Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.
Remember when Kevin Rudd called a Summit for us to imagine a future for Australia? Early childhood education emerged as a focus for future policy initiatives.
Lots of people in early childhood education were excited to finally get some recognition and attention from the powers that be. We were used to being ignored and forgotten. We were used to quietly getting on with our work, underfunded, underappreciated and largely invisible.
Now we were the subject of Prime Ministerial speeches. There was unprecedented interest in our field. New legislation. New authorities. New funding. New impetus. Pronouncements were made about how crucial our field of education is, not just to childhood, but to society.
We have been living out the ripples of this shift ever since. We are still bedding down all those new acronyms. The changes have been extensive.
One thing that changed was that early childhood education ceased to be merely an opportunity for motherhood statements. With the new level of interest from the Federal government came connections to party policies and programs. Bipartisan benign neglect gave way to politicisation.
Now we see the cost we are paying for this. The Abbott government, with its deeply ideological attitude, is not content to go back to the traditional Liberal belief in childhood as something beyond politics. The early childhood sector has become a central target of the new government’s revisionism and penny pinching. Young people are firmly in this government’s sights – even the youngest of them. And their educators along with them.
We used to wish the government would notice us too.
But you should always be careful what you wish for.
Gráinne Ní Mhaille
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