The current federal government has failed early childhood education students and sector employees alike leaving Universal Access funding completely out of the recent budget.
This significant and worrying omission demonstrates the federal government’s blatant disregard for the recommendations of an independent review of the Universal Access National Partnership (UANP) conducted earlier this year.
IEUA-QNT Senior Industrial Officer John Spriggs said it was extremely disappointing that the federal government neglected to provide any certainty about the future of Universal Access funding in the Budget, especially given funding is only guaranteed until the end of next year.
“The review found the short-term nature of the UANP has adversely affected the efficiency of funding arrangements in that it has led to cautious decision-making about investment in programs and in staffing,” John said.
“It also found children across Australia are benefitting measurably from the 600 hours of early childhood education before compulsory school.
“The report recommended the government commit to a five-year funding model rather than the current short-term and uncertain approach to funding renewals.
“In the absence of recurrent funding, a five-year cycle (as recommended by the report) is the minimum which will ensure the continued existence of quality early childhood education,” he said.
John said the report revealed the significance of Universal Access funding to the provision of quality kindergarten in the year before school.
“Only now is the return on this investment starting to become apparent in the further developmental and educational progress of children,” John said.
“This combined with the report’s findings should compel the federal government to commit permanent funding to the UANP.
“Such a commitment is essential to facilitating professional pay rates and conditions for early childhood education teachers and assistants which in turn will ensure quality education for all children,” John said.
Time for permanent funding
Ongoing, guaranteed funding through Universal Access is not a new idea to our union.
We have been consistently fighting for a long-term commitment to investing in early childhood education through the Fund Our Future campaign as we know first-hand the difference that quality early childhood education has on children’s development.
Members are encouraged to sign and share our petition calling on the federal government to guarantee permanent Universal Access funding.
Sign the Fund Our Future petition www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/fund-our-future