Children playing with a popular toy pop it, hold in their hands anti-stress, silicone game.

A National Summit to discuss the development of an Early Years Strategy that will enable children and families, greater access to quality education, health and care services, was held in Canberra recently.

The summit was the next milestone in the strategy, that will be finalised this year,  intended to improve coordination between Commonwealth programs, funding and frameworks impacting early childhood development.

The latest data from the Australian Early Development Census found 22 per cent of children were assessed as developmentally vulnerable.

There is strong evidence that early intervention significantly alters the trajectory for children, Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said. “It’s time we coordinated federal spending across health, welfare and education, to close gaps in services and better address intergenerational disadvantage.”

Speech Pathology Australia national president Tim Kittel said in 2021 almost 23 per cent of children who started primary school were at risk or were vulnerable in the development areas of communication. “And we know that when children start behind, they usually stay behind,” 

The association is advocating that all children have access to speech pathology support in education settings, commensurate to need.

Public submissions are open on the development of the strategy until April 30, 2023.

To access the Discussion Paper, make a submission, or explore other opportunities to contribute to the consultation process, visit: Department of Social Services website or DSS engage.