House debates

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Constituency Statements

Hotham Electorate: Early Learning

10:24 am

Photo of Clare O'NeilClare O'Neil (Hotham, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Justice) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with great pride that I rise today to speak about the wonderful work that's being carried out at Monash Vale Early Learning Centre. This is a fantastic preschool in my electorate that does amazing work to ensure that children in our local community get the very best start in life.

In August this year, it was announced that Monash Vale was the national winner of the Little Scientists Early STEM Award 2018. With over 100 applications nationwide, this is an enormous achievement for the young people at this centre and their incredibly dedicated educators. The centre won this award for their work investigating the water cycle, water harvesting and sustainability practices. It was based on the observations and discoveries of the children themselves. They designed, modelled and built their own working water tank. The water tank was built completely out of recycled materials.

Beyond their STEM program, the Monash Vale children undertake Chinese language programs, have Indigenous-named rooms, participate in welcome to country ceremonies and also learn about the importance of healthy eating. As Amanda, the STEM science teacher, said to me, 'Education starts with a seed.'

I want to pay particular tribute today to the passionate preschool teachers at Monash Vale, Michelle and Shanika, who were jointly awarded this special award with their students. The love, care and professionalism of these women is truly inspiring. They work really long hours, including weekends, and consistently go above and beyond for their young students.

It's an attitude and a passion towards the education of children that I see right around my electorate in preschools, kindergartens and childcare centres. Early learning matters so much. The reason why we get to have such a powerful effect on children in these early years of their life is just down to the fact that we have this incredible workforce of dedicated, passionate and clever people who are taking their time to educate that next generation.

Labor are very committed to the importance of early learning. We are committed most importantly to providing high-quality universal preschool programs, and Labor started that program in 2008. Since I've been a member of parliament in the last five years, there has been constant uncertainty about whether federal support to make sure that every Australian child gets the opportunity to go to four-year-old kinder is sustained. Almost every year I rise in this chamber or the other chamber to raise the criticality of making sure that this is a permanent program so that four-year-olds in this country get that important year before school where we know they are going to have benefits all the way down the line. I call on the government to show the same commitment that Labor has shown and to guarantee funding for four-year-old kinder on a permanent basis.

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

If no members present object, three-minute constituency statements will continue to a total of 60 minutes.