Thursday, 18 October 2018
Early Childhood Education
I rise to commend my Labor colleagues, in particular the member for Kingston—the shadow minister with responsibility for early learning, Amanda Rishworth—for the commitment that we have made to early learning across this country. Not many people will be aware but in the growth corridor that I represent we have 10,000 children aged three and four, the highest number in the country, for whom this policy announcement is exceptionally good news—that is, over 5,000 four-year-olds who will have guaranteed access to 15 hours of kindergarten under a Labor federal government. Of course, our state Labor government has joined in this commitment to also guarantee kindergarten for three-year-olds in Victoria. This will have an enormous impact in my electorate and it's an enormous spend in my electorate for our great families, many of whom are first-generation Australians with children who are already bilingual. Early learning for those children will be critical to ensure that they reach their capacity through early learning and on to school.
It is with great excitement that I applaud this initiative, but it's also with a sense of sadness that this government has not been able, in its five years, to see sense and reason, and to read the evidence. This government has not even guaranteed universal access for four-year-olds beyond 2019.
In my local area, my local government, the Wyndham City Council, has run a nationwide I Love Kinder campaign to raise awareness about the necessity for certainty for local government, private providers and those people providing early learning in our communities. The I Love Kinder campaign has been incredibly successful in raising awareness in other local government areas to ensure that everyone is aware of how important early learning and universal access to it is.
I call on this government to at least match our commitment and give certainty to the sector that they will be funded for universal access for four-year-olds beyond 2019. This government day in, day out this week has talked about certainty. Here's an area where you could give a sector certainty—not any sector; the sector that has in its hands the future of our children. This government needs to get on board, make this commitment, and make it now, so that all kindergartens across Australia know what's coming.