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It’s great to be back in Brisbane today. In fact last time I was here I was also visiting a GoodStart centre – so it feels good to be amongst friends once more.
Today is a truly auspicious occasion, as we celebrate the launch the GoodStart Early Learning brand across Australia.
Today we close the chapter on the most unsettling period ever to confront Australian early childhood education and care and we focus on a stable, affordable and quality future.
The collapse of ABC Learning
When ABC Learning collapsed in 2008 there was a very real risk that hundreds of Australian child care centres across the country would have to close their doors at a moment’s notice leaving literally thousands of families and children in the terrible predicament of having no child care.
This is no exaggeration.
The collapse threatened over 1000 child care centres nationally, who provided care for 120,000 Australian children from almost 95,000 Australian families. And let’s not forget the incredibly hard working child care staff, more than 16,000 of whom were also left at risk of unemployment.
With ABC owning 25 per cent of the Australian long day care market – the community was facing the equivalent of a child care tsunami.
I was proud of our Government’s quick and decisive action to avert what would have been a disaster for thousands of families – action that provided stability and continuity of care for families and employees across the country affected by the collapse.
Rebranding of GoodStart Early Learning
Last year I was thrilled to announce with the now Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, that with the support of the Australian Government, GoodStart would be taking over 650 ABC early education and care centres.
This too was a momentous day for Australian parents using child care.
Without GoodStart stepping in and the Australian Government providing the necessary financial assistance, many of these centres would have been closed, leaving thousands of Australian families without child care options.
The entry of GoodStart into the child care market increased the not-for-profit share of the long day care market from around 25 per cent to around 40 per cent – which delivered greater diversity of choice for parents.
The Australian Government is proud to have been an early supporter of GoodStart.
Today, in recognition of the new ownership, new leadership and new vision, these centres will take on a new name, GoodStart Early Learning.
This marks a new chapter in your organisation’s history and I congratulate you and wish you all the very best for the future.
GoodStart’s commitment to quality child care
As is clear from the name, GoodStart takes its social responsibilities seriously in providing children with high-quality learning opportunities and experiences to set them up for life.
In this, GoodStart shares the Australian Government’s vision to give all children the best possible start for a bright future and GoodStart has also been a big supporter of the National Quality Framework.
The National Quality Framework will benefit hundreds of thousands of Australian families, children and the dedicated professionals who work in the sector.
It will improve educator-to-child ratios so each child gets the individual time and attention they need and it will introduce qualification requirements that will ensure educators are better able to lead activities that inspire youngsters and help them learn and develop.
And it is good to have friends like GoodStart with us as we move towards its implementation on 1 January next year.
This GoodStart Early Learning centre at Indooroopilly faced one of its greatest challenges when it closed its doors due to extensive flood damage in January 2011.
The decision to close was made easier thanks to GoodStart’s support network, which enabled children to be placed in nearby GoodStart services. This minimised the impact on local families—in a time when many were dealing with their own challenges.
The strength of the community in the wake of the Queensland floods is an enduring image. And it holds true for this centre. The local community banded together to provide support during nine months of rebuilding and the Queensland Government backed this up with $25,000 assistance.
On 31 October this centre marked a new beginning, and a new name when it reopened its doors. I’m now pleased to officially declare GoodStart Early Learning Indooroopilly open.