The Victorian Government is delivering the biggest reform in the history of early childhood education in Victoria to provide all three-year-old children access to subsidised kinder.
Premier Daniel Andrews and 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 this landmark reform.
“We said we’d start the rollout of three-year-old kinder next year, and that’s exactly what we’ve done – because when we make a promise, we keep it,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“Three-year-old kinder will give kids a great start in their education, as well as saving families when it comes to the cost of childcare,” Andrews said.
The Victorian Budget 2019/20 invests $881.6 million in the rollout, which will give children access to two years of subsidised kinder programs delivered by a teacher before starting school. This is part of a $4.1 billion investment in education – from kinders and schools through to higher education and TAFE.
“The evidence shows two years are better than one when it comes to early learning, which is why we are giving children access to the quality kindergarten programs they deserve earlier,” Minister for Education James Merlino said.
The program 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.
The Budget includes $473.2 million for early childhood infrastructure, which will support the sector to invest in new and expanded kindergarten facilities, when and where they are needed most.
An amount of $92.4 million has been allocated to support early childhood teachers and educators through more professional development, mentoring and scholarships, so children continue to have access to highly-trained teachers.
To ensure capacity to train the kinder teachers of the future, the Labor 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.
With the state-wide rollout already underway, the government plans to survey every kinder and long day care facility about their existing infrastructure and workforce capacity.
The Labor Government will work with local councils and the sector to co-invest in the infrastructure needed.
The rollout of three-year-old kindergarten prioritises regional Victoria, starting next year in six local government areas – Buloke, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, South Gippsland, Strathbogie and Yarriambiack – before expanding to a further 15 regional LGAs in 2021.
The rollout will continue across the state progressively.
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.
Member for Albert Park Martin Foley said that making Victoria the Education State starts with the early years.
“Kids right around Victoria will benefit from these landmark reforms,” Foley said.