House debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice

Early Childhood Education

2:45 pm

Sam Rae (Hawke, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Early Childhood Education. What is the Albanese Labor government doing to make early childhood education more accessible and affordable, boosting our economy by unlocking workforce participation for women?

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

I thank the member for Hawke for the question. I know that the member for Hawke has a long and ongoing commitment to early childhood education and to women's economic empowerment. It was great to hear the member for Hawke speak yesterday, through his first speech, so passionately about education and the role of women in his life.

For too long, these important issues around the early childhood sector and women's economic empowerment and the connection between the two have been undervalued and underappreciated. This morning, my Labor colleagues and I heard from a delegation of early childhood education workers who are up in the gallery today. We heard from them the issues that they have and that have impacted on them, on the sector, on women's workforce participation and, importantly, on children's wellbeing. So I'm really pleased to be able to speak about what an Anthony Albanese Labor government is doing in this space.

As I've advised the chamber before, right now early childhood education is more expensive than ever before. I remember how, as a young single mother, I had to rely on early childhood education and just what that meant for me to be able to raise myself and my family out of poverty. I can't imagine how much more difficult it is now for somebody in that situation, given how much the cost of early childhood education has increased. That's why the Albanese Labor government is acting to ensure that early childhood education is more affordable for 1.26 million Australians, with our election commitment to increase the childcare subsidy. We're also asking the ACCC to design a price regulation mechanism for early childhood education, aimed at making it more affordable and more accessible across the country. And we're going to be asking the Productivity Commission to review the sector.

We know that, while making early childhood education more accessible is a noble goal, we also need to be able to support and expand our vital workforce in this space. There is a worryingly high turnover in the sector that leads to issues of quality, and we heard that very clearly from the early childhood educators who we met with earlier today. We're committed to developing, recognising and supporting a high-quality early education workforce, and the Minister for Education—Minister Clare—and I have in front of us a fairly rigorous agenda of meeting with the sector through sector roundtables to feed into the Jobs and Skills Summit next month. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge that hard work that those who are currently in this sector do and to thank them for everything that they've done. (Time expired)