SNAICC calls for more support to Close the Gap following AEDC release
SNAICC – National Voice for our Children has responded to the recently released Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data saying that it is critical for Governments to act now to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children if there is to be progress on closing the gap.
From 2009 to 2018 there had been a steady increase in the percentage of First Nations children on track across all five AEDC developmental domain areas, driven in large part by the focus on community-controlled and culturally strong service delivery, SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said.
The most recent release, however, shows a reversal in this trend with fewer First Nations children on track in all five domains, falling to just over 34 per cent.
“While the findings reflect overall changes for all children nationally, the decline has been greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, further widening the gap,” Ms Liddle noted.
“Some of the decline can be tied to COVID-19 pressures, however the widening gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children shows other factors are also impacting.”
The Closing the Gap target aims to increase the percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are on track in the five domains to 55 per cent by 2031.
“We now have the evidence that this target, like others, is off track,” Ms Liddle said.
“If we are to turn around life outcomes, to set our children up for the best start in life, to allow them to thrive in their early years, there must be a concerted effort by all levels of Government.”
In response to the AEDC findings SNAICC is calling for fundamental reforms to the Federal early childhood education and care (ECEC) model, critical that the existing model is failing to ensure that First Nations children are on track when they start school.
“We need a dedicated funding program to build and increase the number of our incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander integrated early years services,” Ms Liddle said.
“We also need to get barriers like the child care activity test out of the way and ensure our children have access to at least 30 hours of free or heavily subsidised child care each week.”
“We have the evidence and solutions to demonstrate what works to help our kids thrive.
“What we need is the support from Government partners in Closing the Gap to make investments in community-controlled early years a reality.”
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