Early childhood education provision

Federation is encouraged by the NSW Government’s 2023–24 Budget commitments to enhance economic opportunities for women in the state. The Gender Equality Budget Statement acknowledged the barriers to women’s workforce participation, which included the disproportionate female share of unpaid work in the home, childcare affordability and accessibility, and challenges re-entering the workforce.

There is a severe shortage of early childhood education and care (ECEC) options, especially for people in rural and remote communities in NSW. The ECEC sector is complex, with a mix of preschool, long day care, occasional care, family day care, before/after school care services delivered by a range of for-profit, not-for-profit and government providers, and the state and federal governments share responsibility for the sector. The lack of access to ECEC is affecting teachers who are parents/carers of young children. Moreover, it is a barrier to attracting new staff and retaining existing staff, exacerbating the current teacher shortages.

Federation’s policy position is for universal access to preschool, which must be entirely dedicated to public preschool education. Universal public preschool must mean all children in NSW, regardless of family socioeconomic or location context, are entitled to attend their local public, fee-free, government-funded and well-resourced preschool, co-located on the site of their local public school.

All children must be afforded the right to access two years of public preschool education prior to starting kindergarten. This must include an ongoing commitment to a child-centric, needs-based funding model and the protection and regulation of the system through relevant legal, industrial and policy mechanisms.

Public preschools must be staffed by permanent universityqualified and NESA-accredited early childhood teachers, specialist early childhood itinerant support teachers, early childhood teachers who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, teachers with qualifications in educating children with disabilities and children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds and dual-qualified preschool counsellors who are all supported by the requisite school executives with early childhood qualifications and experience.

While Federation congratulates the Minns Government on its commitment to 100 new preschools on public school sites by 2027, including every new public primary school in NSW having a preschool on its grounds, Federation will continue to pursue this matter with the NSW Government and the Department of Education, and support members to campaign at the local level for improved provision of early childhood education.

Preschooling campaign seeks equality.