ACOSS Welcomes the Prime Minister’s New Direction for Children’s Services

ACOSS today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement to establish accessible one-stop centres providing childcare, preschool and health services for all families. This approach will be a key plank in helping achieve the Government’s Social Inclusion Agenda.

ACOSS has long called for a planned approach to the delivery of services to children and families to ensure all children benefit, and in particular children from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds.

ACOSS has also previously called for a guaranteed number of preschool hours for children in the year before school, greater investment in infrastucture for children’s services and a more rigorous system of quality control. ACOSS is pleased that the Government has made commitments in each of these areas and welcomed the previous Government’s proposal to develop a plan to ensure all children attend preschool.

Good quality early childhood education and care services can significantly improve the social and economic outcome for children from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds and we welcome Mr Rudd’s commitment to make these services accessible for all.

The rapid and unplanned expansion of children’s services over the last decade, accompanied by a history of poor pay and conditions for childcare workers, has put enormous pressure on the system to deliver places while guaranteeing good quality care. We look forward to specific strategies to ensure children from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to access services and benefit from them.

The Prime Minister’s announcement provides the direction to tackle the lack of coordination in the current system, which has resulted in patchy provision of services in some areas and a system that is seldom easy for families to negotiate, while also building on models that are already in place and working well in the community.

ACOSS President Lin Hatfield Dodds said: “ACOSS welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement to establish accessible one-stop centres providing childcare, preschool and health services for all families. This will be a key plank in helping achieve the Government’s Social Inclusion Agenda.”

ACOSS Executive Director Andrew Johnson said: “Some of the most innovative work in this area is being done by non-profit, community based children’s services and these services need to be at the heart of this new approach.”