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Success of Australia's first ever Early Learning Matters Week

Our first ever Early Learning Matters Week was a great success with politicians and highlighted the benefits of early education through a range of inspiring photos of early learning activities online.

Construction play—requiring great concentration. Gowrie Victoria

Held during the last week of the Federal winter recess, 68 Federal MPs and Senators visited 69 services in all six states and the ACT. Politicians who visited centres were from all political parties and included  6 Ministers, 2 Assistant Ministers and 10 Shadow Ministers.  Regional centres visited included Albany in WA, Mildura in Victoria, Tamworth in NSW and Toowoomba in Queensland.

Senator Simon Birmingham — then Education Minister — kicked off Early Learning Matters Week with a visit to Goodstart Parafield Gardens in South Australia.

Amanda Rishworth, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development, visiting a Goodstart centre in her electorate of Kingston, SA  — “We know that quality early education leads to a range of better education, social and health outcomes. It literally lays down the solid foundation for life.”

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Liberal MP Chris Crewther visited a service in is the electorate of Dunkley in Victoria  — “I am interested as a person who spoke of the critical importance of early childhood education in my maiden speech. I am interested as a person who, through my own initiative, has recently delivered books (in Frankston) … with a message to not only childcare operators but parents at preschools, kindergartens and childcare centres to promote early education and early reading.”

Scott Morrison wound up the week with his visit to a service in his electorate of Cook, NSW

See photos of more politician visits here—bit.ly/ELMWeekVisits2018

The week was only possible with the successful collaboration and support of these organisations: Australian Community Childcare Services and Community Childcare Cooperatives in Victoria; Brotherhood of St Lawrence HIPPY Program, and partners; C&K (in Queensland);  ECMS and Early Learning Association Australia (in Victoria); Explore & Develop; Family Day Care Australia; Goodstart Early Learning; Gowrie Australia; KU;  Playgroups NSW; Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange; SDN Children’s Services; Uniting (NSW); YMCA Early Learning Centres (ACT, Victoria, WA); and all state branches of Early Childhood Australia.

In the week parliament resumed after Early Learning Matters Week, there was an interesting development  with a ‘Matter of Public Importance’ debate in the House of Representatives, introduced by Amanda Rishworth, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development. Many of the speakers were MPs who had participated in Early Learning Matters Week. While the political divide is clear, there was ‘furious agreement’, on both sides, on the importance of children participating in early learning – and many of the MPs mentioned their visits to services the week before.  

Communication and social media achievements

The key objective of creating a public platform to showcase the benefits and importance of quality early learning was met in several ways.  Many of the politicians mentioned in social media posts that early learning does matter, and they mentioned specific education benefits.  Even when politicians commented about contentious issues (new Child Care Subsidy; reported ‘cuts to preschool’), all sides commented on the benefits of early learning and defended the need for children to access early learning.

Early Learning Matters Week received positive media coverage in a Sydney Morning Herald feature Big benefits in early learning, which was shared a number of times on social media.  We also had local newspapers print positive stories about politician visits.

Posting photos of inspiring early learning activities on social media was a great way to promote the importance and value of the work of early childhood educators.

Listen to this great interview on Kinderling Conversation using three photos from our #EARLYLearningMatters Facebook album to describe great play-based early learning activities.

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