The Andrews Labor Government’s landmark reform to early childhood education has arrived, as hundreds of children in regional Victoria start Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes today joined early childhood staff, children and families at Nagambie Preschool and Childcare Centre to mark the start of funded universal Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

It is part of the Labor Government’s almost $5 billion decade-long reform to make two years of funded universal kindergarten programs available for all children across the state – in an Australian-first.

Thirty-six kindergarten services across the six local government areas of South Gippsland, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, Strathbogie and Yarriambiack will deliver up to 15 hours each week of programs for three-year-olds led by a teacher in 2020.

Approximately 560 children are enrolled in funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs, which are starting over the coming week. Meanwhile approximately 80,000 children will attend four-year-old programs across Victoria.

Three-Year-Old Kindergarten will roll out progressively, with families in a further 15 regional LGAs to benefit in 2021. This will be expanded in 2022 to give three-year-olds across the rest of the state access to five hours of funded kindergarten, before being scaled up to a full 15-hour program by 2029.

At full roll-out, an estimated 90,000 children each year will be receiving this important educational boost.

The Victorian Budget 2019/20 invested $881.6 million to get started on the Three-Year-Old Kindergarten roll-out.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“Providing universal access to Three-Year-Old Kinder is one of the most important and significant reforms we can make to education.”

“The evidence is clear that two years are better than one when it comes to early learning, with children who start kindergarten at the age of three gaining academic, social and emotional benefits that last into their school years and beyond.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

“This is an incredibly exciting time for Strathbogie families, with children at Nagambie Preschool among the first in Australia to benefit from funded universal Three-Year-Old Kinder.”