Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Ministers statements: early childhood education

Ministers statements: early childhood education

Ms STITT (Western Metropolitan—Minister for Workplace Safety, Minister for Early Childhood) (11:44): Today I am very proud to update the chamber on the biggest investment in early childhood education in our state’s history. Last Thursday the Andrews Labor government announced that we will expand the Best Start, Best Life program to make sure every child gets every chance. This is a $9 billion investment in our children. We want all our kids to grow up and be the best that they can be. The skills they learn at kinder—playing, exploring, making friends and learning about the world around them—are skills not only for school but for life. That is why from next year we will make kindergarten free for three- and four-year-old children.

We already have strong participation rates in Victoria, but we want as many children as possible to benefit from these reforms. It is also about helping take the pressure off Victorian families. Childcare costs have never been higher, and by making kinder free we will save families an average of $2000 to $2500 per child each year. The cost of care and the shortage of places see many parents, mainly women, not able to return to work or take on as many hours as they would like. This will change that and give women more economic power through more accessible and affordable early childhood education and care.

From 2025 to 2032 we will scale up kinder hours for four-year-olds to 30 hours per week. The year will be known as pre-prep and will have all the features of a play-based learning program. And to help families find suitable early learning no matter where they live, we will build 50 new government-run integrated kinder and childcare centres. I am looking forward to working with the sector to plan and implement these life-changing reforms, and I am really proud that what they will deliver for children and families across Victoria will be profound.