Illawarra among the first to benefit from regional education investment

Parents and their children in the Illawarra will be among the first to benefit from the Regional Priorities Round of the Gillard Government’s Education Investment Fund (EIF) with new early childhood teaching, learning and research facilities at University of Wollongong.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, today announced the University of Wollongong will receive $31 million for its Early Start – Changing Children’s Futures project aimed at improving the quality of early childhood education and research.

“The Gillard Government believes all students should have access to first class facilities, no matter where they live,” Senator Evans said.

“Our targeted investment will give students in regional Australia access to better quality education and training opportunities, helping to support increased participation and in turn, meeting the skills needs of regional communities.”

Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, welcomed the announcement saying the project will lead to better educational, health and social outcomes for children in the region.

“This is a great outcome for students and researchers as well as local parents and children,” Ms Bird said. “It’s about making sure that children in the region get off to a great start in life with the best possible educational, health and social outcomes.

“Early childhood educators at the centre will help to improve the quality of early childhood education provided to children through a network of 38 not-for-profit childcare and community service centres across the Illawarra and New South Wales.

“They will use video technology to mentor staff at the centres and share the best practices for supporting school readiness, physical activity and health.”

Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, also welcomed the announcement and said it offered new opportunities to study education, social work, and public health and health sciences.

“These new facilities will open up new higher education places in the childcare industry and related professions and offer existing childcare workers a way to upgrade their skills,” Mr Jones said.

A further $7 million philanthropic gift will be used to complete the $44 million project.

The University of Wollongong has received $103.9 million in previous rounds of EIF.

The Government has committed $4.5 billion from EIF to transform higher education, research and vocational education and training infrastructure in Australia.