A vibrant and sustainable early childhood education and care sector

Supporting the ECEC sector to give children their best start in life

It’s critical that we get early childhood education and care right. It’s beyond question that the first five years of life are critical to health, development and wellbeing outcomes, with 90% of a child’s brain development happening by the time they’re five years old. It’s also well understood that participation in high quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) helps children to have the best start in life and start school equipped with the skills they need to continue their learning and development. This is even more important for disadvantaged children who are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable in language and cognitive skills when they start school. Accessible and affordable ECEC also supports parents and carers to engage in the workforce, in turn supporting women’s economic equality and our nation’s economic prosperity.

The ECEC sector is large and diverse, covering kindergarten and preschool programs and centre-based care services and other Australian Government funded care types. In 2022, there were:

  • 13,993 Australian Government Child Care Subsidy (CCS) approved child care services and 12,999 ECEC services delivering preschool and kindergarten programs in Australia.
  • 1,329,656 children aged 0–12 years attending Australian Government CCS approved child care services and 553,542 children enrolled in a preschool/kindergarten program.

Source: Productivity Commission Report on Government Services 2023

Michael Maher and Kelly Rose Working Together

Governments at all levels have recognised the need – and the opportunity – to improve the ECEC service system with significant and substantial reforms at the Commonwealth, state and territory level.

Despite this, persistent challenges face the sector. These include:

Despite significant investment in the child care package, remains challenging for families across Australia, with child care fees rising faster than inflation and wage growth.


In some communities, particularly regional and remote communities, there are more children than ECEC places. The current market-based system also means there are fewer child care places in less advantaged and regional and remote areas.


The ECEC sector is facing workforce shortages and high levels of attrition which can disrupt service provision for families, impact on quality and cap available places. Declining enrolments in ECEC courses mean this shortage is likely to become more acute over time.


The costs of providing child care (particularly centre-based care) are growing and centres are struggling to remain financially viable, with some providers exiting the sector.

Kathryn Anderson and Andrew Campbell Client Meeting

We’re presented with a once in a generation opportunity to reshape the ECEC system and create positive and real impact for children and families across Australia.

There are a number of reviews and inquiries (both underway and completed) that are asking the right questions about how we can make the ECEC system the best it can be. These include the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Early Childhood Education and Care, ACCC Inquiry into the market for supply of childcare services and the SA Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care. There’s also a coalition of the willing across government, peak and representative bodies, academia and those working in the sector. Commonwealth, state and territory education and early years ministers are developing a national long-term vision for ECEC to drive future reform and the Australian Government is developing an Early Years Strategy to shape its vision for the future of Australia’s children and their families that joins up systems and sectors and takes an integrated approach to childhood development. The Australian Government is also thinking about how it can be a steward of the ECEC system in partnership with the sector, and its role in making the ECEC system the best system it can be.

We’re excited about the prospect of partnering with government and the ECEC sector in this critical moment. Our capabilities include:

Reform design and implementation – The ECEC sector cuts across organisational and jurisdictional boundaries. Designing and delivering reform means bringing the right people to the table. We’re experts at facilitating the right conversations, surfacing areas of agreement and resolving areas of difference. We back this up with deep and practical analytical capability and insider experience working in government to deliver funding reform and navigate the challenges associated with implementing policy well.

Community and stakeholder engagement – The ECEC sector is richly diverse, with a workforce and service models that rightly reflect the diversity of our communities. It will be critical to ensure any reforms or changes will improve the system for different types of services and communities, and that there are no unintended consequences. We work with community and diverse voices every day and can help you to connect, collaborate and partner with communities to ensure they have a voice and an opportunity to be involved in designing policies and services.

Service system design – Australia’s ECEC system is a complex system involving child care, which is subsidised by the Commonwealth and delivered by a range of providers, and kindergarten and preschool which is funded by the Commonwealth and delivered via state and territory governments. The ECEC system also intersects with other systems that support children and families, such as the child protection and health systems. Our people bring a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of how these systems intersect and can advise on the opportunities and challenges in joining up systems to provide timely, accessible and high quality supports and services for children and families.

Implementation and change management – Implementing reform and change is often the hardest part. We know what’s important in making change happen and stick. It requires clarity and a shared vision of what’s important, breaking change up into steps and sequencing them carefully to make sure each builds on the last to create a reform pathway. Our people have been involved at the forefront of significant change in the ECEC context, including working with services across Australia to build capability and adapt to change.

Organisational transformation – The Commonwealth is thinking differently about its role as a steward of the ECEC system, as well as taking a more integrated and holistic approach to early childhood development. We can help you to re-organise how you work to support the effective delivery of reform.

Evaluation and review – the investment being made in ECEC is already substantial and the solutions to solving today’s problems are likely to see this investment continue to grow. It’s critical that governments have confidence that the funding is working to achieve the intended outcomes: for children, families, for the workforce and for society. A strong, practical and robust evaluation and review mindset and approach is needed. Our people have deep, applied and trusted skills in designing and implementing monitoring and evaluation frameworks and approaches.

Our key people


Michael Maher, Partner

“Early childhood has been an important part of my career for over twenty years. This includes successfully implementing complex multi-year change management programs (including universal access to kindergarten reforms in Victoria). It also includes leading early childhood policy advocacy work including quantifying the economic returns of investment in early childhood education and care.

A highlight of my career has been supporting early childhood providers on the ground in a number of states and territories to transform business operations to adjust to new Australian Government policy setting.

I was a Non-Executive Director for a large ECEC provider in Victoria for four years. This experience showed me the challenges and impacts of achieving reform at the local level. As a current Director of the Parenting Research Centre I know the importance of evidence informing practice and making a difference to the lives of children and families.

Leading our evaluation and review practice, I’ve found that some of our most meaningful work has been on early childhood education”.

View Michael’s full profile here.


Kathryn Anderson, Partner

“My public sector social policy experience highlighted the complex interactions between education, health and human services and justice service systems – all potentially impacting on children’s chances in life.

As a non-executive director of a national not for profit supporting young people at risk, I know the difference that the early years can make to life trajectories for children and young people.”

View Kathryn’s full profile here.


Ben Schramm, Managing Partner

“As a dad of three young boys, I’ve seen first-hand the power of the ECEC sector to give our children the best start in life and strengthen local families, communities and businesses.

I’ve brought my expert facilitation skills to the sector in a broad range of place-based contexts including regional, suburban and economic development, and land use planning.

I’m an expert at bringing ecosystem stakeholders together to span organisational and geographic boundaries and I have deep experience in many of the service systems that intersect with, support and rely on the ECEC sector, including children, youth and families, disability, health, mental health, justice, skills, infrastructure and inclusive employment”.

View Ben’s full profile here.


Kelly Rose, Director

“I have spent time with hundreds of boards, directors and managers of child care services around Australia, particularly in remote and regional locations, listening and understanding their unique service models and operating context, helping them to navigate funding changes and working together on plans to keep their doors open to their communities.

I have also spent time in communities working to join up early childhood services and to explore how services can work more closely together to support children and families. 

I have worked with the Australian Government Department of Education on a number of strategic projects including supporting the transition of 300 early childhood services funded under the Budget Based Funded program to transition to the child care package and providing ongoing support to services funded under the Community Child Care Fund. I have also supported the Department to review the quality and safety of child care services and to redesign the Connected Beginnings implementation model to better align with the Closing the Gap targets and priority reforms.

I’m currently a member of the Early Childhood Australia Victoria Committee and have previously been a Board Director and Treasurer of a large not for profit provider of ECEC services in Victoria, equipping me with a direct understanding of the service delivery and funding challenges faced by not for profits in the sector.

I am also a mum of a one year old and three year old and a current user of the ECEC system”.

View Kelly’s full profile here.


Our values and motivations square with those of the future APS.

A commitment to building internal capability

We are committed to building internal capability with and for our clients. We share the public sector’s commitment to creating public value, and we’ve always sought to build the skills and knowhow of our clients to make it happen. Our distinctive Capability Contract is a concrete commitment to building the capability of our clients – it is comprised of three different components:

  • The process we use to build client capability
  • The menu of learning solutions we bring to the table, and
  • The agreement which forms our concrete commitment.

Capability building is a serious investment of your time and resources, and we make the most of it. We’ve designed a process that makes it easy for you to build capability and doesn’t add unnecessary overheads.

Business as a force for good

We’re an independently certified B Corporation that believes in business as a force for good, and we hold ourselves to an unwavering standard of integrity, ethics and transparency. We became a B Corp because our reason for being – making a difference in the community – aligns perfectly with the values and goals of the B Corp movement. Our Certification as a B Corp is like an accountability partnership – we make a genuine commitment to positive social impact, and our B Corp certification serves as a constant reminder that promises made are promises kept.

Being a B Corp is part of our DNA and guides the way we make decisions in all aspects of our business, and at all stages of our value chain.

Immersed in purpose

We only work with purpose-led organisations – never with clients who have private shareholders. Our energies, talents and insights are entirely immersed in helping our clients make a positive difference for the communities they serve. This commitment to delivering public value means that our decision making is always in the best interests of our clients.

We'd love to connect

If you’re interested in talking more with us about Early Childhood Education and Care, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to any of our team via their profiles linked on this page, or email us at [email protected].