New legislation introduced to parliament this week will see cheaper childcare available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families from July next year.
Under the Albanese Government’s plan, all Indigenous children will be able to access 36 hours of subsidised childcare a fortnight, an increase of 12 hours a fortnight.
At the moment only 4.3 per cent of children in early education and care identify as Indigenous despite being 6.1 per cent of the population of children aged 0-5 years.
Education Minister Jason Clare, who introduced the bill to parliament on Tuesday, said for the first time, the Closing the Gap target for school-readiness of Indigenous children went backwards in 2021.
“We have got to turn this around and a big part of that is getting rid of the roadblocks stopping them from going to early childhood education and care,’ Minister Clare said.
The Government will also invest $10.2 million to establish the Early Childhood Care and Development Policy Partnership between the Australian and State and Territory Governments and Indigenous representatives.
The partnership will be co-chaired by SNAICC – National Voice for our Children and help drive the development of community-led policies and programs that Indigenous families need for their children to thrive.
SNAICC CEO Catherine Liddle welcomed the announcement but said more needed to be done to improve outcomes for children.
“We have to turn around the widening gap in school readiness. We know the only way to do that is to get rid of the activity test and increase access to community-controlled services,” Ms Liddle said.
“The evidence shows that a minimum 30 hours access a week can make a huge difference.”
“SNAICC will keep working with Federal, State and Territory governments to make sure children get the services and supports they need to thrive.”
Linda Burney the Indigenous Affairs Minister and former schoolteacher said getting Indigenous children into early education will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
“This is a practical measure directed to closing the gap in an area where we are going backwards,” Minister Burney said.
“It will make a difference to Indigenous children across the country.”