House debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Consideration in Detail

11:52 am

Photo of Anne AlyAnne Aly (Cowan, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Early Childhood Education) Share this | Hansard source

My colleague the Minister for Education has spoken about the budget commitments to early childhood education. I'll talk a little bit about them and then about some other areas of early childhood, the other portfolio of youth and the budget commitments. Suffice it to say, on early childhood education the Albanese government has put the education of our youngest Australians at the heart of its first budget, with a $4.5 billion investment in early childhood education and care, through the legislation that passed the Senate last night. I am very proud to have worked with my colleague Minister Clare on these landmark reforms. We recognise it's an investment in our most precious resource, our children. As the minister mentioned, it will make early childhood education care more affordable for over 1.2 million families.

We know that the first five years of a child's life are absolutely vital to their future success and future development both in health and in education. Our investment will also help services in disadvantaged, vulnerable and regional communities to provide high-quality early education and increase the number of children that can access vital early years education.

Upsettingly, for the first time this year, the Closing the Gap target for school readiness developmental outcomes have worsened. This is simply unacceptable, and we recognise that we need to be doing better and turning this around. That's why the budget also includes funding to ensure that First Nations children will be able to gain access to 36 hours of subsidised early childhood education and care per fortnight. Added to that, we've also announced a $10.2 million fund to support the establishment of the new early childhood care and development policy partnership between Australian and state and territory governments and First Nations representatives. The partnership will be co-chaired by SNAICC and ensure that First Nations members are partners in the process. It is absolutely essential that all governments work together in partnership with First Nations people if we are indeed to close the gap and improve outcomes in early childhood education for First Nations communities.

That's why I'm also excited to be leading the Early Years Strategy along with the Minister for Social Services, Minister Rishworth, ensuring that there is a coordinated approach to the first five years of a child's life. By making early childhood education more affordable, we're ensuring more children can access the benefits of foundational years education, no matter what their background is or where they live. The Early Years Strategy will build on that. It includes education but also a whole range of other areas which impact on young children's wellbeing. Again, it is testament to this government's commitment to recognising those first five years of a child's life as absolutely critical to their success later in life and recognising the need for investment in the first five years of the child's life.

Moving onto the youth portfolio, if I may, the budget also includes an investment of $10.5 million to ensure that Australian youth have input on the issues that matter to them. That $10.5 million will fund a new youth engagement model to ensure that there are meaningful opportunities for young Australians to have a say. In addition, over the forward estimates there is $7 million to establish the Office for Youth; $1.4 million for five youth advisory groups to work directly with Australian government agencies on policy and program development; $483,000 for the development of a youth engagement strategy to be delivered in 2024; and $1.5 million for the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition to support its critical role in youth advocacy, engagement and research.

This is a significant shift from the previous government, who abolished the Australian Youth Forum in 2013—a clear indicator that they are not interested in engaging young people, they're not interested in what young people have to say and they think that they can develop policies that impact on young people without ever consulting young people. We take a different approach on this side. That's why we've made a significant investment in ensuring that young people have a voice and have a say. We can be the best government that we can be by including their voices in how we develop policies and legislation that affect them. We have a budget that begins to build the better, fairer future that the Australian people deserve, including our youngest Australians.


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