New cabinet taskforce focussing on women’s issues welcomed by ECEC sector

by Freya Lucas

March 31, 2021

A number of groups aligned with the broader early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector have expressed their support for both the new look Federal Cabinet and a commitment made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to embed women’s issues into all areas of government policy making through the establishment of a taskforce.

 

In light of the focus on issues pertaining to women, President of the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA), Paul Mondo, said he looked forward to working with the Prime Minister and other key members of Parliament to ensure affordable early learning (childcare) was “front and centre” of the next Federal Budget, and beyond.

 

“The early learning sector ‘s workforce of 194,000 educators and support staff is made up primarily of women,” Mr Mondo said. “Our educators, in turn, help Australian mothers to return to the workforce, safe in the knowledge their child is being nurtured and educated in world-class early learning services.”

 

Mr Mondo expressed his hope that improving the affordability of care for families and resolving the existing workforce shortages in the early learning sector may deliver “clear, early and tangible benefits” to Australian women, their families and the national economy.

 

He welcomed the newly established roles of Minister for Economic Security and the Minister for Women’s Safety, as well as the appointment of the Minister Assisting the Minister for Women who will work with the Prime Minister’s co-chaired Cabinet Taskforce to address key issues affecting women from equality and safety to their health and wellbeing.

 

“Our members strive every day to create the supportive and safe environment needed to foster healthy child development and powerful learning opportunities to shape the minds of the next generation,” Mr Mondo said. “This is even more critical for young children who are already experiencing, or at-risk of experiencing, family violence.”

 

“We know this fundamental and seismic shift in policy and pledged approach to women can bring about practical, meaningful and real differences for women, their families and the communities in which they live.”

 

Mr Mondo’s perspective was shared by parent advocacy group, The Parenthood, and also by the Thrive by Five initiative. 

 

Early learning a key reform, Thrive by Five says 

 

The Prime Minister’s announcement was lauded as a “great opportunity to prioritise early learning and reform” by Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill. 

 

“This is a welcome announcement on the Federal Government’s priorities for women. But to really show commitment to improving the safety and economic security of women, we need to see action on their biggest concerns,” he added.

 

Mr Weatherill called on the new Women’s Economic Security Minister Jane Hume to prioritise high-quality, universally accessible and affordable early learning and childcare.

 

“There is just too much evidence to ignore on the benefits of early learning and childcare reform,” he concluded.

 

Parent perspective

 

“Women around Australia are looking for action,” The Parenthood’s Executive Director Georgie Dent said. 

 

“We know mothers are more likely to reduce work time to part-time than fathers (37 per cent against 5 per cent) and this in part to buffer the family from rising childcare costs.”

 

“The upcoming budget must deliver substantial new investment to ensure universally accessible, high quality early childhood education for at least two years before school as well as increases in paid parental leave,” she added, referencing the group’s recent Budget submission

 

To learn more about the cabinet taskforce, please see here

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