Strong voices for early learning and care need a strong response from governments

Media release

2 September 2022

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) applauds the broad, strong advocacy for increased investment in early learning at the Jobs and Skills Summit, and urges the Australian Government to lead a swift sector-building process in response.

‘We were greatly heartened by the coalition of voices at the Summit that spoke up for greater investment in early learning,’ said ELACCA’s Acting CEO Amanda Walsh. ‘Elevating the role and reach of early learning and care is now a mainstream economic policy proposal in Australia.’

‘What happens next is hugely important,’ Dr Walsh said. ‘The Summit outcomes document doesn’t provide the concrete steps we’d hoped for – but it does announce a pathway that could deliver what we need.’

‘It’s clear that the National Cabinet process will now be critical to building our early learning and care system. It is also the key to unlocking women’s workforce participation, which depends on access to early learning and care.

‘The first priority for National Cabinet must be the workforce crisis in early learning and care. Without qualified, skilled early childhood educators and teachers, we have no hope of delivering early education to more children, for more hours each week.

‘We know it’s not all about wages, but we can’t build and sustain a workforce on current wage rates. We need the Australian Government to support higher wages for early childhood educators through Fair Work Commission processes, and to commit to funding wage increases, as it’s doing for the aged care sector.

‘This is a seminal moment for Australia. We are very fortunate to have governments – in Canberra and around the country – that believe in the fundamental importance of early learning and care for children, families and the economy.

‘Our challenge is to mobilise that belief, so that we deliver policies and funding that support and expand the early learning and care system, for the nation’s benefit.’