Call for governments not to slash funding

PETITION: Phil Hocking, Jacinta Allan, Maree Edwards. Picture: HANNAH KNIGHT

PETITION: Phil Hocking, Jacinta Allan, Maree Edwards. Picture: HANNAH KNIGHT

KINDERGARTEN could become an elitist program if government funding is cut, says Loddon Mallee Preschool Association chief executive Phil Hocking.

"The Commonwealth Government has to step up early learning by continuing funding," Mr Hocking said.

"There's only really two options available to us if they cut the funding.

"Either transfer the cost through the parents or we reduce the hours.

"We don't believe we can put that burden back onto families -it could increase their annual fees by up to $1000.

"It means kindergarten could effectively become an elitist program and that's not what it's all about."

Bendigo Labor MPs Jacinta Allan, Maree Edwards and Lisa Chesters have joined a campaign calling on the state and federal governments to not cut kindergarten funding.

Ms Allan said there was no funding beyond the end of this year for kinders to provide 15 hours of programs for four-year-old children.

This will result in a cut back to just 10 hours of kinder per week.

“Our kids will miss out on vital early years education, jobs will be lost and many parents will have to make up the time with additional child care or cut back their working hours," Ms Allan said.

Federal Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said she had been in contact with local preschools and kindergartens since the release of the federal government's budget.

“They told me that if these cuts go ahead, services will close, hours will be cut and fees will rise," she said.

However, a spokeswoman for Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Wendy Lovell said there had been no cuts to state funding and the Napthine government had fully funded its 10 hours of the 15 hours of kindergarten under the national partnership agreement.  

"(The state government) has been working closely with the federal government to ensure the full 15 hours of funding is funded next year," she said. 

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