Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Building a National Agenda for Early Childhood

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today said the Australian Government had started discussions with the state and territory governments to build a national plan to give Australian children the best possible start to life.

Mr Anthony today released the draft framework for building a National Agenda for Early Childhood with federal, state and territory government involvement.

“A National Agenda for Early Childhood aims to harness the considerable investments already made by all governments and community organisations in early childhood programs and policy making.

“There has been considerable consultation over the last 18 months with Australian Government departments, community organisations, communities and parents to develop the National Agenda. This consultation reinforced the need to better support parents and to focus on young children’s needs, recognising the importance of the early years of a child’s life.

“The state and territory governments will be important and equal partners in the National Agenda and this consultation will result in a truly national approach to supporting young children and their parents.

“The Australian Government is already using the draft framework to help guide policy development and early childhood programs, including the $365 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.

“However, for the National Agenda to have the greatest reach and impact on children and their parents, state and territory governments have to be involved in order to coordinate all efforts behind agreed goals and identify areas for collaborative action.

“The National Agenda has already been raised with the states and territories, most recently at last week’s Community Services Ministers’ Meeting. There has been a positive response and I am confident that we will continue to work together to improve outcomes for children.

“State and territory Ministers have been provided with the draft framework and their feedback requested by October.

“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.

“The Australian Government will continue to work with all stakeholders to help young children and their parents,” Mr Anthony said.