I rise to inform the house on how the Andrews Labor government is helping to promote inclusiveness and diversity in Victoria’s kindergartens. Last week I was pleased to announce that 219 kinders across Victoria will share in $1.2 million in grants under the new inclusive kindergarten facilities program equipment stream. These grants of up to $10 000 per kindergarten will contribute towards the purchase of new equipment such as wheelchair ramps, moveable change tables, sensory play kits, adjustable chairs and even a braille typewriter. Of the 219 kindergartens, almost half — that is 45 per cent — of the successful recipients were regional kindergartens.
I was pleased to visit Miners Rest Kindergarten, together with the Labor candidate for Ripon, Sarah De Santis, to make this wonderful announcement. Miners Rest kinder will now be able to buy a selection of resources such as sensory stepping stones, a motor skills set and other teaching aids, as well as a wheelchair ramp to provide a more inclusive environment for the children with additional needs who attend their service.
These grants are the first to be provided through the $6.4 million inclusive kindergarten facilities program, which was funded as part of an overall $19 million package of inclusive education initiatives by our government last year. The program will also offer kindergartens up to $200 000 to upgrade buildings and playgrounds to make them more inclusive, and I look forward to announcing the successful recipients of that stream in coming weeks. The Andrews Labor government is committed to build, upgrade and equip Victorian kindergartens across the state, and that is why we have invested a record $123.6 million to date towards kindergarten infrastructure, including the single largest state investment of $42.9 million in this year’s budget. We are making sure that children of all abilities are able to experience a quality early learning experience.