Rural Councils Victoria has welcomed the State Government’s announcement of a $9 billion investment in early childhood education over the next 10 years.
Rural Councils Victoria Deputy Chair Cr Jane Ogden said:
“The opportunity for every child in Victoria to experience the benefits of a full year of play-based learning before their first year of school is vitally important.
“We know from the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia that at least one in five children begin school developmentally vulnerable and this announcement will go a long way to helping children get the most from their education.
“We particularly welcome the announcement that the Victorian government will also establish 50 government-owned childcare centres in the areas with the greatest unmet demand for childcare places, which are known as “childcare deserts”.
“Analysis of data in Mitchel Institute’s “Deserts and oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia?” report shows that:
“Thirty out RCV 35 member councils (or 85 per cent) are located in regions where there the proportion of childcare deserts is over the national average of 35.3 per cent.
“Five of RCV member councils – Glenelg, Southern Grampians, Loddon, Hepburn and Moorabool – rank among the highest childcare ‘desert’ areas in Australia.
“These five shires had more than 85 per cent of their regional areas classified as childcare deserts.
“New childcare centres are vitally important for rural Victorians, the majority of whom live in childcare deserts, where the availability of childcare places is woefully inadequate.
“Lack of childcare leads to poorer education outcomes, narrower career choices, crimps future job opportunities and harms rural communities and rural economies, with consequences for the whole state.”
Cr Ogden said:
“We urge the State Government, as a matter of urgency, to ensure that rural Victorians get their fair share of this $9 billion investment in early childhood education, particularly in staffing the childcare centres.
“RCV member councils need help to attract and retain qualified early childhood educators as staffing is also key ongoing issue in rural Victorian communities.
“In welcoming the announcement, Rural Councils Victoria calls on the State Government to ensure that there is adequate support during implementation of the program, particularly around the training, education and recruitment of early childhood staff as well as with site selection and planning.
“Small rural communities don’t have the resources to do all the necessary work on their own.”
Childcare Deserts in Rural Victoria include:
Source: Mitchel Institute’s “Deserts and oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia?” report.
A childcare desert is defined by the Mitchel Institute’s “Deserts and oases: How accessible is childcare in Australia?” report authors as populated areas where there are less than 0.33 childcare places per child, or at least three children per childcare place available.