Every child in Cairns and Far North Queensland who is about to start school will benefit from the Morrison Government’s $2 billion commitment to ensure every Australian child can attend preschool.
This means all young children can participate in preschool for 600 hours a year, which equates to 15 hours per week, before attending school.
It is the first time in history that Commonwealth funding for preschools will be ongoing and means federal government funding for all stages of education in Australia is now guaranteed.
The funding will provide greater certainty for the preschool sector and benefit thousands of Far North Queensland kids attending preschool next year.
The Commonwealth Government is offering new four-year agreements to states and territories, including $352 million for Queensland school years 2022-2025.
Under the new agreement the $1340 per child will need to be passed on for every child, regardless of whether they attend ‘kinder’, ‘preschool’ or a preschool program at a centre-based day care.
Furthermore, from 2024, states and territories will need to set and meet attendance targets agreed to by all jurisdictions.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the funding would benefit all Cairns and Far North Queensland children attending preschool.
“I want local families to use the full 15 hours of quality preschool available each week to all children in the year before school,” Mr Enstch said.
“Children who fully engage in preschool and early education are generally better prepared to start school, and enjoy better educational outcomes.
“The Australian Government’s partnership with Queensland has seen continuous improvements to preschool enrolments, but enrolments alone do not produce outcomes – participation does.”
Federal Education and Youth Minister Alan Tudge said it was the first time a federal government had committed to ongoing funding for preschool.
“This is a significant reform that will mean children in Cairns and Far North Queensland are better prepared for school, can get the most out of their early years of learning, and ultimately achieve more in the long-term,” Mr Tudge said.
“Regardless of where a child gets their preschool education, they will benefit from the federal government’s $1340.
“These reforms will boost the quality and impact of preschool education in Australia.”
Under the current Universal Access National Partnership only 72 per cent of children make full use of the available hours.
Attendance rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (60 per cent) and disadvantaged children (66 per cent) are even lower.
The funding brings the Morrison Government’s total investment in early childhood education and care to $3.3 billion in the 2021-22 budget.
This includes $1.7 billion to improve affordability of child care for families with multiple children aged five and under.