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Publications and projects

Investing resources to help improve Australia’s evidence base for early childhood practice.

Since 2010, we have invested resources to help improve Australia’s evidence base for early childhood practice.

We partner with universities on research projects that will add to the early learning body of evidence, benefiting Goodstart, our families, children and staff and the wider early learning sector.

Read about some of the current research underway that Goodstart has commissioned, funded or provided in-kind support to. 

Australian Research Linkage Projects

South Australia Data Linkage Research Project

At Goodstart, we’re always looking to create better outcomes for children and their learning and development. This is why we’re excited to be joining a world class South Australia Data Linkage Project. This research will give Goodstart evidence about what works best for children and what we can do better, so that we can keep improving our early learning programs to support every child and their learning needs for school and life.

In 2022, many of our South Australian families provided consent to participate in this research project acknowledging the high level of security, privacy and ethics standards being adhered to and understanding that their information will not be identifiable. The Participant Information Sheet provides more detail about the family consent process and can be accessed here.

If you consented to participate in this research and you’ve changed your mind for any reason, you can let us know at the following email address:

ARC Centre of Excellence for the Life Course | University of Queensland Life Course Centre

This Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence Partnership with the Life Course Centre represents a unique opportunity to connect and learn with a national and international network of academic, policy and practice expertise in addressing deep and persistent disadvantage in Australia. Our collaborative focus is on three areas: Access and Equity, child outcomes and workforce. The outcomes of this collaboration will enable Goodstart to continuously improve its provision of high-quality early learning, enable researchers to achieve an increasingly granular understanding of the impacts on early learning outcomes, and will provide policy makers with evidence from Australia’s single-largest early learning system.

Identifying effective strategies to grow and sustain a professional years workforce | Queensland University of Technology

This Australian Research Council Linkage project being undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in partnership with Goodstart is identifying the factors underlying positive and sustained engagement in the early learning and care sector workforce from the perspective of sector workers. It aims to assess the strategies that will best meet the goals of the sector and the national interest in building and sustaining a qualified sector workforce. Initial findings from the study are available here.

Irvine, S., Thorpe, K., McDonald, P., Lunn, J., & Sumsion, J., (2016, May). Money, Love and Identity: Initial findings from the National ECEC Workforce Study. Summary report from the national ECEC Workforce Development Policy Workshop, Brisbane, Queensland: QUT.

This research features a completed Masters thesis by Goodstart Early Learning Consultant Sharon McKinlay, available here.

What’s best for my child? | University of Sydney

A four-year research study is underway with the University of Sydney to explore parents’ understanding of early learning and childcare quality, and how these understandings contribute to childcare choice. The project will inform the Australia Government’s policy directive of giving children the best start in life and support parents’ capacity to make choices that they consider are best for their child. This is an Australian Research Council Linkage project.

Fenech, Marianne. Building parents' understandings of early learning and quality early childhood education and care [online]. Every Child, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2017: 22-23. Availability: <;dn=674400205944888;res=IELHSS> ISSN: 1322-0659. [cited 20 Mar 17].

Major commissioned and collaborative research

Goodstart Practice Guide Evaluation | University of Wollongong
University of Wollongong is evaluating change in environmental and pedagogical quality as a result of Goodstart’s implementation of the Goodstart Practice Guide (comprising evidence-informed practice to support Goodstart educators in early learning planning, delivery and evaluation).

Professional Development in prior to school settings: technology integration through practitioner inquiry projects | Charles Sturt University
A six-month study with CSU is examining teacher’s perceptions of professional development and practitioner inquiry in developing skills to effectively use technology in prior to school contexts.

Pathways to Excellence | Charles Sturt University
Five NSW Exceeding Centres (ACECQA) are participating in this three-year research project to further improve pedagogical practices and to document and share learnings with other services within Goodstart’s network and wider sector. It involves educators and researchers engaging in collaborative, sustained, deep and critical reflection within broad themes of interactions, space and experiences.

Researching Effective Early Learning | University of Wollongong
This two-year study with the University of Wollongong is focused on enhancing child development through providing sustainable and effective professional development.

Selected research papers

Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, Cloney, D., Degotardi, S., Ries, Y., & Wong, S. (2018). Priorities for early learning: Policy and professional directions to improve outcomes for Australian children. Paper prepared for the Commonwealth Minister of Education. Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth: Canberra.

Boyd, W., Wong, S., Fenech, M., Mahony, L., Warren, J., Lee, I-F., & Cheeseman, S. (2020). Employers’ perspectives of how well prepared early childhood teacher graduates are to work in early childhood education and care services. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood.

Brownlee, J. L., Irvine, S., Sullivan, V., & Thorpe, K. (2020). Educators reflecting on sleep and rest time dilemmas in ECEC: where is the “critical” in reflective practices?. The Australian Educational Researcher, 1-23

Cumming, T., & Wong, S. (2018). Towards a holistic conceptualisation of early childhood educators’ work-related well-being. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 20(3), 265–281.

Cumming, T., Logan, H., & Wong, S. (2020). A critique of the discursive landscape: Challenging the invisibility of early childhood educators’ well-being. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 21 (2)

Cumming, T., Wong, S., & Logan, H. (2021). Early childhood educators’ well-being, work environments and ‘quality’: Possibilities for changing policy and practice. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 46(1), 50 - 65.

Eadie, P., Levickis, P., Murray, L., Page, J., Elek, C. & Church, A. (2021). Early Childhood Educators'

Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic. EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION JOURNAL, 49(5), pp. 903-913. doi:10.1007/s10643-021-01203-3

Fenech, M., Wong, S., Boyd, W., Gibson, M., Watt, H., & Richardson, P. (2021). Attracting, retaining and sustaining early childhood teachers: An ecological conceptualisation of workforce issues and future research directions. The Australian Educational Researcher.

Logan, H., Cumming, T., & Wong, S. (2020). Sustaining the work-related of early childhood educators: Perspectives from key stakeholders in early childhood organisations. International Journal of Early Childhood. 52(1), 95-113. 10.1007/s13158-020-00264-6

Logan, H., McFarland, L., Cumming, T., & Wong, S. (2021 on-line first August 26). Supporting educator well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A case study of leadership in early childhood education and care organisations. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood.

McFarland, L., Cumming, T., Wong, S., & Bull, R. (Accepted September 2021).“My cup was empty”: The impact of COVID-19 on early childhood educator well-being. In J. Pattnaik & M. Renck Jalongo (Eds.), Effects of COVID-19 on early childhood education and care: Educating the young child series 19th volume. Springer Nature.

Press, F., Harrison, L., Wong, S., Gibson, M., Cumming, T., & Ryan, S. (2020). The hidden complexities of early childhood educators’ work: The Exemplary Early Childhood Educators at Work study. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 21 (2), 172-175.

Singer, E., & Wong, S. (2021, on-line). Early childhood theories, ideals and social-political movements, an oral history study of pioneers in the second half of the 20th century. Early Child Development and Care.

Singer, E., & Wong, S. (2019). Emotional security and day-care for babies and toddlers in social-political contexts: Reflections of early years pioneers since the 70s. Early Child Development and Care, online 

Singer, E., & Wong, S. (2018). Reflections of pioneers in early childhood education research on their collaboration with practitioners in the development of theories and innovative practices. Early Years, 26(1), 1 – 13.

Thorpe, K., Jansen, E., Sullivan, V., Irvine, S., McDonald, P., & Early Years Workforce Study team (Karen Thorpe Sue Irvine Paula McDonald Joanne Lunn Jennifer Sumsion Angela Ferguson Mary Lincoln Kate Liley Pam Spall). (2020). Identifying predictors of retention and professional wellbeing of the early childhood education workforce in a time of change. Journal of Educational Change, 21, 623-647.

Thorpe, K., Westwood, E., Jansen, E., Menner, R., Houen, S., & Staton, S. (2021). " Working Towards" the Australian National Quality Standard for ECEC: What Do We Know? Where Should We Go?. Australian Educational Researcher, 48(2), 227-247.

Wong, S., Schenke, G., Liley, K., Millar, K., & Geddes, M., (2020, November), ‘It changed our lives” A case study on the Impact of Additional Child Care Subsidy’. (Goodstart Evidence and Insights Working Paper No. 1). Goodstart Early Learning. 

Wong, S., Millar, K., & Geddes, M., Schenke, G., Knell, M., Brown, D. (2021, November), From fees to free and back again: What we learned. (Goodstart Evidence and Insights Working Paper No. 2). Goodstart Early Learning. 

Wong, S., Mengesha, Z., Worley, A., Cooke, M., Leete, D., Reid, Z., & McClean, T. (2022). Early Learning Fund evaluation: Final report. Goodstart Early Learning & Uniting.

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