More than 75,000 Victorian kids will have their first day at kindergarten this year, including many across the Northern Grampians Shire.
Over the course of the year, early childhood teachers and educators will use their expertise to build those children’s social, emotional, literacy and numeracy skills, their critical and creative thinking, their perseverance, sociability and self-esteem.
These children will directly benefit from the Universal Access funding agreement, which offers 15 hours of kindergarten per week provided at low cost to families for children in the year before school.
Research clearly links kindergarten participation with better school performance, improved job prospects and higher wages on entering the workforce. It represents a shared commitment across Australian governments to investment in early education.
We don’t want the class of 2017 to be the last with access to this vital early education.
Under the universal access agreement, Victoria pays for more than two-thirds of funding of 15 hours of kindergarten in the year before school, with the federal government contributing the rest. The agreement is set to run out at the end of 2017.
In 2017, every single one of Victoria’s 2300 funded kindergartens will be providing children with 15 hours of quality, teacher-led preschool education in the vital year before school, showing how in demand this additional support is.
The Andrews Labor Government this week has launched a petition asking Malcolm Turnbull to commit once and for all to ongoing funding for 15 hours of kindergarten for children in the year before school.
Stawell Times News readers can sign the petition: www.thismatters.org.au/kindercuts
Victorian children deserve certainty and I urge your readers to sign this petition,
– Jaala Pulford MP
Member for Western Victoria.
Last year, my office received a phone call from David*. He was concerned about the welfare of his son Richard, who has a disability and was using a respite service.
With our intervention, David was able to get answers about Richard’s care. The respite service admitted that their standards of service had dropped. They made changes that included reviewing support plans for all their clients and providing additional training for all their staff. David’s complaint to us was resolved and he felt confident in making further bookings at the respite service.
David’s story isn’t unique. Every year, my office receives more than 1000 enquiries and complaints from people who have concerns about Victorian disability services.
Complaints might be about service quality or often, a lack of communication, like Lara who concerned was about the high staff turnover at her sister Page’s service provider which made it difficult for her to communicate with the right people.
As Victoria transitions into the National Disability Insurance Scheme, we’ll begin to see more people becoming eligible for disability funding. In the Central Highlands, 4,500 people are expected to transition into the NDIS. Significant growth of the Victorian disability sector is predicted, with more service providers and nearly 18,000 more jobs for support workers across the state.
In this new environment, I encourage all individuals living with disability, their families, friends and support workers, to be aware of their right to ‘speak up’ to my office if they are unhappy or concerned about the Victorian disability service they receive. We can also take complaints about NDIS-funded services. Our service is independent, confidential and free. The NDIS can bring positive change for people with disability. My office is here to help.
– Laurie Harkin AM
Disability Services Commissioner
*Client names changed. To make a complaint about Victorian disability services, contact Disability Services Commissioner on 1800 677 342 or www.odsc.vic.gov.au.
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