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In Australia during 2017, 339,243 children aged 4 or 5 were enrolled in a preschool program, representing an increase of 2.6% on the previous year's figure. The largest growth rates were in the Australian Capital Territory (6%) and Victoria (5%).
Australia wide, there were 17,455 children enrolled who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, which was 7.2% higher than in 2016. The largest growth also occurred in the Australian Capital Territory (26%) and Victoria (15%).
Enrolled 15 hours or more
The large majority of children (95%) enrolled in a preschool program were enrolled for 15 hours or more per week. The number of children enrolled for 15 hours or more per week grew significantly across many states. Growth in this category was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children than for all children.
Attended 15 hours or more
Of the children enrolled in a preschool program, 75% attended for 15 hours or more per week. The number of children attending for 15 hours or more increased 3.5% nationally compared to 2016, with the Northern Territory (13%) and New South Wales (9.2%) showing the greatest increase.
The increase was also observed in the attendance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in a preschool program for 15 hours or more per week. The attendance figures show an increase of 12% from the previous year, with the largest increases seen in the Northern Territory (41% from a relatively small base) and New South Wales (26%).
The map below shows the percentage change in each state and territory for children attending a preschool program for 15 hours or more per week. Hours attending are calculated using a reference period (usually one week) in August each year. Preschools often have strict policies about keeping children home if they are ill, and cold and flu are more common in winter, therefore children’s attendance during this short period may not fully reflect their pattern of attendance over the whole year.
More than three in four children enrolled in a preschool program were charged low out-of-pocket costs (under $4 per hour), with one in four in fee-free preschool programs. These are net fees, referring to the actual tuition fees charged to attend a preschool program after subsidies have been deducted.
The highest proportions of children with low fee enrolments were in the Northern Territory (97%), Tasmania (93%) and Western Australia (92%). New South Wales showed the greatest increase compared to last year, with an additional 15,175 (15%) children benefitting from low fees.
Footnote(s): (a) Excludes not stated
In 2017, there were 11,366 service providers delivering a preschool program in Australia. Of these 37% were a Preschool (either stand-alone or as part of a school) and 63% were Long Day Care centres (LDCs).
Service delivery models differ among the states and territories. New South Wales and Queensland have a predominantly LDC delivery model (accounting for 78% and 72% of preschool program providers respectively), whereas preschools made up the highest proportion of providers in Tasmania and the Northern Territory (both 63%), and Western Australia (61%).
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