part of this year’s Kinder Kit
  • encourage parents and carers to make use of the materials in this year’s Kinder Kits including seeds, story cubes and wild dough to see what the children produce or talk about.
  • communicate with families about the benefits of enrolling their children in 3- and 4-year-old kindergarten.

Find out more

For further information including resources and ideas for celebrations, visit Education Week.

Cultural connections support safety at kinder for Koorie families

Watch and share this video to learn how to ensure a culturally safe early learning environment.

A teacher showing a book to a group of kids in a classroom

A new video in the Koorie Kids Shine series shows how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families are being welcomed into safe and accepting early childhood learning environments.

In Cultural Safety at Kinder, Aboriginal parent Shakara Montalto discusses what's important for her in sending her son to kinder. In the video, educator Justine Molony also explains how services welcome the opportunity to include cultural diversity and practices in learning programs.

The new video highlights the importance of acknowledging, including and celebrating Aboriginal culture as part of the exciting developments in Victorian funded kindergarten programs.

Support in action

Cultural Safety at Kinder encourages continuous learning about Aboriginal culture and points to resources, support and activities for families and educators.

As Free Kinder expands to support all children with access to 15 hours of free Three-Year-Old Kindergarten by 2029, access for eligible children to Early Start Kindergarten (ESK) remains a priority for all Victorian funded kindergarten programs.

Services accurately recording ESK enrolments will be allocated additional funding, with long day care services able to reduce childcare gap fees for families, including School Readiness Funding.

To ensure that Aboriginal children are enrolled in ESK and all supports are available to the families and your service, services are encouraged to discuss eligibility for ESK with families and professionals working directly with families.

Start by sharing this video and contacting your regional Koorie Education Coordinator to discuss cultural safety at your kinder.

Find out more

For more information, refer to Early childhood education programs supporting Aboriginal children.

Maintaining cyber security

Access tips and resources to help your service manage information safely and securely online.

A woman typing on a keyboard

Early childhood services are increasingly managing sensitive information about staff, children and families online, and it is critical that you understand how to keep these important records safe.

To learn about the simple steps you can take to maintain the security of your information, services should refer to resources from the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Australian eSafety Commissioner.

In particular, we suggest you refer to these resources from the Australian Cyber Security Centre:

Service managers and directors should also refer to the eSafety Commissioner’s eSafety Checklist to assess their online environment for eSafety.

Supporting children to be safe online

While thinking about your service’s cybersecurity responsibilities, you could also take the opportunity to share online safety tips with the children in your care.

The eSafety Commissioner’s website has useful information and resources for educators for services aimed at the early years.

These resources encourage young children to be safe, be kind, ask for help and make good choices when they are online.

Find out more

For more information, refer to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Funding boost for Building Blocks Capacity Grants

Access increased funding for projects that create additional kindergarten places by building new, or expanding existing, infrastructure.

An outdoor kids playground

The Victorian Government has significantly increased the funding available under the Capacity Building stream of its Building Blocks Grants program, for projects to be completed by June 2026.

For new facilities, the change represents a more than doubling of funding for the sector, as part of the grants stream’s funding increase for projects that create additional kindergarten places for 3- and 4-year-olds by building new, or expanding existing, infrastructure.

Through these changes, funding has been increased for:

  • expansion projects, to $1 million
  • new early learning facilities, to $4 million
  • integrated children’s centres, to $4.5 million.

As part of the initiative, new grants of up to $150,000 are also available for project planning, scoping and design. This will further support the early childhood sector to plan and deliver vital infrastructure ahead of the roll-out of Pre-Prep.

Applications for Capacity building grants are open year-round and assessed in batches throughout the year. For more information, including details on how to apply, refer to Capacity building grants.

Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Support Grants

In addition to the Building Blocks grants program expansion, the Victorian Government is also providing grant funding to local governments to support the update of Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plans (KISPs).

The grants will provide $5.2 million to support local government areas (LGAs) across the state to update KISPs, helping to identify when and where investment in early childhood infrastructure is required to support Three-Year-Old Kindergarten and Pre-Prep.

These new grants will help local governments to ensure KISPs remain a current and key planning document for the whole early childhood sector, ensuring more facilities are delivered to communities where and when they need them.

The grants will be provided in 3 tiers, to align with broadly projected demand for Pre-Prep:

  • growth local government authorities ($105,000)
  • metropolitan, interface and regional city local government authorities ($82,000)
  • rural local government authorities ($42,000).

Find out more

For more information, refer to: