Fifteen hour kinder day guaranteed

Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley.
Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley.

KINDERGARTEN operators in Bendigo are breathing a sigh of relief after the federal government guaranteed funding for the continuation of the 15 hour per week model.

Doubts remained over the Gillard-era reforms which increased kindergarten hours from 10 to 15 using federal funding, as the scheme was due to end on January 1, 2015.

The state government contributes 65 per cent, while the federal government provides the remaining 35 per cent of funding.

Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley made the announcement on Friday morning that the federal government would continue to fund the model.

Loddon-Mallee Preschool Association chief executive officer Phil Hocking said it was an "extremely important" commitment to preschool education.

"If it had have changed, there was a potential for redundancies," he said.

"We would have had to rely on the state government to provide funding for the full 15 hours, or ask parents to fund it.

"The state government had already made it clear they would not be able to fully fund 15 hour kindergarten."

There are 24 preschool and kindergarten centres from Heathcote to Swan Hill, with each facing varying degrees of impact should the federal funding have been discontinued.

Mr Hocking said it was important to get the message out that kindergarten would continue as usual next year.

"The uncertainty has had an impact on enrollment numbers," he said.

"Just getting it out there that the funding has been extended will be very important."

Speaking in Bendigo on Friday, Premier Denis Napthine said the announcement came after months of sustained discussions with his federal counterparts.

He said it demonstrated that the federal government had listened to its constituents on the issue.

The federal government's funding commitment for the remaining five hours came in at $406 million for a further 12 months.


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