‘For the Little Ones, the Best’: Australian Early Childhood Service and Policy Histories

  • Elise HunkinEmail author


Over time ideas about what is best for young children in Australia have changed significantly, but also not very much. The quotation in this chapter heading, ‘For the little ones, the best,’ was the motto of the Sydney Day Nursery teacher’s college in 1946 (Huntsman 2005, 7) and signals the central discussion of this chapter: what has been thought of as best for young children in Australia? The chapter critiques Australian early childhood service and policy histories since settlement to show that the Australian zeitgeist has always assumed young children should be in the care of their mothers. It is argued that this ‘mother-care paradigm’ framed the development of early childhood services and policy, including contemporary ideas about quality.


Childcare history Preschool history Childhood Mother-care Early childhood policy Early childhood service development 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RMIT BundooraRoyal Melbourne Institute of TechnologyBundooraAustralia

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