In May, the Federal Government announced that they would cease their portion of funding of the National Partnership Agreement for National Quality Agenda. This funding supported the States and Territories to undertake their regulatory oversight role as part of the National Quality Framework.
This came as a surprise to the States and Territories. Two months after the announcement, The Framework contacted each of the State and Territory Education Departments to learn how they had responded to the funding cut.
“As Minister for Early Childhood Education in NSW, I was disappointed to hear of the Australian Government’s abrupt decision to withdraw from the National Partnership on the National Quality Agenda.” – NSW Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell.
“The Minister for Early Childhood Education has written to the Federal Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Simon Birmingham, to express concern about the implications of this decision and to seek clarity on the Australian Government’s commitment to a national approach to quality in early childhood education.
“Funding has been reallocated to ensure there will be no reduction in regulatory activity, and no loss of Department of Education staff. Assessment and rating visits, and engagement with the sector will continue. While we continue to fight for the preservation of a National Partnership on quality, our priority is to continue to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of children attending services in NSW.” – NSW Department of Education spokesperson.
“They’ve pulled the pin on a decade-old agreement that was set up to ensure national consistency in standards, forcing states and territories to go it alone.
“Simon Birmingham should hang his head in shame for ripping up years of goodwill – a decision that will cost jobs and puts children’s safety at risk.” – Victorian Education Minister Jenny Mikakos.
“Minister Mikakos has written to Senator Birmingham to express shock that the Commonwealth Government has chosen to walk away from its commitment to the National Quality Agenda and cut funding to states and territories, many of whom had finalised their budgets for the 2018-19 financial year.
“The Minister has strongly urged the Commonwealth to reconsider its decision, which the Minister has stated has “sent a clear message to the sector and families that quality in early childhood education and care is no longer a priority for the Commonwealth. The Victorian Department of Education and Training will continue to maintain its current regulatory program for 2018-2019, and therefore has not yet made a reduction to staffing numbers.” – Victorian Department of Education Spokesperson.
“Any reduction in funding is disappointing and likely to impact the work of the Regulatory Authority. The Education Standards Board is currently discussing the end of the NPA with the South Australian government. No decisions or changes to the manner in which we conduct our regulatory functions has been made to date.” – Chris Chatburn, Chief Executive, South Australia Education Standards Board.
“The South Australian Government has made it clear that we are disappointed with these changes. Funding and support for early childhood services more broadly is a key agenda item at Education Ministerial Council meetings and discussions continue. In South Australia, the Government is working closely with the Education Standards Board to consider the impact on regulatory activities.” – South Australia Minister for Education John Gardner MP.
“The Department understands that Minister Rockliff has written to the Federal Minister to raise concerns with the Australian Government’s unilateral decision not to renew the NP NQA. The Tasmanian Government remains committed to high quality early learning experiences for children, and the best interests of Tasmanian children remains our highest priority.” – Tasmania Department of Education Spokesperson.
“Whilst the Commonwealth Government’s decision to end funding was unexpected, there is no immediate impact on the ACT Regulatory Authority. However, the Commonwealth’s removal of their contribution will require the ACT to reprioritise resources, especially if the government is to achieve the target review cycle for assessment and rating.
“Minister Berry wrote to Minister Birmingham raising this issue on a number of occasions including before it was announced prior to the Commonwealth Budget. Minister Berry has provided the government’s feedback and concerns to the Commonwealth and will continue to advocate that Commonwealth should enter into a new and better agreement with States and Territories.
“The Commonwealth has walked away from what was a positive and proactive arrangement, however, State and Territories are determined to maintain the advances in federated policy development and operational coordination made under the agreement.” Spokesperson for the ACT Education Directorate.
At the time of publication the West Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland Governments had not responded.