The Parenthood proposes first-of-its-kind Australian National Parenting Strategy
There is an urgent need for a national parent strategy to ensure Australia is the best place in the world to raise a child, advocacy group The Parenthood has said, releasing a new report which outlines a coordinated framework of best practice evidence-based policies aimed at enabling parents and children to thrive in the critical early years.
The report is based on an examination of international policy approaches, and economic modelling undertaken for the plan shows the cumulative impact of reforming ECEC and paid parental leave (PPL) could increase national GDP by 4.1 per cent in 2050 or $166 billion.
Through enhanced PPL and ECEC supply, Australia’s female workplace participation could be lifted to that of males, which would in turn increase GDP by 8.7 per cent or $353 billion by 2050.
“The report released today shows Australia cannot seize the opportunity of the twenty-first century without prioritising support for parents and children as a critical investment for our future,” The Parenthood’s Executive Director Georgie Dent said.
- Universal health and wellbeing support for parents and children through pregnancy and the early years;
- A parental leave scheme that provides one year of paid leave to be equally shared between both parents; and,
- Free and high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) for all families;
- Flexible and supportive workplaces with universal access to paid carers’ leave for sick children.
“This is the standard required to ensure all children and families are appropriately supported to meet their potential, which current policy settings do not support. The (proposed) solutions are straightforward and compelling – but we need leaders to recognise the case for change and take action to put parents, families and children first.”
Ms Dent argues that too many Australian parents with children under five are caught in a trap of inadequate paid parental leave, lack of access to affordable, high quality early learning and other barriers to workplace participation.
The present fragmentation of support systems for parents and families, which extend beyond ECEC to cover elements such as perinatal health, gender reporting and taxation, is “challenging for parents to navigate and fails to deliver optimal outcomes – for children, parents, society and the economy.”
Using UNICEF rankings, which placed Australia in 32nd place out of 41 nations for child well-being in 2020, she went on to position the COVID-19 recovery period as the ideal time to follow the lead of other countries and proactively pursue the policies and practices that make a difference in the lives of children and families as a matter of priority.
“The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented social and economic hardship for many Australian parents and their children, but the temporary provision of free childcare also showed how bold, new policies could make a massive difference in people’s lives,” Angela Jackson, Lead Economist at Equity Economics said.
“Pursuing policies to make Australia the best place in the world to be a parent presents the most compelling and valuable path to ensure Australia’s recovery from the pandemic leads to a healthier, more equitable and more sustainable future. The impact for parents, children and all Australians would be life-changing and help build a better future and stronger economy.”
The report combines research and modelling with insights from parents, early childhood education experts, health professionals and academics about the role of policy settings, and will be made available shortly.