The Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) service providers have announced the launch of Outside School Hours Council of Australia (OSHCA), an association established to represent, support and advocate for the interests of children and families receiving care.
The association is set to leverage its organisational reach to work collaboratively with decision-makers and the wider industry to promote an underdressing of, and improve standard, practices and outcomes in the OSHC sector.
Inaugural president and founding member of OSHCA Sinead Ryan says the association exists to advocate for Australia’s childcare system, ensuring it’s innovative and robust enough to support the specific needs of the OSHC sector and advance the wellbeing and development of primary school-age children.
“This will involve a strong focus on building the skills and expertise of the OSHC workforce so we can continue delivering the high-quality OSH care that Australian families need and expect,” says Ryan.
Following the impacts of COVID-19 on the OSHC sector, including a decrease in attendance levels and job security, the group recognises the need for a representative body to promote and added the interests of the sector.
Ryan highlights that OSHC plays an essential role in the provision of supervised care and recreation for school-age children before and after school, on pupil-free days and during school holidays.
“What really came to the fore this year is that the unique operating environment of the OSHC sector, compared to other segments of childcare, is not widely understood by decision-makers and the community at large,” says Ryan.
“It’s therefore been encouraging to see such strong engagement from governments across Australia, including their willingness to support the OSHC sector, and we look forward to continuing to build on this.”
In addition, the association is shifting its focus to fostering new skills and development among the OSHC workforce to rebuild confidence in the vocation, which was hit hard following the shutdown of schools and OSHC services.