Ambitious plan for Aussie kids needs action: advocates

Well-being advocates have called for ambitious action on early child development after the government adopted a 10-year strategy that leaves concrete changes to later.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth and Early Childhood Education Minister Anne Aly released the blueprint on Tuesday, which will bring together different parts of “complex” government programs.

Practical steps to implement the Early Years Strategy will be made in three action plans over the decade, with the first to come later this year.

But Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth chief executive Roslyn Dundas said the government should appoint a cabinet minister for children and young people.

“The Early Years Strategy is an important step and must be backed by real action,” she said.

A new Parents and Carers Reference Group will be set up and be led by prominent experts in childhood development, including former South Australian premier Jay Weatherill.

It will provide a direct line for parents and carers to influence future changes as well as feedback on policies and programs for families and children.

The Parenthood chief executive Georgie Dent said the plan needed to focus on breaking down silos.

“No child or family exists in a silo with needs that can be discreetly separated,” she said.

“Australia’s early childhood system should address the needs of the whole child in an integrated way.”

Ms Rishworth said the government was committing to better co-ordination for the maze of existing services.

“This document is for families, children, carers, those that work in early education care … and it will guide our government into the future,” she said.

Dr Aly said the strategy recognised the importance of the first five years of a child’s life.

“We know that if we get those first five years, those critical first five years right, we can make … a huge difference to a child’s life,” she said.


Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)


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