Department of Education and Early Childhood Development: report 2012-13
Written on the 7 August 2014
Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I will make some comments on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development annual report 2012-13.
Looking through the report and reading the secretary's foreword I noted some comments in particular on the early childhood education area. I understand that the department brings together a range of services for Victorian children in their younger years, as young people and in their early adulthood -- and higher education and skills encompasses a later age group than that -- but I want to concentrate on the early childhood development area in this report.It is pleasing to see some of the facts in the secretary's foreword, where it states:
The report talks about a number of early childhood services. I was pleased that it notes various areas where we have exceeded expectations but also where there is room for improvement. There are a couple of areas I wish to speak on.In 2013 access to a kindergarten program in the year before school increased from 10 to 15 hours per week while maintaining Victoria's already high participation rate by national standards.
There are more places for children with a disability or developmental delay. An additional 500 early childhood intervention service places were created to provide support for children with disabilities or developmental delay -- a critical need for those children.
There are centres for Aboriginal children and families. I would like to comment on Bubup Wilam for Early Learning, which I had the pleasure of visiting some weeks ago, situated in the city of Whittlesea. It has signed onto the Healthy Together Victoria program and is doing tremendous work out there. It really is a great credit to all those involved. It has taken great leadership in providing significant services to the community. It was tremendous to visit and see what that community and that centre have been able to achieve. I see you nodding in agreement, Acting President, because that is your area and you are familiar with the services Bubup Wilam provides.
It is a tremendous centre that provides early childhood education going into preschool, as well as other sporting and recreational facilities. It provides a terrific overall facility for children in that area of Melbourne.
I am pleased that since we have come to government, we have taken early childhood education very seriously. It is a critical time for a child to build the foundations of numeracy and literacy, and the minister has been very focused on improving services right across the board. We have put in over $120 million for the children's facilities capital program, $84.9 million for maternal child health and, as I have mentioned, more than $42 million for 1150 new early childhood intervention service places since 2011.
In March of this year the government announced $8.4 million over four years for the development of the Early Years Strategic Plan.
It sets out the government's direction for the early years from 2014 to 2020 in line with its overall strategy to make Victoria a world leader in young children's learning and development. There are a number of allocations to ensure that we meet those targets. There is much to do, but the initiative so far and that additional funding provide great encouragement for all those involved. There was also $1.2 million for the very important rural playgroup initiative for vulnerable families.
There are many other things I would like to comment on. I commend the department and the minister for the work they have done so far, and I hope to speak to this report again.