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Concerns have been raised over migrant and refugee children access to early childhood education. (SSI)

A new study has found children from migrant and refugee backgrounds are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable when starting school, causing repercussions that could carry into adulthood.  Source: SBS News. 

The joint study between the University of South Australia and Settlement Services International found migrant and refugee children are accessing early childhood education at lower rates than their peers, suggesting their development could be put at greater risk as a result.

Sally Brinkman, a Professor at UniSA Education Futures, said the study used the Australian Early Development Census.

She said it captures children of “about five and a half years of age, and because it’s a census of every single child across the whole country, we get about 96 to 98 per cent of all children”.

“Development has been improving across the country. This has been the case for children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. But where the concern is, is there’s a gap between children with CALD background versus non-CALD background,” Dr Brinkman said.

In Australia, more than one in four children (27 per cent) speak more than one language at home and Australian Early Development Census data shows 82 per cent of children from migrant and refugee backgrounds attended some form of early-childhood education in 2021.

However, a ‘Stronger Starts, Brighter Futures’ report says the rate is 90 per cent for other children.

Professor Brinkman said not having access to early childhood education can affect a person into adulthood.

“Something like 46 per cent more likely to be developmentally vulnerable if you don’t attend things like playgroups, for example, or other early childhood education and care services,” Dr Brinkman said.

The research has also found children from migrant and refugee backgrounds are half as likely to access early-intervention support like speech therapy, occupational therapy or disability support, compared with other children.

Dr Tadgh McMahon, co-author of the research, said migrant and refugee children need to be able to access appropriate early childhood education and intervention support tailored to their needs.


Migrant, refugee children missing out on early-ed, jeopardising their future (SBS News)


7th Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugees Office National Conference (ACMRO)