Kindergarten upgrades expanded in Victoria


New kindergartens will be built and existing facilities upgraded into five additional council areas as part of a $50 million boost to the free program in Victoria.

The money, announced a month out from the state election by Early Childhood Minister Ingrid Stitt on Saturday, will go to 25 kindergartens in Port Phillip, Whittlesea, Mitchell Shire, Monash and Brimbank.

The Building Blocks Partnerships will deliver almost 1500 extra places for children.

The announcement came as it was revealed the state’s public housing operator Home Victoria is under financial pressure.

The organization was set up in 2020 and is responsible for more than 60,000 homes.

Its deficit is unknown but shadow treasurer David Davis described it as a “financial basket case”.

“The financial position of Homes Vic is dire,” Mr Davis said on Saturday.

“The government has covered up the precise numbers but it is clearly dire.”

About half of Homes Victoria’s revenue is made up of rent collected from tenants while 45 per cent is from the commonwealth government, according to a Victorian government spokesperson.

They said the previous federal government had “failed to adequately fund” the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement during the past decade.

Meanwhile, public sector workers would have access to extra leave for miscarriages, terminations, vasectomies and other procedures under a push from the Victorian Greens.

The five days of “reproductive leave” would be in addition to existing leave entitlements.

It would also cover time off for gender reassignment surgery, IVF procedures, endometriosis treatment, menopause symptoms and other conditions.

A Parliamentary Budget Office request from the Greens found it would cost $34.1 million over the forward estimates.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said the extra leave would help women stay longer in the workforce.

“For many women and gender diverse people, reproductive issues can significantly impact their working lives, forcing them to take paid and even leave unpaid to manage a range of issues,” she said in a statement.

“It shouldn’t have to be this way.”

A Victorian government spokesperson told AAP it had a strong record of supporting women and gender-diverse people, including establishing the first free public IVF service.

AAP has contacted the Victorian opposition for comment.

The state goes to the polls on November 26.


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