The Parenthood is urging a co-ordinated Federal and state government effort to ease the escalating burden of preschool fees, with media reports today that preschool and primary education fees have gone up by 135% since March 2003.
Parenthood CEO Georgie Dent said even though we often hear early learning is expensive, it’s a sobering reality that education is one of the fastest rising major household expenses tracked by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
“When I speak with parents and they confide about the huge cost of childcare or the difficulty in finding a place, their shock is all too familiar,” she said.
“Australian parents pay some of the most expensive fees for early childhood education and care in the world and the ABS stats show that cost is increasing.
“We need an early learning system where every child has access to affordable, and quality early childhood education and care, and universal three-year-old preschool would be a cornerstone.
“The Parenthood supports the national introduction of universal three-year-old preschool for all children, with at least three days of quality, inclusive early childhood education and care.
“A minimum 15 hours of low-cost or free preschool each week for the majority of the year would mean families can better accommodate their preferences around work and raising families and children’s emotional, social and intellectual development can be supported.
“Scrapping the activity test would also boost women’s workforce participation by almost 40,000 and improve early learning access for children facing disadvantage.
“Early childhood education and childcare is a valuable community service. We’ve had some good early learning commitments and progress from governments over the past year - now is the time to lift the ambition on reform, not settle for less,” Ms Dent said.