Choiceless: regional, rural and remote families
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Regional, remote and rural families rendered choiceless when it comes to ECEC

Regional, remote and rural families rendered choiceless when it comes to ECEC

by Freya Lucas

November 14, 2023

Many regional, rural and remote families face limited or nonexistent early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, a new report from The Parenthood has found.


Choiceless: The plight of parents in accessing regional, rural and remote early learning and care‘ was recently released at Parliament House in Canberra, showing that while access to ECEC can be difficult anywhere in Australia, it is felt disproportionately by those in the regions.

“The consequences of inaccessible early childhood education in regional, rural and remote Australia are profound,” said Maddy Butler, Campaign Director of The Parenthood.


“Parents are at their best when they have the freedom to decide what works best for their family in terms of work, caregiving, and maintaining a balanced life. Without adequate access to early learning, families across the regions have been left without a fair choice. It’s time for a solution.” 


Without adequate ECEC care, she continued, children miss out on social, health and educational benefits, and workforce shortages worsen when parents can’t return to work, meaning towns suffer economically. 


“Too many families are struggling. The report calls for change to ensure every child has access to high quality early learning and care, regardless of their postcode,” Ms Butler said.

Choiceless‘ offers a profound glimpse into the challenges faced by Australian families through 166 stories and case studies which form “a poignant collection of narratives” that paints a vivid picture of the diverse ways in which inaccessible ECEC impacts families and communities, and underscores the urgency for change.

“Decision makers need to address the issues highlighted in our report,” Ms Butler said. “The market has not, cannot and will not solve the problem of equitable access in the regions, where the reduced and shifting demand in many towns will not attract outside providers.” 


“Current funding models also fall short. We need new strategies that think beyond a ‘one size fits all’ approach to provide every child with access to some form of early childhood education.”


‘Choiceless’, she continued, “is a call to all levels of government to champion equitable access to early childhood education and care. It’s a symbol of hope for countless families who’ve been left without a choice, and a commitment to a brighter future for all Australian children.”


Access the report here.

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