Working together for their first 1000 days and beyond: A MESSAGE FROM PENNY DAKIN

I hear from people everyday who are frustrated that the work they do is barely scraping the surface of the problems some families face. They want to do better, but they know that without fundamental changes to the drivers and enablers of poor early childhood development, they’re up against it. They want to see us call out racism, inequity, poverty, social injustice, and entrenched intergenerational disadvantage.

Right now, we know why prevention and early intervention are so important. We know, to a very large extent, ‘what works’ and what we should be doing more of to strengthen and support children and families during the first 1,000 days. Right now, right around Australia there are multiple reforms and a huge number of exciting activities, projects, and initiatives designed with a focus on the early years. Many of these are grounded in evidence. Many are adding to our knowledge base. Some are applying completely new ways of knowing, thinking, and doing.

What we still need to do together is work out how we make the most of this opportunity. We need to harness this momentum into a new sense of national purpose to see better outcomes for our youngest children. We need to create and support a political and policy will that leads to systemic change and appropriate, well directed resourcing beyond a traditional budgeting cycle.

The National Early Years Summit 2020 is that opportunity.

For two days, we’ll work together – learning, debating, generating ideas – and start to come up with the HOW.  How do we maximise what’s working?  How do we stop what’s not? How do we do things differently?  How do we change the system?  How do we go from where we are to where we want to be? 

This is a huge task and one that will require collective leadership, action, and accountability beyond just the Summit.  We are committed to do just that. For example, outcomes from the Summit will further inform work already undertaken by Families Australia through their national consultations on the future of national child and family wellbeing policy to succeed the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

It will inform the work ARACY and partners are doing on the Great to Eight project which aims to help get better outcomes for children, taxpayers, and the economy, by assisting government, corporate, and philanthropic funders to make better targeted investments, and by helping researchers ensure their work is relevant and effective.

We are sure that during the course of the Summit and in the period after it, many other opportunities will arise to apply the outcomes of the Summit to existing and new work.

Join us.

Penny Dakin
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth