Statement from Correna Haythorpe, Federal President, AEU

Today, on behalf of AEU members, I have written to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate to seek support for long-term investment for preschool.

Education is a human right and a public good, and the most good comes when children have access to a high quality early education.

The science is overwhelming. Children’s brains grow and develop at an enormous rate in the years zero to five. What happens in those years has a life-long impact. 

Over and over again, people who have had access to a high quality early learning experience are shown to be more likely to perform better at school, to stay in school for longer and to go on to higher education and vocational education and training. Later in life, they are more likely to be employed and less likely to have entered the criminal justice system.

Early education plays a key role in our economy today and ensures a healthier and more productive workforce benefiting individuals, society and governments in the future. 

Investment in early education makes sense from every possible angle.

For eight long years, early childhood and preschool teachers have endured the uncertainty that has come from the year-by-year universal access funding arrangements. This uncertainty must end. 

Parents, preschool organisations, teachers and most importantly our youngest Australians deserve the security of long-term investment for preschool delivered by a fully qualified teacher.

The Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will deliver the 21-22 Budget next month. This Budget must be one for the future as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To meet that test, the Budget must include long-term investment in Universal Access for 15 hours per week for four-year-old preschool and include plans to extend this investment to 15 hours per week for three-year-olds.

Failing to make this investment will mean a Budget that fails the future.