Anti-Poverty Week 2016 - Addressing inequalities in early childhood education: Gaming the system or changing the game.

Date 11:00 AM 20 October 2016 - 13:00 PM 20 October 2016
Location Father Tucker's Room, Brotherhood head office, 67 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

By the time disadvantaged children have progressed from Year 1 to Year 3 they are one year behind their counterparts. This gap then widens onwards to year 9.

Presenters: Dr Tim Gilley, Professor Guyonne Kalb, Professor Shelley Mallett, Associate Professor Chris Ryan and Professor Stephen Zubrick


There are clear determinants of this gap. Very young children arrive at preschool with their future attendance careers already largely determined. If we believe that education should be a game-changer for all children, then we need to change the basis of how kids are getting selected for the team. There is no evidence at a population level that the interests of disadvantaged students are being served by the institutional arrangements that have led to the current robust competition among the emerging “marketplace” of Australian schools. Moreover, this is not as simple as anguishing over a diaspora of more able students away from the government school system and into the private schools. Residualisation of disadvantaged students in government schools is also well established as more able families access the government schools they want their children to go to.

This discussion seminar brings together researchers and educators to discuss key questions about inequalities in early childhood education:

  • Do the effects of inequalities in early education matter for child development?
  • What can we say we know?
  • What are the possible responses to educational inequality?
  • Should we respond?
  • Is the solution funding? And if so, what is it about funding that produces more equal outcomes among disadvantaged children and their advantaged counterparts? 

Dr Tim Gilley from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, has a PhD in early childhood education and a Master’s degree in social work. Over the past 5 years, Tim has worked half-time as a Senior Lecturer in the Master of Teaching (Early Childhood, Early Years) and part-time as Partner Investigator for the Victorian Department of Education and Training on the E4Kids study, examining the impact of participation in child care and kindergarten on children’s learning and development outcomes of children to age 8 - working closely with the Chief Investigator, Professor Collette Tayler. Tim has previously worked in poverty research for the Brotherhood of St Laurence and held positions in local, state and commonwealth governments and in a number of community-based organisations working on social justice issues. He had a strong involvement in the first five years of the HIPPY program in Australia.

Professor Guyonne Kalb is a Professorial Research Fellow and Director of the Labour Economics and Social Policy Program at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Guyonne has a PhD (econometrics) from Monash University and a Master's degree in econometrics from Erasmus University Rotterdam (NL). Her research interests are in (female) labour supply, childcare and child development, and how these interact with social policy. Prior to joining the University of Melbourne Guyonne was employed at Monash University and at the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW. Previous to her PhD study, she worked as a researcher in a major social insurance administration office in the Netherlands from 1989 to 1994.

Professor Shelley Mallett combines the role of Professorial Fellow of Social Policy at the University of Melbourne with the position of General Manager of the Research and Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence. In this capacity, she directs the organisation’s research effort and helps lead policy development. Shelley’s diverse career has spanned service delivery, service development and research and teaching at the Australian National University and La Trobe University. She has also had senior management roles at Melbourne City Mission and Hanover Welfare Services (now Launch Housing). Shelley has particular expertise in homelessness and housing research. Shelley did her PhD in anthropology. 

Associate Professor Chris Ryan is the Director of the Economics of Education and Child Development program at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. Prior to the Melbourne Institute, he was employed at other Australian universities and in the Australian Government. He was awarded a Bachelor of Commerce, with Honours in Economics from the University of Melbourne in 1982, a Master of Economics from the Australian National University in 1986 and a PhD in economics from the University of Melbourne in July 2001. His research interests span the determinants of and outcomes from participation in different types of education, the impact of related government programs and interventions, and the transitions of young people from education and training into the labour market.

Professor Stephen Zubrick is a Senior Principal Research Fellow based at the Telethon Kids Institute. Prior to joining the University of Western Australia, he spent 12 years as Head of the Division of Population Science at the Telethon Kids Institute. His qualifications are in the fields of psychology, and speech and hearing science. Steve had a lengthy career in Western Australia as the state’s Assistant Principal Clinical Psychologist and was based at the Neurosciences Unit, where he specialised in assessing and managing children with complex developmental disorders. Steve now specialises in creating and executing large-scale state and national cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of child and family development. He chairs the Consortium Advisory Group responsible for the ongoing conduct of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children


View the presentation from Professor Kalb (PDF, 101KB)

View the presentation from Dr Gilley (PDF, 334KB), Tim Gilley advises that the slide on CLASS data is not self-explanatory and is happy to receive any questions on this, please e-mail any questions to jdouglas(at)bsl.org.au

For seminar presentations of past events, visit our archive of past events.

Subscribe to ‘Brotherhood Update’ our research & policy e-newsletter.

To join or leave this seminar email list contact jdouglas(at)bsl.org.au


Keep an eye out for more information to come or stay up-to-date by liking the Brotherhood facebook page.

To learn more, visit the Anti-Poverty Week website.


The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

The Brotherhood recognises the harm that family violence causes and that freedom from violence is a basic human right.
We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
Australian Aboriginal flag, a yellow circle on two horizontal black and red stripes

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.

Torres Strait Islander flag, an icon of a traditional headdress on blue, black and green stripes