The Abbott Government’s announcement today of a temporary 12 month extension to preschool funding prolongs uncertainty for local families.
“All year the Abbott Government has refused to commit Commonwealth funding for preschools beyond December 2014, threatening to wind back the clock to when just 1 in 10 Australian children has access to 15 hours of preschool per week,” Ms King said.
“The early years are the most important in a child’s education with pre-literacy and pre-numeracy development at preschool building the foundations for lifelong learning.
“While today’s announcement of an eleventh hour reprieve will allow services to continue for another year, local families and preschools are still left in doubt as to what the future holds.
Labor’s introduction of universal access funding for preschool has seen over 56 per cent of Australian children receiving 15 hours or more of quality education in the year before school, up from just 12 percent in 2008.
“Labor’s agreement with the states had substantially increased access to early learning services for local families, delivering major improvements that changed education outcomes, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged children,” Ms King said.
Just a fortnight ago the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne refused to rule out the Commonwealth de-funding preschools entirely, saying it was the ‘responsibility of the state government’.
“The Abbott Government has become a shambles that doesn’t know what its priorities are from one week to the next,” Ms King said.
“The time for playing politics must end, these reforms are working and the government needs to recognise this and deliver a genuine commitment to supporting our children into the future.”