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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 12 February 2015) . . Page.. 298 ..

The ACT government is also continuing to identify suitable sites for education and care centres as part of the planning for new suburbs, to respond to emerging demands in newly established areas as well as changing demands in established areas. As a result of these initiatives, the ACT sector has seen steady growth, with additional places created in suburbs including Campbell, McKellar, Greenway, Narrabundah, Taylor and Macarthur through the establishment of new services and the expansion of existing services. We are also assisting the sector with the cost of leasing premises, which means that the majority of long day care services that operate from the ACT-owned facilities pay discounted rent.

In conclusion, we know that quality early childhood education and care is so important for children, even from birth. We know that it starts them off on their education journey on a positive note. It helps them to develop a strong sense of identity and become confident and successful learners. The ACT government will continue its strong commitment to early childhood education and care because it benefits children, their families and our Canberra community.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (4.00): I welcome this opportunity to speak on the matter of public importance brought on by Ms Porter, namely the importance of renewal of early childhood education in the ACT. The importance of introducing children to learning as early as possible has become the increasing focus of educators in recent years. There is ongoing debate both within Australia and overseas as to what age formal education should start, and there are advocates who believe strongly in both an early and a later start.

In Australia, research is starting to show the significant benefit of early education programs. Preschool attendance has been shown to be equivalent to 10 to 20 points in the national assessment program for literacy and numeracy, NAPLAN, or 15 to 20 weeks of schooling at year 3 level, three years after attending preschool.

When you look at what the ACT Education and Training Directorate have to say on the value of early childhood education, not surprisingly they are supportive. Their action plan for 2015 is very encouraging. Included in their intentions are: in the ACT every child, young person and adult will benefit from a high quality, accessible education, childcare and training system; every student will learn, thrive, be equipped with the skills and attitudes to lead fulfilling, productive and responsible lives; and our highly educated and skilled community will contribute to the economic and social prosperity of our city and nation.

Further on, the action plan seeks to increase the number of children who benefit from early childhood education and care. It aims to increase the proportion of children participating in quality education and care; increase the proportion of vulnerable and disadvantaged children enrolled in and attending preschool; and increase the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in preschool. These are all laudable objectives, and I trust they all guide very closely the work which the minister and her directorate deliver this year.

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