17 April 2023

The Australian Education Union (AEU) has welcomed the interim report of the South Australian Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care released today, backing its call for universal three-year-old preschool for all South Australian children.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the findings of the Royal Commission extend well beyond South Australia and have national significance.

“The expansion of universal preschool for all three-year-olds in the state will deliver benefits that flow across a lifetime for South Australian children and their families.

“There is overwhelming evidence that shows children that have access to high quality, play based education and care during the formative ages of three and four are more likely to do better at school, continue their education beyond school and be employed in the workforce.

“With access to universal preschool for all three-year-olds, all families in South Australia can ensure that their children are meeting their developmental milestones, regardless of their financial conditions or socio-economic background.

“No child should have to miss out on opportunities because of where they live. Access to preschool is particularly important for children who are from disadvantaged backgrounds or live in remote locations.

“The State Government can ensure that every child can benefit from the advantages of early learning through expansion of public preschools to more rural and remote regions in the state.

“Finally, preschool education must be delivered by qualified and professional early childhood teachers. The Commission makes clear that stronger policies to attract, educate and retain preschool teachers must be devised and implemented with the help of experts and unions.

“Modelling conducted by PwC showed that for every dollar invested in preschool, Australia receives a dividend of twice that over the life of a child.

“The AEU has been calling on the Federal Government to extend preschool funding to three-year-olds for many years, noting the opportunities it presents for Australian children and families.

“States like South Australia can pave the way for Federal leadership to enable the delivery of universal public preschool education to all three- and four-year-old children across Australia.”


Media contact: Alys Gagnon, 0438 379 977,