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February 2, 2023

Early Childhood Educators are demanding a 25 per cent wage rise to address a sector-wide worker crisis that is forcing centres to cut back and creating chaos for families.

In a Federal Budget submission today, early educators say their work needs to be recognised with higher wages or there will be a devastating impact on their ability to provide the quality education and care services children need.

Amid industry estimates of 16,000 workers needed to maintain early childhood education and care services this year alone, educators say a 25 per cent increase in wages would address years of workers being undervalued.

“Low pay and high stress mean the best and brightest educators are leaving the sector in droves,” United Workers Union early education director Helen Gibbons said today.

“Since early childhood educators took national action to shut down the sector on September 7 last year, the workforce crisis has only become worse.

“Parents either can’t get the place they require, or they are being told on a daily basis they can’t bring their children in because of worker shortages.

“Educators are barely able to survive on the wages they are paid amid soaring cost-of-living increases. As a result turnover is going through the roof and workloads are unacceptably high.

“Educators need a reason to stay and now they are calling on the Federal Government to step in to lift wages across the sector.

“The whole industry also faces a surge in demand as the Federal Government increases accessibility to parents through its ‘Cheaper Child Care’ reforms starting on July 1.”

Ms Gibbons said the Federal Government needed to commit to funding a 25 per cent increase in workers’ wages.

“We have seen in the aged care work-value case a belated recognition that care work has been historically undervalued, and the same applies to early educators,” Ms Gibbons said.

“The Federal Government should also live up to its commitment to address entrenched gender bias and pay inequities in its Secure Jobs, Better Pay reforms.

“To ensure a sector that is able to continue to function, it’s time to finally recognise the vital role early childhood educators play in children’s lives.

“There will be a cost to the Budget, but the far greater cost will be the impact to children, families, workers and the broader economy if the sector spirals further into crisis.”

Ms Gibbons said the community needs confidence that additional funding for wages is delivered to educators and not used to prop up providers.

Debbie, a centre director with Clovelly Child Care Centre, said the sector desperately needed stability.

“I think the strongest impact is that families who are trying to find a place for their children are finding it difficult to get a place.

“Parent benefits in July are great but they do not address the fact educators have left the floor.

“It’s a nightmare situation. It’s a combination of not enough pay, Covid and not feeling valued.

“It’s a disgrace that educators who are trained professionals are getting the lowest wages; some are only earning $26 an hour.”



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