Our Early Childhood Development Initiative made a submission to the Government’s Early Years Strategy, which seeks to ‘help the Commonwealth create a more integrated, holistic approach to the early years and better support the education, wellbeing and development of Australia’s children.’ CPD’s submission highlights the unique opportunity to set out an ambitious, long-term national vision that will guide government decision-making and chart a course towards Australia being the best place in the world to be and raise a child.
The Early Years Strategy is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to be bold when it comes to what we want for current and future generations of children in Australia, with major potential social and economic benefits for children, families and society.
The Early Years Strategy is a unique opportunity to set out an ambitious, long-term national vision that will guide government decision-making and chart a course towards Australia being the best place in the world to be and raise a child.
The submission outlines four key recommendations for the Early Years Strategy:
Create a bold vision of the Australia we want for current and future generations of children.
The Early Years Strategy should create a bold, holistic vision for the early years, based on existing evidence of what wellbeing looks like in the early years. This requires systemic reform and collaboration between multiple levels of government, non-government organisations, and communities. The strategy should be enshrined in legislation and should ultimately serve as the overarching national framework for early childhood policy in Australia.
Guarantee a universal entitlement to the services and supports that are critical for children in the early years to deliver on this bold vision.
The Early Years Strategy should create a guarantee for every Australian child that entitles them to a suite of critical services and supports and delivers on a long-term vision of child and family wellbeing. This guarantee should look to deliver the core elements of CPD’s Starting Better guarantee including increasing paid parental leave entitlements, universal access to maternal and child health, universal access to 30 hours or three days of free or low-cost quality education and care and extra support for families to navigate the system.
Design a high-quality universal early childhood education and care (ECEC) system, as an essential backbone of a well-connected early childhood system, alongside universal health services.
High-quality, universal ECEC should be a backbone to a holistic, integrated early childhood system that can connect children to additional support, reduce the complexity of navigating services and support early detection of potential vulnerabilities. This will require proper resourcing and increased collaboration between health, ECEC and other services.
Adopt new ways of working to deliver the Early Years Strategy, demonstrating a wellbeing approach to government policy and decision-making.
Delivering on the Early Years Strategy requires new ways of working for governments to deliver on their ambition for a universal system. By taking a preventative approach to the, focusing on early intervention, and considering changes to policy indirectly related to the early years, the government can better ensure children’s ability to thrive. Integrating a wellbeing approach to the Early Years Strategy will also ensure long-term benefits and outcomes are properly considered.
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