Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre

Minister’s Statement

I rise to inform the house on how the Andrews Labor government is helping to deliver innovative projects to support gender equity in the workplace as well as continuing to give children the best start in life. On Monday I was pleased to participate, with some beautiful children, in the official opening of Australia’s first early learning centre at a medical research institute — at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Parkville — together with Labor’s candidate for Melbourne, Jennifer Kanis. It was great to return after the sod turn to see this innovative, modern facility. The Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre is named after a senior WEHI scientist who has devoted much of her career to supporting and mentoring young women in medical research.

One of the biggest barriers to parents’ career development, especially for women, is access to child care. It was identified within the institute that only one-third of senior laboratory heads were female, so they began the journey to create an environment that enables all parents — men and women — to equally balance their career and professional responsibilities. This on-site early learning centre is a significant achievement for the medical research sector and for gender equity in science. The $9.9 million centre was established by the institute with considerable philanthropic support together with a $650 000 grant through our children’s facilities capital program.

The centre spans five levels and will offer 100 places for children, including long day care and three and four-year-old kindergarten as well as the opportunity for other early years services. It is a cutting-edge example of modern inner-city design. It will also offer a German language program as well as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based learning program called Little Scientists.

The Andrews Labor government recognises how critically important the first five years are for a child’s brain development and that a high-quality early childhood education can set them up for life. I want to particularly applaud WEHI’s commitment to its workforce and to gender equality. This is a great example to all employers about what can be achieved through workplace child care. It is a wonderful facility. I want to congratulate everyone involved, particularly the director and the board members, for having the foresight and commitment to put in place measures to see all their professional scientists, in particular the women members of their workforce, being able to progress in their scientific careers.