March 22nd, 2022

Royal Far West: Majority of families in outer regional, rural and remote areas stuck suffering in a childcare desert.


Royal Far West: Majority of families in outer regional, rural and remote areas stuck suffering in a childcare desert

Tuesday 22 March 2022 – The results of a new report from the Mitchell Institute has confirmed the long-standing experience of many parents outside metropolitan centres, finding families in regional, rural and remote areas are the most at risk of suffering from poor access to early learning.

The Deserts and oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia? Report shows just over 30% per cent of families living in major cities live in areas the researchers classified as a childcare desert, compared with 42.6% and 62.6% of people living in inner regional and outer regional neighbourhoods.

The contrast is even more stark with remote and outer remote areas having the highest levels of childcare deserts at 87.5% and 79.9%.

About 453 remote towns did not have a childcare centre within a 20-minute drive.

Royal Far West CEO Jacqui Emery said, “This new report highlights unacceptable inequity in early childhood education and care based on a child’s postcode.

“Being born in the regions shouldn’t disadvantage any Australian child, hold back their development or make it tougher for families. Yet country kids are missing out on access to essential learning in the early years.

“While the large numbers of regional children missing out on early learning may not be a surprise, it is deeply disappointing, and we know it could have life-long impacts.

“Early learning and childcare outcomes for young children should not be determined by where they live in Australia, but alarmingly, children living in rural and remote areas of Australia are twice as likely to start school developmentally vulnerable than city kids.

“There is growing momentum for access to high-quality and affordable early learning and care across Australia, including policy movement from the Liberal NSW Government, Labor Opposition and Greens.

“Affordable and accessible early learning supports parents, still mainly women, to return to work and participate more fully in the workforce and results in better outcomes for children. We know it works, now we need greater support from all political leaders to make it happen,” she said.

Full report and an interactive map with local early learning data searchable by postcode available here: