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WHAT: Early educators join ACTU President Michele O’Neil and UWU Early Education Director Carolyn Smith at a Goodstart Early Learning Centre to welcome budget commitment for early education. EDS: Educators present from Vic, SA, ACT, NSW.

WHEN: 10.30am.

WHERE: Goodstart Early Learning Barton, 4 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600

Early educators today welcomed Federal Labor’s Budget commitment to address sector-wide low pay in the female-dominated industry.

“In committing to a wage increase for early educators, the desperately-needed wage rise will address a workforce crisis in which workers, families and children are all suffering,” United Workers Union Early Education Director Carolyn Smith said.

“Educators are telling us that families are regularly being turned away; children are being moved from room to room to meet staffing ratios and children are not receiving the emotional support they need with an ever-changing roster of workers.

“Only this week an educator told me she had moved to work in the sector because of her passion for educating young children. After three years in the sector she sees herself having to make a decision between the job she loves and a job that allows her to pay for life’s essentials.

“When long-standing face-to-face educators have wages that effectively top out at $28 an hour for a job that is emotionally and physically demanding, it’s little wonder workers have been rushing for the door.

“This wage rise is about a group of workers who have been undervalued for decades, yet they provide the social, emotional and educational building blocks for Australia’s next generation.

“It also makes good sense to attract and retain a workforce that provides the foundation for women to return to the workplace themselves.

“By setting a new standard for early education, the community will reap the rewards in outcomes for children, parents and the economy.

“The Federal Labor Government commitment starts to recognise the value of the care workforce, and also starts to recognise the full value of the care and support these workers provide to the community.

“By recognising the importance of attracting and retaining a quality workforce in early education and aged care, the Federal Labor Government is committing to better support being received by the community members who rely on those workers.

“More broadly, this measure is among the significant steps this government has taken in addressing cost-of-living pressures and getting wages moving again, and particularly benefits women most as they are over-represented in low-paid jobs.”

EDS: 97% of the workforce in Early Learning is female. In residential aged care the figure is 86%.