ECEC the big winners in Victorian Labor victory

by Freya Lucas

November 26

Victoria’s state elections were held over the weekend, with Premier Daniel Andrews and his Government retaining leadership of the state, providing an opportunity for the Andrews Government to deliver on the $5 billion dollar investment in early childhood education and care (ECEC) promised in the lead up to the election.

 

In an Australian first, the Andrews Government committed to investing $5 billion over the next ten years to deliver a full 15 hours per week of three year old kindergarten, with every Victorian child having 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 Andrews Government commitment to ECEC was a cornerstone of the election promises made in the lead up to Saturday’s victory, with extensive coverage of the campaign provided by The Sector in the lead up to Saturday’s win.

 

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 will pay no fees to enrol their child.

 

For families with a higher income, the Victorian Government outlined 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, details of the mechanisms to demonstrate this have not been outlined at time of print.

 

The state government will 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, under the plan shared prior to the election, 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.

 

The funding commitment, described by Premier Andrews as “the largest social, economic and educational reform ever undertaken in early childhood learning in Victoria’s history”, backs the Federal Labor parties commitment to support kindergarten funding via its proposed National Preschool and Kindy Program.

 

Further information is available via the Victorian Labor Party website

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