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Thursday, 10 May 1973
Page: 2037

Mr MCVEIGH (Darling Downs) - The change in pattern in pre-school education in Queensland will mean a changing role for the Creche and Kindergarten Association. With the promise of pre-school education for every child aged over 4 years, one of the Association's long sought after goals has been achieved. However, much still remains to be done. The Creche and Kindergarten Association, I am sure, will meet the challenge of the future, as it has met challenges in the past. As there is a changing emphasis, however, to the 3 and 4-year-olds its aim will continue to be to ensure that pre-school education to higher standards is available to all children in the wider age group of 3 to 5 years and, in addition, to be a leader in the field in Queensland in the area of full-day child care.

Let us call to mind the beginnings of this worth while organisation, to pay a tribute to those excellent people who have, over the years, laboured in the interests of the young children. In 1907, the Reverend Loyal Wirt, a Congregational minister from America, formed this Association realising the growing need for this type of facility due to the number of working parents. In March of that same year a group of women met to establish the then Brisbane Creche and kindergarten Association which, over the years, has grown to its present size. As with any organisation of this size there are always staffing problems, especially in rural areas where there is an accommodation problem for the teachers.

The enrolment at the Brisbane Kindergarten Teachers Training College over the last 10 years has risen from 52 to 231. This is a substantial increase but still not nearly enough to cope with the demand growth during the same period of time. Although pre-school teaching is fast becoming one of the major areas of teaching, this does not seem to be bringing about a marked increase in the number of enrolments at the College. There is a shortage of kindergarten teachers and, as stated, the supply of trained kindergarten teachers due to the demand is not sufficient. Besides staffing, finance is one of the most troublesome burdens for the kindergartens. A community kindergarten must raise in the vicinity of $6,000 per year where it has a building loan commitment, which usually means that fees are somewhere in the vicinity of $1 per full day of 5i hours or, in the case of half-day sessions of 3 hours, the average fees per session would probably be 70c. When a kindergarten is to be built the building plan must first be approved by the State Department of Education, the Creche and Kindergarten Association and the local authority. They are very good buildings. Once this is done, the Queensland Education Department will match grants of up to $2,000 by the local council. Problems arise because some local authorities cannot contribute up to the maximum. If this grant is made for equipment, that equipment must be approved by the Creche and Kindergarten Association for the Department of Education. This grant is paid only once to assist new centres to reach affiliation standards. Kindergartens, once affiliated with the Creche and Kindergarten Association, do not receive this grant.

In a country area, application for the grant must be made to the local council and to the Education Department. In April each year the Creche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland must furnish the Government with the number of kindergartens requiring grants in the following financial year. This grant from the State Government is $1,250 per annum to aid kindergartens in reaching affiliation standards. The grant is paid each year to government grant kindergartens which are approaching standards in construction, building, equipment, staff qualifications and programs. The staff qualifications for a government grant centre are infant teacher, English nursery nurse (NEEB) and triple certificate nurse. For. continuation of this grant applications must be made each year by 31st March. Failure to apply by this date could result in the discontinuation of the grant.

It should be realised that each kindergarten must have a trained teacher and that the minimum salary paid to a teacher must be equal to that paid to a 3-year trained State teacher in her first year. A commencing salary for a teacher is $4,498 per annum, rising in 2 increments to $4,698. The Creche and Kindergarten Association believes - and I support that belief - that community kindergartens should be provided with a grant equivalent to the cost of teaching staff salaries. Although the above grant approaches these amounts it is not equal to the cost of providing trained teachers. This would have the effect of relieving the community of the teacher proportion of fees, thus helping to bring to all sections of the community free pre-school education, so that it would be available not only for the rich or the lucky but also for the children of the basic wage earner. The Country Party is naturally interested in the workers. Its actions prove this.

More specifically, I submit and ask on behalf of the Creche and Kindergarten Association for Federal Government help in providing, by means of a grant, the cost of a director's salary. Pre-school education is an important level of education. Psychologists infer that a child's basic motivation and disposition are formed at that time. This is the age when a child's character is formed and his ideals moulded. This level of education has not received and is not receiving a sufficient share of the national and State revenue. I fully support the aims and efforts of the Creche and Kindergarten Association and its affiliated kindergartens, i congratulate them on the energy and initiative they have displayed over the years. However, the Association will not consider the use of the term free' pre-school education as it believes that some parent commitment encourages enthusiastic involvement. I experienced this recently upon the opening of the Nalkari kindergarten in Toowoomba which as a result of parent involvement, was established and opened within a period of some 6 weeks.

In Queensland the training of kindergarten teachers takes place at the Brisbane Kindergarten Teachers Training College which is administered by the Creche and Kindergarten Association. The position of students at the college has been greatly improved by the granting by the Commonwealth Government of adequate scholarships to all students currently in attendance at kindergarten teachers colleges. However, to meet the demands for more and more teachers from all over the State, the Creche and Kindergarten Association recently built a demonstration kindergarten at the training college in Brisbane, purchased additional land and installed closed circuit television. The Association is bearing all the costs, i make an earnest plea to the Commonwealth Government as the keeper of the public purse to make a grant available to liquidate the outstanding portion of that debt. At the present time subsidies are received from the State Government through the Department of Education. The remaining finance for the college is provided from fees together with an amount allocated by the Creche and Kindergarten Association from its annual grant from the State Government. At the beginning of the current year the Association lodged a submission with the Commonwealth Committee on Teacher Education regarding finance for the college, both for operations and for capital.

I submit that this is a very important matter. We place great emphasis on primary, secondary and tertiary education. In the past the matter of pre-school education has not received the support from governments and from the community that it deserves. We should aim to make kindergartens available to all sections of the community. We should encourage the involvement of local committees. I am proud of the residents of the Darling Downs for their tremendous personal involvement in such worthwhile community projects as kindergartens and associated activities over the years. I can only hope that the Federal Government will give cognisance and recognition to the requests I have made for subsidies for the Creche and Kindergarten Association in Queensland so that it can distribute these amounts to affiliated and other kindergartens and particularly to allow it to carry on the training of kindergarten teachers at its college in Brisbane, which training is straining the Association's resources but which training is absolutely necessary.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired.

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