The education and care sector demands urgent attention from all parties and candidates between now and election day. Australia’s future literally depends on it. The upcoming federal election is the perfect time for Australian families and our sector to demand action and for politicians to commit to implementing solutions.
We know what the problems and solutions are. Reviews and inquiries are not needed and just won’t cut it as an election pledge,” says Michele Carnegie, CELA CEO
REGISTER FOR OUR PRE-ELECTION FORUM
Last week we released an ambitious 6 point plan designed to provide government with solutions to fix the problems faced by our sector. The joint plan was put together in conjunction with our advocacy partners Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and Community Child Care (CCC) on behalf of our members in long day care, kindergartens, preschools, family day care, occasional care and outside school hours care.
“We are calling for bipartisan support to deliver better access to high quality education and care for children, better wages and conditions for educators, and opportunities for all parents and carers to work,” said David Worland, ELAA CEO.
The 6 Point Plan for Australia’s education and care sector proposes:
- Two days a week of funded early education and care for all children from birth to school
- A commitment to the inclusion of all children
- Mandatory National Quality Standard assessments and ratings at least every three years
- The creation of a national industrial instrument for the education and care sector to provide educators with fairer levels of pay
- A National Children’s Education & Care Workforce Strategy
- Properly funded infrastructure and sector support
Speaking at the launch of the joint plan, Executive Director of CCC, Julie Price described it as a blueprint for government to ensure every child gets the best possible start in life.
“Our plan delivers the most important and consequential reforms ever seen in the Australian education and care sector. It means every child has the same opportunities, regardless of what their family earns or where they live,” said Julie.
“That’s why our 6 Point Plan’s cornerstones are two fully-funded days of care and education from birth to school, and the reshaping of pay, conditions and quality standards to secure a higher quality workforce.”
Our plan focuses around four main outcomes which include:
High quality education and care for children
Better wages and conditions for educators
Access to high quality education and care for families when they need it, delivered by qualified educators
Opportunities for all parents and carers to work
Our plan requires urgent attention from government. It clearly identifies affordable, effective and straightforward solutions to current and emerging challenges. We are dedicated to working in partnership with government, as this will ensure the best possible future for children and families.
The solutions are summarised below. Our 6 point plan document includes more detail as part of our blueprint strategy.
Solution 1: Two days of funded early education & care every week for all children from birth to school
Every parent, teacher and childhood expert knows that the first five years of a child’s life are critical to building the social, emotional and developmental skills needed to succeed.
In a country as wealthy as Australia, where you live or how much your family earns should not affect your chance to succeed in life – but unfortunately it does.
The benefits of this solution are many, and include:
- Providing access to early education to all children when they need it
- Ensuring that children are better prepared to start school, meaning they are ready to learn from day one and are less likely to fall behind
- Improving parents and carers’ access to paid work
Solution 2: Strengthen Australia’s commitment to the inclusion of all children
All Australian children need support to succeed and to give them the best start in life. Some children require more support than others. Children with disabilities, developmental delays, serious health conditions, trauma and other challenges are less likely to participate in high quality education and care.
Yet these children have the most to gain from these services.
How this solution can be achieved:
- Fund unmet demand for the Inclusion Support Program
- Fund Inclusion Agencies to meet ever increasing demand especially in regional and remote areas
- Integrate allied health and other experts with Inclusion
The benefits include:
- Development of significant cognitive, social, emotional and language skills
- Our most vulnerable children get the strongest possible start in life, while giving parents support and opportunities to re-join or enter the workforce
Solution 3: Mandate National Quality Standard assessments & ratings at least every 3 years
Families must be able to rely on quality ratings as an accurate guide for the quality of education and care services. However, ratings are only relevant if they are up to date. More than half of all services have not had quality ratings issued in the past three years. This is unacceptable.
National Quality Standard assessments and ratings must be mandated at least every three years and consistently underperforming service providers must be removed from National Registers and have government funding revoked.
- Children receiving high quality early learning are far more likely to thrive at school and enjoy lifelong benefits
- Families have confidence their child is accessing high quality services
- Governments are confident they fund high quality education and care that pays dividends for children and their families, now and into the future
Solution 4: Build & implement a national industrial instrument for the education & care sector
Solution 5: Implement the National Children’s Education & Care Workforce Strategy now
The education and care sector is facing a major workforce crisis. This crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The majority of the sector faces low average pay and conditions, huge staff turnover and poor quality graduates. This means that services struggle to find the quality staff our children and families need. Without appropriately skilled staff, education and care services have to reduce sessions or close altogether.
The National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy aims to foster a sustainable and high-quality workforce of teachers and educators. This strategy can be a powerful opportunity for much needed reform. However, the ten year timeline for its implementation is far too slow. Priority actions in the Strategy need to be funded and delivered now.
The solution we put forward includes leveraging insights from the Victorian Early Childhood Teachers and Educators Agreement to build, fund and implement a national industrial instrument for teachers and educators. We are also calling for government to fund the National Children’s Education & Care Workforce Strategy priority actions now including fast tracking remaining strategies for implementation. A key principle of this solution is that higher wages should not translate into higher fees for families. Wage increases should be funded by government.
- A national industrial instrument improving pay and conditions is the most effective tool for solving the sector’s workforce crisis
- Better wages and conditions will transform the sector into one seen as delivering rewarding career opportunities
Solution 6: Properly fund infrastructure and governance support
Many community and not for profit services rely on voluntary committees run by parents to fulfill the governance role in their operations. It would assist overall provision if not-for-profit community managed services were supported to establish and maintain operations in a way which didn’t unreasonably burden parent volunteers. Government support including funding is needed to ensure good governance and infrastructure are delivered across the sector so as voluntary committees’ roles are proportionate and reflective of contemporary demands on families’ time.
This investment will protect the sustainability of the education and care sector and will ensure high quality services are accessible and affordable for families, while being guided by local community needs.
Our plan requires urgent attention from government.
“Our plan clearly identifies affordable, effective and straightforward solutions to current and emerging challenges,” Says CELA CEO Michele Carnegie. “Every solution provided offers a raft of benefits that will have long lasting positive impacts for the Australian community and economy far into the future.”
DOWNLOAD THE 6 POINT PLAN
READ THE PRESS RELEASE
Attend our upcoming pre-election forum to have your say
Would you like to find out how our politicians intend to address the chronic workforce issues our sector is facing? Would you like to be part of the solution by showing your support for our joint recommendations?
CELA, ELAA and CCC are pleased to invite you to our Pre-Election Forum
When: Tuesday 5 April
The forum is an opportunity to ask our politicians:
- How they plan to address chronic workforce shortages in education and care
- How they will ensure that all children will have access to high quality early education and care
Who will be attending?
Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development, Australian Labor Party
Senator Mehreen Faruqi
Senator for NSW, Australian Greens
Acting Minister for Education and Youth, Minister Stuart Robert has been invited but to date has not confirmed.
This is a chance to have your say!
The forum is not just about listening to politicians. It’s an opportunity for them to listen to you. After you register, we will email you a link where you can tell us what's working and what isn't in early education and care.
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CELA, ELAA and CCC: About our advocacy partnership
Community Early Learning Australia (CELA), Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and Community Child Care (CCC) have a combined membership of almost 3,000 services providing long day care, preschool/kindergarten and outside hours school care. Our members include community owned and managed services, early years management organisations and private providers employing well over 40,000 staff.
Our members provide higher quality education than many other providers. They
invest more into their staff and their communities, often paying staff above award
wages and funding professional learning to support staff retention and development. Yet, these smaller, standalone services can find it difficult to have their voices heard. That’s where we come in.
Our partnership with ELAA and CCC, which began in early 2021, has become an
incredibly powerful force for amplifying our joint causes and getting the needs of a broader spectrum of community and small providers on the table. We are proud to partner with like minded peak bodies who represent such a broad spectrum of quality education providers.
Community Child Care Association
Community Child Care Association (CCC) has been the voice of community owned and managed education and care services across Victoria for 50 years. Their 700+ service members rely on them for professional advice and support, and to keep them up to date with industry standards, best practices and the implementation of government policy. CCC helps services transform their vision into practice and we offer membership, quality training and consultancy services.
Early Learning Association Australia
Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) is a peak membership association. Their vision is excellence and equity in early childhood education and care. Their diverse membership base includes 630 service providers managing services at over 1,250 locations with more than
15,000 staff caring and educating 70,000 children. Their members are early years management organisations, independent kindergartens, local governments, long day care services, government and independent schools and out of school hours care programs.
Community Early Learning Australia
Community Early Learning Australia (CELA) is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia – representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care. Founded over 40 years ago, we represent over 1,600 early education and care services employing 21,000 plus educators. Our national influence is extended through publications and social media which have a circulation of 52,000 per week and our learning and development program which trains over 7,000 educators per year in quality practice and governance.