New beginnings for early childhood road safety education in australia - leading change through policy development
The first ever National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (NQF) introduced 1 January 2012, called for strong national leadership to improve the quality of education and care for children in Australia. The Road Safety Education Reference Group Australasia (RSERGA) responded to this challenge by advocating for the place of road safety education (RSE) in this new Framework, resulting in RSE being included in this new national regulatory environment. Today all Australian early childhood services can be assessed on how RSE is incorporated into the educational program. Although a significant achievement, this was just the beginning of the journey. All levels of the early childhood sector in Victoria needed assistance to meet the new NQF responsibilities relating to road safety. Research by Neuroscience Research Australia revealed deficits in knowledge about safe transportation of children among the Family Day Care sector in Victoria. VicRoads, together with Early Learning Association Australia, responded by leading the development of model best practice road safety education and safe transport policies to guide the sector to improve road safety knowledge, practice and outcomes. This paper will discuss the evidence-based approach to developing the policies and the support provided for successful implementation. A few years ago, this work would have been impossible, but RSERGA took the unique opportunity presented by national reform to embed road safety into the early childhood system, improving national outcomes for children and their families.