Bass Coast,

Council Backs Kinders, Not Cuts

Bass Coast Shire Council has written to the Federal Government, voicing its extreme disappointment at the lack of ongoing commitment to funding the additional five hours of kindergarten beyond 2014, as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments in 2008.

Cr Neil Rankine wrote to the Federal Member for Flinders, Minister Greg Hunt, on behalf of his fellow Councillors, stating there is irrefutable national and international evidence linking pre-school attendance to improved student results in numeracy, reading and spelling.

“More access to early year’s education leads to improved health, cognitive and social development leading to a smoother transition to school and better educational, employment, health and wellbeing outcomes,” Cr Rankine wrote.

“Without continued Federal Government investment for the additional five hours of kindergarten, we risk poorer learning outcomes for children in Bass Coast Shire and across Victoria and without funding, families of Bass Coast pre-schoolers will face untenable fee increases of up to 129 per cent.

“Many parents will simply not be able to afford to provide their children with this vital learning foundation.”

Cr Rankine said the uncertainty surrounding the Federal funding past the end of this year is making it very difficult for service providers and parents to plan kinder arrangements in the longer term and is causing a great deal of anxiety for our community.

“Kindergartens in Bass Coast and around the State have made enormous changes to infrastructure and the workforce to deliver these extra five hours,” Cr Rankine said.

“In the past two years alone, Council has contributed over $3 million of ratepayer funds to deliver 15 hours of kindergarten.

“Extra teachers and educators have been trained and employed to deliver additional kindergarten hours.

“We cannot afford the loss of these jobs in local kindergartens and the knock-on effect that a reduction in hours will have on working parents.”

Cr Rankine asked Minister Hunt to raise the concerns of Council and the community of Bass Coast with his Ministerial colleagues, party leader, and through Parliamentary question time.

“It is imperative that this significant national education reform must have continued funding beyond the political cycle and Council is seeking an ongoing commitment from the Federal Government to fund the additional five hours of pre-school,” Cr Rankine said.

Council will also advocate to Ministers and Parliamentarians on issues and matters significant to Bass Coast and the Gippsland region, including cuts to kindergarten funding, at the National General Assembly of Local Government in Canberra from 15 to 18 June.