Skip to main navigation Skip to content
Goodstart homepage Goodstart Early Learning logo Goodstart Early Learning logo

Goodstarters: advocates for every child’s future

Goodstart stories

Article by Sharon Hosking

In every community, there are unsung heroes quietly shaping the future. Open the door of any of our 654 Goodstart early learning centres and you'll find passionate advocates for early learning. These dedicated individuals play a crucial role in ensuring that children receive the best start in life in their first five years through high quality early learning. But our impact doesn’t stop there.

Last year, Goodstarters raised a staggering $276,000 for the Early Learning Fund, providing financial support to more than 600 children across the nation. This support ensured access to early learning and kindergarten/preschool programs run by Goodstart and Uniting (NSW/ACT) centres. Notably, over 280 of these children started school in 2024, thanks to the vital access provided by the Early Learning Fund to support their school readiness, launching them on the path to success.

While government programs offer short-term assistance, thousands of children miss out on continuing early learning when this support ends. The Early Learning Fund, a collaboration between three of Australia’s largest not-for-profits, fills this gap, relying heavily on philanthropic, corporate, and workplace giving by Goodstart employees. This significant contribution underscores the dedication of Goodstarters in bridging the funding gap for our most vulnerable families.

Goodstart CEO Ros Baxter emphasises the importance of Goodstarters in ensuring that no child misses out on accessing early learning due to their life circumstances. 

"Goodstarters are change-makers who are dedicated to making every moment count for children attending early learning through everyday high quality, inclusive early learning and teaching. At the same time, they dig deep, rallying behind the great cause of the Early Learning Fund."

The Early Learning Fund acts as a crucial safety net, supporting children to receive fee-relief to attend early learning when all forms of government assistance are exhausted. 

Eligible children are those facing significant vulnerability, experiencing financial hardship, including children at risk of abuse or neglect, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, refugee and humanitarian entrants, and families experiencing sudden hardship. 

An independent evaluation of the Early Learning Fund has demonstrated its significant impact, revealing increased enrolment and physical attendance among supported children.

Ros highlights the Fund's role in targeting the most vulnerable children in Australia while maintaining high engagement levels, with only 7% of supported children leaving early learning compared to 52% of a comparison group not supported by the Fund, as confirmed by an independent evaluation report*.

Behind the Early Learning Fund stand three of Australia's largest not-for-profit organisations: The Benevolent Society, Goodstart Early Learning, and Uniting (NSW/ACT). Goodstart and Uniting serve as program partners, identifying and supporting eligible children. With all administration costs covered, every dollar raised directly contributes to a child's early learning expenses.

Looking ahead, universal early learning presents an opportunity to address the root causes of the need for initiatives like the Early Learning Fund. By ensuring that every child has access to high-quality, inclusive early learning and care from the outset, regardless of their family's financial circumstances, we can remove barriers and provide equitable opportunities for all children to thrive.

In the face of unprecedented calls for universal early learning, Goodstarters stand ready to champion this cause. With their unwavering dedication and the support of initiatives like the Early Learning Fund, they continue to positively shape the future lives of our nation's children, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Natasha’s Story  

Through ELF, twins Hunter and Emma were able to continue their early learning journey. Natasha’s eldest and youngest son have Aarskog-Scott Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the development of many parts of the body and can also affect learning. Natasha and her twins are one of many families that have benefited from early learning in more ways that you can imagine. With the support of ELF and in-centre allied health support for Hunter, single mother Natasha describes the life-changing nature of ELF. 

Tane’s story

First Nations mother Tane became a single mother on a single income overnight, and the Early Learning Fund stepped in with financial support for her son Malaki to continue early learning access and ensure Tane could continue working. 

Key facts

  • Each eligible child receives two days of early learning at a Goodstart or Uniting (NSW/ACT) early learning service in the two years before school.
  • Support is offered to children in hardship, Indigenous children, refugee and humanitarian entrants, and children at risk of abuse or neglect.
  • In 2023, 174 children were at risk of abuse or neglect, 152 were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and 60 identified as refugee and humanitarian entrants. Over 171 children had a disability, and 40% lived in regional and rural communities

If you share a passion for ensuring no child gets left behind so that all of Australia’s get the best start in life, get in touch to support the Early Learning Fund. Corporate donations start from as little as $2,000.  To learn more, email

Learn more here.

Goodstart Live Chat