Playgroup Statement

Children and their families have played and learned on Australian lands for many thousands of years. Connecting with this history, playgroups have a rich place in Australian communities. Communities are where children and their families live, sharing social connections with each other as they play and learn. Playgroup participation contributes to family support and early childhood development outcomes and its within the context of Family Support services and the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector. Playgroups provide play and socialisation opportunities for children and adults best suited to their unique circumstances. Playgroups have demonstrable benefits for children, families and communities. These benefits translate into increased social and economic wellbeing for Australian society.

This Playgroup Statement represents the collective efforts of a National Advisory Group committed to the universal recognition of the contribution playgroups make to family support and early childhood development outcomes. The National Advisory Group included representatives from national government, not-for-profit and community organisations, early years academics and individuals with a history of service to Australian children and their families. The substantive work of the Playgroup Statement was guided by the National Advisory Core Group, alongside contributions from the National Advisory Group and Playgroup State and Territory organisations. This work involved completion of a systematic review of the literature and a stakeholder consultation strategy.

The National Advisory Group values the many national and international initiatives and frameworks that already promote the significance of play in the lives of children and their families. Among these are the Early Childhood Australia Statement on Play (forthcoming) and the United Nations Children’s Fund Learning through Play. This Playgroup Statement builds on these contributions, recognising that playgroups uniquely involve children and their families in opportunities for shared play and socialisation in their local communities. The Playgroup Statement acknowledges the centrality of play in the lives of all children and their families and is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the right to “rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities” and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in which “the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration”.

This Playgroup Statement acknowledges the contribution playgroups make to family support and early childhood development outcomes comes with known complexities in practice policy and research. It is the responsibility of all governments and stakeholders to recognise and address these complexities to realise the benefit of playgroup participation for all children and their families. Accordingly, the Playgroup Statement ends with a call to action across three priority areas. These are: 1) Access and participation; 2) Policy formation and implementation; and 3) Research scale and translation.

Download the Playgroup Australia Statement 2022