Victorian politicians meet to talk through ECEC promises ahead of election
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Victorian politicians meet to talk through ECEC promises ahead of election

Victorian politicians meet to talk through ECEC promises ahead of election

by Freya Lucas

November 18, 2022

Politicians from the Greens, the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Liberal Party joined  education and care peak bodies Community Child Care Association (CCC), Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and Early Childhood Australia (ECA) along with 85 attendees from across the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector to  discuss state election promises for the sector in a Victorian Pre-Election Forum.


Held 27 October 2022, the forum gave each party a platform to address concerns identified by the peaks in a joint submission. Amongst the points identified in the peaks’ submission, workforce support was key.


“You can’t talk about early childhood learning without talking about the need for well-paid, secure jobs right across the sector,” Sam Hibbins, Member for Prahran and the Victorian spokesperson for Education, Transport, Youth and LGBTIQA+ Equality​ from the Victorian Greens began. 


 “If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s just how important early childhood learning staff are. They are an essential service. They’ve been undervalued for far too long and certainly we support the calls for a retention bonus being paid to early childhood workers, and certainly much more needs to be done to make sure that there are well-paid and secure jobs right across the sector.”


The need for community consultation around the establishment of new services was also highlighted, with Member for Croydon and Shadow Minister for Education, Early Childhood and Higher Education, Training and Skills from the Victorian Liberals, David Hodgett, saying “planning for kindergarten is really, really important and genuine community consultation is paramount.”


“Our approach is to prioritise community consultations to deliver services that cater to the community and are not a tick-in-the-box exercise.”


Inclusion support was another core issue raised in the joint statement, which Victorian Labor representative, and current Minister for Early Childhood and Pre-Prep, Ingrid Stitt saying she is “very passionate about ensuring that those children who are going to benefit the most from universal kindergarten are able to access affordable and quality kindergarten programs. I think that the Best Start, Best Life reforms are a real opportunity for us to deepen the quality of the offering right across Victoria.”


“In last year’s state budget we invested $53.7 million over four years to provide more of those kindergarten inclusion support packages for families to assist children who have a disability so that they can fully participate in kindergarten programs,” she added.


Core ambitions from each party 


Politicians in attendance were given the opportunity to discuss their party’s ambitions and commitments ahead of the 26 November election. 


Mr Hibbins said the Greens were “absolutely supportive of the free three and four-year-old kinder reforms.”


“We’d like to see at least $100 million extra over the next term going directly to our not-for-profit community-run childhood education centres. That would be non-attached funding, to whatever the needs of that centre is, whether it be additional staff, supporting more staff, facilities or new programs.”


Speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party, Mr Hodgett also affirmed the party’s commitment to free kinder, saying ““I think it’s quite rare in politics to get bipartisan support on initiatives, and in fact I’d like to see more bipartisan support for education initiatives.”


“Early childhood education certainly represents a really important start of a child’s educational journey and we absolutely support this initiative.”


Ms Stitt discussed  quality improvements and mandated assessments at least every three years for the sector in her response, saying “I am absolutely committed to making sure DET and the regulator have the resources they need to address quality in the sector and we have allocated $46.8 million for QARD to take account of the growth in the sector so that they can do that important work.”


“I certainly understand that it’s a very important part of the sector to ensure that parents can be confident that the kindergarten that they want to send their child to is a quality offering.”


A full recording of the forum is available for members of Community Child Care Association, Early Learning Association Australia and Early Childhood Australia. Members should contact their organisation to access. 

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