Cr Mary Lalios, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said that while the exact funding details for Victoria are still unclear, this announcement comes as a great relief for families, kindergartens and councils who can now plan ahead for 2019 with more certainty.
“We are particularly pleased that Minister Birmingham has for the first time committed the Commonwealth to work with state governments on an enduring policy beyond 2019.
“Short-term funding arrangements have made it difficult for Victorian services and families to plan as they continue to face uncertainty about the cost and availability of preschool from year to year. We welcome governments working together to develop a longer-term funding solution.
“Extension of Commonwealth funding to continue providing 15 hours of kindergarten for Victoria’s children was strongly supported in the ‘Lifting the Game’ report released last week.
“High-quality early childhood education is linked with higher levels of employment, income and financial security, improved health outcomes and reduced crime. It helps build the skills children will need for their lifelong learning and securing future employment,” she said.
From 2013, the Australian Government had invested around $100 million a year for an extra five hours per week of funded preschool for Victorian children. The State Government contributes funding towards the other 10 hours per week.
Since MAV advocacy commenced on this issue in 2010, $5.5 million had been provided in Federal funding to Victorian councils for operational planning and capacity assessment, in addition to councils sharing $4 million to support change management and $270 million of State and Federal funds for capital investment.
Cr Lalios said Victorian communities already contributed 35 per cent of the cost of preschool through fees, fundraising and local government support, including over $300 million of ratepayer funds invested by councils over the past four years to deliver 15 hours of kindergarten from council facilities.
“Permanent funding for four-year old kindergarten is essential to spare parents potentially unaffordable increases in kindergarten fees or additional childcare costs.
“An extra 1,200 teachers and educators were trained and employed to deliver the 15 preschool hours.
“This funding extension and an enduring policy is good news for children and families, but also a relief to councils. It will prevent job losses and councils potentially withdrawing their support and extensive roles in kindergarten planning, facility and service provision.
“Close work would continue with the Victorian Government on the roll-out of a four-year project to enhance and expand councils’ kindergarten central enrolment processes beyond 2019.
"The MAV would also continue to advocate for councils to be adequately funded for the different ways they support kindergartens - such as planning, facility provision and central enrolment,” she said.
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Contact: Cr Mary Lalios on 0447 189 409 or MAV Communications on 9667 5547.