New program promising 30 hours of free play-based learning per week for all four-year-olds in both states
Across Australia, support for early childhood education has been growing, with leading voices within the industry pointing out the long-term benefits of successful childhood education on a child’s cognitive development and emotional readiness.
Earlier this year in April, the Victorian government launched the ‘Free Kidner’ initiative, providing more than 100,000 families across the state free access to kindergarten education. Although individual states are making great leaps for change, professionals within the education industry have pointed out that federal commitment to long-term investments within pre-schooling must be made to see any real difference.
Following the evident outcry, the Federal Budget 2021-22 announced a $2 billion commitment to ensure every child has access to preschool, along with ongoing Commonwealth funding.
In a joint statement, the NSW and Victorian government announced a $14.8 billion plan to provide a free year of play-based learning for kinder aged (three – four years) children by 2030, marking the biggest education reform in more than a generation.
“In the next 10 years, every child in Victoria and NSW will experience the benefits of a full year of play-based learning before their first year of school,” stated Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and his NSW counterpart Dominic Perrottet.
“A year dedicated to growing and learning, new friends and new experiences. A year devoted to helping our kids be the very best they can be. Giving them the skills they need for school, but just as importantly, the skills they need for life.”
The ministers highlighted how this new initiative will benefit working families across the country, allowing more mums and dads to return to work on more comfortable terms.
The program will consist of up to 30 hours a week of free play-based learning and will be officially rolling out from 2025, with some phases introduced as early as next year.