WEDNESDAY, 6 AUGUST 2014
The Abbott Government has left Western Australian families in limbo by refusing to commit to Federal kindergarten funding from next year.
Federal kindergarten support, that ensures four-year-olds can access 15 hours of early education per week in the year before school, was not confirmed in the recent Federal Budget.
“Without this Federal money kindergarten hours will be slashed, fees will rise and some services could be forced to close their doors,” Kate Ellis, Federal Shadow Minister for Early Education, said.
“Tony Abbott is refusing to give Western Australian families certainty, despite the Productivity Commission recently warning the Federal Government against cuts to kindergarten funding.”
The Western Australian Government has admitted that, without this funding, state kindergartens will be forced to cut hours from 15 to 11 per week. Community, Catholic, Independent and Aboriginal kindergartens will also be forced to cut hours, increase fees or reconsider their viability.
Sue Ellery, State Shadow Minister for Children’s Interests said it was time Colin Barnett followed the lead of other Liberal Premiers and stood up to Tony Abbott on kindergarten cuts.
“Kindergartens can’t plan for next year, teachers don’t know if they’ll have a job and parents can’t manage their work commitments,” Sue Ellery said.
“Cuts to kindergarten will just place even more pressure on child care prices and already long waiting lists.”
Federal Budget papers reveal Western Australia stands to lose around $50 million per year if Tony Abbott cancels current kindergarten funding arrangements, a cut confirmed in the recent Western Australian Estimates process.
Australian and international research has proven that children who attend 15 hours per week of quality kindergarten go on to score significantly better in Year Three NAPLAN tests and Year Four reading, mathematics and science.
“Without this funding Tony Abbott will send us back to the situation we had under the Howard Government – where just 1 in 10 Australian children had access to 15 hours of preschool per week,” Kate Ellis said.
Colin Barnett’s failure to stand up to Tony Abbott on kindergarten funding is out of step with the early-years focus of his new school funding model.
“On the one hand, Colin Barnett is arguing the importance of the early years, but on the other he isn’t doing anything to stand up for Western Australian kindergartens,” Sue Ellery said.
Kate Ellis and Sue Ellery called on Tony Abbott to honour his election promise not to cut education, and fund Western Australian kindergartens next year.
“Before the last election, Tony Abbott promised there would be no cuts to education, and Western Australian children should not have to pay the price for his lies,” Kate Ellis said.