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Peaks urge major parties to up support for Victorian education and care system

Wed, 10/05/2022 - 12:41

Peak bodies Community Child Care Association (CCC), Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and Early Childhood Australia (ECA) are calling on the major parties to prioritise children’s education and care in the lead-up to the Victorian state election.

In a joint submission, the three peaks outlined 6 solutions to support access, quality, workforce and sector sustainability in education and care.

Julie Price, Executive Director of CCC shared “The incoming Victorian state government has a new opportunity to improve outcomes across the whole education and care sector, by co-investing in systemic change with the federal government”.

“Our submission focuses on the unique opportunities made possible by both state investment, and by leveraging investment at a state and federal level. Our children need us to get it right, and to do it right now,” Price said.

The rate of children experiencing risk of vulnerability has increased. In Victoria in 2021, one in five (21.2%) children were developmentally vulnerable in one or more Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) domains (10.5% were vulnerable in two or more domains). This has increased from 2015 when 19.9% were developmentally vulnerable (AEDC 2022).

ELAA CEO, David Worland said “Children with disabilities, developmental delays, serious health conditions, trauma and other challenges are less likely to participate in high-quality education and care, yet these children have the most to gain from these services”.

Worland went on to address concerns about the pace of quality assessments across the system “Parents need to be able to trust that when they choose a service, the rating reflects the current operations of the service. Many services have not been rated for more than four years.”

Among the solutions outlined, the peaks have put forward the provision of a one-off retention bonus payment of $3,000 for Victorian educators, funded by state and federal governments.

Marie Howard, ECA Victoria branch President, said “To support our workforce to provide high-quality education and care for children from birth to school-age, our workforce must see an increase in salaries, and better working conditions”.

Howard said the sector, which continues to face critical workforce retention problems, must see improvement, “However the improvement of wages and conditions must be secured without increasing the cost of education and care for families”.

The joint submission outlines the following solutions:

  1. Short term: greater investment in and coordination of current inclusion programs, and increased accountability of deliverables and outcomes.
    Long term: state and federal government co-designed Inclusion Support Program to strengthen Victoria’s commitment to the inclusion of all children.
  2. Mandate National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating at least every three years.
  3. Support services in vulnerable communities to apply for Excellent and Exceeding ratings.
  4. Work with the Federal Government to co-invest in a retention bonus payment for all Victorian educators across the sector.
  5. Provide support to ensure a sustainable not-for-profit sector.
  6. New government-owned and community-managed services are created in consultation with communities to cater to their unique needs.

“We’re calling for much-needed support to deliver essential access to high-quality education and care for children, and better wages and conditions for our workforce,” Julie Price said.

“Improvements to the education and care system have substantial economic flow-on effects that will see more people in work, and improved outcomes for children,” said David Worland.

Marie Howard remarked “Addressing education and care access, quality, workforce and sustainability issues cannot wait any longer, our nation’s future depends on it”.

The joint submission can be found at https://bit.ly/ECEC-VIC-submission

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact bworthington@cccinc.org.au.