Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) : My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Training and Skills and Minister for Higher Education, the Honourable Gayle Tierney. My adjournment matter relates to the minister’s portfolio responsibilities of training and skills. The Andrews Labor government is investing almost $5 billion over 10 years so that children across the state will have access to two years of kindergarten programs. This means that an extra year of play-based learning will be added to Victorian children’s education.
The learning is led by a teacher. Victoria will be the first state or territory in Australia to introduce funded three-year-old kindergarten for all children. Funded kindergarten means the government will help the kindergarten service with the cost of a child attending. This helps lower the financial pressure on parents. The Andrews Labor government’s investment in three-year-old kinder also includes $473.2 million for early childhood infrastructure, which will support the sector to co-invest in new and expanded kindergarten facilities when and where they are needed most. This initiative will give a great start to the lives of future leaders. The action I seek from the minister is: can the minister update my office on what government policies there are to support the development of a skilled workforce to support the three-year-old kindergarten policy?
Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (5 February 2020):
The Andrews Labor Government has committed almost $5 billion over ten years to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten across the state.
This will mean that in the Education State, Victorian children receive an extra additional year of funded play-based learning, led by a teacher.
International evidence shows the profound benefits that two years of quality kindergarten programs can have on children’s learning and development.
Teachers and educators sit at the heart of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, which is why the Government is investing substantially in the early childhood workforce. The Government is investing $92.4 million in a range of supports for our current and future early childhood teacher and educator workforce.
This package includes $35.9 million for hundreds of financial support packages through scholarships worth up to $34,000, as well as incentives to help recruit and upskill the early childhood workforce and increase the number of teachers. Recognising the specific challenges that face regional and rural Victoria, financial incentive payments of up to $9,000 are available for teachers to take-up positions in kindergarten services in the 2020 and 2021 roll-out areas.
A total of $28.5 million in additional funding is being provided to make training at TAFE free for eligible students in two early childhood courses from 2020. The addition of these courses to the Free TAFE offering will reduce financial barriers for students and encourage enrolments in this priority area.