Landmark reforms as Premier Andrews rolls out Kinder for all Victorian 3 year olds
Delivering on a pre-election promise, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino today joined Member for Albert Park Martin Foley at Clarendon Children’s Centre in South Melbourne to mark the start of “the biggest reform in the history of early childhood education in Victoria,” giving all three-year-old Victorian children access to subsidised kinder.
The Victorian Budget 2019/20 has marked $881.6 million in support of the rollout, which will give children access to two years of subsidised kinder programs delivered by an early childhood teacher before starting school. The commitment forms part of a broader $4.1 billion investment by the Victorian Government in education – from kinders and schools through to higher education and TAFE.
The program, a spokesperson said, will “fundamentally transform early childhood education and help families struggling with the cost of living, saving some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged families around $5,000 a year”.
Included within the Budget is $473.2 million for early childhood infrastructure, which will support the sector to invest in new and expanded kindergarten facilities, and a $92.4 million figure, set aside to support early childhood teachers and educators through more professional development, mentoring and scholarships.
To meet the increase in demand for educators as a result of the changes, the Andrews Government has added the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, and Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care to the Free TAFE list.
As the initiative rolls out across the state, every kinder and long day care facility will be surveyed about their existing infrastructure and workforce capacity. The Victorian Government will then work with local councils and the sector to co-invest in the infrastructure needed.
Regional Victoria has been prioritised in the roll out of three-year-old kindergarten with six local government areas (LGAs) to be supported next year – Buloke, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, South Gippsland, Strathbogie and Yarriambiack. The program will then expand to a further 15 regional LGAs in 2021.
From 2022, all Victorian three-year-olds will have access to five hours of kindergarten. This will be scaled up to a full 15-hour program by 2029.
Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino said the clear evidence supporting the value of two years of early learning was the motivation for the funding decision, adding “we are giving children access to the quality kindergarten programs they deserve earlier”.