I spoke in parliament today about Australia’s first randomised trial of an early childhood program.
Randomised Evaluation of Early Childhood Programs
15 September 2011
Improving the life chances of young Australians is a key priority for this government, and I acknowledge the important work done particularly by the Minister for Employment Participation and Childcare and the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Under this government, we have boosted the childcare rebate from 30 to 50 per cent. We have created the MyChild.gov.au website. We first collected information for the Australian Early Development Index in 2009, and this census of five year-old children will be run again in 2012.
I would like to acknowledge the work of experts in this area, including Frank Oberklaid, from the Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne; Matthew Gray, from the Australian Institute of Family Studies; Lance Emerson, from the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY); and Pam Cahir, from Early Childhood Australia.
The Gillard government is committed to evidence based policy making. We know a lot about the importance of early years interventions but we still have much to learn. That is why I would like to pay particular tribute to the team that is running the Early Years Education Research Project: Nichola Coombs, Jeff Borland, Yi-Ping Tseng, Anne Kennedy, Janet Williams-Smith, Dave Glazebrook and Brigid Jordan.
This is Australia’s first randomised trial of an early childhood program. It has received ethics approval and it is following in the footsteps of the great randomised early childhood evaluations: the Perry Preschool program, the Abecedarian Project and the Early Training Project – all begun in the 1960s in the United States. The Early Years Education Research Project will provide valuable lessons about what works in the early years. It will allow us to improve our policies and it will do it using the most rigorous evaluation methodology available. I wish the team all the best of luck.