How Starting Early for a Better Future was developed

Starting Early for a Better Future (the Plan) was developed with considerable guidance from the Early Childhood Development Plan Expert Reference Panel and Working Group.  This panel comprises some of Australia’s foremost early childhood experts, along with local experts who have a deep knowledge of early childhood development in the Northern Territory.

A draft of the Plan was released to the public for a consultation period of eight weeks, from October to December 2017. Feedback from stakeholders and the broader community included 96 survey responses, 33 written submissions, and discussions held during 20 presentations.

Key themes from the feedback we received included:

  • support for universal services with additional targeted support for those most in need
  • the importance of quality early childhood education at ages 3 and 4
  • a desire for better health outcomes
  • culturally competent services for Aboriginal families
  • material support for families, including through better housing
  • transformational systems change in early childhood services, including community led place-based initiatives
  • support and planning for the early childhood workforce
  • more cohesive service delivery through better collaboration between services, and greater coordination across sectors and government departments
  • a robust performance framework, with greater accountability for meeting targets

From this feedback, and with the assistance of the Expert Reference Panel and Working Group, Starting Early For A Better Future was finalised. Starting Early for a Better Future is a 10-year strategic plan, supported by a number of actions and targets.

Actions fall under four key areas:

  • Getting It Right For Life (child and maternal health-based initiatives);
  • Ready To Learn (early learning and development activities);
  • Strong Families (including family functioning programs and support for access to housing); and
  • Quality Early Childhood Development System (which has a focus on measurement of outcomes, integrated service delivery and public accountability).

Funding of $35.6 million has been allocated from the 2018-19 Budget process to support the first four years of the Plan. On 30 April 2018, Starting Early for a Better Future was launched by the Minister for Children, Nicole Manison.