Over the past decade, the early childhood sector has been reformed to provide universal access funding to enable all children to access 15 hours per week of preschool education in the year before school by a degree-qualified early childhood teacher and an educator. This legislation has happened through national partnerships between the Commonwealth, states and territory governments.
Despite these reforms, Australian government funding for the early childhood sector remains among the lowest of its kind in the OECD. Worse, the current Commonwealth funding is due to run out at the end of 2020.
If this funding is not renewed, the effect will be to slash preschool funding by a third, meaning many children will only be able to access 10 hours of education per week. This will have a detrimental impact on children, families and the workforce.
To maintain 15 hours of preschool, parent fees would have to increase significantly and many families would not be able to afford an extra $1,200 per year in fees. The short-term nature of this funding makes it incredibly difficult for families, staff and service providers to plan for the future and, more importantly, it threatens to deny our young children their right to access early years education.
Early childhood members have had to lobby the federal government every year for the past five years, urging them to commit to ongoing funding.
All children benefit from participating in high-quality early education, particularly those children experiencing disadvantage.
Early childhood members have had to lobby the federal government every year for the past five years, urging them to commit to ongoing funding, only to have them deliver a further 12-month extension.
Nous Group is conducting an independent review of the Universal Access National Partnership (UANP) on behalf of the Australian and state/territory governments. The UANP review will help inform governments’ decisions about future preschool arrangements.
The AEU Federal Branch made a submission to the review, based on an online survey sent out to members. It is crucial that the workforce’s voice is heard and included in the review. There were also consultation workshops held across the country with key peak bodies, stakeholders and the broader profession. NOUS will provide an initial analysis of the data in December, with a full report and recommendations to follow early next year.
Irrespective of the data analysis and recommendations, the AEU and its members will be running another federal campaign targeting Prime Minister Scott Morrison. We won’t stop until we have finally secured permanent funding for the National Partnership for Universal Access to Early Childhood Education for all four-year-old children.