Julia Gillard opens first public hearings in Royal Commission into ECEC
The Sector > Policy > Julia Gillard opens first public hearings in Royal Commission into ECEC

Julia Gillard opens first public hearings in Royal Commission into ECEC

by Freya Lucas

January 27, 2023

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has opened the first public hearings in South Australia’s Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), indicating her perspective that “providing the best early education and care for society’s youngest children raises a complex set of issues, but all can be solved by harnessing the intelligence and thoughts of the wider community.”


The Commision was a key promise of the incoming Labor state government last year, along with a pledge to deliver universal preschool by 2026, provide better access to outside school hours care and increase workforce participation through improved access to ECEC.


During her address Ms Gillard told the commission that “the science and understanding of brain development was increasingly prompting societies to examine what could be done to provide children the best possible start in life.”


“We know from neuroscience and so much more that brains develop quickly in our youngest children and that the pathways created in those early years are very determinative of what will happen later in life,” she said.


Children, she continued, will thrive if they are in an environment of care where they experience safety and security, particularly with secure attachments to adults where they are shielded from environments of stress and abandonment.


Ms Gillard indicated that much of the commission’s work will be about families, on the understanding that opportunities for children could only be taken up if families could access them.


For some families accessing opportunities can be quite complex because of where they live, who they are, and what resources they have to bring to the task. 


“There are a set of quite complex issues in front of us, but I am absolutely sure that while these issues are complex, they are solvable,” she added. 


“They will be solvable by harnessing the best of intelligence and thoughts from a wide cross-section of the community.”


The commission’s first round of hearings will aim to try and to reach an understanding of factors that both disrupt and support child development.


Since Ms Gillard’s appointment the inquiry has received hundreds of submissions from parents, educators and other community members. Moving forward, the Commission will hear from academics and experts, as well as those working in ECEC, including directors and educators.


Ms Gillard is due to present her final report to the government in August this year.

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