Too many regional women and children missing out on benefits of early learning, holding back equity and child development
8 March 2022 — Too many women and children in the regions are being held back by an outdated and strained early childhood education and care system that fails to meet the needs of regional, rural and remote families, according to Royal Far West.
A recent ABC Talks national survey of about 60,000 Australians found 57 per cent of regional families can’t easily access childcare.
Jacqui Emery, Chief Executive Director of Royal Far West, said it was time for the spotlight to be turned on the needs of regional women and children this International Women’s Day.
“Early learning services in regional areas were already under pressure, now the past couple of years have stretched them to breaking point and highlighted gaps in services and affordability,” she said
“On International Women’s Day, it’s vital to recognise Australian women can’t achieve equity without major reform of the early childhood education and care system and better paid parental leave.
“Women, children and families in regional, rural and remote areas should not be disadvantaged in their access to high-quality early learning and support.
“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.
“While the large numbers of regional children missing out on early learning may not be a surprise – it is deeply disappointing, with research indicating it could have life-long impacts on too many of our young.
“We know access to high-quality and affordable early learning and care supports parents – still mainly women – to return to work and participate more fully in the workforce, and results in better outcomes for children. All families should be able to access affordable, quality early learning for their children if they choose to.