Early Learning Matters Week—an initiative of the Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign—is being celebrated with fervour across Australia by educators and politicians alike.
Attracting bipartisan support, Dan Tehan (Minister for Education) and Amanda Rishworth (Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education) have released statements about the Week. And parliamentarians from all parties are visiting early learning services, including: Ken Wyatt (Minister for Indigenous Australians), Michelle Landry (Assistant Minister for Children and Families), Anthony Albanese (Opposition Leader), Senator Mehreen Faruqi (Australian Greens spokesperson for Education), Linda Burney (Shadow Minister for Families, Social Services, Indigenous
Australians), Richard Marles (Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Defence), and Jason Clare (Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government).
‘It is important for Australia’s future wellbeing and prosperity that all political leaders recognise the crucial role that early childhood education and care plays in children’s overall development’, said campaign spokesperson Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia.
‘Early learning matters because it’s in these early years—before the age of five—that children’s brains grow the fastest and are wired to learn quickly. It’s also when the foundations for lifelong learning, health and behaviour are laid down’, said Ms Page.
Australian and international research shows that children who participate in one or more years of quality early learning show improved school performance, are better able to manage their behaviour and have lower levels of hyperactivity. They are more likely to finish high school, go for higher academic studies and find steady employment.
‘While Australia has seen an improvement in the attendance of four-year-olds in preschool programs in recent years, we are still in the bottom third of developed countries for early learning attendance of three-year-olds and younger children’, said Ms Page.
‘We hope that by experiencing quality early learning in action this week, more politicians will put policies in place to ensure all Australian children get access to at least two days per week of early learning before they start school’, said Ms Page.
The Early Learning: Everyone Benefits campaign calls on federal politicians in both houses of parliament to:
- ensure access to at least two days per week of early education for all Australian children, irrespective of their parents’ activities
- develop a national Early Years Strategy to ensure no children fall though the gaps
- provide a long-term commitment to maintain current total levels of funding for Universal Access to kindergarten or preschool programs in the year before school
- extend kindergarten/preschool funding for play-based programs to support three-year-olds
- improve the quality of early education and care through ongoing support for the National Quality Agenda and workforce development initiatives
- improve support for disadvantaged children, especially those living in regional and remote areas, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Follow #EARLYLearningMatters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see inspiring examples of early learning activities that engage children.
For more information about Early Learning Matters Week, please visit: www.everyonebenefits.org.au.