Tomorrow's Budget in SA promises to deliver on early learning
The Sector > Practice > Preschool > SA Government places 3 year old preschool at heart of Thursday’s Budget

SA Government places 3 year old preschool at heart of Thursday’s Budget

by Freya Lucas

June 05, 2024

The South Australian Government will release its 2024/25 Budget on Thursday 6 June 2024, already announcing that it will invest $715 million over five years to implement universal 3-year-old preschool and other key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care.


This is part of a total investment of $1.9 billion over the period to 2032-33.


The rollout of 3-year-old preschool will begin in 2026 as promised, with the 2024-25 Budget delivering funding to build the workforce and infrastructure needed as quickly as possible.


The investment includes:


  • $339.7 million over five years to deliver universal 3-year-old preschool in government and non-government settings, including long day care centres, in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commissioner, the Hon. Julia Gillard.


  • $127.3 million over four years to provide 30 hours per week of preschool to 3 and 4-year-old children at greatest risk of developmental vulnerability. This will be delivered in local settings and 20 integrated hubs, including two initial demonstration hubs opening in late 2025.


  • $96.6 million over four years to grow and support the early childhood workforce and provide support for quality teaching and learning in preparation for universal 3-year-old preschool delivery, including additional support for the Education Standards Board to increase the frequency of assessments and ratings.


  • $30.6 million over four years to align the support offered through 4-year-old preschool with enhanced supports being developed for 3-year-old preschool.


  • $14 million over four years to partner with Aboriginal communities to increase the benefits Aboriginal children receive from 3-year-old preschool, and invest in early childhood and care provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.


A key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care was for the Teachers Registration Board of SA (TRB) to amend its regulations to recognise three-year, ACECQA-accredited ‘Birth-to-five’ degrees, and for graduates to be registered as teachers. The TRB has now drafted revised regulations, expected to be announced in the next few days.


University of South Australia (UniSA) Associate Professor Childhood Studies, Jamie Sisson said the investment “demonstrates the strong commitment of our state to support young children, families and the field of early childhood education,” and said the funding is “a welcomed step in highlighting the importance of the early years for children’s learning and development and the important intellectual work of early childhood teachers.”


“The promise of funding to support the workforce comes at a challenging time when the field is already struggling with teacher shortages,” she added. 


“It will be important that such supports focus on strengthening:


  • professional identity of the field and makes visible the important and rewarding intellectual work of early childhood teachers;
  • partnerships with families that are culturally and linguistically responsive to support meaningful learning for children;
  • strength-based practices that recognise children and their families as arriving at the early childhood centre with assets;
  • approaches to learning that honour children’s rights to play and responds to diversity in respectful and meaningful ways.”


From 2026, the government will partner with long day care providers across the state who meet quality and workforce requirements to deliver 3-year-old preschool to children enrolled in their services. This will enable thousands of children to access the program from the early stages of the reform.


“The Royal Commission was clear that the early years are pivotal to shaping the rest of a child’s life, with quality early education and care able to change life trajectories,” SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said.


“We are committed to a nation leading vision for the early childhood development system that will improve the lives of thousands of South Australian children.”


Government and non-government (sessional) preschools will also phase in the availability of 3-year-old preschool places between 2026 and 2032 based on location, starting in remote and regional communities. Participation and hours will grow over the life of the reform.


The first two integrated hubs will be established in 2025 – one in Port Pirie and the other in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.


These two sites will act as a pilot, guiding the establishment of future hubs, and will offer parenting programs and children and family health services.


“This is an exciting reform that will lead the nation,” SA Education Minister Blair Boyer said.


“The Royal Commission told us quality early learning programs can have a significant and lasting impact on children from disadvantaged backgrounds above the gains observed for other children.”


“We are acting now to improve future outcomes for our most vulnerable children and this budget shows the priority we place on this important education reform.”


Visit to learn more about the roll-out of the 3-year-old program.

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button