Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Road map for National Agenda for Early Childhood

The Federal Government today released a consultation paper on developing a National Agenda for Early Childhood which aims to give all Australian children the best start to life.

Towards the Development of a National Agenda for Early Childhood was launched in Canberra by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony and Professor Fiona Stanley, head of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, Director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and 2003 Australian of the Year.

“A National Agenda for Early Childhood aims to harness the considerable investments already made by Commonwealth, State and local governments and community organisations. This consultation paper and the discussion that will flow from it will provide a road-map for the development of national approaches to early intervention and prevention.

“The focus is on children aged 0-5 years in the key areas of early child and maternal health, early learning and care, and child-friendly communities. The consultation paper suggests how a more consistent and coordinated approach can improve these key areas. Agreement on the goals, principles and priorities from all stakeholders is vital if we are to effectively help families and children.

“There is no doubt that early childhood development and experiences have a direct impact on future educational, career and health outcomes. There is also a strong case for getting it right in the early years to avoid reliance on welfare, substance misuse and becoming entangled in the criminal justice system.

“This has been recognised at the Commonwealth level and we are already working together. Therefore, this paper is jointly released by myself, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Phillip Ruddock, the Attorney-General, Darryl Williams, Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson and Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Christopher Ellison.”

Professor Stanley expressed her wholehearted support for the Coalition Government’s decision to work towards a National Agenda for Early Childhood.

“For too long, researchers and policy makers have been working in their own silos. The coming together of these two groups to tackle the challenge of improving the health and wellbeing of Australian children is indeed historic.

“For there to be improvement, researchers, policy makers, Governments at all levels, those providing services, communities and families must all commit to this most important task. Together we can truly make a difference,” Professor Stanley said.

Mr Anthony said the development of a National Agenda for Early Childhood provides a rare opportunity for all Australians to come together and make a real difference for our children.

“We are talking about our country’s most important future economic resource. Today’s children are our future parents, workers, consumers and taxpayers. It is imperative we get this Agenda right.

“I hope it is an opportunity all Governments, all stakeholders and all communities will seize,” Mr Anthony said.