State set for three-year-old kinder

By Madeleine Byron

The biggest ever reform of early childhood education is just around the corner with parents signing their children up for three-year-old kinder.

As an Australian first, every Victorian child will be able to start kindergarten from the age of three, with families in the shires of Strathbogie and Yarriambiack to be among the first to benefit in 2020.

Premier Daniel Andrews said $5 billion would be invested during the next decade to deliver a full 15 hours of three-year-old kinder.

He said giving children the extra year of kinder better prepared them for school and life, and the reforms also helped families struggling with the cost of living, saving some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged families around $5000 a year.

“We said we’d deliver three-year-old kinder, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. This is about ensuring kids have the very best start in life, and saving families when it comes to the cost of early childhood education.”

The roll-out will continue progressively across the state, with families in a further 15 regional and local government areas to benefit in 2021.

Mr Andrews said this would be expanded in 2022 to give all Victorian three-year-olds access to five hours of funded kindergarten, before being expanded to a full 15-hour program by 2029.

The Victoria Budget 2019-20 invested $881.6 million in the program including $92.4 million to support early childhood teachers and educators through more professional development, mentoring and scholarships.

Mr Andrews said the investment also included $473.2 million for early childhood infrastructure, which would support the sector to invest in new and expanded kindergarten facilities.

“To ensure we can train the educators of the future, the Labor Government has added the Diploma of Early Childhood Education, and Certificate III in Early Childhood Education to the Free TAFE list,” he said.

“Universal access to three-year-old kinder is the biggest ever reform for the childhood sector and we’ll work closely with families, teachers and providers to ensure kids get the education they need.”