Aboriginal children and children from low income families in the Cootamundra electorate will have additional support to participate in 600 hours of quality early childhood education in the two years prior to school.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said that five services situated in the Bland, Junee and Hilltops local government areas, will receive grants that will allow local preschool students to engage and learn in their earliest years.

“Grants of up to $10,000 have been approved for a range of activities to support participation by Aboriginal children and children from low income families in a preschool program,” Ms Cooke said.

“Between bushfires and COVID-19, our community has faced a number of challenges over the past few years. Early learning services play a critical role in supporting children and families. It’s fantastic to see this funding being made available to support the work of these services in our region.”

For the first time, Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services and Aboriginal Child and Family Centres operating in NSW were included in this program.

Funding may be used for a range of activities that improve participation in early childhood education, including working with local Aboriginal community members to conduct Aboriginal art programs, and providing breakfast programs.

Elizabeth Robbie, Centre Director of Goodstart Early learning Junee, said the centre has wonderful plans with the $8832.44 they are set to receive.

“The centre plans on using the funding to engage local Wiradjuri woman, artist and educator Terri Anne O’Brien to run an art program with our children and commissioned a piece we produce as a community that will be displayed in the service,” Ms Robbie said.

“We also have plans underway for the funding to allow us to purchase raised garden beds to provide children the space to make choices about what they would like to plant, cook and eat while learning valuable lessons.”

The successful recipients of the grants in the Cootamundra electorate include:

  • $7,000 to Young Preschool Kindergarten
  • $10,000 to Bland Preschool
  • $8,832.44 to Goodstart Early Learning Junee
  • $8,217.02 to Goodstart Early Learning Young
  • $10,000 to the Bland Shire Mobile Resource Unit

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said these grants will enable services in the Cootamundra electorate to provide educational activities that will strengthen the foundations of children’s learning in those crucial years before school.

“The NSW Government is committed to increasing educational access to quality early childhood education services, particularly for children from low income families and those from Aboriginal families,” Ms Mitchell said.

“They’ll also be able to provide access to specialised staff to deliver targeted support to children and their families.”

Payments to eligible and successful services will be made from late December 2021.

For more information, visit the Department of Education website.