Goodstart syndicate welcomes opportunities for Australia to boost early years growth
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Goodstart syndicate welcomes opportunities for Australia to boost early years growth

by Freya Lucas

February 15, 2023

The four community sector organisations responsible for the establishment of Goodstart Early Learning have welcomed the opportunity presented by the Federal Government to take a critical step in improving early years development in Australia in the shape of the National Early Years Summit, calling for the Summit to be viewed as “an opportunity to put the voices and experiences of children, families and carers at the centre of national reform”.


The Goodstart Syndicate comprises the Benevolent Society, Mission Australia, Social Ventures Australia and the Brotherhood of St. Laurence.


Goodstart’s founding partners came together in 2009 after the collapse of ABC Learning to address the key source of many of society’s problems – poor childhood experiences. Their work was propelled by a vision to ensure every child in Australia has access to quality early leaning and the best possible start in life, a mission that still drives them today.


The syndicate stepped in to provide a viable and accessible alternative to ABC Learning that was focused on quality outcomes for children, not profit. As a result, the early childhood education and care (ECEC) of 15 per cent of Australia’s children was able to continue through the establishment of Goodstart Early Learning.


As leaders and experts in the early childhood development space, the four organisations are joining together once again on the eve of the Early Years Summit to implore the Federal Government to seize this opportunity to devise and deliver a holistic early childhood development system that caters for children, families and for the country.


Given that one in six Australian children are still living in poverty, and that one in five start school classified as developmentally vulnerable, Australia is ranked 32 out of 38 wealthy countries on child wellbeing measures. This is one of the aspects the Summit will explore. 


The Goodstart syndicate believe an integrated approach to ECEC – beginning at birth and spanning both formal early childhood services and home-based support – can counter family disadvantage, stop at-risk children and families from falling through the gaps, and ensure all children have the best possible start in life.


They claim the current early childhood development system is “inaccessible, confusing and unaffordable” for the families who need it most, and that national reform to the early years should:


  • Adopt a child-centred framework
  • Make services more affordable and accessible
  • Embed home-based learning from birth to build parents’ capacity to be their child’s first teacher, recognising that the home learning environment is vitally important
  • Provide a universal offering for all families, with flexible support for priority groups
  • Integrate early childhood services across all three levels of government, including co-located and integrated service models
  • Make the early childhood service system easier to navigate and increase its capacity to outreach and engage proactively with disengaged and deeply excluded families
  • Strengthen the early childhood workforce, including qualified early childhood educators, maternal and child health nurses and allied health professionals.


“The opportunity presented by the National Early Years Strategy to fundamentally change the current state of early childhood development in this country is as significant as the creation of Medicare,” a spokesperson said. 


“It has the potential to be transformative in nature and intergenerational in scope if done correctly.”


“The initial commitment from the Federal Government – Minister Amanda Rishworth and Minister Anne Aly in particular – to improve how we approach early childhood development, including the National Early Years Summit and the creation of a National Early Years Strategy, is a welcome and overdue national step that will have significant and long-lasting impacts right across Australia,” they continued. 


“State governments are also taking the lead and have signalled their willingness to make the early years Australia’s number one national reform priority.”


Syndicate representatives said the group “looks forward to being part of the conversation and ensuring Australia’s approach to early years development is both world-leading and life-changing.”

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