The Parenthood has welcomed the inclusion of several recommendations on early learning included in the Interim Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee’s report to the Federal Government, ahead of the May Federal Budget.
- Recommendation 21 of the report calls for the Federal Government to use the Early Years Strategy as an opportunity to partner with essential stakeholders to make early learning more accessible and affordable.
- Recommendation 24 calls for the Government to re-invigorate, re-fund and expand the Aboriginal Child and Family Centre model.
- Recommendation 31 calls for the abolition of the Childcare Activity Test.
- And recommendation 32 calls for the abolition of the ParentsNext program.
CEO of The Parenthood, Georgie Dent, said the upcoming Budget is a significant opportunity for the Federal Government to implement these recommendations.
“Investment in the reform of early childhood education and care is critical for building a more equitable and sustainable future for children, women, families and communities, and a stronger economy,” Ms Dent said.
“We know children who start primary school behind their peers, often do not catch up. Children and their families will not stumble on equity by accident. We need universal access to affordable, high-quality early learning for every child - regardless of their postcode or parents’ employment.
“The status quo is failing far too many families and children. As the Interim Committee’s findings and findings from several other policy experts highlight, the childcare activity test is a major barrier preventing families from accessing quality early learning.
“The evidence is clear; the activity test not only restricts hundreds of thousands of Australian children from accessing the lifelong benefits of high-quality early learning, it is also locking far too many parents, mostly mothers, out of paid work. This simply perpetuates economic vulnerability.
“Abolishing the activity test would ensure children in families with low income, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families or parents in casualised work can have greater access to early learning that supports their development and education.
“Scrapping the ParentsNext program, which has detrimental impacts on economic inclusion, will allow for us to build a better and more fair support system for parents in need. It is a punitive program that targets vulnerable people, especially single mothers, and it must be scrapped.
“Efforts to make our nation’s early learning system work for every child, parent and educator will require a holistic and collaborative approach by Governments at all levels and other essential stakeholders.
“The Federal Government must use its Early Years Strategy to build partnerships and working relationships with all interested parties.
“It is also absolutely crucial that calls by First Nations organisations and leaders to reinstate funding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led early learning centres are listened to. These community-controlled services have proved incredibly successful at closing the gap and improving outcomes for children but not enough of them have been funded.
“Access to culturally appropriate early childhood education and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the early years provides them with the best possible start in life, and it is vital that necessary efforts are taken to expand this provision.
“The upcoming Budget is an opportunity for the Federal Government to deliver on these vital reforms that will improve the lives of children and parents,” she said.