Preschool Education in Australia

Pre-school and pre-prep programmes in Australia are relatively unregulated, and are not compulsory. The first exposure many Australian children have to learning with others outside of traditional parenting is day care or a parent-run playgroup. This sort of activity is not generally considered schooling, as pre-school education is separate from primary school in all states and territories, except Western Australia where pre-school education is taught as part of the primary school system and Victoria where the state framework, VEYLDF covers children from birth to 8 years old, is used by some schools over the federal framework. In Queensland, pre-school programmes are often called Kindergarten or Pre-Prep, and are usually privately run but attract state government funding if run for at least 600 hours a year and delivered by a registered teacher.

Pre-schools are usually run by the state and territory governments, except in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales where they are more often run by local councils, community groups or private organisations. Pre-school is offered to three- to five-year-olds; attendance numbers vary widely between the states, but 85.7% of children attended pre-school the year before school. The year before a child is due to attend primary school is the main year for pre-school education. This year is far more commonly attended, and may take the form of a few hours of activity during weekdays.

Responsibility for pre-schools in New South Wales and Victoria, lies with the Department of Education and Communities and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), respectively. In all other states and territories of Australia, responsibility for pre-schools lie with the relevant education department.

The average net cost (taking into account the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Tax Rebate entitlements) for a long day care in Australia is $3.85 per hour, or a net cost of around $46 a day for a long day care service offering 12-hour days.