MP Amanda Rishworth

The evidence is clear about the positive social and educational benefits from quality early education – it’s a key building block in our children’s development.

South Australian MP Amanda Rishworth was recently announced as Federal Labor’s Early Childhood Education Minister. Here she introduces herself to Bedrock readers.

It was a great honour to recently be elevated to Labor’s Shadow Cabinet with the Early Childhood Education and Development portfolio. Together with my responsibilities as Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, it now means I spend my days thinking how to improve the lives of some of the youngest and oldest members of our community.

As the mother of a young son who attends care, I’m already immersed in the early education system.

The evidence is clear about the positive social and educational benefits from quality early education – it’s a key building block in our children’s development.

I know how complex the current system is – just like any other family does.

The number one question on my mind is: how do we ensure quality early years’ education and care that is accessible, affordable, and that meets the needs of Australian families?

And how do we do all this and create a system that is supportive and rewarding for the hard working and dedicated educators and support staff who make it all happen?

That, in essence, is what parents and educators want.

And it is not what we are getting from the Turnbull Government, who seem to view early years education as merely a babysitting service for families where both parents work.

This year I will be working hard to shine a spotlight on those low and middle income families who fall through the cracks as a result of the government’s child care changes which take effect from July.

We know 279,000 families will be worse off from the changes. In addition there are concerns around the new red tape that will affect both providers and families as a result of the government’s changes.

As I travel around the country, talking to parents, carers, educators and centre operators, I want to hear from everyone on how we can ensure we have a world class early education system that delivers for educators, providers, parents and most importantly, children.

As shadow minister, my priorities will be on working to ensure early childhood education is accessible to as many children as possible – where access and affordability are not barriers.

I want to build on the success of the Universal Access to preschool for four year olds program that Labor introduced when last in government, and which has been such a success in boosting preschool participation.

I want to ensure the National Quality Framework, another success story, keeps being rolled out and is based on the latest evidence and data.

And, of course, I will fight to ensure all the teachers and educators are supported to deliver the best possible educational experience for our kids.

That includes the compelling equal wage case before the Fair Work Commission, which I have been briefed on.

If you see me doing the rounds, please come and say hello and share your thoughts.

Early childhood education and development is such a vital policy area – it is about setting up our children for the best possible start in life.

I look forward to working with you to help make this happen.