Victorian Government hands down 2019/20 budget with big focus on ECEC
The Victorian Government has handed down their 2019/20 Budget in which significant funding for a range of initiatives focused on the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector has been allocated.
The Budget is the first since Premier Dan Andrews was successfully re-elected as Victoria’s Premier in November 2018 post an election campaign that saw ECEC related policies play a central role.
Commenting on the Budget, Victorian Minister for Education, James Merlino noted “This Budget keeps the promise we made to Victorian kids and their parents – to give them the best start in kinder and the best start in life.”
The 2019/20 Victorian Budget contains the following key allocations to ECEC:
- Maintaining access to kindergarten for 4 year olds – A total of $27.1 million has been allocated in 2019/20 to ensure that initiatives focused on ensuring four year old access to Kindergarten continues. Examples include the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy, Early Start Kindergarten, the early childhood teacher (ECT) supplement and the ratio supplement. A further $18.8 million has been allocated to 2020/21 financial year.
- Subsidised 3 year old Kindergarten – $35.5 million has been allocated to the Ready for School: Kinder for every 3 year old initiative in 2019/20 in which every Victorian child will have access to at least 5 hours of subsidised Kindergarten rising to 15 hours by 2022. The program will commence in 6 regional local government areas (LGA) and in 2021 it will be rolled out to a further 15 LGA’s. $56.4 million has been allocated to the 2020/21 to fund the additional roll out rising to $149.3 million in 2021/22 and $341.3 million in 2022/23.
- Children’s facilities capital program – A total of $33.6 million has been allocated over three years to fund grants to be provided by local councils to build, expand and improve early years infrastructure with a view to increasing the number of available places for Victorian families. $9.8 million has been allocated in 2019/20 and also includes funding for the Inclusive Kindergarten Facilities Program that ensures more inclusive environments for children with disabilities or additional needs.
- Free TAFE for early childhood courses – A total of $28.4 million over four years has been allocated to fund free TAFE courses for eligible students enrolling in Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care courses. $4.8 million has been allocated to 2019/20.
- Maintaining an effective regulatory system – $5.2 million has been allocated to fund effective and robust oversight of the ECEC sector. The Department’s early childhood regulatory function will continue to assess and rate Victorian ECEC services against the National Quality Standard, inspect ECEC services, investigate and improve compliance with relevant laws and process provider applications.
- Ensuring children with significant disability can access Kindergarten – A total of $1.6 million has been allocated to fund the Kindergarten Inclusion Support program which assists children with complex needs or disability access early education. This includes provision of minor building modifications, specialist consultancy support, training for educators and additional staff as required.
In addition, the Victorian Government has committed $3.4 million to continue to support children with a disability or developmental delay through its Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) program. 120 children who are ineligible for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding will be supported with those children already participating in the ECIS scheme also receiving funding during their transition to NDIS.
For more information on the Victorian 2019/20 Budget please click here.