AEU critical of Government’s failure to commit to ongoing Universal Access funding

AEU critical of Government’s failure to commit to ongoing Universal Access funding

by Freya Lucas

October 09, 2020

The Australian Education Union (AEU) has issued a statement condemning the Federal Government for its failure to commit to funding for preschool beyond next year, saying the decision “fails to provide certainty for families and the preschool sector.”


This lack of ongoing funding “flies in the face” of the findings of the Government’s own review which recommended funding should be guaranteed for at least five years, with Government transitioning to a National Agreement from 2026 onwards, an AEU statement read.


Early childhood education should be viewed as a means of giving Australian children the best start in life in their crucial formative years, AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said, rather than being seen as “a quick fix to get parents back to work.”


Rather than leaving families and early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals wondering about funding from year to year, the AEU said, it’s time to “end the hand-to-mouth annual funding cycles” which the preschool sector has been subjected to since 2013. 


“Annual drip-feeding of funding does not allow pre-schools to plan for the future nor to retain and attract staff on an ongoing basis,” Ms Haythorpe said. 


While the recently announced 2020/21 Budget made some provision of assistance for Victorian providers to remain viable during the COVID recovery, this is “clearly not enough”, she added, noting that the Budget made “no mention in the budget of extending preschool to three-year olds,” something which places Australia “almost alone” among advanced economies in not providing this universally.


The Government, Ms Haythorpe said, “needs to take responsibility and provide preschool for all children.” 


“It sets them up for life. Children who go to preschool are school ready, better at managing emotions and have better attention spans. Learning issues can be identified and support mechanisms put in to place earlier, which benefits all children, because all children learn better when the average skill levels in the classroom are high – children influence each other.”


To access AEU’s statement in full, please see here