An accessible early years education program that provides a bright start for every child.
Early years education plays an important role in a young child’s development, helping them to thrive emotionally, physically and mentally. Programs help children become effective learners, promote communication, learning and thinking, prepare them for school, and build positive relationships with peers and educators.
- Children in low-income families are more likely to have poor developmental outcomes, make a difficult transition to school, and have reduced aspirations and to pass this risk on to their children in a cycle of intergenerational disadvantage. “Investing in the Early Years—A National Early Childhood Development Strategy Council of Australian Governments (COAG).”
- Without ongoing universal access funding, Melton children are at risk of poorer learning outcomes or parents may incur unsustainable fee increases.
- A commitment from the Federal Government to provide ongoing universal access funding for 4 year old kinder.
- In the 2019/2020 State Government’s Budget an announcement was made to fund five hours of 3 year old kinder, increasing to 15 hours by 2029. Council requires funding for new, and upgrades to existing community children’s centres to accommodate additional demands for three year old kinder, projected to require an additional 50 rooms by 2029.
- Funding for local TAFE and tertiary places to train local residents to deliver early education within the municipality to fill existing skills gaps.
- We ask that the Babaneek Booboop Early Years Project receive recurrent funding to continue early years operating in the Melton and Moorabool municipalities to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to access education and health services for children aged 0-8 years. This project needs ongoing funding beyond 2020.
Four year old kinder
Melton City Council supports the universal access and participation of all children in a four year old kindergarten program in the year prior to school entry.
In July 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), as part of its early childhood reforms “Investing in the Early Years—A National Early Childhood Development Strategy,” endorsed the national agenda of universal access to 15 hours of kindergarten a week for four year-olds from 2013.
Currently the State Government funds 10 hours, the Federal Government funds five hours and Federal funding expires in December 2020.
The State Government argues that one in five children do not go to kinder due to the cost resulting in vulnerabilities which will impact later life.
Such a significant national education reform must have continued funding beyond 2020 to ensure that Melton children have the best possible start in life.
Three year old kinder
Melton City Council welcomes the State Government’s commitment to early learning through the provision of three year old kinder, however, this has a significant impact on resources within the community through workforce capacity, support services delivery and infrastructure projected to require an additional 50 rooms by 2029.
There is an existing skills gap for qualified quality educators in the municipality. The need to attract, retain and support a high quality skilled workforce is noted by local service providers.
Each three-year-old kindergarten group requires one degree trained teacher and one (to two) TAFE trained educators to maintain the high quality service provision across the early years. There is also a need for teachers and educators to acquire new knowledge and skills to properly support families and deal with complex and emerging issues.
Whilst these resource impact issues are common across many local government areas, it is of greater impact for the City of Melton given our cultural diversity, significant growth and the vulnerability of many residents.
Babaneek Booboop Project
Driven by key principles of self-determination and Aboriginal leadership, the project aims to affect positive change for Aboriginal children and families in Melton City Council and Moorabool Shire Council areas. The project’s theory of change includes focusing on enhancing the cultural safety and responsiveness of service providers; the recruitment of skilled Aboriginal pathway workers/key workers to assist in service navigation and act as a bridge between families and service providers.
The evaluation of the Koolin Balit Early Years projects found positive outcomes of the programs and significant positive impacts for Aboriginal children and families. The data demonstrates a consistent increase in the number of families engaged with the projects since they commenced operation in 2017.