Wise moral decisions will always
acknowledge our interdependency; our moral choices are ours
alone, but they bind us all to those who will be affected by
them. So deciding for yourself what's right or wrong does not
mean deciding in isolation' (Mackay, 2004, p. 242).
This Code of Ethics provides a framework
for reflection about the ethical responsibilities of early childhood
professionals. Following a national process of consultation,
principles emerged which are indicative of the values we share as
early childhood professionals in Australia. The Code is intended for
use by all early childhood professionals who work with or on behalf
of children and families in early childhood settings.
In developing this second edition of Early
Childhood Australia's Code of Ethics, the national working party was
mindful of changes in the knowledge base of early childhood that
have occurred over the last decade. New research has allowed
significant changes in understandings to emerge that reposition
children as citizens with entitlements and rights. Increasingly,
children are seen as competent and capable and able to participate
in the negotiation of their learning and social experiences.
Additionally, societal and environmental changes at the local,
national and global levels impact on children and families with
consequent implications for our work. In recognition of the impact
of globalisation and global sustainability, this revised Code
identifies ethical responsibilities to work with children and
families in order to address global issues locally.
Just as the world has changed for children
and families, so it has changed for professionals who work with
them. The notion of lifelong learning, reflective practice,
researching with children, new methods of documenting and assessing
children's learning, and collaborating across traditional service
and discipline boundaries are examples of contemporary requirements
for early childhood professionals.
Inherent in this Code is the understanding
that children learn within their family and community groups,
bringing rich knowledge, a diversity of experiences and identities
to their learning. Sociocultural theories have moved our focus
beyond individual children's development to highlight the importance
of social contexts to children's learning and development. As
children participate and learn in their communities, they in turn
influence those communities. Early childhood communities ought to be
spaces and places where practices such as responsive listening and
dialogue can build connections and relationships which sustain and
advance individual and collective wellbeing.
Early childhood professionals have a strong
history of advocating on behalf of children and their families. This
revised Code builds on this tradition by making explicit the ethical
responsibility to take action in the face of injustice and when
unethical practice occurs.
This Code is not intended to, and could not
possibly provide easy answers, formulae, or prescriptive solutions
for the complex issues early childhood professionals face in their
work. As an aspirational document, it does provide a basis for
critical reflection, a guide for professional behaviour, and
principles to inform individual and collective decision-making.
The following values and processes are
considered central to the Code of Ethics:
- social and cultural responsiveness
In this Code of Ethics, for the purposes of
this document, these terms are given the following meanings:
Children — People between the
ages of birth and eight years.
Families — The people who have significant care
responsibilities for and/or kinship relationships with the
Early Childhood Professional — A person who works with or
on behalf of children and families in early childhood settings.
Communities — Groups of people who identify as having
shared values and intentions. These groups are recognised as
complex, being simultaneously connected by commonality and
Employer — An individual or organisation which employs
early childhood professionals.
Student — A person undertaking study at a secondary or
In this Code of Ethics the protection and
wellbeing of children is paramount and therefore speaking out or
taking action in the presence of unethical practice is an essential
- Act in the best interests of all
- Respect the rights of children as
enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child (1991) and commit to advocating for these rights.
- Recognise children as active citizens
participating in different communities such as family,
children's services and schools.
- Work with children to help them
understand that they are global citizens with shared
responsibilities to the environment and humanity.
- Respect the special relationship
between children and their families and incorporate this
perspective in all my interactions with children.
- Create and maintain safe, healthy
environments, spaces and places, which enhance children's
learning, development, engagement, initiative, self-worth,
dignity and show respect for their contributions.
- Work to ensure children and families
with additional needs can exercise their rights.
- Acknowledge the uniqueness and
potential of all children, in recognition that enjoying their
childhood without undue pressure is important.
- Acknowledge the holistic nature of
children's learning and the significance of children's cultural
and linguistic identities.
- Work to ensure children are not
discriminated against on the basis of gender, age, ability,
economic status, family structure, lifestyle, ethnicity,
religion, language, culture, or national origin.
- Acknowledge children as competent
learners, and build active communities of engagement and
- Honour children's right to play, as
both a process and context for learning.
- Listen to and learn from families, in
order to acknowledge and build upon their strengths and
competencies, and support them in their role of nurturing
- Assist each family to develop a sense
of belonging and inclusion.
- Develop positive relationships based
on mutual trust and open communication.
- Develop partnerships with families and
engage in shared decision making where appropriate.
- Acknowledge the rights of families to
make decisions about their children.
- Respect the uniqueness of each family
and strive to learn about their culture, structure, lifestyle,
customs, language, beliefs and kinship systems.
- Develop shared planning, monitoring
and assessment practices for children's learning and communicate
this in ways that families understand.
- Acknowledge that each family is
affected by the community contexts in which they engage.
- Be sensitive to the vulnerabilities of
children and families and respond in ways that empower and
maintain the dignity of all children and families.
- Maintain confidentiality and respect
the right of the family to privacy.
- Encourage my colleagues to adopt and
act in accordance with this Code, and take action in the
presence of unethical behaviours.
- Build collaborative relationships
based on trust, respect and honesty.
- Acknowledge and support the personal
strengths, professional experience and diversity which my
colleagues bring to their work.
- Make every effort to use constructive
methods to manage differences of opinion in the spirit of
- Share and build knowledge, experiences
and resources with my colleagues.
- Collaborate with my colleagues to
generate a culture of continual reflection and renewal of high
quality practices in early childhood.
- Learn about the communities that I
work within and enact curriculum programs which are responsive
to those contexts and community priorities.
- Connect with people, services and
agencies within the communities that support children and
- Promote shared aspirations amongst
communities in order to enhance children's health and wellbeing.
- Advocate for the development and
implementation of laws and policies that promote child-friendly
communities and work to change those that work against child and
- Utilise knowledge and research to
advocate for universal access to a range of high-quality early
childhood programs for all children.
- Work to promote community
understanding of how children learn in order that appropriate
systems of assessment and reporting are used to benefit
- Afford professional opportunities and
resources for students to demonstrate their competencies.
- Acknowledge and support the personal
strengths, professional knowledge, diversity and experience
which students bring to the learning environment.
- Model high-quality professional
- Know the requirements of the students'
individual institutions and communicate openly with the
representatives of that institution.
- Provide ongoing constructive feedback
and assessment that is fair and equitable.
- Implement strategies that will empower
students to make positive contributions to the workplace.
- Maintain confidentiality in relation
- Support workplace policies, standards
and practices that are fair, non-discriminatory and are in the
best interest of children and families.
- Promote and support ongoing
professional development within my work team.
- Adhere to lawful policies and
procedures and when there is conflict, attempt to effect change
through constructive action within the organisation or seek
change through appropriate procedures.
- Base my work on contemporary
perspectives on research, theory, content knowledge, high
quality early childhood practices and my understandings of the
children and families with whom I work.
- Regard myself as a learner who
undertakes reflection, critical self-study, continuing
professional development and engages with contemporary theory
- Seek and build collaborative
- Acknowledge the power dimensions
within professional relationships.
- Act in ways that advance the interests
and standing of my profession.
- Work within the limits of my
professional role and avoid misrepresentation of my professional
competence and qualifications.
- Mentor other early childhood
professionals and students.
- Advocate in relation to issues that
impact on my profession and on young children and their
- Encourage qualities and practices of
leadership within the early childhood profession.
- Recognise that research includes my
routine documentation and investigations of children's learning
and development, as well as more formal research projects
undertaken with and by external bodies.
- Be responsive to children's
participation in research, negotiating their involvement taking
account of matters such as safety, fatigue, privacy and their
- Support research to strengthen and
expand the knowledge base of early childhood, and where
possible, initiate, contribute to, facilitate and disseminate
- Make every effort to understand the
purpose and value of proposed research projects and make
informed decisions as to the participation of myself,
colleagues, children, families and communities.
- Ensure research in which I am involved
meets standard ethical procedures including informed consent,
opportunity to withdraw and confidentiality.
- Ensure that images of children and
other data are only collected with informed consent and are
stored and utilised according to legislative and policy
- Represent the findings of all research
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Used by permission of Early Childhood