The Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments have signed a preschool funding agreement that will benefit up to 14,000 NT children in the year before school over the next four years.
The Preschool Reform Agreement confirms up to $20 million of Commonwealth funding for preschool in the NT from 2022 to 2025.
Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said the agreement will ensure NT children have access to high-quality preschool options and are better prepared for their first year of school.
‘This agreement means every child in the Northern Territory has the opportunity to attend at least 15 hours of preschool a week in the year before they start school,’ Minister Robert said.
‘Importantly, this funding is linked to new reforms, including improving preschool participation and developing an outcomes measure, and will benefit all children, regardless of the type of preschool they attend.
‘This agreement will also place focus on improving preschool participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Only 52 per cent of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool made full use of the hours on offer in 2020.
‘We know access to high-quality early childhood education and care is critical to improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This agreement will build upon the Morrison Government’s $122.6 million commitment to meet early childhood Closing the Gap targets.’
Northern Territory Minister for Education Lauren Moss said a quality early years education was critical to ensuring every child received the best possible start in life.
‘Recognising the importance of early years education to the future health and wellbeing of Territory kids, the NT Government provides the opportunity for every child in the NT to attend 15 hours a week of preschool education,’ Minister Moss said.
‘The agreement with the Commonwealth will ensure continued support for this important initiative.
‘The Territory Government is also trialling three-year-old preschool in six NT Government schools, supporting children to have access to two years of preschool.
‘This agreement maintains Commonwealth funding to the sector and, importantly, will ensure all Territory children and their families are supported during these significant years.’
The four-year agreement provides long-term certainty to more than 300,000 Australian children and their families each year, along with the early childhood education sector.
New South Wales and Victoria have also signed the Preschool Reform Agreement.
The Commonwealth is continuing to work with the remaining states and territories to ensure they can have an agreement in place, and funding certainty, ahead of the 2022 preschool year.
The Commonwealth’s historic investment in early childhood education also includes around $10 billion a year through the child care system to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for families using child care and to improve workforce participation.