The Parenthood: Australian Parents and Young Children Need Better Deal on Access to Early Learning and Parental Leave
22 November 2021 – The Parenthood has welcomed the Centre for Policy Development’s Starting Better report and its decade-long plan for making Australia a better place for children and parents, with concrete three- and 10-year targets and costings.
The report’s Guarantee for Young Children and Families calls for access to three days a week quality early education for every child to school age, more paid parental leave shared between partners and greater community and health support for families.
The Parenthood Executive Director Georgie Dent said, “Implementing the Starting Better guarantee would profoundly improve the lives and wellbeing of children and parents, and in doing so transform the future of Australia.
“The Starting Better report recognises the extent to which our current policy settings do not deliver for young children and their parents.
“Australian parents receive far less paid parental leave than parents around the world and it costs children, parents, our society and the economy.
“Paid parental leave is not just about one person’s decision to work or not to work, or to have children or not. It’s a critical piece of social infrastructure that effectively creates a steady bridge for parents to move between home and the paid workforce. Right now, parents, and particularly mums, are left stranded trying to make their own way and too often they can’t.
“Australian women with children can’t increase their workforce participation or increase hours of paid work without access to affordable, high-quality early education and more generous and equitable paid parental leave that normalises mums and dads as carers.
“Reforming the early learning and care system is critical.
“The burden of early learning and care fees force too many working families into terrible choices, including discouraging women from going back to work and removing young children from early learning programs that are crucial for their early development.
“The report’s Guarantee for Young Children and Families would deliver up to three days per week of affordable, quality early childhood education and care as soon as families want or need it.
“Investing in early childhood education and care gives children the best start in life. It boosts child development outcomes, improves educational achievement, increases workforce participation and enables families to more readily combine their caring responsibilities with paid work.
“It also can help address the long-standing crisis among the early education workforce, who have been relied upon heavily to work on the pandemic frontline and remain, on the whole, underpaid and overworked.”