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Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care

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Final report released

On Sunday 27 August 2023, the Commissioner the Hon Julia Gillard AC handed down the final report outlining the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care in South Australia.

In conducting its inquiry, the Royal Commission was tasked to hear the voices of parents and caregivers from diverse backgrounds, experts in early childhood development, service providers in the first 1000 days, leaders of early childhood education and care services, relevant unions, and providers of Out of School Hours Care.

The Royal Commission focused on 3 key areas:

  1. The extent to which South Australian families are supported in the first 1000 days of a child’s life, focused on opportunities to further leverage early childhood education and care to enable equitable and improved outcomes for South Australian children.
  2. How universal quality preschool programs for three and four year olds can be delivered in South Australia, including addressing considerations of accessibility, affordability, quality and how to achieve universality for both age cohorts. Consideration of universal three-year old preschool should be undertaken with a view to achieving this commencing in 2026.
  3. How all families can have access to out of school hours care at both preschool and primary school ages, including considerations of accessibility in all parts of the state, affordability and quality in public and private settings.

You can read the full final report on the Royal Commission website.

Government response to final report recommendations

Thirteen recommendations were immediately accepted by government and a further 6 recommendations have been noted. Analysis of the other recommendations is underway.

Accepted recommendations

  • 1 – A long-term ambition to help South Australia’s children thrive
  • 2 – Legislating the Office for the Early Years to lead the early child development system
  • 7 – Improving the functioning of the Education Standards Board
  • 11 – Child development checks
  • 12 – Giving parent and carers information and supports for child development
  • 15 – Implementing universal three-year-old preschool
  • 22 – Establishing an Early Childhood Workforce Fund
  • 25 – Additional hours of three and four old preschool short to medium term
  • 30 – A focus on improving services that are ‘working towards ’the National Quality Standard
  • 32 – Aboriginal three-year-old preschool
  • 35 – Modernising OSHC qualification requirements
  • 39 – Increase central DfE support for government OSHC provision
  • 43 – Find the right model of OSHC or ‘wraparound care’ on government preschool sites.

Noted recommendations

  • 3 – A new national settlement of roles and responsibilities in ECEC
  • 5 – Action for the Commonwealth Government
  • 9 – State Government proactive role in identifying and resolving questions of childcare and OSHC accessibility
  • 29 – Preschool outcomes measurement
  • 37 – Ensure a fit for purpose regulatory approach to OSHC
  • 42 – Partnering with the National Disability Insurance Agency.

A number of initial steps have been taken towards those recommendations that have been accepted. These include:

  • An initial investment of $50 million in infrastructure for government preschools, plus $1.7 million to trial out of hours care models on 20 government preschool sites, commencing in 2024.
  • $7 million for the Education Standards Board so that every ECEC provider is assessed and rated every 3 years.
  • $2.4 million for the establishment of an Office for Early Childhood Development as the steward of the early childhood development system and to co-ordinate the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
  • Additional support for OSHC on government school sites and working to modernise OSHC qualifications.
  • Engagement with the Federal Government regarding the 6 noted recommendations, which require dialogue with the Commonwealth.