Neville Dwyer is convinced the child care industry is moving in the right direction, as he retires from his early education position after 40 successful years.
The popular Griffith figure looks back on his time in early education as one of change where he spent much of it campaigning the benefits early childhood education – a message finally starting to get through.
During his time working within the industry at the Griffith Child Care Centre and its two Early Childhood services – Dorothy Waide Centre for Early Learning and Griffith Central Preschool he helped to develop the idea of childcare being an educational tool.
According to Mr Dwyer, Dorothy Waide Centre was of the first child care centres in the country to deliberately reframe how community perceived early childhood services and use the term Early Learning because, at the time, child care was equated to babysitting.
“Where it is sitting now is at the beginning of where it will be,” Mr Dwyer said. “The early years are the most critical in a sense because what we do in the first five years when the brain is forming is basically fill it with pathways and we set the kids up to learn and it doesn't happen any other time in life.”
Mr Dwyer feels the biggest problem facing the industry at the moment is the federal government ‘solely thinking’ of early childhood from a care perspective and not from an educational standpoint.
He was, however, glowing of the way Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli led the charge at a state level.
“He, more than any other politician, understands the value of early childhood education and especially the difference it can make when we invest in enabling all families to access,” he said.
“When he took on the portfolio of Education, one of his first tasks was to move children’s services from a social welfare focused department of DoCS and bring them ... within the Department of Education.”
Mr Dwyer acknowledged there had been a shift across all forms of government and felt it was probably the biggest change since he started.
“Since 2009 and the introduction of the national child care agreement where all states and the federal government agree that we invest in early childhood,” he said.
“That is the biggest shift and we have a population that is starting to see the early years are important but we also have part of the sector that sees it as a way of making huge profits.”
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