House debates

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Questions without Notice

Early Childhood Education

2:29 pm

Photo of Susan TemplemanSusan Templeman (Macquarie, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Early Childhood Education. How is the Albanese Labor government giving Australian women more choice by delivering on our commitment to make early childhood education more affordable?

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

I thank the member for Macquarie for her question. What a fantastic Labor woman the member for Macquarie is, one who is a passionate advocate for her electorate and her community and one for whom the affordability of early learning for children is a deeply personal issue, as it is for many women right across Australia and, indeed, as it is for me.

Affordable early learning was absolutely essential for me as a single parent who was working and who was studying, as well as managing my responsibilities as a parent at that time. Without access to the quality early childhood education that my two boys were able to have and the educators who did so much for my children, I certainly would not be standing here today, because, put quite simply, I would not have had a choice.

On this side of the House, we believe that women should have a choice. That's why, from 1 July this year, around 1.2 million families right across Australia will benefit from our reforms that will make early childhood education and care more affordable. We know that women will be one of the main beneficiaries of our reforms, because it's true that the vast majority of primary caregivers are women and because it's most often the women who have to pause or stop their careers or give up, sometimes, on their aspirations due to the high costs of early learning.

Our reforms give women the opportunity and the choice to return to the workforce and take on more hours if they need, to be able to contribute to the household budget and, importantly, to go back to study if they so wish. This is real and responsible relief to the cost-of-living pressures facing Australian families. There are women like Gemma from Adelaide, who told me that the reforms will give her more choice in her working hours. She says: 'The costs of care were a big factor for me in weighing up how many days a week I would go back to work. It just doesn't make sense to work full time for less in your pocket. This change will help me work more.' She echoes the sentiments of many women whom I've spoken to across Australia.

As we celebrate International Women's Day today—and I wish all women right across Australia and across the world a happy International Women's Day—we do need to remind ourselves that, whilst we've come a long way, there is still some way to go. I'm proud to be part of a Labor government that recognises this and that has, in the short time that we have been in office, already achieved so much towards women's workforce participation and towards equality for all Australian women.