Each year ECA prepares a pre-budget submission for the Commonwealth Government to ensure the views of the early childhood education and care sector can be incorporated into the Budget process.
In late November 2020, the Assistant Treasurer called for submissions from individuals, businesses and community groups on their priorities for the 2021-22 budget.
The 2020 Budget was delayed from May to October 2020 due to COVID-19. ECA’s budget submission (link to revised 2020 budget submission) (revised from early 2020) focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on the sector and repeated calls for improved access and affordability to early learning.
The 2020 Budget was a missed opportunity to invest in the early childhood sector, with very few commitments and a disappointing six-month extension to the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.
ECA’s 2021-22 pre-budget submission focuses on opportunities for government to engage with the sector on key issues such as early learning in rural and regional areas, calls for support for all educators to access Be You, and to hear directly from the sector on the refresh of the Approved Learning Frameworks (with ECA as consultation coordinator).
The key issues of access, affordability and a proper commitment to Universal Access are again included in the pre-budget submission as they remain vitally important to children, families and the future of early childhood in Australia.
ECA’s 2021-22 pre-budget submission has four key areas of focus and nine recommendations.
Budget Focus areas:
- Research and Review
- Commitment to a five-year funding agreement for preschool
- Strengthen the emotional and mental well-being of children and educators
- Improve children’s access to early childhood education and care
- Fund ECA to lead a consultation process to inform the review of the Approved Learning Frameworks commissioned by the Education Council.
- Fund ECA to engage with qualified early childhood educators and teachers working in other roles or careers to inform retention and re-engagement strategies.
- Fund an in-depth review and scoping of access to quality early childhood education and care in rural and regional areas.
- Commit to a five-year National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.
- Support early childhood educators to access and engage in the Be You initiative, which promotes the mental health of children from the early years to adulthood.
- Fund ECA to enhance professional development in trauma-informed care and practice and expand access for early childhood educators.
- Increase the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) to a maximum of 95% for low-income families, tapering down to 30% for high-income families, to improve the affordability of early childhood education and care.
- Review the activity test.
- Increase funding for children with disability and additional needs in early learning and care services, to match increased demand.
- Provide additional funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled early learning and family-support services.
The Federal Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, will hand down the Budget on Tuesday 11 May 2021. The Budget Speech and papers will be available here. (link to budget.gov.au)
ECA will provide a summary of the 2021-22 Budget, as it relates to early childhood, on Wednesday 12 May 2021.