UNSW academic calls for more thoughtful and proactive Government support for ECEC

by Freya Lucas

May 10

Adjunct Professor Michael Traill AM, a renowned social investment advocate and non-executive Chair of Goodstart Early Learning, has called on the major political parties to “prioritise their policies on care of the elderly, education and housing during the run-up to the federal election.”

 

Adjunct Professor Traill described the opportunity as “quite bipartisan” as it would enable “greater impact investment and mobilise larger pools of institutional capital in aged care, affordable housing and early education.”

“If we can shift the dial and mobilise pools of super fund capital that could plausibly be in the multi-billions of dollars, that can have a quite dramatic and positive effect that ticks both business financial and social impact return areas.” Adjunct Professor Traill said.

Before making the transition to the social investment space, the Adjunct Professor spent 15 years in merchant banking, where he co-founded Macquarie Group‘s private equity arm, Macquarie Direct Investment.

 

Now working with the business school at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Traill was awarded the title of Adjunct Professor by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) at UNSW Sydney.

 

Passionate about the value of high quality early learning, Adjunct Professor Traill said there was a large pool of data and evidence suggesting the value of early childhood education and care (ECEC) learning for children aged two, three and four, especially those  “who come from vulnerable backgrounds. We can make a real difference. There are other countries, including the UK, who do this in a significantly more substantial and high quality way than Australia.”

 

Describing the push towards early learning being made available for children from two, Adjunct Professor Traill said “the mission is personal” outlining his childhood in the small town of Morwell in country Victoria with “two loving parents who valued education”, but during which he felt the lack of opportunity and prospects affecting many of his school peers who had talent but weren’t expected to do well.

 

Delivering high quality education to young children from challenged backgrounds can have a massive impact, he said.

“I want to see communities like that resourced so that those children can grow up in schools and communities with high expectations, and for those children to be resourced to perform as I know they can, because I’ve had that lived experience.”

Adjunct Professor Traill said applying the Goodstart social enterprise template, tapping best practice expertise with people who have deep social impact experience, is essential across the various sectors of the economy.

 

“You think about areas like aged care, social and affordable housing, broad chunks of education – there’s a government policy imperative to be involved because it has such a significant societal impact, outcomes and government is a significant funder.” he said.

 

Adjunct Professor Traill, who currently has a range of mostly social purpose board roles and was founding CEO of Social Ventures Australia (SVA), said 60 per cent of Goodstart’s $1bn of revenue is government funded through the Child Care Subsidy.

 

“My strong argument is, if you can create the enabling conditions where you can mobilise capital for enduring, we can help create more well run organisations in the areas of intersection of business discipline and social purpose. Done properly, they can make a social impact difference and generate reasonable financial returns that tap into that 2.7 trillion dollar superannuation pool,” Adjunct Professor Traill said.

 

“I think there’s a very strong case for government being more proactive and thoughtful in helping enable those opportunities to happen, and in terms of whatever bandwidth and experience I’ve got I’m very keen to see how that momentum can be accelerated.”

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