Transforming Early Education For The Best Start In Life

Transforming Early Education For The Best Start In Life Main Image

By Lauren Kathage MP

31 May 2023

More children and families will have greater and more affordable access to two years of quality kindergarten, with the Andrews Labor Government’s continued investment in our once-in-a-generation Best Start, Best Life reforms.

The Victorian Budget 2023/24 is delivering $1.8 billion for early childhood education, ensuring more children get the best start in life while giving more parents – particularly working mums – the choice to do what’s best for their families.

The investment will lock in Free Kinder, continue the roll-out of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten and start the transition of Four-Year-Old Kindergarten to Pre-Prep from 2025. It will also support Aboriginal community organisations and Traditional Owners to improve cultural safety and inclusion in early childhood services.

This historic expansion of early education means a need for more educational toys and equipm ent so Victoria’s littlest minds grow and learn. Supporting this need, $14.7 million will deliver a one-off $5,000 grant to every kinder in Victoria, helping them purchase new equipment for play-based learning.

This funding means each kinder will see new, inclusive and age-appropriate materials including construction blocks, musical instruments, puzzles, chalk, gardening tools and sensory toys – encouraging children of all abilities to use their imagination and creativity, while learning through play.

With wear and tear inevitable, services will be encouraged to purchase toys made of natural and sustainable materials – extending their durability and keeping them out of landfill.

Up to 140,000 children and families are already benefitting from the first year of Free Kinder, which gives children 5 to 15 hours of funded kindergarten each week – while putting money back into the pockets of hard-working families by saving them up to $2,500 in fees per child.

Pre-Prep will start in 2025 in the local government areas of Ararat, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Murrindindi, Northern Grampians and Yarriambiack – with other LGAs progressively joining the roll-out in following years.

Funding in this year’s Budget will support the continued transformation of early childhood education in Victoria and includes $1.2 billion for infrastructure projects critical to the delivery of 15 hours of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten each week by 2029, and 30 hours of Pre-Prep each week by 2032.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“Play-based learning is a powerful way to support a child’s development – that’s why we’re ensuring every kinder has the new toys and games they need, to encourage our kids to grow and make discoveries.”

“Our Best Start, Best Life and Three-Year-Old Kindergarten reforms are transforming early childhood education, saving hard-working families money and supporting parents to return to the workforce.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Early Childhood and Pre-Prep Ingrid Stitt

“Victoria leads the nation when it comes to early childhood education, with two years of quality play-based learning giving our children the skills they need to succeed in school and life.”

Quote attributable to Member for Yan Yean, Lauren Kathage MP

“We have fabulous kinders in our community, and I know first-hand how free kinder helps family budgets and helps kids flourish. I’m proud that our government is focused on Early Education. These changes will mean the kids in our community get the best possible start.”