Early learning took centre stage in the election, now we need action – Thrive by Five
22 May 2022 – Early learning and childcare reform, and the benefits it will deliver families, women and children and the economy, was a major feature of the election campaigns of the political parties and independents, according to Thrive by Five.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described childcare as a legacy issue if he was to form government.
Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill has congratulated the incoming Prime Minister, calling on him to follow through on his childcare promise and to act swiftly on ambitious reform.
With a very large crossbench and the possibility of negotiations over the coming days and weeks, Mr Weatherill also called on the Greens and independents to deliver on their promise to advocate for gender equality by ensuring early learning reform is at the top of any negotiation agenda.
“Parents, families and children across the country have been waiting for a better deal on early learning and childcare for a long time. Now the Prime Minister has a significant opportunity to deliver in the first 100 days of his new government,” Mr Weatherill said.
“Early learning is the number one solution to the number one issue that dominated the election campaign – cost of living. To be serious about addressing cost of living concerns we have to be serious about early learning reform.
“Early learning and childcare reform is also the best practical agenda for the incoming crossbench to force fast action on gender equality and increase female workforce participation.
“We need a new early learning system that encourages women to take on paid work on their own terms, not punishes them for it.
“The cost of the essentials of life from basic groceries to fuel are going up, interest rates are climbing and wages are stagnant. Australian parents need urgent relief from soaring living costs and investment in early childhood education and care is one of the best ways of achieving it.
“An immediate increase in the childcare subsidy will free up family budgets, help address inflation and support more parents to re-enter or stay in the labour market.
“This is about taking action now to improve the lives of Australian children, women and families and it will grow our economy at the same time.
“It’s also a smart investment in a female-dominated workforce that deserves better pay and respect.
“Children and families have been left behind in the covid pandemic. Now they need to be a priority for the new Albanese government,” Mr Weatherill said
Thrive by Five’s eight key recommended early learning policy reforms are:
- Progressive increase in the childcare subsidy for a first child to 95 per cent, starting with lifting the current subsidy to 90 per cent;
- Increase in the childcare subsidy for a second or third child to 100 per cent;
- Improved workforce planning to fund appropriate pay and conditions for teachers and educators to end the problem of skill shortages, high vacancy rates and high turnover in the sector;
- Phase-in paid parental leave paid at the minimum wage for up to 12 months shared between parents/carers starting with an immediate move to 26 weeks of paid leave;
- Universal access to maternal and child health care, with additional home visits for families needing extra support.
- Long-term Federal and State partnership to fund 15 hours per week of three year old pre-school;
- Long-term Federal and State partnership to fund 15 hours per week of four year old pre-school; and
- Make universal early learning system a formal National Cabinet priority.