September 1st, 2020

Leaders, parents, educators, and community call for reform of early learning.


Australians from all sides of politics and different parts of the community will come together today to help launch Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five campaign, and advocate for Australia’s early learning childcare system to be high quality and universally accessible.

Minderoo Foundation Co-Chair Nicola Forrest said it was imperative that every Australian child, regardless of where they grow up or who their parents are, is given the best chance to reach his or her potential.

“We need to sharpen the national conversation when it comes to our children to help build momentum for a shift in policy thinking to ensure every Australian child has the chance to thrive,” Mrs Forrest said. “We need to transform our childcare system into a system of early learning which integrates all of the services which support families and children.”

The launch will feature Mrs Forrest, Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill, preeminent child and maternal health expert Fiona Stanley, former Federal Minister Julie Bishop, ACTU President Michele O’Neil and a range of business leaders, unions, educators, health professionals, parents, community organisations and economists all campaigning for change.

Mr Weatherill, a former Premier of South Australia who was previously responsible for that state’s Early Childhood Development portfolio, said Australia’s out-dated and expensive childcare system was failing children, women, families and the economy.

“Many children are missing out because fees are too high, but children need early learning so they can live productive lives. It is no longer acceptable that 22per cent of children entering primary school start behind because, sadly, many of them never bridge that gap,” Mr Weatherill said.

“Every child would benefit and families with young children who are currently spending 27 per cent of household income in childcare fees deserve higher quality, more affordable solutions.

“A universal early learning and childcare system would add up to 380,000 parents –mainly women –to the workforce. This would lead to an increase in productivity, incomes, GDP, and government revenue.

“This is reform that is good for children, for women, for families, and for the economy–all critical considerations in the design of our post-COVID economic and social recovery.”

The Thrive by Five campaign is asking for:
  • Universal access to early learning
  • Integrated services with children at the centre
  • Quality early learning delivery standards with secure, appropriately paid employment for educators
  • Place based, community driven centres
  • Early childhood development system connected to the education system

The online campaign launch will take place tonight at 7:30pm (AEST) and is free to attend.

Key statistics:
  • 22 per cent of children start primary school not ready to learn, and those who start behind often never catch up to their peers
  • By the age of five years, the size of a child’s brain reaches 90% of that of an adult
  • A free and universal early learning system will allow an extra 380,000 parents to get back into the workforce
  • Every year Australian taxpayers are footing a late intervention bill of $15.2 billion
  • The costs of childcare in Australia are some of the highest in the OECD at 27 per cent of household income
  • 18 per cent of Australian childcare centres do not meet the existing early learning quality standards
  • GDP increase from universally accessible early learning, which was modelled as a 95 per cent subsidy for everyone, would be $27 billion from the direct impact of increased female workforce participation alone.