More action needed to close the gap on early learning for children
[by Tanya Evans]
Catherine Liddle, SNAICC CEO. Image: supplied
SNAICC – the National Voice for Our Children welcomes new polling today highlighting challenges with accessibility and rising costs of early childhood education and care in regional and rural areas.
The poll of more than 4000 parents across the nation conducted by Essential Research for the Thrive by Five campaign found:
91 per cent of parents in regional Australia believe childcare costs have
gone up over the past three years;
79 per cent of parents in regional Australia said much cheaper access to good
quality childcare would help their families; and
73 per cent of families in regional Australia support the adoption of universal
childcare, up from 69 per cent in 2021.
Previous research from the Mitchell Institute found 62.6% of people living in outer regional areas in Australia are living in ‘childcare deserts’ with inadequate access to high-quality early learning. According to the report, there are approximately 1.1 million Australians living in regional and remote areas with no access to childcare at all.
SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle said, “This new data confirms what parents in the country and remote communities already know - families with the most barriers to early learning, need those barriers removed.
“It’s critical that every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child has access to affordable, quality and – importantly - culturally appropriate early learning and care. No child and family should miss out.
“We need a greater focus on community-led and Aboriginal-led centres, with support to increase their number and make them more affordable for all children and families.
“With the prevalence of childcare deserts in regional and remote areas with high Aboriginal populations, it’s not surprising we are seeing less Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children assessed as being developmentally ready for school.
“We must turn around the widening gap in school readiness.
“The changes to the activity test and increase in subsidised childcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is a step in the right direction but there is still more needed.
“SNAICC is keen on working with Federal, State and Territory governments to make sure every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child receives the services and supports they need to thrive,” she said.
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