ECEC sector responds to QLD preschool announcement

ECEC sector responds to QLD preschool announcement

by Freya Lucas

February 24, 2022

A variety of early childhood education and care (ECEC) peak bodies have responded to a recent announcement of more than $1 billion in funding to support Queensland children to have greater access to early learning. 

 

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA), Goodstart Early Learning and lobbyist group Thrive by Five have all welcomed the announcement and commended the Queensland Government for choosing to prioritise investment at such a valuable juncture of children’s learning. 

 

Committing $1 billion to early learning, Goodstart CEO Julia Davison said, is “money well spent” given the lifelong outcomes from quality early learning. 

 

“This is great news for families and a wonderful investment in Queensland’s future,” Ms Davison said. 

 

“I want to congratulate the Premier and the Minister for the extra spending on children who are developmentally vulnerable and those living with a disability. This boost in funding is much needed and will make a significant difference to the lives of children and families who need a little more support.”

 

The decision to include measures in the funding package for educators and teachers to relocate to rural and regional communities was welcomed by Goodstart and by Thrive by Five, with CEO Jay Weatherill saying the QLD Premier had joined NSW in “throwing down the gauntlet” to the Federal Government on early learning reform. 

 

“When the Federal Government can’t or won’t stand up in a crisis, the states have stepped up to fill the void and get the job done,” he said, noting that the reform will go a long way to attracting more qualified teachers to regional kindergartens.

 

“At a time when our sector is dealing with a shortage of educators and teachers, measures to provide accommodation assistance and relocation costs to ensure regional and remote communities can still access Kindy is very welcome,” Ms Davison added. 

 

“Goodstart has experienced real difficulty in attracting qualified educators to some of our regional centres as rental properties are in short supply, and relatively expensive.”

 

Significance of change acknowledged 

 

Ms Davison went on to describe the reforms as “the most significant change to kindergarten funding in Queensland in a decade,” a sentiment echoed by ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death who said the package “will have very tangible benefits” for Queensland’s youngest learners and their families. 

 

“On behalf of our members, I thank the Premier and Minister Grace for delivering such a comprehensive kindergarten package. We look forward to working side by side to deliver (it).”

 

The package, she continued, will target some of the highest priorities for early learning in Queensland, and Australia more broadly, namely: 

 

Workforce: qualified early childhood teachers are at the heart of high-quality early learning, so measures to support their attraction and retention in regional and remote areas are essential.

 

Affordability: free early learning for children in vulnerable circumstances may be life-changing for them and should be the gold standard across Australia. Cuts to fees for all other families using long day care and standalone services for kindergarten will help ensure that cost is no barrier to learning.

 

Children with disability and additional needs: the expansion of the new Kindy Uplift program will help cover the significant costs of providing specialised support to each child who needs it.

 

“As the Commonwealth, states and territories embark on the National Preschool Reform process, we urge them to focus clearly on the needs of children and to make the investments that will deliver benefits to the whole community for decades to come,” Ms Death said.

 

To learn more about the reforms see here.

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