Children playing at a childcare centre
More than $700m will go towards NSW pre-schools, including centres at new public primary schools. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • state budget and tax

NSW budget targets pre-school ‘drought’ in funding lift

September 18, 2023

The NSW budget will provide long-term investment and encourage more women into the workforce with a boost to spending on pre-schools.

The Labor government announced Tuesday’s budget would include $769 million for 100 public pre-schools, including building facilities on the grounds of every new public primary school in NSW.

Premier Chris Minns said the policy would target areas where there was a “drought” in early childhood education, which was stopping many women getting back to work.

“We know that there’s particular parts of the state where early childhood education is just not an option for families,” he said on Monday.

The first 10 public pre-schools will be built alongside primary schools across northwest, western and southwestern Sydney, as well as facilities at Nowra on the south coast, Lennox Head on the north coast and Thurgoona near the Victorian border.

The remaining 90 sites will be chosen based on educational needs and expected future demand for pre-school access.

The opposition has accused the state government of recycling its policies, which also included plans to build extra pre-schools alongside new public schools.

Coalition education spokeswoman Sarah Mitchell said Labor had done nothing to support the previous government’s universal pre-education policy, which included a target of 500 new pre-schools within four years.

“Because of Labor, there simply won’t be enough places for all children to attend five days a week by 2030, which shows there needs to be a much larger investment in this space or families will miss out,” she said.

Education Minister Prue Car said the number floated by the coalition was never going to be achievable and relied on partnerships with private providers.

Treasurer Daniel Mookhey will hand down Labor’s first budget in 13 years, promising to rebuild essential services he says were neglected by multiple former coalition governments.

Mr Minns said the budget was “a good document that will invest in the long-term future of this state”.

It will include a funding package of $53 million over four years to more than double the number of sexual assault nurse examiners and permanently employ extra medical and forensic specialists to fill gaps in the healthcare system.

The funding will be used to recruit an extra 36 specialist nurses, five sexual assault and domestic violence-trained medical officers or staff specialists and seven pediatric child-protection leads. 

The 48 full-time positions will ensure every health district in NSW has 24/7 crisis coverage for adult and child sexual assault victims who will have access to specialist medical and forensic response within two hours of a request. 

Sexual assault presentations to NSW Health are rising yearly, with 65,599 in 2019/20 compared with 53,065 in 2016/17.

A shortage of trained health care professionals has left critical gaps in services for victims. 

Health Minister Ryan Park said survivors needed a safe, timely, holistic public health response. 

“These services also enable the collection of forensic evidence in a trauma-informed way with patient consent to support criminal investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators of sexual assault, reducing any delays and loss of evidence,” he said. 

The budget will also allocate Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 an additional $200 million to expedite the project’s planning processes and ensure construction starts in this term of government. 

The light rail will connect Parramatta’s business district to Sydney Olympic Park with the 10km extension to include 14 extra light rail stops expected to service a population of more than 277,000 people by 2041.

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National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028