My adjournment this evening is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is for the minister to publicly confirm funding the Tomorrow Today foundation in Benalla for at least the next three calendar years. The Department of Education recommends recurrent funding in the next budget, and the community are calling for recurrent funding, so it is time the minister act. Tomorrow Today is driving transformative change in the region, addressing intergenerational disadvantage and supporting more than 1500 children and families annually. There is no debate over their credentials and positive impact in our community. Just recently they were recommended at the Victorian Early Years Awards for a program that addresses gaps in the pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills of preschool-age children to ensure Benalla’s children are ready to learn when they start school.
I would like to list a few of the real changes that we are seeing in our region thanks to their remarkable work. Since 2018 Benalla has seen a decrease of 9.9 per cent in the number of children who are considered developmentally vulnerable at school commencement. The community achieved 100 per cent completion rates for year 12 in both 2021 and 2022. There has been an increase in the proportion of young people who go on to employment and a decrease of 19 per cent in the proportion of disengaged people aged 15 to 24 years. There has been a dramatic reduction in the levels of child vulnerability in Benalla and improvements in school preparedness, communication skills and social competence.
You can listen to those who participate in Tomorrow Today’s programs to learn more about how important they are to the local community. Bree Kotvas, the mother of young child Samuel in the foundation’s parents early education partnership, said one of the things Samuel has really progressed in is dealing with his own emotional competence. Star, a student that was part of the hands-on program, said she learned how to build and grow her skills. Sarah, in the same program, said she had grown more confident to reach out and speak and have her own voice through the program.
To finish, I want to thank Rosie Koop, the outgoing CEO, for her continued advocacy in the role. She is truly an inspiration, and it has been a pleasure to work with her and advocate alongside her. While it is incredibly sad to see such an important figure departing from the foundation, I welcome incoming CEO Jodie Fleming, who I have no doubt will be a force in our community. Long-term funding will help Tomorrow Today increase its impact in our community and continue to deliver positive change for those who need it. While the growth thanks to Tomorrow Today has been absolutely incredible, Benalla is still very much a work in progress, and I implore the minister to continue to back this essential service and support his department’s endorsement of such a life-changing program.