New Regulations for Short Term Relief of Educators at Centre-Based Services in Australia

Educators play a critical role in shaping the future of our children, so the regulations that guide their operations must be adhered to stringently. From 1st July 2023, significant changes are coming into effect for approved providers of centre-based services in Australia. These adjustments aim to provide more flexibility in the replacement of educators with a certificate III or diploma level qualification when they are absent for a short period.

More Flexibility for Replacing Educators

Under the new regulations, approved providers are allowed to replace a certificate III or diploma level educator temporarily absent due to reasons such as illness, leave, resignation, or attendance at supervised professional experience placements, with a person who holds a qualification in primary teaching (regulation 126A). This means the person substituting will be counted at the same level as the educator they’re replacing.

To give a practical scenario, if a diploma level educator falls sick and needs time off, a person with a primary teaching qualification can step in and be counted as a diploma level educator. This flexibility offers an efficient solution to maintain the quality of education and care provided to children, while ensuring no disruptions to the service’s operations.

Timeframes for Replacing Educators

However, there are time constraints on these replacements. An educator’s role, whether certificate III or diploma level, can be replaced for no more than 30 days within any 12-month period, while still meeting the requirements in regulation 126. This stipulation is calculated per role, not per individual educator. The 12-month period is not tied to a specific commencement date or calendar year, but is determined by reviewing the 12 months prior to the day the educator role is being replaced.

For instance, if a full-time certificate III level educator, like our hypothetical Jill, takes sick leave on 8th August 2023, a primary school teacher can cover his role, such as Erica. To determine the regulation’s compliance, the service would look back 12 months to 7th August 2022, adding up the total number of days Jill’s role was filled by a primary school teacher. If the accumulated total exceeds 30 days, the service would be out of line with regulation 126.

Early Childhood Teacher and Suitably Qualified Person Illness or Absence

The flexibility in regulations also extends to Early Childhood Teachers (ECT), second ECTs, and Suitably Qualified Persons (SQP). If they are absent due to illness, short-term leave, resignation, or attending supervised professional experience placements for approved qualifications, someone can replace them with an approved diploma level or primary teaching qualification (regulation 135). However, certain specific rules apply to New South Wales (NSW), under regulation 272(6).

New Record Keeping Requirements

From 1st July 2023, new record keeping requirements are being introduced for approved providers. These records need to capture details when an educator, ECT, or SQP is replaced. Details like the name of the person replaced, the role being replaced, the qualification of the replacement, the dates of replacement, and the reason for absence must be recorded. This will help providers keep track of the number of days each role is replaced, ensuring the maximum limit is not breached: 30 days for certificate III and diploma level educators, and 60 days for ECTs or SQPs.

Guidance for Educators Actively Working Towards a Qualification

For educators ‘actively working towards’ a qualification, additional guidance has been developed to assist providers in ensuring these educators are making satisfactory progress. This change also affects family day care educators working on their approved certificate III level (or higher) qualification.

As early childhood education continues to evolve, these regulations reflect an effort to maintain high levels of service while providing greater flexibility in managing staff. Staying informed about these changes is essential for all stakeholders in this sector, from educators to parents.

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