AEU welcomes Labor’s $1.75bn preschool funding guarantee


4 October 2018

Labor has announced a new two-year National Preschool and Kindy Plan, meaning around 700,000 Australian children will be able to access subsidised preschool if the party wins the next federal election.

This $1.75 billion announcement would guarantee ongoing funding for all four-year-old children to attend Early Childhood Education (ECE) for 15 hours each week. It would also mean that, for the first time, every three-year-old child will also be able to access 15 hours of subsidised preschool each week.

Currently, an agreement between the Morrison government and the states and territories means that funding for four-year old children to attend 15 hours of preschool per week is only guaranteed until 2019, causing great uncertainty for the preschool sector. The Morrison government provides no funding for three-year-old children to attend ECE.

Under the Morrison government Australia ranks 23rd in spending on ECE as a percentage of GDP, well below the OECD average. OECD figures place Australia below countries such as Brazil, Mexico and the Russian Federation in terms of funding for early learning.

According to OECD figures, the Morrison government currently invests less than 0.5 per cent of GDP in early childhood education and care, well below the OECD average of 0.8 per cent of GDP. Countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland already invest significantly more – between 1.2 and 2 per cent.

World Bank data shows that in 2015, of the 207 countries examined, the vast majority provide two or three years of pre-primary education. Only 11 provide one year – Algeria, Angola, Bermuda, Gibraltar, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ireland, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Australia.

The teaching profession has welcomed Labor’s $1.75 billion ECE announcement, saying it would provide certainty for parents and enable future workforce planning for teachers and other ECE professionals.

Preschool improves cognitive, social and emotional outcomes, and is important in providing a strong foundation for learning. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit the most from early learning, as it provides a strong foundation for them to close the achievement gap with their peers.

Labor’s commitment to guarantee ongoing funding for two years of preschool shows it truly values those precious first few years of a child’s education