UNICEF Australia proud to support Thrive by Five, calling for universal access to ECEC

by Freya Lucas

September 09, 2020

Australian children’s charity UNICEF Australia has expressing pride at being asked to join educators, researchers, business leaders, unions, health professionals, parents, community organisations, and economists from across Australia who are calling for a universally accessible early education system as part of the Thrive By Five campaign, an initiative of the Minderoo Foundation.

 

Thrive by Five is being driven by Dr Nicola Forrest, Director of the Minderoo Foundation, and Professor Fiona Stanley, UNICEF Australia ambassador for Early Childhood, and was described by UNICEF Australia Director of Australian Programs, Nicole Breeze, as one which is “good for children and families and will help boost workforce participation and drive Australia’s economic recovery”.

 

Built on a research premise showing that education in the early years can enhance brain development, help parents work and engage in society and help reduce the costs of mediating future problems in health, education, mental health, justice and employment, Thrive by Five champions a universally accessible, high-quality early learning system which not only benefits children, but also boosts workforce participation.

 

Investments made in brain development, supported through play-based learning for children aged zero to five years “are vital to lifelong intellectual and social development” campaign materials note, adding the powerful statistic showing that ninety per cent of a child’s brain is fully developed by the age of five.

 

As well as addressing the number of children who begin school developmentally vulnerable, the campaign supports an investment in early learning which will ultimately drive economic growth through participation, productivity, and population (removing economic disincentives to grow families) using economic modelling showing that a universally accessible, high-quality early learning system will allow an extra 380,000 parents to get back into the workforce and remove the financial barriers to women taking on full-time work.

 

Australia’s investment in early learning is below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average, and families “are paying too much of the cost,” UNICEF said, calling for public investment to make early education more affordable for all children.

 

Earlier this year UNICEF Australia commended the Federal Government’s creation of temporary free universal childcare in an effort to directly support families through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

“This was a highly effective emergency response measure and, it’s now time to further recognise the untapped opportunities that increasing access to affordable, accessible early learning provides to children and families and expanding their working capacity while also stimulating the economy,” a spokesperson said.

 

For more information on the Thrive by Five campaign, please see here

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