Thrive by Five: Unlocking the Power of Advocacy to Reform Early Childhood Policy
In Australia, Minderoo Foundation is attempting to make our era's most significant educational, social, and economic reform. What change is worthy of such a statement? A universally accessible, high-quality early learning and childcare system.
During a recent webinar hosted by ISSA, the Head of Operations at Minderoo Foundation, Juan Larranga, shared first-hand experience and insights from their well-known campaign Thrive by Five. Launched in 2020, the campaign has already garnered significant support in the country.
The campaign focuses on three mutually reinforcing pillars aimed at advocating for early childhood development (ECD) systems change:
- Parent empowerment
- Demonstrate Local ECD systems change
- Inform and Transform ECD Systems
It recognizes the importance of transforming the national system while enabling local communities to redesign their systems based on cultural frameworks, service delivery, and evidence.
Focusing on changing the system
The goal was to effect policy change nationally that would see a significant uplift in funding for the ECD sector, and to do so by creating a political imperative for action. But merely presenting a good argument does not influence the political process. The strategy had to focus on winning the majority opinion.
The campaign targeted the national government as the primary entity responsible for funding and resources. However, they also recognized state governments' need for agreement and implementation. The campaign strategically positioned the childcare system as the backbone of reform, ensuring that all discussions and solutions led back to childcare. They maintained focus on the government, crafting narratives aligned with various political debates to keep early childhood at the forefront of attention.
Structuring the campaign for success
A crucial aspect of the campaign was building a broad coalition representing all elements of the early childhood system, including childcare, maternal health, child protection, family support, and education. By involving champions from diverse sectors, the organization aimed to leverage different sources of influence.
"The Campaign should belong to everyone in the sector."
- Juan Larranga
The campaign architecture included an outside track focused on public engagement through targeted media campaigns and strategic partnerships and an inside track involving research, policy development, and stakeholder management. They emphasized the importance of maintaining bipartisan influence and engaging political advisors, decision-makers, and ex-politicians in shaping the ideal system.
The campaign's careful design allowed the team to employ successful tactics, including conducting research and engaging a national independent convener to maintain stakeholder engagement.
To date a few campaign achievements, include:
- Commitments of more than $55 billion over the next 10 years to new ECD-related reforms.
- The Australian Government’s commitment to lift childcare subsidy rates as a precursor to implementing a 90 per cent subsidy rate for all families.
- Joint statement by the Victorian and New South Wales governments to introduce an additional year of preschool, and to increase the universal entitlement to preschool from 15 to 30 hours per week.
Watch the full webinar presentation to hear the three critical pieces of advice Mr. Larranga gave audience members aiming to run national campaigns effectively and hear more insights from the campaign. For more on this presentation, you may access the webinar slides here.