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Securing children’s future: Nordic-style investment needed in early years learning

Child care assistance Early childhood development Child care Early childhood education Australia

In May 2022, a new national government was elected in Australia with a policy to spend $5.4 billion dollars over the next four years to increase subsidies to reduce the costs of childcare fees paid by working parents.

Then, on consecutive days in June 2022, the New South Wales (NSW) and Victorian governments announced major new investments in early childhood education and care (ECEC).

These are very positive and exciting developments in Australia. They are the result of determined advocacy by many groups and individuals over many years. They have the potential to improve Australia’s investments in the early years of life up towards the levels of the five, world-leading Nordic nations.

Key findings:

  • Australian families currently spend 20% of household income on childcare, far more than in most OECD nations.
  • Swedish households spend just 5% of household income on childcare, Norway spends 8%, and Denmark 10%.
  • Australia has the 3rd highest proportion of private childcare providers receiving government subsidies: 77% compared to 13% in Iceland, 17% in Sweden & Denmark.
  • Australia’s pre-primary education enrolment rate for under 4-year-olds lags at 15% compared to 69% across the OECD, 84% in Britain, 87% New Zealand, 91% Denmark, 93% Sweden, 95% Norway.
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