Federal kindergarten funding welcomed

Article image - Federal kindergarten funding welcomed President of the MAV Cr Bill McArthur

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has welcomed the Federal Government’s investment of $406 million to fund 15-hours of kindergarten in 2015, ensuring universal access continues for all children.

President of the MAV Cr Bill McArthur said the extension of the national partnership agreement on early childhood education would offer some relief for Victorian families for another 12 months.

“We knew that parents would be hard hit if this vital funding was not committed. Current average fees of $1,200 could have risen by $1,547, taking total parent fees to $2,747 per child, per year.

“The MAV and councils have worked closely with the State to advocate for Federal funding support that ensures communities won’t be left behind.

“We particularly thank Assistant Minister Ley and Minister Lovell for their efforts.

“Over 50 councils lobbied their Federal MPs and the Commonwealth for this continued investment.”

Prior to this announcement, funding for the 15-hours was uncertain.

The State Government is committed to funding 10-hours, however the Federal Government was undecided on whether it would continue to fund the extra five hours beyond December.

“In the lead up to the 15-hours national reforms in 2013, an extra 1,200 teachers and educators were trained and employed to deliver the additional hours.

“However, Australia already lags behind other OECD countries which are providing more kindergarten hours at a significantly subsidised cost.

“An international study found that focused investment in early childhood education represents the best and most economically efficient period of life for such an outlay.

“It returns at least $8 for every $1 spent in higher wages, increased tax revenue, reduced school expenditure and reduced criminal justice expenditure.

“Kindergarten services require continued government investment given there is also irrefutable evidence linking preschool attendance to improved student results in numeracy, reading and spelling.

“The Commonwealth’s funding announcement is a good start, however long term funding certainty is urgently needed.

“We hope that we can continue working positively and productively with the state and federal governments to find a permanent resolution.”