The power of play: building brains and strong bodies

The research is comprehensive and conclusive: play is essential for children’s healthy development across all domains and is also their fundamental right.

Play-based learning enables children to engage in real-life and imaginary play activities that challenge thinking, promote communication, inspire creativity and nurture socio-emotional well-being.  The quality of early learning achieved through play, the power of play in children’s cognitive, emotional and physical development cannot be understated.

In response to growing concern that opportunities for WA children to learn through play are diminishing, ECAWA published a Discussion Paper in 2016 as part of its campaign activities.

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Campaigning for a WA Play Strategy

ECAWA’s call for a WA Play Strategy is supported by members of leading early childhood and parenting organisations in Western Australia, and parents, carers and citizens across the community.

Over the last five years, the critical importance of play in the early years of a child’s life has come to the foreground of public and media discussions.

Timeline of ECAWA Play Strategy Campaign Activities

ECAWA’s vision is that by 2020 the West Australian State Government will commit to reinstating play
as vital to children’s learning and development by advancing a WA Play Strategy in consultation with key stakeholders.
Our campaign coincides with the 2020 WA State Election.

WA Play Strategy campaign officially launched

  • 130 organisations and 7000 + individuals endorsed support for the development of a government-led WA Play Strategy
  • A Steering Committee (led by ECAWA, and including other stakeholders) was established to develop a ‘Statement on Play’ for 2019
  • ECAWA wrote a submission to the Australian Review of Children’s Rights identifying issues surrounding the demise of play in WA
  • Murdoch University released findings on the impact of standardised assessments on play-based learning in the early years of schooling (see more at link here)
  • University of Western Australia released its PLAYCE study (link here)
  • SSTUWA conducted independent research into play in schools
  • ECAWA, Play Australia and Nature Play WA hosted a stakeholder forum to identify enablers and barriers to play provision in WA
  • Department of Education WA made play-based learning a priority for 2019 (link here)
  • Media coverage included ABC radio interviews (links here and here)
  • Public support for the development of a government-led WA Play Strategy for all children in care, school and the community increased to 120 organisations and 3000+ individuals attended public events.
  • WA Play Strategy campaign officially launched
  • ECAWA met with additional key stakeholders (e.g. the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Minister Sue Ellery, Minister Simone McGurk, Department of Education ECE, WA Primary Principals Association, Child Australia, Meerilinga, and Playgroup WA)
  • Events held this year:
    • Child Australia State Conference in collaboration with the WA Ed Dept, AISWA, Catholic Education and Carewest showcased ‘exempla practices’ regarding play experiences for children 0-7years;
    • Early Childhood Australia WA Lockridge Play Date event (link here); and
    • Murdoch University hosted a seminar for 120 ECE teachers to discuss, the design and implementation of a play policy at their school.
  • Media coverage included WA Today article (link here) and West Australian article (link here)
  • Forums were held with key stakeholders and ECAWA members to discuss why it is timely to develop a WA Play Strategy
  • Members of ECAWA wrote Discussion Paper 2: A Call for a WA Play Strategy in Early Childhood Education and Care’ (link here). This paper was endorsed by other early childhood advocacy groups
  • Public support for the development of a government-led WA Play Strategy was endorsed by 100 organizations and 300 individuals
  • Play Summit held to raise awareness of the importance of play in children’s lives
  • Edith Cowan University published research identifying educators’ most significant concern, (erosion of play-based learning and tension about the use of play as a legitimate pedagogical tool in the early years program).
  • A Play Strategy for Australia was endorsed in principle at ECA National Leadership Forum. WA was selected to lead the initiative
  • ECAWA research grants were made available to members for action research to show how playful experiences support children’s learning and development. Successful applicants presented their findings at an ECAWA branch meeting.
  • WA met with representatives from other key ECE advocacy groups. The erosion of child-initiated play in the early years was identified as a significant problem
  • The Alliance for High Quality Education in the Early Years of Schooling wrote ‘Discussion Paper 1: A call for high quality early childhood education in the early years of school in Western Australia. January 2014 (link here)
  • At the ECAWA AGM, ECEC key stakeholders presented on the importance of play in their ECE program and environment. Developing a play strategy for WA was proposed by attendees.
  • ECAWA Branch Meeting: Members committed to raising the profile of play in the early years – particularly in the early years of schooling.

Read the ECAWA discussion paper that highlighting the benefits of establishing a WA Play Strategy.


Join us, and more than 8000 other individuals and organisations.

A playful childhood is the most basic right of childhood.  Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies children’s right to play, rest, leisure and access cultural life.

Countries including Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, Sweden and Finland recognise and advocate children’s right to play.  Read about the Play Scotland government initiative, which has informed the WA Play Strategy movement and our call to government to take leadership of this critical issue.

Join with us and endorse our campaign for the development of a government-led WA Play Strategy.

If you have any questions or comments about the WA Play Strategy please feel to contact us. We will be happy to hear from you!

Early Childhood Australia (WA)

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Endorsements will presented to State Government ministers, the WA Commissioner for Children and Young People, and the WA Education Department.

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