Kinder surprise: Bush kinder grants hit Bellarine

February 22, 2024 BY

Bellarine MP Alison Marchant (centre) joined by Headstart Ocean Grove children (L-R) Ned Malouf, Sydney Hirsch, Declan Smith, Jamie Maloney, Alby Jordan, and Riley Swander, Jacqueline Smetham (right). Photos: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

A TRIO of Bellarine kinder programs will receive a one-off grant this year to encourage outdoor play and become more familiar with local bush areas.

Bellarine MP Alison Marchant announced Headstart Early Learning Centre Ocean Grove and Woodlands House Child Care, also in Ocean Grove, and Lonsdale House Childcare in Point Lonsdale would each receive $6,000 to offer a bush kinder program to local children.

Ms Marchant said the grants would assist kindergartens to buy the equipment they need to implement their new bush kinder programs, which in-turn will get kindergarten children outside and learning through activities such as climbing trees and watching wildlife.

“We’re supporting kindergartens in the Bellarine each year to start bush kinder programs, providing more children with opportunities to get outdoors and learn in a natural environment.

“Bush kinder programs are not just fun and educational, they also help to keep kids active and connect them with nature – boosting their health, wellbeing and development.”

Bush kinder programs aim to have a significant positive impact on a child’s development through outdoor play in parks, bushland, and beach settings.

The Labor Government will invest $3.6 million over four years to expand the bush kinder programs to 600 kindergarten services across Victoria.


Bellarine MP Alison Marchant (right) with Headstart Ocean Grove teacher Lorie Lillingston.


Kinder teacher at Headstart Ocean Grove Lorie Lillingston said there was a raft of benefits to outdoor play.

“I love the idea that it is recognised children can learn within a bush setting.

“I get we’re not deep down in the bush, but we have enough for our kids to take risk and bring natural stuff back to the service such as native flowers and sticks, and look at some of our local wildlife.

“I love that this grant has enabled that a little bit more.”

Kindergartens without access to a suitable off-site bushland can instead use their grant funding to enhance the biodiversity of their on-site outdoor environment.

Bush kinder programs funding will commence at the beginning of Term 3, 2024.

Applications for 2025 bush kinder grants will open in the second half of 2024.

For more information on the bush kinder grant, click HERE.