Early childhood language program

Minister’s Statement

I rise to provide an update to the house on an exciting new early learning program. As part of a $135.9 million investment in early childhood education in this year’s state budget we have invested $17.9 million for the first state‑funded language program ever to be rolled out in preschools. To kick off this initiative I am announcing today that parents, teachers, early years services staff and kindergarten communities will be able to attend a number of information sessions to be held across Victoria over the next two weeks. The sessions will cover how the program will work, funding eligibility and how people can apply through an expression of interest process.

This Australian‑first initiative is expected to give 3000 children each year over the next four years the opportunity to learn a language other than English whilst attending a kindergarten program. This program will enable 3‑hour weekly language sessions to be delivered in 120 kindergartens as well as enable a further 10 services to become bilingual. Learning languages at kindergarten often results in children learning the language of their grandparents as well as inspiring to them to take an interest in other cultures. It has shown also to improve brain function and in fact English reading and writing skills.

This is part of our government’s significant reforms to early childhood education. I would certainly encourage members interested to promote this to our early childhood sector, our schools as well as our local communities to find out more and attend one of these information sessions. There is more information available about the information sessions and their locations on the Department of Education and Training website.