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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says there are more than 26,000 women locked out of the workforce in his state, which comes at a cost of $ 1.5 billion each year.

“Unlocking the amazing, underutilized potential of women who are, because of a childcare system that does not work, and an early childhood education system that has never been expanded … is perhaps the biggest contribution that we can make to economic prosperity, Andrews told the Jobs and Skills Summit.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and his fellow state leaders listen to the prime minister’s opening address. Alex Ellinghausen

“But we should not see it as just a matter of fairness. It’s much bigger than that. “

Andrews went on to say he believes the best form of childcare is play-based learning.

“Just in my state, there are 26,600 women who are completely locked out of the workforce because of the dynamic that I’ve just spoken about,” he said.

“That costs us $ 1.5 billion each and every year – that’s just in our state and that’s just those who are completely locked out.

“So, better early childhood education, dealing with childcare deserts, making childcare work for working families, has never been more important, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do. There’s probably no greater economic opportunity for us a nation. “

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