Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

National agenda for early childhood

The Federal Government’s commitment to children and their early development has been confirmed with the first step being taken towards a National Agenda for Early Childhood announced today by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony.

“The National Agenda for Early Childhood will focus on early child and maternal health, early learning and care and supporting child-friendly communities.

“The National Agenda will provide directions for a whole of Government approach for future investment in early childhood. I will be working closely with Senator Kay Patterson, Minister for Health and Ageing, Dr Brendan Nelson, Minister for Education, Science and Training, Senator Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs and Philip Ruddock, Minister for Immigration and Indigenous Affairs to better coordinate Federal Government investment.

“The Government will now develop a framework for the National Agenda which will identify objectives and priorities within the key areas. The framework will also articulate the roles and responsibilities of Governments and non-Government stakeholders. The Government will consult widely on the framework next year.

“Current approaches to investment in the early years by all Governments is ad hoc at best. There are significant gaps and overlaps in service provision and we don’t link or coordinate as well as we should.

“State and Territory Governments have an important role to play and the Federal Government will ensure they have the opportunity to contribute to the National Agenda.

“There is compelling evidence on the importance of investing in the early years of a child’s life. The links between what happens to children when they are young and their future wellbeing are undeniable.

“Early childhood development and experiences affect educational outcomes, career prospects, health outcomes, avoiding reliance on welfare, substance misuse, and becoming entangled in the criminal justice system.

“These outcomes are significant to all individuals, their families and communities. If we can give our children a better start, we all stand to benefit.

“Announcing the development of a National Agenda for Early Childhood confirms the Coalition Government’s commitment to Australia’s future. I look forward to consulting with stakeholders in the new year,” Mr Anthony said.