The need for bold early learning reforms to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children get every opportunity to engage and benefit from early learning has been highlighted in new findings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s childcare inquiry.
The ACCC’s interim report examining childcare services in Australia found that only 58% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were enrolled in childcare in 2022, compared to 70% of all Australian children, a staggering 10 percentage point gap  .
CEO of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, Catherine Liddle, said the findings showed much more needs to be done to close the gap in education and life outcomes.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have long been underrepresented in our nation’s childcare and early learning system, and little progress has been made to address this challenge.
“As a direct result of not having access to high-quality early learning, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are twice as likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school .”
“If Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are able to access high-quality early learning and childcare, we can set them up for lifelong success.
“We can turn around not only education outcomes, but also reduce contact with child protection and system systems and reduce the likelihood of chronic illness in later life.
“However, far too many barriers still prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children from accessing early learning.”
“While steps have been taken by Governments to help address this challenge, policies such as the childcare subsidy Activity Test still act as a major barrier restricting childcare access for our families.
“By removing the Activity Test requirements for childcare subsidies, the Federal Government can ensure that childcare participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are lifted, as they did when the requirements were paused .”
“Additionally, more needs to be done to improve childcare access and availability in regional and rural Australia, to help ensure that remote Aboriginal communities have sufficient access to early learning services.
“Further, the funding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led and operated childcare centres, which was cut by the Abbott Government, has yet to be restored.
“By re-instating this funding, we can ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have access to culturally appropriate care in their early years.
“To truly address the challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children as they relate to childcare, and to take meaningful steps towards closing the gap, Governments at all levels must implement bold and necessary early learning reforms.
“And it starts by scrapping the Activity Test, investing in Aboriginal community-controlled early learning, and improving access to childcare.
“An investment in the early years is an investment in the futures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.”
Please contact Mandy Taylor 0414 634 159 or email@example.com.