Making Kinder More Accessible For Northcote Children

Children at Annie Dennis Children’s Centre will soon enjoy new and accessible play areas, thanks to the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos today visited the Northcote kindergarten she attended as a child to announce it will receive more than $68,000 to completely redevelop its playground.

The project will create new natural and accessible learning play spaces to support the changing needs of the centre’s children.

The new areas have been designed to incorporate discovery using colour, light, texture and sound surrounded by natural features such as boulders, logs and garden beds.

Annie Dennis Children’s Centre is one of 42 kinders to benefit from up to $200,000 for playground and building upgrades as part of this year’s Inclusive Kindergartens Facilities Program.

These upgrades are provided through the $6.4 million program, which helps kinders become more accessible and inclusive for kids of all abilities by upgrading their buildings or playgrounds or to buy things like adjustable desks and chairs, moveable wheelchair ramps and soft padding for outdoor areas.

It comes as Labor announces its plan to build 785 new kinders and upgrade 170 more if re-elected, as part of its almost $5 billion three-year-old kinder reform.

Under a re-elected Andrews Labor Government, every Victorian child will have access to at least five hours of subsidised three-year-old kinder by 2022, progressively scaled up to 15 hours per week over the next decade.

It represents good news for families struggling with the cost of living.

Right now, many are forced to scrimp and save to cover the costs of three-year-old kinder – around $5000 a year for 15 hours – while the vast majority see their kids miss out.

But under Labor’s plan, around a quarter of Victorian families will pay nothing at all.

For families with a higher income, the Labor Government will cover 65 per cent of their child’s kindergarten costs, consistent with the current subsidy for four-year-old kinder. This represents a saving of at least $3500 for families whose children attend a standalone kinder.

This will be the largest social, economic and educational reform ever undertaken in early childhood learning in Victoria’s history.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos

“I’m so pleased that the kindergarten I attended as a child will now have the opportunity to upgrade its playground so that it provides an inclusive space that meets the needs of all Northcote’s children.”

“Universal access to three-year-old kinder is an Australian-first and make no mistake, this will change lives.”

“We’ve promised to roll out three-year-old kinder and we’re backing it up, undertaking the biggest early education build our state has ever seen. Only Labor will make sure local kids get the opportunities they deserve.”