Landmark NSW review could see ECEC changes in a bid to boost female participation

Landmark NSW review could see ECEC changes in a bid to boost female participation

by Freya Lucas

February 09, 2022

A landmark review will be undertaken in a bid to boost female workforce participation in New South Wales, the state’s treasurer Matt Kean has announced, signalling that improving access to affordable and quality early childhood education is likely to be involved.

 

With a focus on empowering women and improving their economic opportunities the Women’s Economic Opportunities Review and Expert Reference Panel will be headed up by Chief Executive Women President Sam Mostyn who will examine ways to increase the economic opportunity of women, promising to deliver a review which is “bold and brave”.

 

Somewhat controversially when announcing the review NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said one of the things holding women back from fully participating in the workforce was the “outdated childcare system” which he described as “a dog’s breakfast”.

 

Critical of the division of responsibilities for early childhood education and care (ECEC) systems between federal and state, the Premier said NSW is “happy to take it over”.

 

“From long day care to before and after school care, early childhood education to childcare it’s an absolute dog’s breakfast,” he continued, endorsing the review which he believes will put long term strategic policy thinking methodology into a range of issues to assist women entering the workforce and re-entering and staying in the workforce.

 

He will encourage reviewers to “think outside the box” and consider areas such as child care, superannuation and pay parity, with many systems – including 9-3pm school hours described by the Premier as being “outdated in the modern world.”

 

“Too often women leave the workforce or reduce their working hours out of necessity, not choice. It is therefore no surprise that women have only two thirds of the superannuation saved compared to men,” said Nationals Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor. 

 

She asserts that the NSW Government is committed to creating “a more even gender mix across industries, supporting female entrepreneurs to run their own businesses, and increasing workplace flexibility”.

 

“If we increase the number of women in the workforce, we will improve their economic security and wellbeing across a lifetime, bringing enormous social and economic benefits to everyone in NSW.”

 

Speaking about the role of ECEC, NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the review will develop recommendations to improve quality, accessibility and affordability of childcare and early childhood education for families.

 

“The review will provide key insights into the childcare needs of working parents, which will contribute to the broader early learning reform work that I am undertaking, designed to create greater educational outcomes for our littlest learners.”

 

Aside from Ms Mostyn, other panel members are:

 

  • Maha Abdo OAM, CEO Muslim Women Association
  • Blair Comley PSM, Partner EY Port Jackson Partners
  • Jillian Kilby, CEO and Founder of The Infrastructure Collaborative and The Exchange
  • Leslie Loble, Co-Chair of the Council on Early Childhood Development
  • Daisy Turnbull, writer and teacher.

 

The review will be informed by strong external consultation including with the NSW Council for Women’s Economic Opportunity.

 

For more information and to read the terms of reference please see here.   

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