Dr Anne Aly addresses ECLD conference, giving thanks
The Sector > Policy > Politics > Dr Aly uses ECLD address to acknowledge the deep commitment of ECEC professionals

Dr Aly uses ECLD address to acknowledge the deep commitment of ECEC professionals

by Freya Lucas

March 21, 2023
Federal Minster for Early Childhood Education, Dr Anne Aly, is pictured in play with a young blonde child who has their back to the camera.

Federal Minister for Education Dr Anne Aly has used her opening address at the Early Childhood Learning and Development (ECLD) conference, held over the weekend in Perth, Western Australia, to acknowledge the collective dedication, passion and commitment to the children of Australia made by those in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. 


“I’m looking around this room this morning and I am just filled with hope and inspiration,” she said. 


“The collective wisdom, the collective knowledge, collective experience, but importantly also the collective dedication and passion and commitment to the children of Australia and to the families of Australia is something that I am in awe of.”


Dr Aly said that, since taking on the portfolio of Early Childhood Education and Youth, she has been “absolutely privileged and honoured” to meet workers, educators, teachers, staff members, centre operators and centre managers who demonstrate every day “just how much [the] sector is reliant on that skill, that knowledge, that profession, that dedication and that commitment to Australia’s children”.


In praising the sector, and acknowledging the importance of the first five years of a child’s life, she was candid in noting “there are challenges ahead”.


“There are some serious long-term challenges facing the sector, and it will be remiss of me to not mention those challenges and to not put out a hand to say we want to address those challenges. I want to address those challenges as the Minister and the Government want to address those challenges, and we want you to walk with us on that journey of addressing those challenges.


“There are some things that we’ve already done working towards addressing some of those,” she continued. 


“We’ve strengthened the ability of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in predominantly female-dominated sectors like ECEC. I know that that mechanism means so much to so many early childhood educators and teachers who have fought so hard for so long to be able to argue for fair pay in front of the Fair Work Commission without having to find a male comparator.”


She also outlined some of the improvements that should trickle down to improve workforce supply, such as the 180,000 free, fee-free TAFE courses, and vocational education places throughout Australia with 1,469 additional university places for early childhood teachers.


The Government, Dr Aly noted, has also prioritised visa processing time for qualified teachers, including early childhood teachers. 


“Those actions are important and they’ll go some way to helping us retain the current workforce and attract and provide a pipeline of a new workforce coming in, but we know that there’s so much more that needs to be done.”


She then reiterated that the Government was working in collaboration with the states and territories and the ECEC sector to implement the ten year National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy


“All governments and ACECQA have committed to reviewing all of the 21 of the strategies actions and accelerate the implementation of 18 priority actions,” Dr Aly said.


“One of the most exciting things we’re doing is the Early Years Strategy,” she continued. “I’m super excited about this. And this is a strategy that will look at how we can better coordinate Commonwealth service provision and state service provision…that puts the child and the family at the centre.”


“I want the strategy to be bold. I want the strategy to champion innovation, to harness new opportunities for partnerships, to build on successful models. But above all, I want the strategy to be driven by the needs and aspirations of Australians.”


Dr Aly concluded by thanking conference organisers for the invitation and the opportunity to “celebrate your successes with you, to recognise the achievements of your profession, but also to be with you as we look together into the future and imagine, imagine what that future could be. 


“I’m excited for that, but I hold no illusions about what the challenges are. But I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic that we can meet those challenges. I can’t do it alone. The government can’t do it alone and you don’t have to do it alone. So thank you. Thank you for everything you do every day.”

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