Growing minds, growing economy: childcare and the workforce

Growing minds, growing economy: childcare and the workforce

Oct 7
Join CEDA Chair, Diane Smith-Gander AO and Thrive by Five, CEO, Jay Weatherill AO in Perth as we bring together a multidisciplinary panel to discuss: Could a more coherent early childhood development system supercharge Australia’s economy?
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The Hon Jay Weatherill AO, CEO, Thrive by Five, Minderoo Foundation
Diane Smith-Gander AO, National Chair, CEDA
Professor Gervase Chaney, National Chair, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth
Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill, Political Economy, The University of Sydney

Event Overview

Achieving a dynamic Australian economy for future generations relies on our finding ways to support and unlock economic growth and jobs. One way to do this is to unlock the productivity gains that come from increasing female workforce participation.

KPMG estimates that halving the gap between male and female workforce participation positively impact Australia's annual GDP by A$60 billion over the next two decades.

A major barrier to better female participation in Australia is the cost and quality of childcare – which has risen faster in recent years than the costs of housing or electricity. Women make up just 37.7% of all full-time employees in Australia and 68.2% of all part-time employees. 

Further, the Federal Government’s recently released Intergenerational Report predicts that by 2060-61 there will only be 2.7 people of working age for every person over 65. Can Australia afford to allow the cost and availability of childcare to stand in the way of workforce participation and productivity? 

Reforming early childhood education is not only key to driving workforce participation and economic productivity now, but it also has the potential to shape the minds, emotions, and skills of generations of young Australians, paying future dividends across all aspects of life and the economy. 

It is estimated that for every $1 invested in early learning and care, Australia receives $2 back over the child’s life.
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Meet the speakers

The Hon Jay Weatherill AO
CEO, Thrive by Five, Minderoo Foundation

Jay Weatherill AO is the CEO of Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative.
Thrive by Five has a global mission to ensure every child thrives by the age of five through a long-term, evidence-based strategy to create a culture that prioritises children and early brain development. 
​Jay served as the 45th Premier of South Australia and was responsible for the SA Government’s Early Childhood Development portfolio. In 2021, Jay was appointed as an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia (General Division) for distinguished service to the people and Parliament of South Australia, particularly as Premier, and to early childhood and tertiary education.

Diane Smith-Gander AO
National Chair, CEDA

Diane Smith-Gander AO is a professional non-executive director maintaining a diverse portfolio across different entities, industries and geographies.  She is an advocate for gender equity and a past president of CEW, Australia’s pre-eminent women’s advocacy group which counts more than 600 of Australia’s senior female leaders as its members.
Diane is now Chair of Zip Co Limited, CEDA and the Safe Work Australia member body and a non-executive director of AGL Energy, HBF Health Ltd and Keystart Loans. She currently chairs the inaugural Nominations Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Diane holds an MBA from the University of Sydney and a BEc from the University of Western Australia (UWA), who awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Economics. She is a Fellow of the AICD and Governance Institute of Australia and an adjunct professor of corporate governance at UWA where she chairs the advisory board of the Business School.

Professor Gervase Chaney
National Chair, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth

Gervase Chaney has been on the Board of ARACY since 2013 and Chair since 2019. Gervase is the National Head of School, School of Medicine, The University of Notre Dame Australia, and a general paediatrician at Perth Children’s Hospital. He was previously the Executive Director of Perth Children's Hospital (responsible for commissioning) in the Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS) in Western Australia from 2016-2017. He was Executive Director of Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in CAHS from 2015-2016; Chairman of the PMH Paediatric Medicine Clinical Care Unit 2011-2014; and Co-Lead of the Child and Youth Health Network for WA Health from 2005-2010. He was on the Board of Kidsafe WA from 2004-2015. He is a past President of the Paediatrics and Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) 2010-2012 and he was on the Board of the RACP from 2008-2012. He is a foundation member of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Health (ACAH) and is on the Board of the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill
Political Economy, The University of Sydney

Elizabeth Hill is Associate Professor in political economy at The University of Sydney. Elizabeth is Deputy Director the new Gender Equality in Working Life Research Initiative at The University of Sydney and co-convenor of the Australian Work and Family Policy Roundtable. As a leading researcher on the future of women, work and care in Australia and the Asian region, she has collaborated on research into gender equality, work and care with leading national and international institutions, including the International Labour Organisation and UN Women. Elizabeth has served as a non-executive director on a number of non-profit Boards and is an experienced media commentator and advisor to government, unions, and business.

Cassandra Winzar
Senior Economist, CEDA

Cassandra Winzar is Senior Economist (WA) at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA). Prior to joining CEDA she was Principal Economist at the WA Department of Communities (Housing Authority) where she focused on WA economic conditions and housing related research, including running the state government’s Housing Industry Forecasting Group. Cassandra has also held roles as the WA based Economist for the Reserve Bank of Australia, and in Transfer Pricing at EY. Cassandra has a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) from the University of Western Australia.

Supported by CEDA member

Event sponsor

Public event advice – Coronavirus

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CEDA is currently delivering a digital program of public events, podcasts and virtual Trustee roundtable discussions; hybrid events with both a livestream and audience in attendance; and face-face events, where there is member demand and they can be delivered in accordance with government health advice for a specific state.

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We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

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