Prue Warrilow, National Convenor

ACCS is a unique organisation:

  • We are the only children’s services organisation that solely represents not-for-profit services of all types
  • We are the only children’s services organisation that has had a completely independent voice by relying on membership funding only for its work, with no government funding to control or confound our voice

The objectives of ACCS are to:

  • advocate and assist the development of community owned children’s services providing good quality care, where community is the environment in which people live and/or work
  • initiate and co-ordinate public action to promote and defend community owned children’s services throughout Australia
  • co-ordinate national responses in relation to community owned children’s services
  • act and speak on behalf of community owned children’s services in relation to Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments and to other bodies

And I have to say we’ve done that pretty well over the past 40 years. Something to be very proud of.

I and other ACCS members have had the privilege to speak with the power of the not-for-profit community children’s services sector for 40 years and we have made a significant difference to many, many children and families who may have otherwise not had access to quality, affordable children’s services. It has been our advocacy and our lobbying that has directly informed much public policy and practice.

I would particularly like to acknowledge and thank my ACCS executive – Linda Davison from Vic, Kim Bertino from NSW, Sally Griffith from WA, and regular attendees Carrie Johnson from SA and Daniella Kavoukas from Vic. We have met every fortnight to strategise, ponder and plot about how we can best influence early childhood education and care public policy, and to great success. I also want to acknowledge and thank Barbara Romeril, our secretariat; without her support we would not have been able to do the great work we have done!

The ACCS National Executive recognises that new forms of networking and collaboration are replacing the ways that we have worked. With the growing number of paid early childhood education and care lobbyists taking the attention of policy makers it is becoming increasingly challenging to rely on a group of volunteer advocates in the National and State Executives to have strong engagement with governments or provide detailed policy analysis.

So it seem fitting that as we acknowledge the beginnings and the significant contribution ACSS has made to children and families over 40 years I am also talking to an end as well.

It is with a very heavy heart that I am announcing that ACCS National is winding up its operations and handing over to a new generation of advocates to speak for this vital not-for-profit service sector. Or quoting Don Chip and the Democrats – who else will keep the bastards honest?

Three branches will continue to operate after the windup of national operations:

  • ACCS SA who will take on administration of the national website, act as the first point of contact for ACCS and coordinate communication and collaboration with the other branches
  • Carewest – the WA branch of ACCS
  • Community Child Care – the Victorian branch of ACCS

We are heartened by the election of an ALP government federally with its commitment to a broad review of the entire system of support for families with young children. And it is unprecedented and extremely reassuring to see the Victorian ALP government and the NSW Coalition government stand together to make the ambitious announcement to work towards universal free preschool/kindergarten for all 3 and 4 year olds.

We are proud to have seen this organisation through challenging times. And now we call on younger advocates to stand up and develop new ways to “advocate nationally for the right of Australia’s children to access quality, not for profit, community owned children’s services” in this exciting new policy context.