The Front Project welcomes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) final report signalling important changes needed to ensure the early learning system meets the needs of all children, families and communities in Australia.
The report recommends the government implements system and market stewardship, enabling it to tailor appropriate responses to under-served and unserved communities.
The Front Project’s CEO Jane Hunt has said “For too long, families throughout Australia have struggled to find adequate, affordable, high-quality ECEC options. And in some regional and rural areas, there can be a lack of services. Strong system stewardship creates conditions to remove barriers to access ECEC, especially in remote, rural, disadvantaged, and First Nations communities who have been underserved for too long.”
“We must now turn the recommendations made by the ACCC into action, including abolishing the activity test. These changes will positively impact the lives of children and families throughout Australia by making ECEC available to all children.”
The activity test prevents 126,000 children from benefiting from early education, disproportionately impacting children experiencing disadvantage. Improving access and affordability will also be enhanced with supply-side funding, which the ACCC calls for as a longer-term consideration. We call on government to take immediate measures to address the needs of local communities who are calling out now for local solutions.
Finally, we must provide practical support to teachers and educators recognising the significant contribution they make to children’s learning and development. As the Front Project’s pre-budget submission recommends, a 25% Commonwealth-funded wage increase is vital and will have wide-ranging impacts. “We know that to retain and attract high-quality professionals and improve outcomes for children, we must raise wages and implement wider supports to improve workforce conditions.”
Now is the time to develop and implement policies that break down the systemic barriers of access and participation for children experiencing disadvantage.