Page 1814 - Week 06 - Thursday, 14 May 2015

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Construction of the new $7.5 million early learning centre in Holder was completed and it opened in May last year. This centre provides an additional 124 places to support families in Weston Creek and the growing area of the Molonglo valley. It was built with the new quality standards in mind and provides a great environment to support the learning of our young children.

The ACT Labor government continues to identify suitable sites for education and care centres as part of the planning for new suburbs and to respond to emerging demand in newly established areas, as well as those that are already in place. Sites for education and care centres have been identified in the forward planning and design of Moncrieff, Throsby, Lawson, west Macgregor, Denman Prospect and Molonglo. We will continue to support Canberra families through these investments.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, why is it important to have a well-qualified childcare workforce?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Fitzharris for the question. Substantial research shows that higher qualified educators improve outcomes for children. The higher their qualifications, the greater their understanding of child development, health and safety issues.

In recent years, the ACT government has worked to grow a highly skilled and capable early education and care workforce in the ACT. This year, the ACT’s new training initiative, skilled capital, will contribute over $2 million to at least 570 training places in a wide range of approved early education and care qualifications. In addition, the early childhood scholarship program established in 2012 covers full course fees for a cert III qualification, a start-up and completion incentive and funding to release working educators so that they can attend classes. To date, the program has provided 145 places. A further 30 places will be offered next year.

Under the NQF, all early childhood educators counted in the educator to child ratios are now required to be working towards a minimum qualification of a cert III. This gives us confidence that our young children are being educated by professionals with appropriate skills and knowledge to work in partnership with families. To ensure the sector is able to meet these requirements into the future, we have committed recurrent funding to the early childhood degree scholarship program, providing up to $6,000 to support those educators. The first 25 places of the degree scholarship were offered last year, and 25 additional places will be offered each year in 2015 and 2016.

That is in stark contrast to what we saw come out of the Australian Liberal government. Their in-home nannies pilot— (Time expired.)

ACT Emergency Services Agency—properties

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, the facilities management contract for ESA properties went to tender in 2008 for a five-year period that expired in 2013. Has the contract been retendered, extended by option or is it just ongoing?

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