Australia at bottom of world ranking for access to early learning for three years olds and has among highest out-of-pocket childcare fees: new report
12 July 2021 – The Thrive by Five campaign has today called on the Federal Government to urgently lift Australia’s standing on affordable, accessible and high-quality early learning and care, revealed as among the worst in the world in a recently released UNICEF report.
The UNICEF report comparing the 41 wealthiest countries in the world shows:
- Australia ranked 34 out of 41 countries on access to childcare;
- 34 out of 40 on affordability of childcare; and
- 37 out of 41 on access to parental leave.
Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said the report was a wakeup call for the Federal Government.
“We must improve our early learning and childcare policies now or risk leaving a generation of Australian children behind,” Mr Weatherill said.
“This UNICEF report shows Australia is desperately lagging behind most of the world’s prosperous nations on recognising the essential value of early learning and investing accordingly.”
The Federal Government has responsibility for important funding and policy for early learning and care in each state and territory.
Analysis of Federal Government policy by Thrive by Five found Western Australia and Tasmania received below average childcare and preschool funding. Meanwhile, a greater numbers of childcare centres in WA and Tasmania rated well below average against the National Quality Standard.
“Every Australian child deserves access to quality, affordable and accessible early learning and care, regardless of their postcode,” Mr Weatherill said.
“Far greater investment in early learning and care is urgent and overdue.
“Childcare is on the agenda for the National Cabinet meeting next week and there are five key actions the National Cabinet should take to reform the early learning and childcare system, including a five-year Federal-State Partnership to deliver universal three year old preschool.”
Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill is available for interview.
UNICEF Where Do Rich Countries Stand on Childcare? report available here:
Thrive by Five brief: Early Childhood Education: How is the Commonwealth Performing in each State and Territory? available here: https://thrivebyfive.org.au/tb5-2107-backgrounder-thrive-by-five-scorecard-final/
Thrive by Five National 5-point Plan for National Cabinet
- Agree to a Federal-State Partnership to deliver universal three year old preschool across the country to match the partnership agreement in place for four year old preschool.
- Lift the childcare subsidy to 95% for all children and set agreed fee caps.
- Make the childcare subsidy available to all children regardless of the service and the income or work status of the parents.
- Start workforce planning for a universal system and fund appropriate pay and conditions for educators and childcare workers to end the problem of skill shortages, high vacancy rates and high staff turnover rates across the sector.
- To achieve these outcomes, we ask that early education and childcare become a part of the National Cabinet reform agenda to deal with complexities of the system and build a true national universal system.