A pre-election message from Federal Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
Labor is deeply committed to providing all children with the best possible start in life.
Labor has always invested in education because only Labor believes education is the greatest investment we can make in the future of our country.
Nothing is more powerful than ensuring that every child, no matter what their postcode, ethnicity, or their parents' income has an opportunity to reach their potential.
I have met so many educators, parents and carers, and providers across New South Wales who all share a passion and concern for a thriving early education sector and the benefits of quality early learning.
Labor has a proud legacy – we introduced the Universal Access Program and the National Quality Agenda.
We are ready to take the next step in our early education story.
First, Labor will deliver massive cost of living relief for nearly one million families struggling with the costs of early education and care.
From July next year, Labor will put more money back in working parents’ pockets for 887,000 families – that means three-quarters of families using early education and care will be better off.
Every single working family in Australia earning up to $174,000 will get cheaper early education and care under our plan and save on average $1,400 a year per child.
Labor will ensure Australia’s early childhood educators are better paid, because we want a quality early education and care system that delivers the best outcomes for children.
You would all be aware of the amazing world early childhood educators do, and how hard it is to pay them what they deserve without increasing fees on parents. That’s why Labor will fully fund the pay rise. We will provide funding to deliver an increase of 20 per cent over 8 years. Labor will work with you all to design and deliver this pay rise in a way that benefits educators, families and your services, so that every cent goes to staff wages, and fees will not increase.
Finally, last October Bill Shorten announced Labor will invest $1.75 billion in a new National Preschool and Kindy Program.
This funding represents will help expand access to quality, affordable early learning for children.
Our policy will:
- Commit permanent, ongoing funding to the National Preschool and Kindy Program for all four-year-olds;
- Extend the program to cover all three-year-olds;
- Establish a $100 million fund to expand capacity where it is required;
- Boost the early education workforce with 10,000 fee-free places in TAFE;
- Ensure early learning centres are high quality and safe by restoring the $20 million safety and quality funding the Liberal Government has cut; and
- Invest $6 million to upgrade and expand toy libraries and playgroups.
If elected, a Shorten Labor Government will provide ongoing, permanent funding for 15 hours of subsidised preschool to our four-year-olds.
In stark contrast, Scott Morrison has not allocated any funding to preschools after 2020.
For the first time, under Labor, this program will also be extended to include three-year-olds.
We’ve talked with the experts and looked at the evidence. The evidence is clear that two years of quality early learning is vital for driving better educational, social, health and economic outcomes.
Because when it comes to early education, Labor gets it. We always have and we always will.
In stark contrast, the Liberals will be cutting funding for four-year-old preschool after next year. Once again, this leaves 350,000 Australian children in limbo with no certainty of access to early learning - this is more than 100,000 children in New South Wales alone.
There is no doubt that Labor is committed to delivering our children the best possible start in life. Under our National Preschool and Kindy program, around 700,000 Australian children a year will benefit.
Our program represents the most comprehensive investment in early education in Australian history.
I invite you to work with Labor on the design and delivery of our comprehensive, once in a generation investment.
Together we will build a world-class early education and care system and deliver the best possible start in life for Australia’s children.
The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
Federal Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education
As published in The Nurture Nook, Winter 2019 edition.