Generation at risk of falling behind if long-term impacts of COVID on young children not addressed: Thrive by Five
16 November 2021 – Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill will tell a Senate Committee hearing today that a generation is at risk of being left behind if Australian governments don’t address the long-term impacts of COVID outbreaks and restrictions on their development and wellbeing.
Mr Weatherill will ask Federal and state governments to:
- Provide opportunities for children who were unable to access their full 600-hour entitlement of preschool in 2021 by allowing them to make up gap hours in early learning and care, and then providing additional support in the first years of primary school;
- Remove the activity test and all gap fees to ensure that all children can access preschool next year;
- Expand the new agreement between the Federal Government and state governments to provide universal, high quality early learning for all three-year old’s, in addition to four year-olds in Australia; and
- Add ‘children and COVID-19’ as a standing item to the National Cabinet agenda.
“COVID has exposed the flaws in Australia’s early learning system, now children who have missed out on early learning due to lockdowns and restrictions need urgent support to make up for lost hours and development,” he said.
“We want every generation to have better opportunities than ours – but this simply won’t happen without an immediate plan for addressing the impact of COVID on children under five. Children from low-income or vulnerable families and children born during the COVID crisis will be particularly at risk.
“An essential part of our economic and social recovery from COVID must be ensuring our children under five can catch up and get the best possible start in life.
“Affordable, high quality and accessible early learning and care is the answer. It’s what this generation deserves and the benefits flow on to the financial security of families, increasing women’s workforce participation and driving our economy,” Mr Weatherill said.
Listen to Senate Select Committee, COVID-19 (Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic) live here: https://www.aph.gov.au/Watch_Read_Listen
Read and endorse Thrive by Five’s Early Years COVID Plan here: https://thrivebyfive.org.au/actions/covid/