Creating opportunity with high quality, accessible childhood education services

Early childhood education is a critical part of building a smart, healthy and productive society. The centre of population of the greater Newcastle area is moving steadily West and the Wallsend electorate is witnessing the bulk of the growth in the region. Early childhood education is a combined responsibility of the family, the community, and the state.

The Productivity Commission Inquiry report on childhood and early learning was released on February 20th, providing a number of recommendations to the federal and state governments for how the provision of early childhood learning and care (ECEC) services can be improved with regard to accessibility, flexibility and affordability.

Greens candidate for the Wallsend electorate, Aleona Swegen, commented: “Whilst we welcome reform in the ECEC sector, the report’s recommendations are constrained by the existing budget, limiting the improvements that can be made to accessibility and quality of early childhood education.”

The benefits of a high quality, public early childhood education system are three-fold: lifelong benefits to the children, increased workforce participation for parents (particularly women), and benefits to the wider community. Australia ranks poorly on the international scale for our investment in early childhood education and care – as a percentage of GDP, Australia spends less on childcare services than most OECD countries. The employment rate of mothers is also lower than the OECD average.

“I am also concerned about increasing privatisation of the ECEC sector, which risks compromising the quality of early childhood education. For-profit providers tend to favour high population density, high income areas, while regional and low income areas are more likely to miss out on adequate services”, said Aleona.

The NSW Greens policy on early childhood education states that “Where funding of non-government providers is essential to ensure that all children have access to appropriate services, then funding is to be directed only to suitably regulated ‘not-for-profit’ childhood service providers.”

“Ultimately, the Greens want to see that all children have access to two years of universal, free public pre-school education.”

Further information:

Productivity commission report summary is available at

http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/childcare/report/childcare-overview.pdf

NSW Greens policy on Early Childhood Education

http://nsw.greens.org.au/policies/nsw/early-childhood-education

Contact:

Aleona Swegen

0405 168 727

aleonaswegen@gmail.com

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