Early childhood

Early childhood is a critical period in a child’s development that has consequences for the rest of their life. Yet, despite the strong evidence base and skilled professionals wanting to deliver better outcomes for young children and their families, our early years system is still not enabling this.

The challenge facing us is very clear – according to the latest Australian Early Development Census, one in five Australian children start school developmentally vulnerable in one or more areas. This increases to one third of children living in communities experiencing the highest levels of disadvantage and to almost one half of our First Nations children.

These figures have barely changed over the past decade.

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We need a circuit breaker. We have excellent and growing evidence of what children need to be able to thrive, but the system is not set up to allow us to work together across the different services to ensure supports are available to families before they hit crisis point.

Penny Dakin, CEO of ARACY and Co-Chair of the Early Years Catalyst

We can make lasting, positive change in early childhood through better understanding of the constraints in the way the system currently operates that are leading to poor outcomes for children, and what needs to change to see more of our children flourishing.

Jane Hunt, CEO of The Front Project and Co-Chair of the Early Years Catalyst

Catalysing systems change to see more Australian children thriving.

The Early Years Catalyst is an ambitious, long-term systems change initiative that emerged from the 2020 National Early Years Summit.

We are a national collaboration working with organisations to improve early childhood development outcomes for children experiencing disadvantage and vulnerability.

We seek to support the field to disrupt and transform the early years system so that it better meets the needs of all Australian children and their families - so that they can get what they need, when they need it, to have the best chance to thrive.

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Our Vision

By 2030, significantly more children in Australia will be thriving in their first 2,000 days and beyond (pregnancy to five).

Our Aim

To create systemic change across the early years field so that early childhood development outcomes for children experiencing disadvantage and vulnerability improve significantly by 2030.

† Australian Early Development Census National Report 2021


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