Hills District Independent JUNE 2017 #24 - Page 18

politics with Ray Williams MP $30 Million boost for long day care More than 2400 long day care centres across the state will receive a share of a $30 million funding boost as part of the NSW Government’s Start Strong reforms. With two thirds of NSW working families’ accessing long day care, this $30 million investment will improve education outcomes and the quality of long day care services in NSW. The success of a child’s education on their last day of school is determined by their very first day of school, and the NSW Government is backing our kids to give them the best start in life. I am very proud more children than ever before have access to quality early childhood education. The $30 million investment will be rolled out from May for children aged four and above, with funding weighted accordingly for children meeting additional criteria – providing more support for those families who need it most. Services may use funds to purchase resources, develop a new program based on the Early Years Learning Framework or support staff development. The $30 million funding is part of Start Strong, a $115 million investment in community preschools and long day care services aimed at making 600 hours of early childhood education more affordable. Children who attend 600 hours of early childhood education in the year before school arrive at school ready for ongoing learning and the benefits of this are evident throughout their lives. Since 2011 the NSW Government has invested more than $1.6 billion in improving early childhood education in NSW with more than $382 million this financial year alone. Youth grant funding As Minister responsible for Youth, I have just announced one-off grants of up to $50,000 for projects that engage young people to lead and participate in community development activities.  The Youth Opportunities program is focused on engaging with young people and removing barriers that prevent them from participating more in their community. Funded projects from previous rounds have focused on giving young people the opportunity to develop a diverse range of skills, including leadership, communication, and teamwork. The online application process opens on Monday 22 May 2017 and closes on Monday 26 June 2017. Successful applications will be announced later in 2017. Visit www. youth.nsw.gov.au/youth-opportunities. Hills Shire Council mayor’s Update with Mayor Yvonne Keane The Hills Shire Council Don’t let the cooler weather keep you at home! We have a wonderful Shire with plenty of great natural scenery, events and activities to keep you entertained and out exploring the great outdoors this winter. Lace-up your joggers and experience one of the many scenic tracks, trails and parks available in the region. The national parks and forests are home to native wildlife, waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and remnants from our early colonial past. We have oodles of beautiful recreational locations to relax and unwind with an abundance of cycleways and walking tracks to keep you fit, happy and healthy. And best of all, our parks provide a great opportunity to roll out a blanket and enjoy a picnic with your nearest and dearest. My pick for the month is Alfred Henry Whaling Memorial Reserve and Rose Garden in Baulkham Hills. The seven- hectare park boasts a premiere athletics facility, children’s playground, swimming pool complex and a beautiful garden with more than 100 species of roses. Or, if you love history, The Hills enjoys an abundance of significant buildings and sites which provide a unique glimpse into our colonial past. Why not take a trip back in time with a tour at Bella Vista Farm, Roughley House and The Pines or Aberdoon House? Time your visit well and you could attend a theatrical interpretative experience that really gives you a feel for how it was. Enlightening and engaging! You could follow every twist and turn of the Hawkesbury River during a scenic country drive along one of the oldest roads in Australia. Experience the days of the stockman at Tobruk Sydney as you follow the Great North Road - Australia’s only convict built road which remains in its original state. Nothing stirs the imagination to life like a walk through The Museums Discovery Centre, where you will find hundreds of treasures on display. Or you could lose yourself in one of our local libraries. 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