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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 52
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SPRING 2013 - ISSUE 52 Gowrie Australia urges Australia's political parties to commit to upholding the reform agenda outlined by the Labour Government and which built on work undertaken by the previous Coalition Government. This agenda is based on sound international evidence from research and practice. It aims to: • Dramatically strengthen young children's learning and development in early childhood education and care. • Raise the qualifications and competence of Australia's early childhood education workforce. • Provide positive and inclusive services for Indigenous families, refugee and migrant families, children with additional learning needs and families facing economic hardship. • Provide peace of mind for working families that their children's emotional, social, physical and intellectual development is being promoted in early childhood services. • Minimise risks to Australia's future economy by ensuring Australia's preschoolers are ready to begin school with knowledge and skills to support academic success. Gowrie Australia urges all parties to stick with the reform of the early childhood sector. The present reform agenda is an ambitious one and has its challenges and its critics. Raising the knowledge and skills of an entire workforce is a long-term project. Introducing the new early childhood curriculum frameworks will take time and changing systems of funding and accountability inevitably has an impact on the sector. But evidence is already beginning to show that these changes are having a positive impact: • The qualifications base of Australia's early childhood education workforce has already risen dramatically due to investment in additional university places and fee help for TAFE students. • Investment in professional development is supporting stronger leadership and curriculum implementation. • Early childhood centres are integrating support for families across the whole range of human services for children, from birth to school entry. • State and Federal Governments are working together to increase access to services for vulnerable, disadvantaged and Indigenous children and families. These gains must not be lost and more can be done! Gowrie Australia urges all political parties to uphold the present reform agenda -- and to go further. International comparisons show Australia still has much to do to build the early childhood sector. We need to support children and families to participate fully and equitably in the 21st century economy. • We see the potential for a comprehensive review of funding for the early childhood education and care sector. This review would address the present unhelpful fragmentation of funding streams for early childhood services. The aim of such a review would be to identify a way to fund services to maximise affordability, accessibility and equity of access. Solutions must be found to support young families in low socio-economic circumstances. And, if women's workforce participation is to grow, solutions must be found for dual-income families where one income is entirely committed to paying for childcare. • We also see the potential to extend current initiatives to achieve strong connections across all services for children and families. More can be done to encourage innovative services for families living in poverty, new Australians and busy working families. Early childhood services already have the infrastructure to bring services together. With Government support for further integration and for enhanced staff development, health professionals and early childhood educators can work together to enhance the wellbeing of children and families. The education and care of our youngest Australians is complex, demanding, and highly responsible work. Gowrie Australia and the thousands of stakeholders across our networks take this work seriously. We urge all parties to develop policy that will maintain and enhance the present reform agenda in early childhood education and care. Any political party adopting this platform of ongoing reform deserves to receive strong support from every Australian family accessing early childhood education and care programs. Each of the individual Gowrie CEOs took responsibility for sharing this message with policy makers and politicians from all parties, and are committed to continue to work with Governments, to demonstrate the benefits of the reform. We share this position with readers in the hope that you too may advocate on behalf of children, families and early childhood professionals to ensure the gains made are not lost, and the investment in the early childhood education and care sector increases to support improved outcomes for all children. 5
Reflections Magazine Issue 51
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013