Constituency Question: Families and Children
Ros SPENCE (Yuroke) (13:21:53) — (14 558) My question is to the Minister for Families and Children. What opportunities are available to support facilities for children and families in the Yuroke electorate, such as the proposed Merrifield West northern community hub project? Many young families choose to buy or build their first home in the Yuroke electorate. Indeed housing growth in the Mickleham and Yuroke suburbs was ranked as the fastest in Australia in 2016–17. The Andrews Labor government’s significant local investment in new and improved facilities for these parents and their kids has provided access to preschool, child and maternal health services, and other community facilities close to home. As the Yuroke electorate continues to grow, I would welcome any information the minister can provide on opportunities to provide further support for these much-needed community facilities.
The Andrews Labor Government has delivered a record $123.6 million over the last four years to build, upgrade and improve early years infrastructure across the state. This includes $42.9 million in the 2018-19 State Budget – the single largest state investment in Victoria’s history. This has meant an additional 8,250 three and four year old kindergarten places across the state since November 2014, including in your local electorate of Yuroke.
The Children’s Facilities Capital Program (CFCP) contributes to high quality early learning programs by increasing infrastructure capacity for kindergartens for children in the year before school and promoting integrated service delivery where families can access early childhood education and care, maternal and child health services and other community services and facilities at one place. It also helps to improve access to local services and establishes early childhood infrastructure on or near school sites.
The 2018-19 Children’s Facilities Capital Program Major Grant Round is currently open and closing on 31 July 2018. I would encourage any eligible and interested organisations to apply for a grant through this process.
Investment through the CFCP has seen a number of kindergartens in your area receive funding in recent years. These include:
$1.6 million in 2015-16 for the new Aitken Hill Community Centre, currently under construction. This Centre is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019 and will provide two preschool rooms, two maternal child health consulting rooms, three specialist rooms for other allied child health and wellbeing service provision, as well as flexible multipurpose community meeting, functions rooms and a playground.
$1.6 million in 2017-18 for the new Greenvale West Integrated Children’s Centre, to build a flexible, multipurpose space for children, families and the local community. This Centre is scheduled for completion at the end of 2019.
Land acquisition for other new schools in the Yuroke electorate has been funded from the $271.7 million allocation in the 2018-19 State Budget. This includes land for Merrifield West and Woolert East Primary Schools located in the Craigieburn and Whittlesea areas.
As you note, many young families choose to buy or build their first home in the Yuroke electorate. While addressing growth, the Government is aware of the pressures often caused by new development in existing communities. In the 2016-17 Children’s Facilities Capital Program Major Grants round, the Department funded $34,815 towards additional preschool places at the existing Westmeadows Preschool.
I look forward to the completion of these exciting projects and to the educational and social benefits they will deliver to your local communities.
Jenny Mikakos MP
Minister for Families and Children
Minister for Early Childhood Education
Minister for Youth Affairs