Premier cel­e­brates first en­rol­ments

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Victorian Premier Daniel An­drews has vis­ited Stawell as a countdown to a roll-out of new kinder­garten ser­vices gets un­der­way.

North­ern Grampians Shire, in­clud­ing Stawell, is one of the first six mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to ben­e­fit from an ex­pan­sion of a three-year-old­kinder­garten pro­gram next year.

Mr An­drews vis­ited Stawell’s Mar­rang Kinder­garten to dis­cuss the re­forms, which will give fam­i­lies ac­cess to partly sub­sidised, or in some cases fully sub­sidised, ser­vices.

He joined North­ern Grampians coun­cil, com­mu­nity and chil­drenser­vices rep­re­sen­ta­tives and ed­u­ca­tors at the kinder­garten to speak about the scheme and cel­e­brate the first en­rol­ments.

Mr An­drews said his visit re­flected a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in child-sup­port ser­vices.

“This is lead­ing our na­tion and is all about giv­ing our lit­tlest Vic­to­ri­ans the best start in life,” he said.

“This is not only about those first five years of life, when 90 per­cent of a child’s brain de­vel­op­ment oc­curs, but it’s also about sup­port­ing fam­i­lies and cut­ting the cost of liv­ing.”

Mr An­drews said the pro­gram would save fam­i­lies with young chil­dren $5000 ev­ery year.”

The State Govern­ment will in­vest $5-bil­lion across the state dur­ing the next decade to pro­vide a full 15 hours of three-year-old kinder­garten.

The re­form is de­signed to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for ev­ery Victorian child to start kinder­garten at the age of three.

Fam­i­lies liv­ing in North­ern Grampians, Hind­marsh, Yar­ri­ambi­ack, Bu­loke, South Gipp­s­land and Strath­bo­gie mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be the first to ben­e­fit from sub­sidised pro­grams in 2020.

Ser­vice providers have al­ready opened en­rol­ments for the new pro­gram across the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

The roll-out will con­tinue pro­gres­sively across the state af­ter next year, with fam­i­lies in a fur­ther 15 re­gional mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to ben­e­fit in 2021. This will be ex­panded in 2022 to give all Victorian three-year-olds ac­cess to five hours of funded kinder­garten, be­fore be­ing scaled up to a full 15-hour pro­gram by 2029.

The 2019-20 Victorian Bud­get in­cluded $881.6-mil­lion in the three­year-old kinder roll­out, as part of a $4.1-bil­lion broad in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion. The pack­age in­cluded $92.4-mil­lion to sup­port early child­hood teach­ers and ed­u­ca­tors through pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment, men­tor­ing and schol­ar­ships.

In­vest­ment in three-year-old kinder also in­cludes $473.2-mil­lion for in­fra­struc­ture, which will sup­port in­vest­ment into new and ex­panded kinder­garten fa­cil­i­ties.

North­ern Grampians mayor Kevin Er­win said the coun­cil was ex­cited the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was one of the first to ac­cess the re­forms.

“It’s go­ing to mean that our chil­dren will have a ma­jor head start in their learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment with the ex­tra year of kinder, not to men­tion a whole lot of fun as well,” he said.

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