It was a long day at Parliament House yesterday and despite some wins it doesn't touch the sides in terms of structural reform.
The $2 billion commitment to fund 4 year old preschool for four years is fantastic. After so much uncertainty thanks to rolling one-year funding agreements this is welcome. The next stop is to go for the gold standard and extend it to 3 year olds too.
Now call me greedy but $3.4billion allocated to "women's economic security" pales in a budget that is worth $589 billion. There is no doubt it's an improvement on last year and the recognition of women's safety as critical is long overdue.
But this budget falls short of delivering the long-term, systemic change that is needed to urgently improve the safety and economic security of all women and to improve the infrastructure for parents and children.
The $1.7 billion funding for early childhood education and care is more headline than substance. While recognition that affordability of early education is a problem for families is welcome, this funding is spread out over three years and isn’t enough to deliver the essential reform needed to our early learning and care system. When you consider we spend more than $10billion a year on the childcare subsidy, an additional $550K a year isn't enough.
Not one Australian family will receive the relief from childcare costs until next year and disappointingly 750,000 families will miss out all together.
The budget fails to address the early education workforce. Early educators are underpaid, under-appreciated and services are reporting major staff shortages. Appropriate and secure funding for the workforce that delivers early education and care is vital. We urgently need the development and implementation of a National Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Strategy.
The failure to expand paid parental leave is a missed opportunity. Australian parents have access to the second least adequate paid parental leave scheme in the OECD and women, children and families bear the cost.
The Federal government will continue to fail women and children unless it delivers high quality early childhood education and care universally accessible to every Australian child.
To end on a more positive note: We handed over the signatures from our petition to eight Labor MPs and one Labor Senator at Parliament House. It was a great meeting and there was a lot of understanding and support for our cause. Thanks to the ongoing support from people like you - our members - there is a growing number of politicians who recognise that it is time for a National Parenting Strategy: a coordinated framework of policies that will deliver optimal outcomes - for children, parents, society and the economy.
And we'll keep banging the drum until we get it. Thanks again for your support.