Jessica Rudd to address National Press Club
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Parenthood CEO will address National Press Club today, speaking on ECEC reform

Parenthood CEO will address National Press Club today, speaking on ECEC reform

by Freya Lucas

November 29, 2023

Jessica Rudd, CEO of parent advocacy group The Parenthood, will address the National Press Club in Canberra at midday today as part of a call for reform of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.


“At The Parenthood, our vision is clear: every child, irrespective of background or location, deserves the chance to flourish through access to top-tier early childhood education. It’s not merely about education; it’s about building the bedrock of a just and prosperous society,” Ms Rudd said.

Addressing the political and economic landscape, in her speech Ms Rudd will acknowledge the government’s commitment to universal ECEC while also raising concerns about potential challenges and stressed the importance of staying true to this vision.

“Reforming early childhood education is legacy material. It’s a reform that will deliver immediate benefits for families on cost of living, but it is also a reform that will build our future capability. It’s an investment in the leaders of tomorrow,” she notes. 

“Australia should be the best place in the world to be a parent and raise a child. We are the country of Bluey, for goodness sake. We have mangoes and verandahs, the oldest continuing cultures in the world. We are resilient and diverse; vast and bold.” 

Highlighting last week’s report from the Productivity Commission, Ms Rudd will also speak on the flaws in the current activity test – which requires parents to work or study for at least 30 hours a week in order to get the Child Care Subsidy – and the urgent need for workforce reforms in the early childhood education sector.

“The Activity Test is a policy lemon which eight consecutive specialist reports have told us,” Ms Rudd outlined. “We don’t need another report before the Government fixes it once and for all. This could be done today, but should be done by the next budget at least.”


The depths of the ECEC workforce crisis will also be outlined, with the number of monthly reported vacancies surpassing a significant milestone, exceeding 8,000 for the first time ever recently. There are more than 20,000 vacancies in the sector overall.

“There is no early childhood education without early childhood educators. Many early educators are deciding to leave because they can’t afford to stay. Australia can’t afford to lose them,” Ms Rudd said.

“When I started doing this job, I was shocked to learn that a Cert III qualified early childhood educator takes home $500 less a week than an entry-level bricky labourer. Almost 97 per cent of early childhood educators and teachers are women. 100 per cent of them need a pay rise.”

At the conclusion of the address Ms Rudd will express her hope for a future where Australia is recognised as the best place in the world to be a parent and raise a child, and will urge the government to remain steadfast in its commitment to ECEC reform.

“The government is right to have an audacious goal of universal quality childcare, like Medicare, like superannuation. It’s worth fighting for,” Ms Rudd said.

“The Parenthood remains committed to advocating for more affordable and accessible ECEC. It’s a ‘win for all’ issue: It’s good for children. It’s good for families and it’s good for the economy.”

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