When the AEU initially embarked on its Victorian state campaign for two years of funded kindergarten, we knew we had set an ambitious goal. Members, families and communities energetically engaged in the campaign through conversations, petitions and meeting with their local candidates and MPs.
The four-year campaign culminated in an announcement by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on 4 October 2019, making commitments to early childhood education on a scale we had never seen before at either a state or national level.
Since the Andrews government was elected, there has been a commitment of $5 billion over a decade for the rollout and scale up of 15 hours of kindergarten for three-year-old children. This includes investment in the workforce and infrastructure as well as additional supports for Koorie and CALD children and families and for children with additional needs.
This is in stark contrast to the Morrison government, which continues to refuse to fund two years of early childhood education nationally. So, while we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved here in Victoria, we need to stay active in the federal campaign to pressure all political parties to commit to two years of funded preschool for every child.
Research has confirmed the positive impact of two years of play-based education for preschool-aged children, providing them with greater success throughout their education and in life.
Our youngest learners have the right to access affordable early years education – and, this term, all three-year-old Victorian children will benefit from a funded kindergarten program for the very first time.
Research has confirmed the positive impact of two years of play-based education for preschool-aged children, providing them with greater success throughout their education and in life. This can be particularly transformative for children experiencing disadvantage.
It was the advocacy of AEU members, with the support of your families and local communities, that has led to this significant social reform. As we move forward into 2023, and towards funding for 15 hours of kindergarten for all three and four-year-olds, the AEU will continue to engage and consult with members in Victoria on the professional and operational aspects of the scaling-up process.
After positive wins in our benchmark early childhood agreements, the VECTEA and EEEA, we continue to leverage those results in negotiating other early childhood agreements, so that we can bring the entire sector along.
The Moonee Valley City Council agreement has been lodged with the FWC, and the Hume City Council agreement is about to go to a vote. The Next Sense and Noah’s Ark agreements have both been lodged with the FWC. An in-principle agreement is about to be reached with Gateways, while bargaining for Gowrie Victoria has commenced, and we expect to start negotiations for South Gippsland Shire Council and Glen Eira City Council this year.