Essential early childhood education funding in question yet again
Our union today called on the federal government to confirm its commitment to early childhood education funding in light of proposed changes to school funding.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said proposals contained in the government’s green paper on federation reform foreshadowed its mission to divest its responsibility to funding schools, leaving a question mark over its current funding for early childhood education as well.
“Given one of the proposals in the green paper would spell the end of federal funding of schools all together, the question needs to be asked as to whether they would extend this proposal to the early childhood sector as well.
“In May, after public pressure, the federal government announced the extension of funding for 15 hours per week of early childhood education in 2016 and 2017.
“This belated announcement came almost a year after the federal government neglected to make provision for this funding in the 2014 budget, using the excuse it has been waiting for a Productivity Commission report into Childcare and Early Childhood Education.
“Given the recent revelations surrounding school funding, this is an ominous sign for the early childhood sector,” Mr Burke said.
The report from the Productivity Commission (released in October 2014) recognised the importance of early childhood education as a driver for immediate and long-term economic development and recommended the continuation of Universal Access funding to 15 hours a week of early childhood education.
“Universal Access to early childhood education is crucial to the development of children and as such maintaining the current federal funding is critical to its continuation,” Mr Burke said.
“As it is Australia provides less than a quarter of the OECD average expenditure on early childhood education, when measured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“For early childhood employees and parents with young children, the latest proposals from the federal government only serve to once again create uncertainty in regard to funding and the future of the sector,” Mr Burke said.