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Over the recent weeks, there have been two critical incidents in NSW, with heavy media coverage of both incidents. This may be impacting on your service’s children, families and communities.

The Big Situations resource includes links to free and practical resources to support educators to respond to situations such as this. When educators feel prepared to respond to big situations, they are more able to remain inclusive of all children and continue to deliver a quality program. We encourage you to access our Critical Incidents page here or please contact your Inclusion Professional if you would like support.

The NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency (IA) is part of the Inclusion Support Program and is managed by KU Children’s Services, in partnership with Include Me and Gowrie NSW.

The Inclusion Support Program aims to build the capacity and capability of educators to address participation barriers for all children through implementing quality inclusive practices.

Understanding Inclusion

When we are talking about inclusion, are we talking about the same thing?

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) tells us that inclusion involves:

‘...taking into account all children’s social, cultural and linguistic diversity (including learning styles, abilities, disabilities, gender, family circumstances and geographic location) in curriculum decision-making processes. The intent is to ensure that:

  • all children’s experiences are recognised and valued
  • all children have equitable access to resources and participation, and opportunities to demonstrate their learning and to value difference.’

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2009). Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Canberra, ACT: DEEWR (p.45).

Inclusion is Important

Everyone benefits

All children have the right to be included in children’s services. We know from research that all children benefit from belonging to, and participating in, quality inclusive child care.

An inclusive service provides a unique opportunity for children to play, develop and learn together with children of their own age. These relationships are the foundations for learning and provide a powerful way of belonging to a group and developing a sense of self.

When educators value inclusion you will see them...

  • Embracing the rights of all children to access and participate in programs
  • Welcoming all children at the service
  • Providing flexible programs and environments that meet individual needs and interests
  • Building partnerships with families and communities
  • Working collaboratively
  • Engaging in ongoing reflection and learning
  • Inviting and welcoming family and community participation
  • Knowing their knowledge, skills and experience are valued

How will we support you?

We recognise that the inclusion journey of your service is unique and that the inclusion needs of educators, individual care environments and the service as a whole quite often differ. The support we provide is tailored to meet the individual needs of your service.

You will be supported by an Inclusion Professional, who is based at an Inclusion Hub within the NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency.

Our Inclusion Professionals use a strengths-based approach, including coaching and practical inclusion advice when supporting your service. Support is provided through a combination of phone appointments, online appointments and service visits.

What is the role of an Inclusion Professional?

Your Inclusion Professional will support you to:

  • Acknowledge and identify your strengths
  • Reflect on your understanding of inclusion and identify inclusion barriers
  • Critically reflect on your practices
  • Overcome specific inclusion barriers by identifying and planning practical strategies and solutions through the development of a Strategic Inclusion Plan
  • Implement your services Strategic Inclusion Plan, reflect on your progress and identify next steps
  • Promote an understanding of inclusion principles with families and other professionals
  • Access all Inclusion Support Program (ISP) resources including the Inclusion Development Fund, if required, to support children to access and participate in every aspect of the program
  • Work in partnership with families, community groups, services and organisations

Inclusion Professionals are unable to:

  • Assess or support individual children
  • Provide funding for one to one support for individual children
  • Tell you what to do or what resources you have to use
  • Provide access to specialist equipment for therapy purposes
  • Complete planning and/or funding applications on your/the services behalf
  • Recommend ECEC services to families

Strategic Inclusion Planning

A Strategic Inclusion Plan is the first step in accessing support from the Inclusion Agency.

The Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP) is a self-guided inclusion assessment and planning tool for services, which includes strategies for improving and embedding inclusive practice, in line with the National Quality Standard (NQS).

Developing a Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP), in conjunction with us, supports you to identify your current inclusion capacity as well as identify strategies and actions you and your team will implement to ensure all children can actively and meaningfully participate in the program.

A Strategic Inclusion Plan is developed, implemented and evaluated within a 12 month period and can be updated at any time to reflect changes and to record progress.

A Strategic Inclusion Plan can link with your service’s Quality Improvement Plan or NSW Self-Assessment Working Document and may be sighted by Authorised Officers from state and territory regulatory authorities, as evidence of critical reflection and inclusion planning.

Valuing inclusion

SIP Promotion Postcard

The NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency recognises your service’s ongoing commitment to inclusion by providing your service with a Strategic Inclusion Plan postcard when you have an active Strategic Inclusion Plan.

This postcard can be displayed to show families, the community, Authorised Officers, and any other visitors to your service that you value diversity and recognise inclusion as a right for all children.

Each year that your service maintains an active SIP, your Inclusion Professional will provide your service with a new postcard for that year which shows that you continue to be a service that values inclusion.

Children with Additional Needs

While there is no national definition of ‘additional needs’, there are children who may need or require specific considerations or adaptations to participate fully in ECEC services (although not all children with additional needs will require support).

The Inclusion Support Program (ISP) supports educators to address access and participation barriers and to support the inclusion of children with additional needs, with their typically developing peers.

The Inclusion Support Program recognises that additional needs may arise for children who:

  • Have a disability or developmental delay
  • Are presenting with challenging behaviours
  • Have a serious medical or health condition, including mental health
  • Are presenting with trauma-related behaviours

and for children from:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Refugee or humanitarian backgrounds

who may also require special considerations, such as cultural support, to ensure that they are able to participate fully in early childhood education and care, out of school hours care and family day care services and experience positive outcomes.

Extract from: Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Inclusion Support Program Guidelines, Version 2.3, July 2021.

Specialist Equipment Library

The NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency includes the Specialist Equipment Library (SEL). The SEL loans a range of specialist equipment, free of charge, to early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to enable children to access and participate in all aspects of an ECEC program.

Additional Support Options

Through the development of a Strategic Inclusion Plan, educators might identify inclusion barriers that cannot be resolved through accessing support from the Inclusion Agency or Specialist Equipment Library (SEL) alone.

In these circumstances, the Inclusion Support Program (ISP) can provide further support to services through the Inclusion Development Fund Manager (IDFM).

Inclusion Development Fund Support Options

There are three streams of Inclusion Development Funds (IDF) available to support educators in Centre Based Day Care Services. Each have different eligibility criteria, application processes and approved funding purposes. These streams of IDF funding include:

  • Immediate/Time Limited Support
  • Subsidy for an Additional Educator
  • Innovative Solutions Support

Working Together

A common goal between educators and families is quality outcomes for children. Collaborative partnerships between early childhood educators and families are fundamental to achieving this.

In collaborative partnerships, families and educators:

  • value each other’s knowledge of each child
  • value each other’s roles in each child’s life
  • trust each other
  • communicate freely and respectfully with each other
  • share insights and perspectives about each child and engage in shared decision making.

(ACECQA, National Quality Standard Information sheet - Quality area 6 - Building partnerships with families. October 2016)

To support building relationships between educators and families, ECIA NSW/ACT, in collaboration with a working group representing the ECI and ECEC sectors, have developed a free resource called The Working Together Agreement that you might like to explore. This resource promotes and encourages a coordinated approach to inclusion for children with a disability and/or developmental delay.

How to Access Support

Please contact your Inclusion Professional directly, at a time that is convenient for you. Their contact details can be located at the bottom of each email they have sent your service.

Alternatively, please contact our friendly team at the IA Help Hub on 1800 703 382 (toll-free) or email us at

The NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency will also contact your service at least twice each year, via phone or email. This provides you with the opportunity to access support and share your inclusion achievements and challenges with your Inclusion Professional.

Your Inclusion Professional will share with you information about available inclusion resources, upcoming professional conversations opportunities and program support options.

We look forward to working with you soon and supporting you with your inclusion planning.

Resources to Support Inclusive Practice

Inclusion is PDF
80.68 KB [pdf]
Inclusion Matters Poster
1.41 MiB [pdf]
NSW Understanding Behaviour Poster CBDC FDC
1.68 MiB [pdf]
Steps to Inclusion
132.89 KB [pdf]
The Journey of Inclusion (Poster)
1,006.40 KB [pdf]

Inclusion in Action

CBDC innovative solutions article

Building Educator Capacity to support Bilingual and Bicultural Inclusion

While developing the Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP), the educators in this 3-5s care environment at Penshurst Long Day Care identified some barriers they were experiencing while supporting the inclusion of a child and family from a Nepalese background.

Click below to read about how the educators were able to support the child and build his confidence both to engage in activities and to establish connections with his peers through accessing Innovative Solutions Support