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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9214

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (22:10): I rise tonight to recognise and salute Southern Grampians Shire Council family day care educator Joyce Tonissen, who has been named a regional winner in the Family Day Care Australia Educator of the Year awards. Joyce has been providing her home based childcare and education services for over 15 years. She is a worthy winner. 'Overwhelmed and honoured' was how Joyce described her feelings when she learnt of her award. It is deserved recognition for all the time and effort she has put into educating young people over those 15 years.

But there is a sad side to this story. Joyce has already made the decision to cease provision of her service at the end of the year. Why? Joyce has said of her decision to retire:

Having to implement the new National Regulations and Frameworks has certainly brought forward my decision sooner rather than later.

The coalition shadow minister said last week at the Family Day Care Association International Conference:

Our worry in the Coalition is that many good people will be forced out of the industry as a result of the new qualifications requirements.

She went on to say:

This is one area where the NQF clearly could have done better in automatic recognition of the skills and experience of these carers.

Sadly, Joyce Tonissen has become an example of this, and it is a shame. With a bit of common sense, Joyce could continue to provide her family day care centre service.

Here is an idea for the government—and I do not think it is too late for them to implement it. Why could we not find a way to ensure that more experienced childcare workers are given appropriate recognition for their prior learning? Why don't we come to our senses? Maybe someone straight out of TAFE should not have their qualifications deemed superior to those of someone who has run a centre, as Joyce has, for 15 years. Maybe we could find a way to ensure that people who have 15 years of experience are not forced out of the industry—they can stay in it and continue to provide their services. Perhaps there could be a rule which says that, if you have 10 years experience in the sector, we will recognise that experience and we will not send you off to do a costly course just so you have a certificate which recognises your ability to teach and look after these young children. We could recognise that these people have the experience.

While the coalition recognise the positive elements of the national quality framework, the example of Joyce shows that its implementation has been grossly mishandled. We have already stated publicly that we would like the Productivity Commission to look at this whole area, and that is what we are doing. As I speak, the shadow minister is preparing the terms and conditions on which the Productivity Commission will conduct its review if the coalition form the next government. In the meantime, I make this plea to the government: look at the example of Joyce, look at the award she received—regional winner in the Family Day Care Australia Educator of the Year Awards—and look for a commonsense way for us to recognise her outstanding service, rather than have her retire.