Meet the voice of Australian parents for issues that matter
Goodstart works with many groups in the early learning sector and beyond to shine the spotlight on the importance of quality education in a child’s first five years and continues to lobby governments to improve childcare affordability and accessibility through greater investment. In the first in a series of stories on our friends in the sector, we provide an insight into The Parenthood CEO Jo Briskey …
In just two years with Jo Briskey at the helm the not-for-profit digital campaign organisation has become Australia’s largest collection of parent voices and recognised as the go-to source for media, government and business on issues that matter to parents – from health to education.
The organisation’s biggest campaign focuses on garnering political action and greater government investment in early learning and care, to make childcare more affordable and easier to find for Australian families.
When she’s not being interviewed by Sunrise, writing for Mamamia or lobbying government,
Ms Briskey can be found enjoying a leisurely breakfast with husband Ravi and two-year-old Gwenevieve (picutred above) – before rushing out the door of their Balmoral house in Brisbane each morning.
Today, Ms Briskey takes a moment away from strategising and managing campaigns to chat to Goodstart. She confesses the family of three had a tendency to enjoy "a bit of a sleep in" and a typical day within the household was busy and never the same.
An educational and developmental psychologist by training, and an avid campaigner, Ms Briskey tells us what gets her up each morning, key work of The Parenthood and views about childcare in Australia.
What gets you up each morning?
My two and half year old daughter Gwenevieve (or Gweny for short) – both literally and figuratively!
Tell us about Gwenevieve
She’s very happy, strong and independent little girl. She loves music – dancing and singing. Her favourite Wiggle is Emma. Gweny also loves to cook – her dad always gets her up on the bench to help him make pancakes for breakfast on the weekends or dinner throughout the week.
Gweny has an incredible memory often reciting things she’s seen or done weeks ago and she constantly reminds us just how much she picks up from what we say and do which helps us keep on our toes hoping not to say anything we shouldn’t!
Any recent developmental milestones?
We’re really noticing Gweny talking a lot more and engaging in full conversations with us and her educators at childcare. Her understanding and use of a variety of different words is becoming more and more noticeable. For example, the other Sunday morning, Ravi, Gweny’s dad, was lying in bed sleeping in. Gweny, trying to get him up says to him in a very matter of fact way, “Come on Daddy get up, stop being so ridiculous”. I had no idea she knew the word ridiculous or what it meant – but she said it perfectly and in perfect context.
We’re also in the middle of toilet training which has its own special delights!
Raising a toddler can be challenging and exhausting. Any tips or advice for other parents with toddlers?
If there is any tip I could give I think it’s not getting caught up with things not going according to plan – trying to be as flexible as you can and just rolling with the punches.
I’d also say not letting others tell you what to do, or make you feel like you should be doing what you’re “expected” to do. Something I’ve found as a new parent is that I’m often the recipient of unsolicited parenting advice – some helpful, some not so helpful. I think as parents we all do our best – what is best for us and what is best for our kids and we do this in a variety of different ways. If our kids are happy, healthy and enjoying life and we are keeping relatively sane in the process I think whatever we’re doing as parents is working.
Tell us about The Parenthood?
The Parenthood is a national digital campaigning and advocacy organisation that allows parents to have a voice on the issues that matter most to them and their families.
I’m very proud of the work The Parenthood as we give parents an effective opportunity to have a say in how government policy affects us and our children’s lives.
We run a variety of campaigns on key issues like health, education and better support for working mums and dads.
I’m particularly proud of our campaign for greater government investment in early learning and care. This has been one of our biggest campaigns to date and alongside organisations like Goodstart, we have been able to make childcare reform a key political issue that will help us ensure we see government action as soon as possible.
What are your views about childcare in Australia?
Ravi and I call childcare ‘school’ in our house as we recognise it as the start to Gweny’s education journey. It’s not like ‘school’ in the traditional sense, but it’s absolutely learning and we see it every day in Gweny’s language and development. For this we are very thankful of Gweny’s amazing educators.
I believe our society’s view of ‘childcare’ is rapidly changing, especially as we see other countries like the UK, Canada and other parts of Europe invest in making early learning universally available as they seek to increase the skills and education of their populations.
I know Australia will follow suit – even if it takes a little bit longer and requires a bit of effort on behalf of parents and community to help show our politicians and decision makers just how important early learning is for the future prosperity of our country.
Next week, Ms Briskey joins us again to talk more about childcare and the work of The Parenthood to help tackle issues of affordability and accessibility.