I rise to update the house on the continued record investment of the Andrews Labor government to build, upgrade and improve kindergarten facilities across Victoria. Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Swinburne Avenue Children’s Centre in Gisborne together with the local member for Macedon in the Assembly, Mary-Anne Thomas, to announce that it would be one of 451 kindergartens across Victoria to share in $1.6 million worth of grants through the
2018–19 children’s facilities minor grants capital program. It gave me the opportunity to discuss with staff and parents their new kindergarten refurbishments, which include $5700 to create a sensory garden and play area and to upgrade computers and technology. This comes on top of a $120 000 election commitment that has already delivered a fantastic playground. The minor grants program provides infrastructure expansion grants to increase the space of kinders, refurbishment grants to approve the amenity of any indoor or outdoor space such as shade sails over sandpits and IT grants to purchase desktop computers, laptops or tablets.
It is wonderful to see the excitement of kindergartens all around the state already, and here is just one example I saw in the Bendigo Advertiser of 24 July, quoting kindergarten teacher Chris Glozier, who was thrilled by the news that the Neangar Preschool would receive a $10 000 grant to conduct an interior acoustic refit. She said:
Having the acoustic noise reduction panels will make a significant difference … ensuring that children are in a much calmer and quieter learning and play space.
It will create a quieter space for children to learn, particularly those with autism.
As a government we have invested $123.6 million over the past four years towards building, upgrading and improving kindergarten facilities in this state, more than triple what the former Liberal government appropriated in their entire term. We have funded an additional 8250 three and four-year-old kindergarten places since coming to government.
We will continue to work in partnership with local government and other providers to meet the growing demand for kindergarten across Victoria and to give our youngest Victorians the first-rate facilities that they deserve and a great start to their education.