CHILDREN AND FAMILIES DESERVE BUDGET EARLY LEARNING REFORM THAT GOES FURTHER THAN CHANGE TO CHILD CARE SUBSIDY: THRIVE BY FIVE
01 May 2023 – Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative is calling on the Federal Government to use the upcoming May Budget as an opportunity to not only deliver on its election commitment for an increase in the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) but follow through with more ambitious early learning reform.
Research conducted by the Thrive by Five initiative shows majority support for making childcare and early learning more accessible and affordable for all families, with more than 87% of Australians backing calls for the implementation of a universal childcare system..
Too many Australian families cannot afford to access early education and care. Women are forced to choose between their careers and raising a family. Early childhood educators are leaving the industry in droves, driven out by low wages and poor conditions.
Thrive by Five’s key asks for the upcoming May Budget include:
1) Abolish the Child Care Subsidy activity test (activity test);
2) Provide more early learning services for families in rural and remote Australia;
3) Restore funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led and operated childcare centres;
4) Fund an immediate pay rise for all early childhood educators to help solve the current workforce crisis which is necessary to transform the early learning system;
5) Introduce three-year-old preschool across all States and Territories; and
6) Provide financial support for the implementation of the National Early Years Strategy due later this year.
This week’s interim report published by the South Australian Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care also emphasised the benefits of formal early learning for children and recommended the expansion of three-year-old preschool across South Australia.
Thrive by Five’s Director Jay Weatherill said: “Progress toward better outcomes for Australian children and families has begun, with the May Budget set to deliver an increase to the Child Care Subsidy and a phased increase in paid parental leave, providing six months per couple and assessing combined incomes to test eligibility.
“This is a significant move, but Australian children, families and communities will only realise the full benefits if it is followed up with a wider package of reforms to deliver a universally accessible and affordable, high-quality early childhood education and care system.
“Despite its intention, the Activity Test limits access to childcare for single parent, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, non-English speaking families and low-income families.
“Far too many Australians are still living in areas deemed as ‘childcare deserts’ with extremely scarce access to early learning facilities.
“Stagnation of educators’ wages and ever-increasing workloads are forcing many out of the profession and are creating barriers to entry for the workforce. Improved wages and conditions of our educators is critical to help solve the current workforce crisis which is necessary to transform the early learning system.
“Early learning reforms will have a real, lasting impact on millions of Australian children and families while boosting workforce participation and the economy.
“Making access to early childhood education and care easier and investing in the future of Australia’s children is in all of our best interests and the Federal Government must use the upcoming May Budget as an opportunity to take the bold steps necessary to improve early learning access across the country,” Mr Weatherill said.