2019．第47卷第2期（Vol. 47 No. 2）．pp. 23–40
The Development of Early Childhood Education and Care in Australia
Bridie RABAN & Anna KILDERRY
Australia is a vast country. It is the largest country in Oceania and the sixth largest country in the world by total area. The Commonwealth of Australia comprises 6 states and 2 territories with a total population of over 25 million people, mainly focused down the south-eastern coast line and concentrated in the capital cities of each state and territory. With respect to early childhood education and care (ECEC), the development of services across the country has changed considerably over time. From families making their own informal care arrangements decades ago, to the more recent era where the Federal government has widened and increased access to ECEC with the aim to raise the quality of children’s learning and development outcomes. Using readily available government documents, this article follows the development of ECEC in Australia from its informal beginnings to recent times where the sector has been through a reform phase resulting in the National Quality Framework (NQF) guiding the nation’s ECEC quality agenda. With a view to higher educational outcomes leading to better employment and advancement in social conditions, there remain considerable obstacles to realizing a full and seamless quality implementation. In this article, we discuss some of the challenges that lay ahead for ECEC in Australia, and provide some suggestions on how these challenges can be addressed.
Keywords: early childhood education and care; Australia; policy development; National Quality Framework; access and equity