Issue 3 • 2022
© 2022 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Australia’s early learning and childcare system needs reform: The Thrive by Five campaign
The size of a child’s brain reaches 90 per cent of that of an adult’s brain by the age of five. That’s why the first five years are so important for a child’s development.
But right now, 22 per cent of children start school developmentally vulnerable, which means many kids are starting off behind others, and it makes it hard for them to catch up, according to the 2021 Australian Early Development Census National Report.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians is pleased to support the Thrive by Five campaign, which has a shared vision for supporting children. It is an initiative of the Minderoo Foundation that is campaigning to make our early learning childcare system high quality and universally accessible. The campaign aims to drive action on what the Minderoo Foundation considers to be “the most significant educational, social and economic reform of our era”.
This important campaign has goals common to the RACP’s Kids’ COVID Catchup campaign, which aims to help children and young people recover from the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The RACP supports Thrive by Five’s call to the Federal Government to phase in paid parental leave for up to twelve months. The evidence shows that exclusive parental care fosters improved maternal and child health with improved developmental outcomes for the child”, says RACP President, Dr Jacqueline Small.
The Thrive by Five campaign was launched due to an inconsistent quality in Australian early learning centres. According to the National Quality Framework Snapshot June 2020, 17.7 per cent of centres did not meet the National Quality Standards, rising to 18.4 per cent for long day care (excluding preschools). The Minderoo Foundation wants the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments to take action, stating “it’s the government’s job to improve the system”.
Professor Sharon Goldfeld has supported the Thrive by Five campaign, as well as RACP’s initiatives in helping young people get back on track. She is a paediatrician and Director of the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.
“The exciting thing about the Thrive by Five Campaign is the unifying message from the College on a set of important policy interventions for children that focus broadly on addressing the indirect impacts of COVID-19. The campaign also highlights evidence on issues facing children and families right now”, says Professor Goldfeld.
The campaign asks paediatricians, physicians and the wider community to get involved by signing the petition and sharing their stories. It asks families to share their experiences with early learning and childcare. The online tool suggests community involvement on topics such as expensive fees, finding a centre that meets their child’s developmental needs, and accessibility to high-quality early learning and childcare.
Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill says, “We are excited to work with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and commend their commitment to supporting children in maximising their potential both by endorsing the campaign, and through their existing advocacy. The RACP and its paediatricians have a strong history of advocating for quality early childhood education as a key building block for children’s development.”
Please join us in supporting children and young people by taking part in this campaign. Find out more on the Thrive by Five website and spread the word with your peers on social media.