Mayoral Column 20 August 2018
Published on 20 August 2018
MAV calls for permanent kindergarten funding
The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has expressed the need for permanent Federal Government funding for four-year-old kindergarten. It comes amid renewed calls for the Federal Government to continue its share of early childhood funding.
The MAV raised concerns about recent reports that the Federal Government was intending to make a $440 million “saving” by ending its National Partnership Agreement in 2020.
National Partnership Agreements have existed between Federal and State Governments for nearly 10 years to bind the preschool system together.
In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments endorsed 15 hours of preschool per week and introduced it nationally with Federal funding for five of the 15 hours. The Victorian Government contributes funding for the other 10 hours. This covers the day-to-day basics of running a kindergarten. Kindergartens continue to fundraise to contribute to the overall facility, such as playground equipment upgrades.
In February this year our Council welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government that it would provide funding for kindergarten for four-year-olds until 2019. However, the May Federal budget did not commit funding beyond December 2019 for five hours of kinder each week.
Permanent funding will provide greater certainty when it comes to childhood education for children in the Loddon Shire area. It will also enable our kindergartens to plan and support Loddon children to have the best start in life when it comes to their education.
NDCH information booklet launch
On Wednesday last week I attended the launch of the Northern District Community Health (NDCH) information booklet, at its Pyramid Hill site.
NDCH, which covers a service area of around 8,000 square kilometres, provides a range of services in Pyramid Hill and Boort (as well as Gannawarra and Buloke shires).
This includes allied health services such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy, diabetes education, speech pathology and podiatry, and more. NDCH also provides a range of community support services – for example counselling, help with drug and alcohol addiction, mental health carer support, and health promotion activities.
Having organisations such as NDCH (and Inglewood and Districts Health Service in the south of our Shire) provide these services is vital to communities across our Shire.
The launch of NDCH’s information booklet at its Pyramid Hill site also served to highlight the urgent need for new NDCH premises in the town.
Council continues to advocate for government funding to develop a plan for the transition of the Pyramid Hill Senior Citizens Centre into the Pyramid Hill Community Centre.
This proposed centre will incorporate NDCH, maternal and child health service, Filipino community group and neighbourhood house (for expanded programs).
On-farm energy assessments
Agriculture Victoria is rolling out the first action in the Victorian Government's $30 million Agriculture Energy Investment Plan: free on-farm energy assessments.
The free on-farm assessments will provide farmers with expert advice on how to make smart on-farm energy decisions. The on-farm assessments are available to eligible primary producers until March 2020 or until available funding is exhausted (whichever comes first).
Assessments will also inform applications for grants under the Plan, which will commence later in the year.
For more information or to begin an energy assessment application, please visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/agenergy.
Did you know?
Having mentioned kindergartens earlier in this column, I thought it could be a good opportunity to highlight some statistics from Council’s Children and Family Services.
In 2017/18 there were 60 births in the Shire and there were 609 vaccines administered through the immunisation program. In 2017/18, 65 children were enrolled in four-year-old kindergarten, while there were 33 children enrolled in three-year-old kindergarten.