Sarah Mitchell reappointed as Early Childhood Education Minister for NSW
Sarah Mitchell, currently the New South Wales Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs has retained the Early Childhood Education portfolio and also been appointed Minister for Education in the new Coalition led Government.
The reshuffle will see the same minister overseeing the early childhood education and the education portfolios for the first time since 2015 when Leslie Williams was appointed as a separate Minister for Early Childhood Education in Mike Baird’s second ministry.
Sarah Mitchell, a member of the Nationals party, received her first ministerial brief in the wake of the formation of Gladys Berejiklian’s first ministry post Mike Baird’s resignation in 2017 when she was appointed Minister for Early Childhood Education and Minister for Aboriginal affairs.
She was also appointed the Assistant Minister for Education at that time.
Ms Mitchell’s reappointment comes against the backdrop of recent strong advocacy drives to secure more favourable early education outcomes for the very young children of New South Wales.
In particular, the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia’s (ELACCA) “Launch into Learning” campaign and the not for profit backed “Early Learning – Everyone Benefits” campaign which both had a focus on the importance of improving the pre school participation rates in light of continued NSW underperformance relative to Australia’s other states and territories.
In a letter to Elizabeth Death, CEO of ELACCA Ms Mitchell, outlined in detail the NSW Government’s key policy positions and reconfirmed that the majority of policy objectives would continue to be actioned through their flagship Start Strong Program and its various sub programs and that without additional funds being received from the Federal Government funding commitments would remain the same.
Currently, community preschools receive the bulk of Start Strong funds with both four year olds and three year olds that meet eligibility requirements receiving subsidies. Four year olds that attend a preschool in a long day care setting do receive some subsidy but three year olds in the same setting do not.
That being said, Ms Mitchell did note that “in advocating for the next National Partnership Agreement, the NSW Government will seek to ensure further funding to extend the Start Strong Long Day Care program to include three year olds” which has been well received by the sector.
As part of the reshuffle Ms Mitchell will also assume the Education portfolio from outgoing Minister of Education, Rob Stokes.
Commenting on her new ministry Premier Berejiklian noted “The new team will help deliver better social outcomes for the most vulnerable and equality of opportunity for people across the state, no matter their background or where they live,”
The new Cabinet will be sworn in at Government House on Tuesday 2 April.