WHEN: TODAY, Wednesday 2 September at 10:15 am
WHERE: Parliament House Lawns, Canberra
WHAT: Educators will be taking action on the Parliament House Lawns, setting up a display featuring their qualifications and messages to the Federal Government about why they feel hung out to dry, before delivering a petition to Dan Tehan with over 10,000 signatures calling on more support for educators in lockdown.
WHO: Workers in early childhood education and care.
NOTE: Everyone attending this event will be expected to adhere to current social distancing guidelines.
Today Australia celebrates frontline workers in early education on Early Childhood Educators’ Day. But this year, early childhood educators feel hung out to dry by the Federal Government during the COVID-19 crisis.
Educators were the first workers to be cut from JobKeeper, and have faced months of uncertainty and financial hardship. Over 10,000 people signed a petition in support of Victorian educators in just a few weeks.
Dan Tehan, Federal Minister for Education has agreed to meet with United Workers Union members today to receive a petition for the Federal Government to provide a wage guarantee to workers in early childhood education and care throughout this crisis.
Centre Director Cassandra has worked in the sector for more than 15 years. She says, “We are here to tell Dan Tehan that it’s time for a real wage guarantee for early childhood educators.
“When the Government targeted our sector as the first to lose JobKeeper, it was a blow to all of us.
“Educators in Victoria have faced unnecessary uncertainty and hardship through a lack of Federal Government support. Today it’s Victoria, but it could be any of us in the future. We feel hung out to dry.
“It’s not good enough to call us heroes. We deserve a safety net like everyone else.”
United Workers Union Early Childhood Education and Care Director Helen Gibbons said, “The Federal Government has repeatedly thanked educators for their contributions with empty words.
“The government has attempted to fob off educators with a meaningless ‘employment guarantee’ but this guarantee doesn’t prevent part-timers and casuals from facing drastic cuts in hours. The vast majority of the sector is part-time or casual, and they have no safety net.
“Throughout this pandemic, educators have worked every day to provide quality early education and care while keeping children and communities safe from infection.
“Now thousands of part-time and casual educators in Victoria have had their hours reduced to next to nothing.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to establish a wage guarantee for all early childhood educators during this crisis, and for any future funding to the sector to be tied to wages, to ensure a sustainable early learning sector into the future.
“The Federal Government must provide immediate support for educators to survive this pandemic.”
Statement from Victorian educator Amanda:
“I have two young children and am an early childhood educator.
“I agree with the Stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne. I think it’s necessary that these measures have to be put into place. I am grateful that both myself and my partner have jobs as essential workers.
“But now my hours have been cut to 15 hours per week.
“We had savings. Those are almost gone now after months of uncertainty, reduced income and frugality.
“In every press conference, if early childhood educators are mentioned, we are praised because we’re essential.
“But without a guaranteed income I am so scared that not long from now, we will not have enough money to survive.
“Looking down the barrel of an almost empty bank account and very little support coming in from the government, I am equally furious and heartbroken that we, as the teachers and caregivers to your children, to our children, are told we are priceless when in reality, you are treating us as worthless.
“Please help us.”