Page 206 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 14 December 2016

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Global Goals dialogue

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.08): On 15 November I had the honour, along with my colleague Mr Steel, of attending the Australian National Dialogue for the Leave No One Behind partnership run by Global Goals Australia. This dialogue was part of consultation to inform the implementation of the sustainable development goals in Australia. It is important for all levels of government to work to implement the sustainable development goals. Once the consultation is completed, Global Goals will prepare a report to the United Nations and all Australian governments, and members of every parliament, including members of this place. I encourage you to read it and to inform yourself about this important global project, but you are already quite well informed.

Building on the success of the millennium development goals announced in 2000, the sustainable development goals—or SDGs—range from reducing poverty, hunger and inequality to promoting strong economic growth, sustainable cities, and cheap, clean energy. The education goal established under the SDGs is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Under each goal is a set of specific targets. I particularly want to draw the attention of the Assembly to target 2.4 under the education goal, which states that by 2030 countries should ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education. Thanks to the concerted campaigning and lobbying efforts from charities, businesses and early childhood groups, the United Nations has now recognised the critical function that early learning has on children’s early development and the future prosperity of nations.

Early childhood development is important not only for preparing young children for primary school but also to help address many other objectives of the sustainable development goals. Education is crucial to creating equity and maintaining the egalitarianism we all associate with the Australian identity. Thanks to the recent research into economic equality, we now understand the significant impact that education inequality has on future wealth gaps.

The first five years are a critical time, Mr Assistant Speaker, to tackle equality early in life before this disadvantage manifests and becomes more difficult to overcome. As my, and your, federal colleague the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP has pointed out, an affluent five-year-old has the same vocabulary range as an adult living in poverty. By providing equitable access to quality early learning for all children in our community, regardless of wealth, we can start to break down the connection between a parent’s income and their child’s future income. In this way an active early childhood development policy can act as a great equaliser in our community.

We also know that early learning pays dividends for the economy. It is an efficient cost-reduction measure in the long run as it reduces the need for future government expenditure in later life on welfare and juvenile justice. Children engaged in early learning, especially from vulnerable backgrounds, have amplified language and

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