4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/03/2013   
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Contents >> Collection Background and Governance >> The National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education


In an effort to deliver significant improvements and outcomes for all Australians, in 2007 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) established a partnership between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments to encourage substantial reform in the areas of education, skills and early childhood development. In 2008, COAG endorsed a comprehensive set of goals, outcomes, progress measures and future policy directions in the area of early childhood education (ECE). This included a commitment to ensure that every child in Australia has access to a quality ECE program (COAG, 2008a). This Universal Access commitment will ensure that by 2013, each child will have access to a preschool program that is delivered:

  • in the 12 months prior to full-time schooling (also referred to as the year before formal schooling)
  • by a four-year university-qualified early childhood teacher
  • for 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year
  • across a diversity of settings
  • in a form that meets the needs of parents
  • at a cost that does not present a barrier to participation (COAG, 2008a).

In November 2008, COAG endorsed the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education (NP ECE). Under the NP ECE the Australian Government and the state and territory governments committed to improving the supply and integration of early childhood services, including child care and early learning and development. This will be achieved through the delivery of the universal access commitment (COAG, 2008a).

The UA commitment is closely underpinned by other elements of the Australian Government’s early childhood reform agenda, including the Early Years Learning Framework, early childhood workforce reforms and the National Quality Standards for child care and preschool (COAG, 2008b, DEEWR, 2009). Together, the intention of these reforms is to raise the quality and accessibility of ECE delivered across Australia, regardless of the setting.

Under the NP ECE, the states and territories have agreed to individual Bilateral Agreements with the Australian Government. These agreements specify the actions and strategies to be undertaken by each jurisdiction to achieve universal access to ECE, including outlining performance indicators to measure the achievement of universal access. Six performance indicators were agreed in order to measure two broader outcomes:
  • all children have access to affordable, quality early childhood education in the year before full-time schooling
  • all Indigenous four year olds in remote Indigenous communities have access to a quality early childhood education program.

For more information on the performance indicators and the National Partnership on Early Childhood Education, see the COAG website: <http://www.coag.gov.au/early_childhood>.

For more information on the Bilateral Agreements, see the Federal Financial Relations website: <http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au>.

The National Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Collection is conducted annually as part of a suite of data improvement projects conducted in support of the NP ECE, under the National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care (NIA ECEC).

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