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Each Australian state has a different approach to preschool. The names of services also vary from state to state.

Preschool: the basics

  • Preschools offer group-based programs for children of three and four years of age that are sessional and part-time.
  • Participation in preschool is by parental choice.
  • Preschool isn’t a pre-year one program (‘year one’ is called kindergarten, preparatory, reception or pre-primary across the different states, and are usually for children aged five or six).
  • Preschool programs are sponsored by state or education departments and community organisations. They are also run as part of private or community-based child care centres.

Across Australian states and territories

Australian Capital Territory

  • Known as preschool.
  • Operate close to, or on, school sites. In newer areas, are often run next to child care centres.
  • No fees, with a voluntary contribution levy.

New South Wales

  • Known as preschool.
  • Mostly independent, with fees of about $60 per week.
  • Some school-based, fee-free preschools are run by the Department of Education.
  • Flexible hours offered for working parents at some preschools.

Northern Territory

  • Known as preschool.
  • Run by the Department of Employment, Education and Training.
  • No fees.
  • Flexibility in hours for working parents.
  • Buses to preschool provided.

Queensland

  • Known as kindergarten.
  • Fees apply – set by the provider.
  • Operate as either stand-alone kindergarten services (for example, community kindergartens and services delivered by non-state schools), or as long-day care centres.
  • Many operate close to, or on, school sites.

South Australia

  • Known as child parent centres or kindergarten.
  • Child parent centres operate within schools; kindergartens operate independently.
  • No fees, but some kindergartens ask for a voluntary contribution levy.
  • Opportunity for Indigenous children to access extra hours.

Tasmania

  • Known as kindergarten.
  • No fees.
  • Linked to school system.

Victoria

  • Known as preschool and kindergarten.
  • The majority are run as stand-alone centres.
  • Fees charged.
  • Managed by parent committees.
  • Some preschool programs offered in long-day care centres; these are required to be run by qualified kindergarten teachers if they’re government funded.
  • Mobile preschools in remote areas.
  • State government transitionary initiative.

Western Australia

  • Known as kindergarten.
  • Operate within schools, day care centres and as independent centres.
  • Bus services offered.
  • No fees.
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  • Last Updated 08-05-2006
  • Last Reviewed 08-05-2006