December 13th, 2022



Thrive by Five Welcomes Further Confirmation that Early Learning Investment delivers Lifelong Benefits for Children

13 December 2022 – Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative has welcomed the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s review into global research which has shown that investment in high-quality early childhood education and care reaps lifelong benefits for children, especially those who come from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds[1].

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute review found high-quality universal early learning programs yield economic benefits beyond the cost of the programs themselves.

The benefits to children continued into adulthood and in some cases were even intergenerational. Governments also benefited from increased funding of early childhood education via increased government revenue overtime and less social spending, especially on criminal justice programs[2].

The review also found:

●      access to high-quality early childhood education from at least three years old will demonstrably improve a children’s wellbeing and educational outcomes;

●      families, especially those with young children, who are socially and economically vulnerable, will greatly benefit from at least two years of early childhood education before they start school[3];

●       vulnerable children gain no benefit, and in fact can be harmed by, attending low quality early childhood programs.

Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill said, “The evidence in this new report shows universal, high quality early childhood education delivers lifelong benefits for people and is the bedrock of a prosperous and healthy society.

“The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. We know 90 per cent of a child’s brain will develop by the time they turn five.[4] It is therefore imperative that children have access to high quality and affordable childcare to ensure they have the best start to life and fulfil their potential.

“The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute review underscored the importance of children participating in quality early childhood education from a young age, particularly those who are from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“When children start formal schooling behind their peers, they struggle to catch up. This is why we need every child to have equal opportunity to early learning and equal opportunity to access quality early education.

“The report also highlighted that governments stand to benefit from increased investment in early childhood education. Investing in a quality, universal and easily accessible childcare system now will reap substantial societal and budgetary benefits long term.

“Not intervening early in a child’s development costs the Australian taxpayer up to $15.2 billion each year through higher costs later in the education, child protection, health, social welfare and justice systems. Not to mention the human toll it takes on individuals, families, and society.

“This is why it is critical that states and territories work with the Federal Government to develop a high-quality, universally accessible and affordable early learning system for all Australian children.”

Thrive by Five is calling for a high quality, affordable and universally accessible childcare system, staffed by an appropriately paid and valued workforce. This includes the abolition of the Activity Test, reinstating funding for First Nations children and family services and a pay rise for early childhood educators.