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The importance of the early years

Royal Far West (RFW) explains to the Productivity Commission why there should be a specific and urgent focus on providing sufficient childcare places in rural, remote and isolated areas.

Royal Far West (RFW) made a submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector.

We all know that the early years are the most crucial time to establish the foundations that will influence the rest of our lives. Increasingly our focus at RFW is on the early years, targeting rural and remote children who are developmentally vulnerable, working with them, their educators and families.

When children don’t receive the early intervention they need, because of where they live, it impacts on their learning, relationships, health and wellbeing. The issues that they face as an 8- or 9-year-old are much harder and more expensive to address.

There has not been an equitable investment in these years in Australia compared to other developed nations. This is particularly true in regional Australia, a major contributor to this nation’s wealth and prosperity. In fact, we are letting country children fall behind their city peers.  Bridging the tyranny of distance and the unique problems that our country communities face is not an easy task. The Productivity Commission Inquiry is a great opportunity to address these issues.

RFW believes that if we are to successfully deliver the support country children need at the right time there are two major impediments that early years policy and funding need to overcome – universal access to high quality ECEC and wrap around allied health supports.

Summary of RFW recommendations to the Productivity Commission are:

  1. There should be a specific and urgent focus on providing sufficient childcare places in rural, remote and isolated areas
  2. All 3-5 year olds should have equitable access to high quality early learning and developmental screening and pathways to care to address developmental vulnerabilities before starting school
  3. Incentivising rural/remote workforce and addressing issue of staff shortages – States and Territories should have consistent requirements for staffing qualifications and ratios.
  4. Outcomes for children and families experiencing vulnerability and/or disadvantage, First Nations children and families, and children and families experiencing disability need specific policies to address the widening gap in outcomes and should be included as part of the Productivity Commission Inquiry.
  5. The following outcomes will help increase the effectiveness and efficiency of Government spending in the sector.
    1. Introduce flexibility around funding, staffing and professional learning
    2. less paperwork and red tape for early learning centres
    3. simplified access to inclusion support
    4. better wages for staff
    5. abolish the activity test.

 

To read the full submission please click here.

To find out more email communications@royalfarwest.org.au