Brunswick welcomes the opening of two new children’s rooms and redeveloped facilities at the Melbourne City Mission’s Hartnett House Integrated Children’s Centre.

Victorian Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos toured the centre earlier this week with Member for Brunswick Jane Garrett MP, Mayor of Moreland Cr Helen Davidson, and Melbourne City Mission’s CEO Vicki Sutton.

The redevelopment was made possible by a funding contribution of $350,000 from the Victorian Government that also enabled Melbourne City Mission to open a new Early Childhood Intervention Services community room at Harnett House, and the creation of a new all-weather indoor and outdoor play area.
Moreover, the recently completed works have seen the centre’s licence capacity boosted to 126 places for children – an increase of 32 places, comprising 11 additional places for children in four-year-old kindergarten and 21 long day care places, representing a significant boost in early years services for Moreland families.

“We are delighted to be joined by Minister Mikakos as children and staff enjoy the new rooms and play areas, and we would like to thank the State Government for its support,” Ms Sutton said.

“Families are increasingly time-poor. It is essential that our community can have its child care and education needs met locally. At Hartnett House we’re delivering high quality child care and kindergarten that sets children up for education success. We know that the early years are a critical period that shapes long-term futures.”

Ongoing federal government funding is an area of concern for Victorian childcare providers. Under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education – introduced in 2008 – Victoria pays for more than two-thirds of government funding of 15 hours of kindergarten in the year before school, with the Federal Government contributing the rest.

“The Universal Access funding arrangement is set to run out at the end of 2017. Melbourne City Mission is deeply concerned the Federal Government has not committed to continued funding in this area,” Ms Sutton added.

“High rates of participation in early childhood education are vital for Australia’s economic future. We need the Universal Access funding arrangement renewed and secured. This lack of certainty – and continual cycle of short-term agreements – is not fair to families or the services that support them.
“We urge the Prime Minister and the Federal Minister for Education and Training to ensure all Australian children can keep accessing the full 15 hours of funded kindergarten a week.”