Peak bodies respond to Victorian Budget, welcoming ECEC support measures
A number of early childhood education and care (ECEC) peak bodies, including the Australian Childcare Alliance, Victoria (ACA Vic) and the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) have welcomed the Victorian Government’s commitment to early learning in the recently announced Budget.
In the Budget the Victorian Government committed $400.7 million to continue its reform agenda in early childhood education including the rollout of three-year-old kindergarten across the whole of Victoria, commitments to upgrade and build new early learning facilities and to ensure the most vulnerable children remain supported as the state rebuilds from the coronavirus pandemic.
The key funding announcements include:
- $167.1 million to continue the roll-out of universal Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, supporting children to access the benefits of two years of kindergarten before school.
- $32.4 million of this funding will also expand workforce attraction and retention activities, to support the supply of qualified early childhood teachers to deliver kindergarten programs as they are established across the state.
- $33.8 million to deliver tailored support for vulnerable and disadvantaged children to participate in early childhood education and care.
- $8 million to expand the Koorie PreSchool Assistants program to four new locations and continue the Koorie Families as First Educators, as part of a wider $39.3 million investment to improve the educational outcomes of young Koorie people.
- $2.7 million has been committed to continue the early childhood language program, including grants to kindergartens to support delivery of language programs, along with further professional support and training.
“The Victorian Government’s commitment to deliver on its reform agenda further recognises the benefits of early learning and through its significant investment of $400.7 million in the early learning sector and its workforce,” ACA Victoria President Sarah Tullberg said.
Ms Tullberg also welcomed what she termed “considered, complementary policies” in relation to workforce attraction and retention.
ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death was equally complimentary, saying the Budget “reinforces the state’s position as the ‘Early Childhood Education State’, leading investment in early learning in Australia,” and that the Victorian Government “continues to blaze the trail for early childhood education policy in this country”.
“Watching the rollout of subsidised kindergarten for three-year-olds in Victoria shows us what’s possible. This is a great example of evidence leading the development of policy, and a government recognising early education as an investment, not a cost burden,” she added.
“We are particularly pleased with the allocation of $32.4 million in this year’s Budget for attraction and retention of early childhood teachers. We know that high-quality early learning depends on having skilled teachers available, in all locations across the state.”
A summary of the Victorian Budget announcement, contextualised to ECEC, may be found here.