Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Overwhelming support for the National Agenda for Early Childhood

 On this Universal Children’s Day the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said the Australian Government’s consultations with key early childhood stakeholders overwhelmingly supported better resources and information for parents.

Mr Anthony today released Towards a National Agenda for Early Childhood – What You Told Us. The document outlines feedback from public consultations from the discussion paper, Towards the Development of a National Agenda for Early Childhood, released in February 2003.

“All key stakeholders were engaged in these consultations. The National Agenda was raised with the State Governments through Ministerial Council forums. There were also 183 written submissions, 20 roundtable meetings around Australia with early childhood experts and practitioners, relevant Federal and State Government Departmental officials, local government representatives, medical practitioners, academics and Indigenous representatives, and focus groups with more than 220 parents.

“There is significant and bipartisan support for the Australian Government’s commitment to developing a National Agenda for Early Childhood. All stakeholders agreed with the aim to better support parents and to focus on young children’s needs, recognising the importance of the early years of a child’s life.

“It was also agreed that there should be clearer statements around the roles and responsibilities of all levels of Government and the community sector, and that there should be better integration of services for families and children.

“A National Agenda for Early Childhood aims to harness the considerable investments already made by Governments and community organisations. There is no doubt that early childhood development and experiences have a direct impact on future educational, career and health outcomes. Getting it right in the early years will help many to avoid reliance on welfare, substance misuse and becoming entangled in the criminal justice system.

“Developing a National Agenda for Early Childhood is an ambitious and worthwhile undertaking. It is imperative we get this Agenda right because we are talking about our country’s most important future economic resource. Today’s children are our future parents, workers, consumers and taxpayers.

“These public consultations have been an important step in the development of the National Agenda for Early Childhood. This feedback will be used by the Australian Government to further develop the National Agenda and will guide discussions with State, Territory and local Governments,” Mr Anthony said.