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Our Voice Is Loud

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This is a big year for elections and even though NSW will be voting this Saturday, the campaigning is far from over as the Australian election is expected before the end of May.  Neither election has a certain outcome, although unlike Victoria’s landslide to Labor last year, pundits are generally predicting much closer results in NSW and nationally.

It’s a busy time for sector advocates, who are united as never before and bringing a compelling clarity to their messages by reinforcing the same evidence-based research and essential outcomes. Together, as CELA’s website declares, Our voice is loud, and we are seeing the results of our unity across several significant campaigns. We’ve captured the key elements from the big campaigns here.

Our voice is loud

CELA’s focus in the first part of this year has been on the NSW election, an influential state with a long way to catch up to others in terms of investment in early years education.  There are five outcomes sought in this campaign, based on the four agreed with a wider sector advocacy group (read about that here) and an additional focus on rural workforce that is driven by CELA’s historic support for regional communities.

The sector’s voice is loud, calling on our governments to make a firm commitment to affordable, high quality early learning and campaigning for increased public awareness and understanding of the benefits of investing in early learning. And ahead of this wider sector support, CELA’s commitment remains firstly to community, not-for-profit, and small providers.

Children who start behind stay behind


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This first area is a call to fund every Australian child for two days a week of preschool, for two years before they begin school. This could be in a standalone preschool or another service type, but high quality delivery is vital.

To the greatest need, for the greatest return

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The second area draws attention to the exponential benefits of ensuring children from vulnerable or disadvantaged homes have equitable opportunities to attend quality early childhood education. These children are already at greater risk of missing developmental milestones and issues like unaffordable fees shouldn’t add to their risk of further disadvantage.

Attract, train and retain great educators

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More than most professions, early childhood education’s workforce poses immense difficulties in attracting, training and retaining great people. Government has a role to play in supporting individual educators and services, backing employers who are trying to sustain a quality team, and more.

Stand up for our National Quality Framework

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We have all worked too hard, for too long, and invested too much in the NQF to see it dismantled because of political disagreements or game-playing. That, however, is the danger the NQF currently faces after the former Australian Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, suddenly withdrew funding for NQF support in 2018 and flagged an end to the national partnership behind its success in favour of ‘Commonwealth leadership’. Politicians who aren’t committing to the NQF in these upcoming elections? They’re not committing to you.

Support rural and remote educators and improve children’s outcomes

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Rural and remote educators – in NSW and across Australia – have limited access to face to face professional learning because of the cost of travel, time away from their services together with a shortage of casual staff to backfill, making learning and development opportunities beyond reasonable reach. All governments can do better: research such as the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) shows time and again that children in rural and remote Australian communities need quality education and care, and our educators need more support to make it happen.

Early Learning, Everyone Benefits

A longer running campaign, Early Learning, Everyone Benefits, is widely supported in the sector. Early Childhood Australia, the lead agency in the campaign, recently compiled a selection of great resources for Amplify to share which have helped you advocate for quality ECE with families, politicians and other stakeholders.

Today the ELEB campaign featured in national media and issued a fresh statement reinforcing its aims including:

 

  • To put children first and reduce the social impacts of disadvantage
  • Develop a cross-portfolio ‘Early Years Strategy’ to recognise the importance of early childhood development, family support and play-based early learning across home, community and early childhood settings.
  • Ensure children can access at least two days per week of quality early childhood education, irrespective of their parents’ workforce participation or other activity.
  • Provide a long-term funding commitment for universal access to quality early childhood education (kindergarten/preschool programs) in the year before school.
    Extend universal access to preschool programs to two years before school.
  • Commit to strategies to increase access to quality early learning programs for children at risk of educational disadvantage—with particular attention to the need for appropriate service models for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and rural/remote communities.
  • Commit to quality improvement through the ongoing funding of the National Quality Framework. Commit funding to workforce development strategies to address capacity and quality.

If you want to explore ELEB further, head to www.everyonebenefits.org.au. For election targeted information, you can download a copy of the Candidates Early Learning Survey, for aspiring politicians in your area, and a Policy Briefing. The ELEB site has many excellent summaries of research and infographic explainers, as well as social media accounts hosting even more resources.

Big Steps

One of the large unions representing early childhood educators, United Voice, developed and promotes the Big Steps campaign for improved pay and conditions. Head to the website for information about the industrial side of campaigning in the sector.

Launch into learning

And last but not least, there’s a new pack of advocacy resources under the combined sector campaign banner, Launch into Learning. This kit will be of particular interest to NSW based services but offers plenty of inspiration for all Australian educators. Click on the image below to download the kit containing letters, story ideas, social media posts and more.

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