MEDIA RELEASE Early childhood educators have been betrayed by the sudden withdrawal of JobKeeper and the insecurity that brings.
Thousands of educator jobs are at risk, especially for the casual workforce which makes up 25% of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.
Education Minister Dan Tehan’s announcement has only created more confusion for the sector, doing nothing to fix the ongoing funding problems and need for reform. His plan leaves the workforce subject to another spiral of instability once fees are reintroduced.
Helen Gibbons, director of early education for United Workers Union says, “Educators and their union are appalled that ECEC is the first sector to have JobKeeper removed. Just a few months ago educators were essential, now they are disposable.
“This is chaotic. This is confusing. The Federal Government is making up policy for a crucial sector on the run.
“The future for this feminised workforce is at risk. The Federal Government response puts thousands of educator jobs on the line.
“Demand will drop again once parent fees are reintroduced in a few weeks, beginning another spiral of instability.
“The COVID crisis exposed what we already know – that early education is an essential service with essential workers. In March we saw an unprecedented response of direct funding and wage subsidies by the Federal Government to avoid the collapse of the early learning sector.
“Educators were required to continue operating throughout COVID-19, at significant personal risk. Now the government has singled them out for a chaotic experiment.
“We are truly appalled at the Education Minister admitting that educators may earn “a tiny bit less”. This is yet another demonstration of how little Minister Tehan understands the issues facing educators. Many workers in ECEC already live pay cheque to pay cheque. Any further reduction in income is too much. Many educators will feel betrayed by this sudden withdrawal of JobKeeper and the insecurity that brings.
“The only way to fix the sector properly is to start listening to educators. Educators are fighting for a sector that ensures every child can access the early education and care they need and that every educator is properly valued for their work.
“ECEC is essential for economic recovery as Australia gets back to work and this will mean there will not be the qualified educators available to deliver it.
“Educators deserve better. Without genuine targeted support for the workforce we’re heading for a whole new crisis.”