National Report on Schooling in Australia 2009
National initiatives and achievements
2.3 Strengthening early childhood education
Australian governments have committed to supporting the development and strengthening of early childhood education, to provide every child with the opportunity for the best start in life (Melbourne Declaration
Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), all Australian governments have established early childhood education and development as a priority, committing to a five-year National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education.
National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education
Through the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education, Commonwealth and State and Territory governments have committed to ensuring that all children will have access to a quality early childhood education program by 2013, delivered by a four-year university-trained early childhood teacher, for 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year, in the year before formal schooling. The Commonwealth’s commitment of $970 million over the five years to 30 June 2013 includes $955 million to states and territories to support their implementation of the Universal Access initiative. Three million dollars has also been set aside each year (for five years) for data development and evaluation.The National Partnership includes a specific focus on ensuring preschool education is available to Indigenous and disadvantaged children. The National Partnership is closely linked to other elements of the Australian Government’s early childhood reform agenda, including the development of the national Early Years Learning Framework, workforce reforms and the development of a national quality framework for early childhood education and care. Further information on the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education is available on the DEEWR website
MCEECDYA will play a key role in implementing the national aspects of this National Partnership and on the development of a National Early Childhood Development Strategy, supporting the achievement of the COAG commitments.
COAG has also established other National Partnerships on Early Childhood education.
National Partnership for Indigenous Early Childhood Development
Through the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development, the Australian Government is providing $292.62 million for the establishment of Children and Family Centres (CFCs) across Australia by June 2014. The CFCs will deliver integrated services, including early learning, child care and family programs in areas where there is a demonstrated need for these services, high disadvantage and a high proportion of Indigenous children under five years of age. By 31 December 2009, 36 Children and Family Centres had been agreed and announced by responsible Ministers.
National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care
In December 2009, COAG endorsed the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care to establish a jointly governed, unified National Quality Framework for early childhood education and care and outside school hours care, replacing existing separate licensing and quality assurance processes.¹
National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care
In November 2009, MCEECDYA endorsed the National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care (NIA ECEC). This Agreement will facilitate and improve the collection, sharing and reporting of early childhood education and care information. It was developed in consultation with the Australian Government, States and Territories, as well as key data agencies. The NIA ECEC is an important step in national efforts to improve the quality and reliability of early childhood education and care data. The development of the Agreement is a key element of the COAG monitoring and reporting arrangements, especially for early childhood education for all children in the year before school under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education; and for Indigenous children in that age group, under the Closing the Gap agenda. A copy of the Agreement is available on the MCEECDYA website.
Under theMCEETYA four-year plan 2009-2012,
ACARA is responsible for the ‘alignment between the Early Years Learning Framework and school-based curriculum frameworks which relate to the early years of schooling’.
Further information on the commitment for strengthening early childhood education is outside the scope of the National Report on Schooling in Australia but is available on the DEEWR website.
¹ In jurisdictions where preschool is currently delivered by government or non-government schools there will be an option of administering the NQF through existing government quality assurance processes with respect to preschools. (National Partnership Agreement on National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care, Appendix B-8.53)