Kindergarten Funding

Minister’s Statement

Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Early Childhood Education) (12:38:50) — I rise to update the house on the Andrews Labor government’s Australian-first school readiness funding. Last week I visited the Carinya Early Learning Centre in Morwell to announce all the funding allocations to more than 580 kindergarten services in tranche 1 of the rollout from next year, and I was pleased to be joined by Mark Richards, the Labor candidate for Morwell, for this visit.

Just this kindergarten itself will receive a $55 000 boost to its services and share in more than $1.1 million across 34 services in the Latrobe local government area. The announcement will see more than 580 kindergartens right across Victoria benefit from the $58.1 million worth of school readiness funding. I was also pleased to be able to announce the preliminary menu of evidence-based programs and supports that kindergartens will begin to use from next year. The menu includes a number of items, including literacy and numeracy programs as well as the ability to engage experts, including speech pathologists, occupational therapists and child psychologists, to support better outcomes for children.

Later that week I was also pleased to visit the Central Kindergarten in Warrnambool to announce that it will be one of 19 services in the Warrnambool area to share in more than $433 000 in funding, and I was pleased to be joined by Cr Kylie Gaston, Labor’s candidate for South-West Coast, at this visit. This will represent a 28 per cent increase in base funding for kindergartens in the Warrnambool area — in fact in the federal education minister’s electorate of Wannon.

At a time when the state Labor government is investing heavily in our kindergartens we are seeing the federal Liberal government cutting $120 million from kindergarten funding here in Victoria, with their own federal budget papers banking this funding as a saving. This was an issue that I and other state and territory colleagues raised with Dan Tehan last Friday at the education council meeting in Adelaide. Despite having a new Prime Minister and a new education minister, the same federal cuts to early childhood funding remain. I will continue to urge the federal minister to listen to kindergartens in his own community —