Vic Gov commits to state’s largest early childhood economic reform if re-elected

by Jason Roberts

October 04, 2018

In an Australian first, the Victorian Government will invest $5 billion over the next decade to deliver a full 15 hours of three year old kinder from 2020 if the Andrews Labor Government is re-elected, the party has said.

 

“This will be the largest social, economic and educational reform ever undertaken in early childhood learning in Victoria’s history,” the Victorian Government said.

 

The Victorian Government’s pledge comes at the same time as Federal Labor’s commitment to support three year old kinder via its proposed National Preschool and Kindy Program.

 

Under Labor’s plan, every Victorian child will have access to at least five hours of subsidised three year old kinder by 2022, progressively scaled up to 15 hours per week over the next decade.

 

The Victorian Government said that nearly one in five families do not have their children enrolled in early learning due to the cost. Under their plan, around a quarter of Victorian families would pay no fees to enrol their child.

 

For families with a higher income, the Victorian Government plans to cover 65 per cent of their child’s kindergarten costs, consistent with the current subsidy for four year old kinder. This represents a saving of at least $3,500 for families whose children attend a stand-alone kinder.

 

Those with children who go to long-day-care will also benefit, with these centres given funding to employ early childhood teachers in their three year old rooms. Centres that make cost savings due to the government’s investment will be required to pass any savings on to families.

 

The state government would work closely with the early childhood sector, including local councils, to deliver these reforms, which would see three year old kinder rolled out to six regional local government areas (LGAs) by 2020: Buloke, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, South Gippsland, Strathbogie and Yarriambiack.

 

In 2021, an extra 15 LGAs will come on board – Alpine, Ararat, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Colac-Otway, Corangamite, East Gippsland, Glenelg, Hepburn, Indigo, Loddon, Murrindindi, Southern Grampians, Towong and West Wimmera.

 

The Victorian Government said that this initial expansion will roll out to regional Victoria first, covering the areas that already have the capacity and facilities to meet demand.

 

State Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos said “Universal access to three year old kinder is an Australian-first and make no mistake, this will change lives.

 

“While the Federal Liberal Government refuses to meet its commitments on four year old kindergarten, Labor is determined to make sure our kids are ready for school and ready for life.

 

“Both Australian and international research shows that the single most impactful reform we can make to our education system is to expand kinder to three-year-olds.”

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