Preschool funding ‘what we’d been waiting for’

The Loddon Mallee Preschool Association has welcomed a funding lifeline from the federal government, but is now calling for it to be extended past 2018.

LMPA chief executive officer Phil Hocking said a recent announcement that the Commonwealth would continue to fund its share of 15 hours of childcare per week for preschool-aged children was “what we’d been waiting for”.

“We'd be happier if they had have extended it indefinitely but at least we have another 12 months and that gives families that security of knowing that the funding will still be available and we'll still be providing 15 hours,” he said.

“Also from our staff's perspective it gives them that little bit more career security.”

But Mr Hocking said the organisation would continue to seek a more long-term commitment from the government.

“We need to keep on pushing beyond 2018 now because we need to get the funding secured for the long term,” he said.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the 2018 extension of the National Partnership Agreement, which had been due to expire in December, would provide certainty and consistency for families, preschools and long day care centres.

“It will also allow for proper discussions with the states and territories on how we fairly guarantee at least 15 hours of preschool beyond that, given the very different models of preschool delivery that apply from one state to another,” he said.

“This extension to preschool support, combined with our landmark child care and early learning reforms, makes the Turnbull government’s commitment to early childhood education clear.”

Mr Birmingham said more than 2500 children in Bendigo would benefit from the government’s $3.2 million funding injection for preschool education.

“We’re focused on ensuring children in Bendigo and across Australia have the best possible start to their education,” he said.

“We know that a quality preschool education is essential for laying the foundations for successful learning, including transition to full-time school and future school success.”

Earlier this year, the LMPA threw its support behind the state government and the Early Learning Association of Australia, which both started separate petitions calling for federal government to continue funding five hours of kindergarten per week, in addition to the 10 hours contributed by the state under the National Partnership Agreement.