A bright future for young learners in New South Wales and Victoria

Media release

16 June 2022

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) applauds the New South Wales and Victorian governments on their joint approach to introducing universal early learning in the year before school.

‘These are ground-breaking reforms,’ said ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death. ‘A universal entitlement to 30 hours of play-based learning in the year before school will change lives. It will be good for children, good for families and good for the economy.’

Ms Death said the mixed market approach in New South Wales and Victoria is key to delivering the reforms.

‘It means these reforms can get off the ground within years, rather than decades,’ Ms Death said. ‘It also means that parents can choose between government-run and privately-run early learning providers, who may be offering different days and hours of operation.

‘Whether it’s government, community-based, not-for-profit or for-profit – all of these providers need to meet the National Quality Standard, and all of them provide a preschool program led by a university-qualified early childhood teacher.’

ELACCA hopes that both governments can address the current shortage of early childhood teachers and educators, to enable the reforms to proceed smoothly.

‘With a concerted effort and more funding, we think that workforce numbers can be lifted as the reforms roll out,’ said Ms Death. ‘We are calling on the New South Wales and Victorian governments to develop a joint workforce strategy for pre-Kindergarten and pre-Prep that seamlessly aligns with the National Early Childhood Workforce Strategy: Shaping our Future. We will need to see this urgently implemented to build the capacity our sector will need over the next ten years.’

ELACCA is also calling on the new Albanese Government to lead a national process of preschool reform.

‘We’re really pleased for families in New South Wales and Victoria, but we don’t want to see children and families in the other states and territories left behind,’ Ms Death said.

‘This should be the start of a national push to offer 30 hours of free early learning to all children in Australia in the two years before they start formal school. That is a worthy legacy for political leaders across Australia.’