School Readiness Funding is a Victorian State Government program that supports 3-year-old and 4-year-old children in all early childhood education and care services delivering state-funded kindergarten programs in Victoria. The amount of SRF each service receives is based on the level of need of the children enrolled at their service. 

What does School Readiness Funding (SRF) mean to you? 

To Julie Kavanagh, Nominated Supervisor at Melton Central Kindergarten “SRF is a gift that drives and assists me to meet the needs of the community.” 

And these needs are great. Over her 22 years at Melton Central Julie has seen enormous changes in the community. “Melton was once a small middle-income township. We are now one of the fastest growing corridors in Melbourne and have a large refugee and immigrant community. We also see a lot of families in crisis, experiencing vulnerabilities with unemployment, substance abuse, incarceration, and family violence. As a teaching team we’re heavily involved with services that support positive outcomes in our community.” 

Julie explains how this informs their careful planning and utilisation of SRF and why the funding is equally critical to children, families, and staff. 

“For us, SRF helps staff to cope with these complexities by upskilling and having available resources to survive what can be really challenging situations. SRF is a driver for me and without it, there wouldn’t be much to grasp in terms of funding options.” 

How to best allocate funding is part of the deep professional conversations Julie and her team have with their Practice Coach. Capacity building is key to the training and resources they invest in and for Julie, looking carefully at what’s happening in the community is essential. This is assessed through data gathered from enrolment forms, QIP and service documents, community input and local conversations, including with Child Protection. 

“The data reveals the priority needs and helps us work out the best way for us to approach them. Everything we do plays into responsiveness, supports us to embed our practice and how we might consolidate this in the future. This is what we’ve seen, this is what we need to do, this is how it plays out.” 

And having the support of a solid and loyal team is central to their practice. Julie says “How we nurture trauma-informed practice starts with the team. It’s a balance between responding to vulnerabilities and keeping and supporting staff.” 

Julie believes the kindergarten’s point of difference is the way the team, along with a network of Practice Coaches, partners and support teams, think and plan their approach across multiple years. “We ask ‘How do we scaffold and support new teams, what do we know about children and families coming in? How do we do things meaningfully’ and always ‘How will this help break the cycle of educational disadvantage?’” 

She also sees SRF as a natural part of our four fundamental service documents (QIP, RAP, RP&PD, SRF). “SRF is a gift that enables me to look at things as a broader plan beyond three to five years – it’s capacity building. We approach all the service documents holistically and work hard to connect them because once you make the connections, there’s a path to identify and follow.” 

And when it comes to her overall approach to learning, Julie’s powerful message is clear. “I keep an open mind and do the best job I can and that’s all!” 

About us 
Melton Central Kindergarten is a double unit Kindergarten on the rural fringes of Melbourne’s West. The multilingual team works with children from a broad demographic including a high number of Burmese refugee and Indian immigrant families.