The Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign welcomes the Australian Greens’ new early childhood education and care policy announced today. The campaign is an alliance of early childhood services, education, research and advocacy groups, along with parenting and community organisations.
'The Greens’ policy initiative shows that they are willing to listen to families and educators by proposing free preschool for all three- and four-year–olds, and removing the stringent activity test that currently applies to the Child Care Subsidy’, said campaign spokesperson and Early Childhood Australia CEO, Samantha Page.
This proposed policy reflects five of the election priorities of the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign, particularly:
- funding for all three- and four-year-olds to attend preschool programs (for 24 hours per week)
- providing affordable access to quality early learning for all children, regardless of their parents’ activity
- addressing the need to ensure that First Nations children get access to early learning
- developing a workforce strategy to address professional development and pay equity in the early childhood education sector.
For closing the gap for First Nations children, allocating a proportion of the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) for quality, community-controlled and culturally safe, integrated early years services would answer calls from SNAICC—A Voice for our Children about more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children having access to quality, community-controlled services.
'It is positive to see that the Greens recognise the long-term social and economic benefits of investing public funding in the early years’, said Ms Page. 'Providing free access to child care for all families with a combined income of $171 958, with stepped reductions to a 50 per cent subsidy for families with incomes up to $251 249, will ensure the largest number of Australian children benefiting from access to quality early learning’.
'The early childhood sector has long been concerned about the impact of the strict activity test introduced by the government in its Child Care Subsidy system, where both parents must show they are working, studying or volunteering for eight hours or more each fortnight to receive the subsidy’, said Ms Page.
'While the new Child Care Subsidy has resulted in more families—where both partners work—gaining some fee relief’, added Ms Page, 'we have found that families with irregular work or multiple barriers to work or study are assuming they cannot pass the activity test, and children who would benefit the most from early learning are missing out’.
'We particularly welcome the Greens policy’s focus on supporting the early childhood education and care workforce’, said Ms Page. 'A national workforce strategy is long overdue and its introduction will ensure that Australia has enough well-qualified professional early childhood educators and degree-qualified teachers to provide quality early childhood education to all children’.
'Early childhood educators deserve pay equity and better working conditions’, asserted Ms Page.
‘The most effective way to support children in reaching their potential is to ensure they receive the best support in the first five years. It also makes the most economic sense in terms of reduced costs for future education and welfare’, concluded Ms Page.
The Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign calls on all political parties to put children first and reduce the social impact of disadvantage by meeting the following election priorities:
- Develop a cross-portfolio ‘Early Years Strategy’ to recognise the importance of early childhood development, family support and play-based early learning across home, community and early childhood settings.
- Ensure children can access at least two days per week of quality early childhood education, irrespective of their parents’ workforce participation or other activity.
- Provide a long-term funding commitment for universal access to quality early childhood education (kindergarten/preschool programs) in the year before school.
- Extend universal access to preschool programs to two years before school.
- Commit to strategies to increase access to quality early learning programs for children at risk of educational disadvantage—with particular attention to the need for appropriate service models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and rural/remote communities.
- Commit to quality improvement through the ongoing funding of the National Quality Framework.
- Commit funding to workforce development strategies to address capacity and quality.
Download a Policy Briefing on our seven Election Priorities
View the Greens’ early childhood education and care policy: http://bit.ly/2DtTEn3
View the SNAICC election priorities here
MEDIA CONTACT: Campaign Manager, Carolin Wenzel: 0475 554 999.