The Victorian Government has an ongoing commitment to strengthening early childhood education. This work commenced with the release of the Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan, ready for kinder, ready for school, and ready for life; and the delivery of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten across the state.
In June 2022, the Victorian Government announced it will expand the Best Start, Best Life reform with three major new initiatives:
- Making kinder free for three- and four-year-olds in participating services across the state
- Transitioning Four-Year-old Kindergarten to ‘Pre-Prep’, a universal, 30-hour a week program of play-based learning
- Establishing 50 government-owned and affordable childcare centres.
A sustainable workforce
A nation leading early childhood education program requires a nation leading workforce, which is why more than 3,000 scholarships in early childhood education have been awarded since 2018. In 2020, the Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care were both added to Free TAFE, attracting over 6,500 commencements in both courses since then.
There have also been more than 100 incentives awarded over the past two years to attract early childhood teachers to where they are needed most, with incentives of $9,000 to $50,000 available for eligible, qualified early childhood teachers who secure roles at services in hard-to-staff locations.
There will be a significant requirement for additional childhood teachers and educators over the next decade, and the Victorian Government has already invested over $200 million to attract and retain teachers and educators to help them deliver high-quality kindergarten programs.
Finding your passion: free education for future educators
Like so many school leavers, Ethan Drummond found it nearly impossible to decide the career he should pursue. Guided by the principle that the best career choices occur where practical considerations intersect with personal interests, Ethan began by envisaging a job that worked to his strengths.
It was while scrolling through his Facebook feed one day that an answer presented itself to Ethan.
“I saw an advertisement for a Free TAFE course… I took a look and found that early childhood education courses were among the list of courses
offered,” Ethan says.
Free TAFE for priority courses covers tuition fees for students who are eligible for government-subsidised training.
In short time, Ethan completed his application and was accepted into the Diploma of Early Education and Care at Gordon TAFE in Geelong.
“Working in a long day care with children is a lot different to studying about it, and I found the work really rewarding” Ethan says.
Ethan is also keen to dispel lingering myths about educating pre-school children, particularly among men.
“I think a lot of guys don’t really know what early childhood education is about,” Ethan says. “There’s plenty of people who think it’s just looking after kids. But it’s a lot more than that.”