Council to prioritise kindergarten infrastructure to support growth

Baw Baw Shire Council will proactively seek funding for new and improved kindergarten spaces to cater for the growing community.

At its meeting last night, Council resolved to pursue more opportunities to co-invest in kindergarten infrastructure with the State and Federal Governments.

This approach aims to address a lack of three and four-year-old kindergarten places in Baw Baw Shire and reduce the burden on the ratepayers.

Council’s decision follows the Victorian Government’s commitment to implement three-year-old kindergarten for all children over a 10-year roll-out period.

This reform will add another year of funded kindergarten, with all children in Victoria having access to two years of play-based learning through a funded kindergarten program by 2029.

Council’s enrolment data has shown a marked increase in three-year old kindergarten enrolments. Kindergartens in Drouin, Warragul and Trafalgar are now operating at capacity with waiting lists in place.

Council’s position on kindergarten infrastructure is supported by the Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plan (KISP), which was adopted by Council in December 2020.

The KISP represents the joint view of the Department of Education and Training and Council in estimating the growth in demand for kindergarten places within Baw Baw Shire. Drouin has been identified as the next priority area.

Upgrading and developing new kindergartens is one of Council’s key advocacy priorities, with data suggesting that a new facility will need to be built every two years to cater for the growing population.

There are currently 16 kindergartens in the Shire, which are a mix of Council-owned and privately-owned facilities.

Council has been working in partnership with both State and Federal Governments to deliver new Early Learning Facilities co-located at primary schools, with projects recently completed in Warragul and Trafalgar.

Quotes attributable to Mayor Cr Danny Goss

“Council now has a clear position on how we will fund future kindergarten infrastructure, allowing us to plan for projects and develop funding strategies to meet the high demand for kinder places. We will look to both the State and Federal Governments for support to make this possible, we cannot expect our ratepayers to fully fund these crucial projects.”

Quotes attributable to Early Years Advisory Committee representative Cr Joe Gauci

“The three-year-old kindergarten reform coupled with high-levels of population growth will put a squeeze on the already full facilities in towns throughout the Shire. We’re taking a proactive stance to balance the competing priorities of building new kindergartens while upgrading existing facilities, all within a rate-capped environment. We will continue to advocate strongly to the State Government for the support we need to make this happen to make sure our youngest residents have the facilities they deserve.”

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