This 2022 federal election we are calling on candidates across politics to support high quality early learning access, affordability, inclusion and stability for every child.
On 2 May 2022 we invited cross-party leaders with early childhood portfolio responsibility to a virtual forum to share their policies and plans to support Australian children if their party wins this federal election.
Each leader was also offered the opportunity to submit a written piece outlining their party’s policy position. The following information has been supplied by The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Shadow Minister for Youth.
For more information and to get involved in the ‘Early Learning Matters this election’ campaign visit our website.
Labor knows that our early learning and care system isn’t working in the best interests of families or children.
We have a plan to deliver real change.
I want an Australia where every parent—especially women—can work the hours they want and need.
And I want every child to get access to the wonderful benefits of early learning and care.
The country and families are being held back by the cost of child care—Australia’s child care costs are some of the highest in the world.
That’s why Anthony Albanese made reform of early learning and care the centrepiece of his first Budget Reply address in 2020.
Labor has a plan for more affordable and accessible early learning and care that will make 96 per cent of families in the system better off.
Not only will families save on average $1,600 a year, it will also increase the hours worked by secondary earners with young children by eight per cent.
This will unlock an extra 220,000 days of work a week for second income earners, predominantly mums.mothers?
We see early learning and care as an essential service—essential for children, for families, and for the economy.
That’s why we will ask the Productivity Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of early learning and care, with the aim of implementing a universal 90 per cent subsidy for all families.
We will task the ACCC with designing a price regulation mechanism to shed light on costs and fees and examine the relationship between funding, fees, profits and educators’ salaries.
We know early educators do not get paid adequately for the work they do. And business as usual is not delivering them better pay.
Labor has announced it will make gender pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Act and strengthen the Fair Work Commission’s powers to order pay increases for workers in low paid, female-dominated industries.
We will also set up a new Care and Community Sector Expert Panel and a Pay Equity Expert Panel to strengthen expertise within the Commission on gender pay equity and care sector work.
Last year I announced that if elected Labor will develop an Early Years Strategy.
The strategy will express Labor’s vision for the future of Australia’s children and their families.
It will examine the range of programs delivered across the Commonwealth Government that directly impact on early childhood development.
It will develop a programme of action which will set out the policies, initiatives and plans to help achieve better outcomes for young Australians.
We are also committed to boosting family infrastructure in the community. We will invest $11 million to support families to learn and build connections through play with funding to help playgroups, toy libraries and community early learning centres upgrade facilities, purchase new materials, and expand their network.
Playgroups and toy libraries are help new parents connect with others on a similar journey, build support networks and learn more about raising children—and they’re fantastic for children, boosting social, emotional and physical development.
This is another clear sign of Labor’s commitment to building a better future for the next generation of Australians.
Finally, it is also incredibly important the next government does more to protect and promote quality in the sector.
I think it is time to have a federal government that is actually committed to the national quality framework, and doesn’t cut funding from quality like they did in 2018.
Under the Morrison Government, almost 15 per cent of long day care services have a waiver from the national quality standards for staffing reasons. There has also been a concerning increase in the number of serious incidents reported to the national regulator.
I will work with the sector to look at ways to protect and promote quality.
And that of course means developing an implementation plan for the national workforce strategy, which has been gathering dust on the Acting Minister’s desk for more than six months.
Labor has a vision to build a better future by investing in Australia’s children.
The Morrison Government see these programs as welfare and as a cost.
They always have and they always will.
Labor has always invested in the early years, because Labor believes it is the greatest investment we can make in the future of our country.
It is good for families, good for women and children, and good for the economy.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the sector – educators, teachers, centre directors, support staff—for everything you have done during a very difficult two years.
You all worked incredibly hard and sacrificed much during the lockdowns and the recovery and I know it took a huge mental and financial toll.
You all kept going because you had to—your families needed you to. And because you did, our community and our economy kept going.
Thank you for your service. You are valued and you are appreciated.
By Hon Amanda Rishworth MP