Greens pre-election pledge: 100 % free ECE for all, phase out for-profit providers

Greens pre-election pledge: 100 % free ECE for all, phase out for-profit providers

by Jason Roberts

March 07, 2022

The Australian Greens Party has released its early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy position to be taken to the next Federal Election, with a call to make early childhood education (ECE) universal and free to all Australian children as well as a pledge to phase out for-profit providers all together.

 

The release comes as political parties start to prepare more openly for a Federal Election which must be called by 18 April 2022 and held no later than  21 May 2022. 

 

“It doesn’t matter where you live, how much you work, how much you study, or how much you earn, all children should have the right and access to quality early learning and care,” said Greens spokesperson for education and Senator for New South Wales Mehreen Faruqi. 

 

“Too often, women have to give up work and career opportunities because childcare is too expensive or not available.”

 

The updated early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy mix has evolved somewhat from the promises the Greens brought to the 2019 Federal Election in which the party called for the abolishment of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) activity test and the introduction of a new means testing scale that would see families earning less than $171,958 receiving a 100 per cent subsidy and those earning up to $351,248 a stepped reduction in subsidy falling to 10 per cent.

 

The new version calls for the abolishment of the CCS all together with childcare made available to families free of charge. Under the plan the additional cost would be  borne by the Government and is estimated to be around $19 billion over and above forward estimates for the next four years. 

 

In addition, the Greens will develop a plan to phase out for-profit provision of ECEC services all together as they seek to reposition early learning as an essential service akin to the school sector. 

 

Universal access at heart of Green’s 2022 election policy mix 

 

Titled Free and universal early childhood education and care, the policy suite focuses on five key areas:

 

  • Make childcare universal and free by replacing the CCS with a 100 per cent free system that will be funded by an additional $19 billion in Federal funding over the next four years. 

 

  • Extend universal access to ECE via preschools for all three and four year olds to 24 hours a week regardless of setting.

 

  • Support early childhood educators and centres by implementing a workforce strategy in conjunction with the early learning sector to achieve higher professional pay and better working conditions for workers, and offer grants of $200 million to community and not-for-profit centers to increase licensed places. 

 

  • Strengthen early learning for First Nations children through support for Aboriginal community-controlled services.

 

  • Phase out for-profit early learning over time and treat early learning as an essential service that will be provided by the state.

 

The Greens announcement will place Liberal and Labor policy mixes back in spotlight

 

With the Australian Labor Party having committed to “developing and implementing a whole government Early Years Strategy” which includes a lifting of the CCS percentage to 90 per cent for all families and a series of measures focused on improving transparency across the ECEC sector, all providers await the Liberal party who have yet to release any details of its ECEC policies. 

 

As the sitting Government prepares to implement its latest round of targeted CCS affordability improvement measures, it is anticipated more commentary on its ECEC position will be floated as the country approaches the calling of the election along with the 2022 Budget presentation, both of which are anticipated in April 2022. 

 

Consistent with the 2019 election, the Greens have taken the most progressive stance in terms of the major parties approaches towards ECEC policy creation, with major ECEC peak bodies expected to applaud the announcement in the coming days. 

 

To review the Green’s policies please click here

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