Premier Berejiklian visits Dubbo to announce $3 million drought-relief package for preschools

Funds flowing: Minister for Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders at Dubbo West preschool. Photo: Belinda Soole
Funds flowing: Minister for Early Childhood Sarah Mitchell, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Nationals candidate Dugald Saunders at Dubbo West preschool. Photo: Belinda Soole

Drought-affected preschools are set to receive a minimum of $3000 each after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a $3 million drought-relief package in Dubbo on Wednesday. 

Premier Berejiklian said the government had listened to the calls from parents and community organisations about providing additional drought-support.

“We know how important it is for families to continue to be able to continue what they’re doing during the difficult conditions,” she said.

She said the package would provide for communities most impacted by the drought like Dubbo West Preschool, where the package was announced with Minister for Early Childhood Education Sarah Mitchell.

“Each preschool in the drought-intense area will receive at least $3000, depending on how many children attend the preschool and what circumstances the farming communities are in, that can obviously go up,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Dubbo West Preschool director Cathryn Albert said the announcement for them, as a community based preschool was really important. 

“We have a high contingency of farmers’ children here,” Ms Albert said. 

“Not just the farmers that are affected, the mechanics, the suppliers ... all of those people and those things are affected by the drought.”

Dubbo West Preschool Parent Management Committee president Anna Ridley said there would be a large number of parents who would benefit. 

When asked if she thought the funding was enough to make a difference she said “I think it would be … any funding is going to help”.   

“Any funding is beneficial, there’s a lot of people struggling at the moment with the drought, it will take the pressure off them even if it is only for a short period.”

Ms Mitchell said they designed the program with a tiered approach, based on advice from the Department of Primary Industry about drought-intensity.

She said by not requiring applications they had ensured the process would not be “onerous for our preschool directors”. 

“The money will be provided to them in October, they’ll be receiving guidelines as to how they can apply the money but with that flexibility so they can come up with local solutions.

“We expect it [to be spent] on fee-relief, transport support, what training can be available for local preschool staff if they’re dealing with the trauma families are going through as well.”

She said preschools would be required to provide information about how the money was spent.

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