Thrive by Five welcomes Senate Committee’s recognition of Early Learning and PPL Reform
20 October 2022: Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative has welcomed the recognition of early learning and paid parental leave reform in the interim recommendations provided by the Senate Select Committee on Work and Care.
These recommendations include:
- Developing wage structures to systematically address underpayments and lift wages in the care sector
- Legislating a paid parental leave period of 26 weeks, as soon as possible
- Committing to long-term increases in funding to First Nations community-controlled Early Childhood Education and Care, in the 2022-23 Budget
and 4) Removing the Activity Test requirements for First Nations families.
Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill said, “The recommendations outlined in the Senate Select Committee on Work and Care interim report, go to the heart of the issues Australia’s early learning and care sector face.
“The recommendations provided by the committee offer the kind of real reforms needed to make early learning and care more accessible for Australian families.
“From improving working conditions for educators and calling for necessary wage increases, to calling for the removal of the Activity Test that places unfair restrictions on Indigenous families accessing early learning, these recommendations offer the kinds of solutions we need to make Australia’s early childhood education and care system work fairly for all.
“The committee has rightly recognised that early childhood educators need greater protections, fairer wages and better working conditions.
“To truly address the workforce shortages Australia’s early learning system is facing, recognising and fairly compensating educators for the vital work they do is not just needed, it’s necessary to ensure our children get the best start in life.
“The wide scope of the committee’s recommendations also addresses other key concerns plaguing our early learning system and making it increasingly inaccessible, especially for vulnerable communities like First Nations families.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be underrepresented in our early learning system and our decision-makers need to deliver concrete actions like the ones outlined in this interim report to Close The Gap.
“Indigenous communities have long highlighted that First Nations-led and operated early education centres are much more suited for the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and it is imperative that dedicated funding for such centres is restored.
“Thrive by Five supports the removal of the activity test for First Nations families and would urge the Federal Government to go further and remove this test for all families of children under 5.
“The activity test limits access to subsidised childcare and prevents at least 126,000 children from the poorest households from attending critical early learning and care.
“The Senate Committee’s recommendations are positive steps, but the reality is we need more ambitious change to achieve a quality, affordable and universally accessible early learning system for all families and children,” he said.