Victorian Government should stop playing blame game over kinder access
- Minister for School Education
- Minister for Early Childhood and Youth
The Victorian Minister for Children Wendy Lovell needs to explain her comments today that the state will miss the deadline for early childhood education access.
Minister for Early Childhood Peter Garrett said the Victorian Government has no reason not to meet its obligations under the National Partnership for Early Childhood Education, which includes providing access to 15 hours a week of kinder education, for 40 weeks a year, by 2013.
“Just last week I released the 2010 annual progress reports under the agreement which showed that Victoria is well ahead of the other states and territories,” he said.
“It has the highest enrolment rates in the country, with 99.9 per cent of four-year-olds already enrolled, for an average of 16 hours a week – above the agreed national targets.
“The Victorian Minister has some explaining to do if she thinks her state can’t meet the deadlines, when other states have much bigger barriers to overcome and yet have not pulled out of their commitment.
“The Gillard Government has given Victoria five years and $210 million to implement these changes. I’ve yet to see a convincing argument from the Minister as to why she thinks Victoria needs more time and money.”
Mr Garrett said there had been significant underinvestment in the capital funding provided to early childhood services in Victoria. This is a structural problem which needs to be addressed by the State Government in partnership with local governments.
“Our record level of investment is helping support the increase in kinder hours, but it is an absolute nonsense to suggest that by providing hundreds of millions of dollars to the Victorian kinder system we’re somehow causing a crisis in capital funding,” he said.
There are a range of flexible models available under the NP agreement and it’s up to the Victorian Government to work with service provider to ensure the targets are met with minimal impact on other early childhood services, Mr Garrett said.
“We know that all states have some challenges and I’ve told the Victorian Minister we are happy to continue working with them to ensure their targets are met on time and within the current funding arrangement,” he said.
“I urge the Victorian Minister to engage constructively in this process and stop using early childhood education as a point-scoring political exercise.”