Early Childhood Campaign success for early years education
When the AEU initially embarked on its state and federal campaign for two years of funded kindergarten for every child, we knew it was an ambitious goal. Members, families and communities immediately got behind the push, showing their support through social media, petitions, and meetings with their local candidates and members of parliament.
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 a state or national level.
This incredible victory for our members, children and families was realised when the Andrews government was re-elected in November 2019. Since then, there has been a commitment of $5 billion over the next decade towards 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 should be proud of what we have achieved in Victoria, we must stay active in the federal election campaign to pressure all political parties to commit to two years of funded kinder for every child.
In 2020 and 2021, some 21 local government areas (LGAs) offered 15 hours of funded three-year-old preschool. This year, all three-year-old children in Victoria now have access to five hours of funded three-year-old kinder. This will be scaled up to 15 hours over the next few years.
Our youngest learners have the right to access affordable early years education – and, this term, tens of thousands of three-year-old Victorian children will benefit from a funded kindergarten program for the very first time. Looking at the research, we know the significant positive impact that two years of play-based early childhood education has on young children, providing them with endless opportunities throughout their education and leading to greater success in life. For children experiencing disadvantage, it can be nothing less than transformative.
Members should be extremely proud of this monumental achievement. It is your continued advocacy, along with the ongoing support of your families and local communities, that has led to this reform being implemented.
As we move forward into 2023, and towards funding for 15 hours of kinder, the AEU will continue to engage and consult with members on both the professional aspects and the operationalisation of the scaling-up process.
I want to wish our teacher and educator members the best of luck as you deliver your high-quality three-year-old kindergarten programs in 2022. Thank you for being such important leaders in this significant social reform.