Realising The Potential Of Early Years Education

Leading world and local experts, kindergarten teachers, Maternal and Child Health nurses, business leaders, policy makers and academics have gathered to help shape the future of Victoria’s early childhood system.

Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos today addressed more than 1,500 attendees from the early childhood sector at the Andrews Labor Government’s Realising the Potential: Early Childhood Forum at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

International experts Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan, Co-director of the National Centre for Children and Families at Columbia University, and Tove Mogstad Slinde, Senior Advisor in the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, shared their unique insights about early childhood.

They both commended Australia’s education and care quality standards – standards which are under direct threat following the Turnbull Government’s ruthless budget cuts. From 1 July, the national agreement on maintaining safety and quality at childcare centres and preschool services will be ripped up, putting the safety of thousands of Victorian kids at risk, as early childhood services could go unchecked.

The Labor Government knows that a supportive home environment and high quality early childhood education makes a significant difference in how a child does later in life.

A recent report – commissioned by all the Australian states and territories – found that investing in early childhood education pays off in the long run – with a return of $2 to $4 for every dollar invested.

It also found that while the benefits of investing in the early years are widely accepted internationally, Australia is falling behind, investing only a third of the OECD average in pre-primary education – ranking 24 out of 26 nations.

The Lifting Our Game report noted that to lift school outcomes through early childhood intervention, the single most impactful reform Australia could take is expanding access to quality early childhood education – such as preschool – to all three-year-olds. Australia currently sits alongside Angola, Nigeria and Iran in terms of offering only one year of subsidised pre-school.

Work is underway through the Labor Government’s landmark $202.1 million Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan, to ensure kids are ready for kinder, ready for school and ready for life. The Victorian Budget 2018/19 invested a further $135.9 million toward realising our early childhood vision.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos

“The Turnbull Government has been short-changing Victorian families and children by failing to pay their fair share on safety and quality for years – and now they’re choosing to walk away altogether.”

“Unfortunately, Australia is lagging far behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to investment in pre-primary education and we need to urgently turn this around.

“Getting the Turnbull Government to sign up to permanent, on-going funding to support four-year-old kinder is a first step that should have been made a long, long ago.”