In a major election commitment, the NSW Liberals and Nationals have pledged to bring forward their planned $5.8 billion pre-Kindergarten program, including the construction of over 50 new co-located pre-schools in the New England.
Under the commitment, the Liberals and Nationals will ensure there are more childcare options across NSW by expanding existing centres, building new facilities at TAFEs, universities and hospitals and boosting extended hours’ childcare.
The facilities will be delivered as part of the 10-year, $5 billion Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund.
Treasurer Matt Kean said this commitment would provide much-needed relief for families balancing their work commitments with caring for children.
“Childcare is a tax on all working families but in many cases, women are most affected with some mothers only taking home about 25 cents in each dollar they earn after tax, loss of family tax benefits and childcare costs,” Mr Kean said.
“More than half of Australian mothers with kids under 15 who want to return to work or take on more hours say that caring for children is the main reason stopping them.
“Meanwhile, more than a third of NSW communities don’t have the childcare services they need, which not only impacts kids’ development but pushes up the price of childcare for parents.
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall says that this initiative will create 620 extra student places and see the construction of 31 new preschools in the Northern Tablelands, from several schools in Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell and Moree, right down to small communities like Bonshaw, Woolbrook, Gum Flat and Yetman.
“No matter where you grow up in our region, it should not determine your access to a good education, even before you begin school,” he said.
“I’m thrilled not just with the number of new preschools proposed, but the spread of locations, covering high demand areas but also geographically remote locations.
“This is often the downfall of any programs for the bush, but no one will be left behind when these new centres are built.”
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said he was pleased to see so many schools in the Tamworth electorate earmarked for the early rollout of the program, meaning more local kids would benefit sooner from the 23 new preschools.
“We know how important it is to get our kids in a positive learning environment as soon as possible to get them on the right path for a successful and happy life,” Mr Anderson said.
“That’s why I’ve been pushing to ensure our region gets its fair share when it comes to the early rollout of pre-kindergarten.”