The Federal Government’s Intergenerational Report released today shows the urgent need to reform the early learning system and make it more accessible and affordable is vital for removing barriers to having children and supporting the nation’s future community wellbeing and economy.
The report outlines how changes to Australia’s population size and age profile may impact on economic growth, workforce and public finances over the next 40 years.
In 1981-82, there were 6.6 people of working age (aged 15 to 65) for everyone over 65 in Australia, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
There are now 4 people of working age (aged 15 to 65) for everyone aged over 65, dropping to 2.7 people to 1 by 2060-61, he said in his Intergenerational Report speech today.
A recent report by The Front Project1 found more than seven in ten parents say the high cost of early learning and kinder were a barrier to them having more children and stopping them going back to work.
Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said, “The need for early learning system reform and rising childcare costs should not be an obstacle in intensely personal decisions around whether to have children or take on paid work.
“If people can’t access affordable, high quality early learning then they may be blocked from workplace participation and be faced with really hard decisions about the size of their family.
“There are many considerations when families and individuals make choices about bringing children into the world, fears about the early learning system letting them down should not be one of them.
“An early learning system that does not completely support people to care for their children and stands in the way of people having children is not in the national interest.
“The early learning system is not just failing families and children, it is hampering the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19 now and fuelling the impact of an ageing population in the future.
“The Front Project & PwC have found that for every $1 invested in early learning and care, Australia receives $2 back over the child’s life.
“Don’t kick this down the road, all governments should bring new and innovative ideas about reform of Australia’s early learning and childcare system to the table at next week’s National Cabinet meeting,” he said.