There is plenty on the agenda this week as State Parliament resumes for 2018.
I have meetings planned with my Ministerial colleagues to discuss the many great projects underway across the electorate and to secure funding for some new ones.
New funding to boost cyber security
The NSW Government recently announced a $2 million investment in a new university-led network aimed at bolstering NSW’s cyber security research and development capability and harnessing the state’s growing cyber security industry.
The NSW Cyber Security Network will bring together leading scientists and engineers from seven of the state’s universities to protect government, industry and individuals against cyberattacks.
Cyber security is an evolving threat and that’s why we’re partnering with some of the country’s best and brightest researchers to ensure systems within government and the private sector are resilient and fit-for-purpose in 2018 and beyond.
Historic High, more children attending preschool
Last week I welcomed news that the number of children in NSW undertaking 600 hours of preschool each year has increased by 40 per cent in the last year because of the NSW Government’s Start Strong program.
These results prove the NSW Government’s Start Strong program is working – it is reducing fees, improving quality and strengthening the early childhood workforce for families.
Not only is this great news for children, Dubbo electorate families are also benefiting hugely from the Start Strong reforms.
Ongoing fee reductions are significantly reducing financial burdens on hardworking families and I am proud the NSW Government is focusing on this.
The 2017 Preschool Census is the first since the implementation of the Start Strong reforms, with 737 community preschools across the state partaking.
Following the significant changes to the preschool funding policy under Start Strong, Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell said last year’s census was the first real test of whether these policy changes had achieved their objectives.
Of all children aged four and above in the Preschool Census, 91 per cent are now enrolled for more than 600 hours of early childhood education.
This is a significant increase from 66 per cent in 2016-17.
Not only has Start Strong significantly reduced daily fees by an average of 25 per cent, we now have more children participating in early childhood than ever before, and I am proud this Government is delivering for the children and families of this state.
More information in the NSW Government’s Start Strong program can be found at https://education.nsw.gov.au/early-childhood-education/operating-an-early-childhood-education-service/grants-and-funded-programs/start-strong.
Active Kids Voucher
Thousands of school children across the state now eligible for the NSW Government’s new $100 Active Kids program.
From January 31 all parents with school aged children will have help with sporting and fitness-related costs.
Active Kids will contribute $100 for every child towards the cost of sports registration, membership expenses and fees for physical activities such as swimming, dance lessons and athletics.
Active Kids is a key initiative of the 2017-18 Budget and will not be means-tested. It supports the Premier’s Priority to reduce overweight and obesity rates of children by five per cent over ten years.
Parents have until December 31, 2018 to claim and use their voucher at sport.nsw.gov.au/activekids or by phoning Service NSW on 13 77 88.