Every Victorian child born under a re-elected Andrews Labor Government will start kindergarten a year earlier, with Ararat families to be among the first to benefit.

Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos today visited the Ararat Learning Centre on McNeill St to herald this ambitious reform, which will see three-year-old kinder rolled out across the state for every Victorian child beginning in 2020.

This will be the largest social, economic and educational reform ever undertaken in early childhood learning in Victoria’s history.

Labor’s commitment is good news for families struggling with the cost of living. Right now, many are forced to scrimp and save to cover the costs of three-year-old kinder – around $5000 a year for 15 hours – while the vast majority see their kids miss out.

Under Labor’s plan, every Victorian child will have access to at least five hours of subsidised three-year-old kinder by 2022, progressively scaled up to 15 hours per week over the next decade.

Local Government areas across Western Victoria will be amongst the first to benefit, with Ararat, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, Yarriambiack, Central Goldfields, Hepburn, Southern Grampians and West Wimmera councils all included in the initial rollout between 2020 and 2021.

Recent research conducted by community service provider Uniting shows that nearly one in five families do not have their children enrolled in early learning because of the cost.

But under Labor’s plan, around a quarter of Victorian families will pay nothing at all.

For families with a higher income, the Labor Government will cover 65 per cent of their child’s kindergarten costs, consistent with the current subsidy for four-year-old kinder. This represents a saving of at least $3500 for families whose children attend a standalone kinder.

Those with kids who go to long-day-care will also benefit, with these centres given funding to employ teachers in their three-year-old rooms. Centres that make cost savings due to our investment will be required to pass any savings on to families.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos

“Universal access to three-year-old kinder is an Australian-first and make no mistake, this will change lives.”

“While the Federal Liberal Government refuses to meet its commitments on four-year-old kindergarten, Labor is determined to make sure our kids are ready for school and ready for life.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford

“Three-year-old kinder is a no-brainer – and it’s fantastic to know that local families in Ararat and other parts of Western Victoria will be among the first to benefit from this historic reform.”