Chifley Research Centre
Friday, 13 November 2020

Transcript: Brett Gale introduces our new report

Thank you Anthony, Amanda and Emma

And special thanks to all the educators and children here at KU Children’s Services.

Early childhood education and care is one of those issues in public policy that is easy to put on the backburner.  That’s because generally most people only focus on it for the few short years in which they have young children.

Its then out of sight and out of mind.

But we know that our long term economic and social future depends on a quality start to the education of our youngest Australians.

And we also know that Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19 depends on an affordable and accessible early childhood education sector to help get people back into work quicker.

That’s why it was heartening to see the recent announcement by Federal Labor of changes to assist Australian families struggling with the cost of early childhood education.

The policy brief that Chifley Research Centre is releasing today aims to take the national conversation around early childhood education and care even further.

The report acts as a call to begin treating early childhood education as another important plank in the education continuum.  It encourages us to draw on what we know works well in the school system and apply it to early childhood education.

For instance, what we see clearly in the data we analysed is that quality matters.

And quality is a function of where we choose to spend our money.  What the data shows is that those centres that spend a higher proportion of total expenditure on educators have higher quality education and care outcomes.

This is of course consistent with our approach to school education which is both universal and quality-focused.

We would love to see an early years education sector that is as equally focused on universality and quality as the school system.

That’s why we recommend three actions:

  • Greater transparency from providers as to their spending on service quality
  • Greater investment in a skilled, stable workforce with more investment in educators’ time and careers
  • And using lessons from the school system to build a fit-for-purpose model of universal ECEC provision.

We hope all policy makers a serious look at this report as we consider the way forward for ECEC in Australia.

About Chifley Research Centre:

The Chifley Research Centre is the Labor Party’s official think tank, committed to advancing public policy debate and progressive thinking in Australia.