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Monday 23 October

The early education sector crisis and its impact on families has been revealed for the first time.

1000 early learning centres across the country have provided detailed information about how the workforce crisis is impacting their day to day operations. 

  • 95% of centres have had staff leave in the past 12 months and, of those, 78% have had more than 3 educators leave.
  • 91% have current staff vacancies and, of those, 50% have 3 or more current vacancies. 80% have had staff vacancies open for longer than 3 months, and 35% have had vacancies open for 12 months or longer.
  • 88% of centres have waitlists for new families hoping to enrol and, of those, 40% are longer than 12 months.
  • At 79% of centres, even after families secure an enrolment, they can’t access the full number of days that they need, and 29% of centres say their wait time to pick up existing days is 12 months or more.
  • 64% agree that the wellbeing or safety of children has been impacted by staff shortages in the past 12 months.
  • 75% of centres reported concerns for children’s educational outcomes.
  • 87% agree that staff shortages in the past 12 months have impacted the wellbeing or safety of educators.
  • When agency staff are not available, many centres are forced to take other measures, such as closing early, turning children away, partially closing their centre or combining different age groups or “shuffling children around the rooms” in an attempt to meet supervision requirements and ratios.

This exclusive national report from United Workers Union conducted in August 2023 provides eye-opening data on the early learning sector from every state and territory in the country. 

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Director Early Education, United Workers Union: 

“These damning results paint a picture of a sector where educators are hurting, and which can’t meet the needs of families. 

“Families can’t access the education and care they need and children’s safety and education is being put at risk in a sector that is at breaking point. 

“For too long poverty wages have driven educators away, and now there just aren’t enough educators left to deliver the services children need. 

“This cannot go on. 

“Access to quality early education and care is the universal right of every child. When families cannot access appropriate education and care for their children, they cannot work. The early education sector is vital to families and children and without it, our economy grinds to a halt. 

“There’s no time to waste. The Federal Government needs to commit to funding a real payrise for educators.” 

Every state and territory was represented in the results. Key findings available by area: NSWVIC, QLD, SAWAACTTAS, and NT. 

ENDS – Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]