Regional parents left 'Choiceless': The Parenthood report describes families’ heart-wrenching struggles to access rural early learning
The Parenthood has unveiled its new report, 'Choiceless: The plight of parents in accessing regional, rural and remote early learning and care', at Parliament House in Canberra.
The report reveals that many regional, rural and remote families face limited or nonexistent early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. While access to ECEC can be difficult anywhere in Australia, it is felt disproportionately by those in the regions.
"Parents are at their best when they have the freedom to decide what works best for their family in terms of work, caregiving, and maintaining a balanced life. Without adequate access to early learning, families across the regions have been left without a fair choice. It's time for a solution," said Maddy Butler, Campaign Director of The Parenthood.
“The consequences of inaccessible early childhood education in regional, rural and remote Australia are profound. Children miss out on social, health and educational benefits, workforce shortages worsen when parents can’t return to work, and towns suffer economically,” said Maddy Butler. "Too many families are struggling. The report calls for change to ensure every child has access to high quality early childhood education and care, regardless of their postcode."
'Choiceless' offers a profound glimpse into the challenges faced by Australian families through over 160 stories and case studies. It's a poignant collection of narratives that paints a vivid picture of the diverse ways in which inaccessible ECEC impacts families and communities, and underscores the urgency for change.
“Decision makers need to address the issues highlighted in our report,” Maddy Butler said. "The market cannot and will not solve the problem of equitable access in the regions, where the reduced and shifting demand in many towns will not attract outside providers Current funding models also fall short. We need new strategies that think beyond a ‘one size fits all’ approach to provide every child with access to some form of early childhood education."
“'Choiceless' is a call to all levels of government to champion equitable access to early childhood education and care. It's a symbol of hope for countless families who've been left without a choice, and a commitment to a brighter future for all Australian children.”