PARS in Australia

Like many things PARS, PARS Australia really began in Hong Kong! In 2015 several Australians attended a Certificate in PARS Playwork Practice course in HK, delivered by Dr Shelly Newstead. In October 2020, one of those participants became our first PARS Licensed Trainer in Australia – Rarni Rothwell! 

Two PARS Online Masterclasses were successfully delivered in 2020 for out of school educators in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. The PARS sessions have been very effective with the Australian School Age Care educators. The My Time, Our Place – Framework for School Age Care in Australia (DEEWR, 2011) is about making care services for school aged children better. The Framework helps care services to develop opportunities for school aged children to participate in leisure and play-based activities that respond to their needs, interests and choices. My Time, Our Place is part of the Australian Government’s National Quality Framework which is about ensuring children receive a high standard of education and care. 

The Framework

The Framework outlines five outcomes that are based on six principles and achieved using eight practices. The Framework, views play as an end in itself, as well as the means by which children develop communication skills, citizenship, identities, well-being and learning abilities (DEEWR, 2011). The Framework has the following five Outcomes:

Children have a strong sense of identity

Children are connected with and contribute to their world

Children have a strong sense of wellbeing

Children are confident and involved learners

Children are effective communicators.

The Framework describes how working in collaboration with children and in partnership with families, educators use the Outcomes to guide their planning for children’s wellbeing and learning. In order to engage children actively in learning, educators identify children’s strengths and interests, choose appropriate strategies and design the environments. The Framework supports a model of program decision-making as an ongoing cycle. This involves educators drawing on their professional knowledge, including their in-depth knowledge of children. In collaboration with children and families, educators carefully evaluate to inform further planning.

PARS professional development sessions have aligned with the principles and practices in the Australian Framework. The playwork theories have provided Australian educators with foundational knowledge to help them identify children’s strengths and interests. Further the sessions on strategies have provided educators with a deeper understanding about their practice and helped them to make appropriate decisions about what forms an effective program.

We are currently engaged in a research project that will complement the evaluation undertaken by Queensland Children’s Activities Network about the impact and effectiveness of the PARS Training/ Evidence. To date the evidence suggests that educators have been pleased with the format and presentation of the PARS professional development in enhancing the development of their staff team. and developing their professional skills in particular the skills of reflective thinking.

The PARS model and associated professional development is supporting OSHC educators to have access to evidence and resources, and understanding about how to effectively incorporate them into their practice in school age care settings across Australia. The OSHC services have noted that the impact and relevance of this professional development is exceptional for its capacity to upskill educators who work with school age children in after school programs.

Dr Jennifer Cartmel, Senior Lecturer – Child Youth and Family Studies, Griffith University. Commissioned to write My Time Our Place for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Government of Australia (DEEWR) (2011) My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia. Canberra, ACT, Australia: Government of Australia.
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To find out more about PARS training in Australia, check our current course dates here or contact us to arrange a course in your area.

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