Benalla Rural City councillors are furious about the Abbott Government's refusal to commit funding to early childhood education beyond 2015.LIBBY PRICE August 13, 2014 3:47am
Benalla Rural City Councillors have accused the Abbott Government of ‘‘outrageous cost-shifting’’ and of doing the ‘‘most unjust thing a government could do between those who have and those that have not’’, by refusing to commit ongoing funding for kindergartens.
At last week’s Benalla Rural City Council meeting they unanimously vented their anger at the Abbott Government’s refusal to commit funding to the Universal Access to Early Childhood Education Agreement and have pledged to send a Mayoral deputation to meet with Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley, the Federal Member for the seat of Farrer, based in Albury.
It is estimated pre-school fees in Benalla would more than double from $1200 to $2750 per year if the funding was cut.
In 2008 the previous Federal Government signed an agreement with all states and territories to ensure all children have access to quality early childhood education in the year before they start school, delivered by univerity-trained teachers for 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year. Currently the Victorian Government funds 65 per cent covering 10 hours, and the Commonwealth funds 65 per cent of the remaining five hours, with the rest coming from the community through fees and fundraising.
In the federal budget in May, the Abbott Government only included funding until 2015 while it reviews the agreement.
The council has already committed to support of the position of the Municipal Association of Victorian on universal access to kindergartens but has vowed to go further and will seek the support of other councils in the Hume region to provide a united front in emphasising the need for continued federal funding.
Council’s community services manager Deb Randich told the meeting council had very little control over pre-school funding.●
UPDATE: The CFA has downgraded its advice message.
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