Turnbull Government to cut preschool funding
7 August 2018
The opportunity for all children to benefit by attending preschool is under major doubt following plans by the Turnbull government to slash nearly $500 million from the early childhood education (ECE) budget in 2020.
Australia already has one of the lowest-funded ECE sectors in the OECD. However the 2018 Federal Budget outlines funding cuts planned for the sector. In particular, the Turnbull government is targeting the National Partnership agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, and the National Quality Framework program, to ‘save’ nearly half a billion dollars from the federal Budget.
The ‘Universal Access’ scheme guarantees all children access to 15 hours per week of pre-school education by a university-qualified teacher in the year before they start school. Since it was introduced, the scheme has been a great success, seeing preschool enrolments increase from 12 per cent to 91 per cent of four-year-old children.
Responsibility for funding the scheme is shared between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. However the Turnbull Government has only guaranteed the funding for its share of the scheme for 12 months at a time, creating great uncertainty for the sector.
Investment in quality education reaps significant long-term benefits for children, their families and the community. Quality early childhood education provides not only lasting benefits for a child’s cognitive and social development, but also significant social and economic returns for the community. The ‘Lifting our Game’ report estimated that every dollar spent on ECE returns an economic benefit of between two to four dollars.
To ensure a high quality, viable preschool education for all children, the Turnbull Government must immediately commit to:
- Guaranteeing Universal Access funding of 15 hours per week of preschool for all four-year-old children.
- expanding this funding to include three–year-old children
- restoring funding to the National Quality Framework
- implementing a strong and effective workforce strategy for the sector
Our children deserve no less.