Early Childhood Two years of preschool: a basic human right

The new Labor government has set a positive path for early childhood education, as we continue our campaign for universal access to two years of preschool for all children. 

After more than nine years of a federal Coalition government that treated public education with complete disregard, the AEU is looking forward to working with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the new Labor government to address the needs of public education across early childhood, schools and TAFE.

The election result shows that the Australian community has had enough of the divisive and combative nature of politics, and wants clear action on climate change, equality, and political integrity. 

Despite the evidence, the Morrison government consistently refused to acknowledge the importance of universal access to two years of early childhood education for every child. In fact, it wasn’t until the 2021 federal budget – after years of campaigning by the AEU and other advocates – that they finally committed to ongoing funding for their share of preschool funding for all four-year-olds.

Whilst we don’t yet have the specific policy commitments we want from the Labor government, they have expressed strong recognition of the importance of early childhood education. Albanese has committed to developing and implementing a whole-of-government Early Years strategy, which will examine the range of Commonwealth programs and funding with a direct impact on early childhood development. He went into the election with a focus on reducing the cost of childcare and a commitment to exploring improvements in line with world’s best practice, including expanding preschool education to two years.

Victoria is leading the way with the introduction and rollout of three-year-old kinder programs, and we need to see this reflected across the nation.

Access to high-quality, affordable early years education is now recognised as a basic human right. We look forward to working with the new Minister for Early Childhood Education, Anne Aly, to ensure the federal government commits to investing in two years of kindergarten. Victoria is leading the way with the introduction and rollout of three-year-old kinder programs, and we need to see this reflected across the nation.

In exciting news for Victoria, the Andrews government has announced a $9 billion investment in early childhood, involving an expansion of four-year-old kinder to a new ’pre-prep’ year of 30 hours phased in over ten years; free kinder for all three- and four-year-olds; and 50 new government-run childcare centres.

Congratulations to the many members who took part in the AEU’s federal election campaign. It was a great opportunity for the union movement to work together on the issues important to workers across the country. Every contribution made a difference – from a conversation with a friend to letterboxing to handing out how-to-vote cards – and the community seems to have let out a great sigh of relief to have a new government that cares about the issues faced by everyday Australians. Now, we need to continue our fight to ensure the delivery of policy and funding commitments made to public education.

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    As we gear up for a state election, the AEU is focused on holding the Andrews government to account when it comes to fair funding for public education and a plan for addressing staff shortages that respects and values the profession. Read more in our Term 3, 2022 edition of AEU News.

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