After advocacy and agitation by sector leaders, including from the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW President Lyn Connolly and her NSW Executive Committee, it is with some relief that the Education Council and ACECQA have announced that they will be postponing the expiry of Regulation 242 (ie "Persons taken to be early childhood teachers") from 31 December 2017 to 31 December 2019 in New South Wales and all other Australian states and territories except Victoria. ACA NSW awaits the full details of their decision in due course.

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The background to ACA NSW's concerns was highlighted by the Labour Market Research – Teachers (NSW) report from the Australian Federal Government’s Department of Employment dated April 2017, showing wide-ranging difficulties for recruitment particularly in NSW-based metropolitan areas as well as regional NSW in the long daycare sector. It reported that 2017 is the third consecutive year there has been difficulties with recruitment of early childhood teachers (ECTs) in NSW and follows a shortage in the occupation from 2008 to 2014.
 
Equally, the effective expiry of Regulation 242 after 31 December 2017 was likely to put at risk the ongoing employment of existing staff taken to be ECTs who were actively working towards an approved early childhood teaching qualification having already completed at least 50% of their course or hold an approved diploma level education and care qualification.

Without Regulation 242, approved childcare services could be obliged to consider terminating such existing staff members in favour of those that were fully qualified. And notwithstanding the possibility of the NSW Department of Education continuing to provide at least equivalent waivers after 31 December 2017, until clarification of such waivers is presented, there would remain uncertainty over affected staff members’ employment.

Moreover, ACA NSW was concerned that such staff who were previously taken to be ECTs may also find their employers withdrawing financial support for their existing courses as they shift their recruitment towards fully qualified ECTs in order to achieve compliance. Such financial support for staff taken to be ECTs is quite common in existing employment arrangements. Hence, this would have been an unintended adverse effect of further reducing Australian supply of qualified ECTs into the sector.
 
For now, ACA NSW is relieved that the expiry of Regulation 242 has been postponed to 31 December 2019. ACA NSW understands that childcare service providers would still be obliged to have appropriate staff that satisfies Regulation 242 on the basis of approved waivers from the NSW Department of Education.

Moreover, ACA NSW is awaiting advice from the NSW Department of Education as to what changes (if any) to the minimum requirements for waivers, and whether such changes (if any) would make it harder for childcare service providers to receive waivers from the Department. This is a matter which ACA NSW will share with members as soon as possible.

And this postponement still does not solve the current labour shortages. Hence, ACA NSW is providing members with assistance with recruitment for ECTs and educators.