Denis Napthine’s Minister for Children, Wendy Lovell, has ignored repeated requests to address a struggling preschool outside Melbourne’s urban fringe, Shadow Minister for Children and Young Adults Jenny Mikakos said today.

Ms Mikakos said Minister Lovell had failed to respond to letters asking for her to investigate Panton Hill Kindergarten’s funding arrangement. The Preschool’s management has also stated it will close if something isn’t done to address its financial situation.

“Ms Lovell has ignored my requests and repeated letters from the Local Labor Member Danielle Green – the Minister has even failed to respond to pleas from the preschool committee president,” she said.

“The Minister has stated that kindergarten has ‘real benefits’ for how children grow, and her government has a signed up to a target of expanding kinder provision to 15 hours a week for all preschool children in the state.

“So why is Ms Lovell seemingly prepared to standby when Panton Hill struggles to make ends meet?”

Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green said the financial problems encountered by Panton Hill Preschool were magnified by bureaucratic short-sightedness.

“The issue, if Ms Lovell cared to look into it, is partly because Panton Hill has been zoned as a metropolitan facility, so cannot access rural funding on offer from the department,” Ms Green said.

“Despite servicing rural communities such as St Andrews, Smiths Gully, Strathewen, Cottles Bridge, Watsons Creek and Christmas Hills, the Education Department will not allow Panton Hill access to funding set aside for rural kinders and schools.

“This comes despite nearby primary schools receiving the rural funding which Panton Hill preschool needs so badly.

“The area has gone through a huge amount of change and turmoil over the past few years.

“Instead of letting quality kindergartens go under, Ms Lovell should be supporting Panton Hill so that there will always been access to quality early childhood facilities in this part of Nillumbik Shire.

“Instead of hiding behind her desk, Ms Lovell should have the courage to visit Panton Hill, speak with the people who are involved with the preschool to see what problems the Napthine Government has created.”




Published on September 19, 2013