National Report on Schooling Australia 2012
National initiatives and achievements
2.3 Strengthening early childhood education¹
Australian governments have committed to supporting the development and strengthening of early childhood education, to provide every child with the opportunity for the best start in life (Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians 2008).
National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education
Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education, Commonwealth and state and territory governments committed to ensuring that all children in the year before full-time schooling have access to a quality early childhood education program, delivered by a university-trained early childhood teacher, for 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year.
The Commonwealth’s commitment of $970 million over the five years to 30 June 2013 included $955 million directly to states and territories to support their implementation of universal access to early childhood education. Three million dollars each year (for five years) was also set aside for research, data development and evaluation. The National Partnership includes a specific focus on ensuring early childhood education is available to Indigenous and disadvantaged children.
State and territory annual reports for 2012 under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education are available on the Australian Government Department of Education website.
National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development
Under the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development, COAG agreed that at least 35 Children and Family Centres would be established across Australia by June 2014. Locations for 38 centres were agreed, and $292.6 million allocated to establish them.
The Children and Family Centres have been established in a mix of remote, regional and urban locations. They are concentrated in areas where there is demonstrated need for these services, high disadvantage and a high proportion of Indigenous children under five years of age. The centres deliver integrated services, including early learning, child care and family support programs.
National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care
The National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care contributes to improving outcomes for children attending education and care services, including long day care, family day care, kindergarten/preschool² and outside school hours care.
National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care
The National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care facilitates the collection, sharing and reporting of early childhood education and care information. It was developed in consultation with the Australian Government, states and territories, as well as key data agencies. The agreement is a key element of the COAG monitoring and reporting arrangements, especially for children in the year before school under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education, and for Indigenous children in that age group, under the Closing the Gap agenda.
Further information on the commitment for strengthening early childhood education is outside the scope of the National Report on Schooling in Australia but is available on the Australian Department of Education website.
¹ Early childhood education refers to programs which children may undertake in the years before they commence full-time schooling. In general, statistical and other information on early childhood education in Australia is not reported in the National Report on Schooling in Australia.
² In jurisdictions where preschool is currently delivered by government or non-government schools, there is an option of administering the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care through existing government quality assurance processes with respect to preschools (National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care, Appendix B-8.53).