Preschools and kindergartens across the country face the loss of all federal funding from next year under Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberals – a cut of $420 million per year.
Without federal funding for preschool and kindergarten, hours will be cut, fees will rise, and working parents will be left scrambling.
In most cases, preschool hours will be cut from 15 per week to 10 without this federal funding – the equivalent of a day a week of preschool cut.
Labor has called on Malcolm Turnbull to step in and stop the cuts scheduled in the Budget.
Labor introduced federal funding for preschool in 2009 with the goal of all children receiving 15 hours of quality early education in the year before school.
We did this because kindergarten and preschool are proven to be crucial for a child’s success at school, and later in life. Access to 15 hours of kindergarten or preschool is the UNICEF recommended benchmark for children’s development.
Australian children that attend quality early education in the year before school have been shown to achieve higher results across all areas of Year Three NAPLAN – numeracy, reading, spelling, writing, and grammar and punctuation.
Because of Labor’s investment, preschool enrolments and the number of children accessing 15 hours or more in preschool or kindergarten has increased dramatically. Kindergarten and preschool enrolments have climbed from 69.5 per cent nationally in 2008 to 96.5 per cent in 2015.
The proportion of children accessing 15 hours of kindergarten or preschool nationally has grown from 23 per cent in 2008 to 86.7 per cent in 2015 - that’s over 202,000 more children a year getting 15 hours of kindergarten or preschool per week as a result of Labor’s reforms.
We have achieved so much, but we can’t stop now. Every child deserves access to quality early education and parents, educators and preschools deserve certainty.
Around the world, smart countries are investing in early education. If Malcolm Turnbull goes ahead with this cut, he will drag Australia backwards.
On 4 April, I wrote to the Turnbull government, calling on them to commit to funding kindergartens beyond this year. My letter said:
"I refer to the funding for universal access to preschool and kindergarten, presently due to run out at the end of this year.
Children in my electorate need access to early education. Kindy funding is important for their futures, and for the nation's future.
Accordingly, I write to urge you to take all steps reasonable and necessary to ensure that this funding continues.
The Turnbull Government must assure parents and kindergartens that there will be long-term, secure funding available to ensure continued universal access to kindy."
Today, having waited patiently for a response, but having received none, I again called on the government to commit to funding universal access to kindy.
Southside families need to know if the kindy funding is not going to continue beyond this year. The Turnbull government needs to face up to the importance of early learning and care.