The Australian Government's position on early childhood education will be in the spotlight next week at the University of Newcastle Central Coast campus.
The Hon Maxine McKew, Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education and Child Care, will address the Investing in our future: Connections in childhood forum on Monday 7 July.
The forum, hosted by the University's Centre for Education, Research and Children (CERC), brings together early childhood educators, service providers and academics to consider current initiatives for young children, their families and the community.
CERC Director Dr Peter Whiteman said the shift to a national focus on early childhood learning was a welcome development.
"More than ever the early years are being recognised as a vitally important time in the educational development of children," Dr Whiteman said.
"However data show that up to 20 per cent of all Australian four-year-olds don't go to preschool in the year before starting school. For Indigenous children the figure is closer to 50 per cent."
The theme of the forum reflects the vital importance of the early years for children, their families and the community.
Invited speakers will address this issue, including the importance of connections, partnerships, coordinated responses, and outlining early childhood initiatives.
Ms McKew is expected to outline the Australian Government's early childhood initiatives such as the delivery of universal early childhood education and the development of a national Early Years Learning Framework.
The number of early childhood centres across Australia and childcare tax benefits are also expected to be discussed at the forum.
Ms McKew will be joined by representatives from the NSW Department of Community Services and the NSW Department of Education and Training in addressing the forum. Members of the public and media are welcome.
The forum commences at 10.15am Monday 7 July in building LT1 at the University of Newcastle Central Coast campus. Ms McKew will address the forum at 12.10pm.