Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters has met with early childhood educators in Epsom to discuss the workforce crisis impacting the sector now and in the future.
“Many 3 and 4 year old’s across Central Victoria will start kinder this week; I want to acknowledge the workforce behind that.
“Jenny’s Early Learning Centre is one of many childcare providers that offers 3 and 4 year older kinder programs, as well as childcare for 0-3 year olds.
“These are the educators and teachers local parents’ first trust with their children outside of the family, and they do such a fantastic job.” Chesters said.
“However, the sector desperately needs more educators and teachers.
“The demand for early childhood education workers is significant: almost 300,000 more children will need an early education and care place in 2019-20 than in 2016-17.” Chesters said.
Unlike the Liberal National Government, Labor has a plan.
Labor’s first step will be to scrap upfront tafe fees for 10,000 early childhood education students to help expand the early childhood education workforce.
Second, Labor will look at pay. Far too many educators and teachers are leaving the sector, not because of a lack of love for the job, but a lack of pay.
“I’ve lost count as to how many educators in Bendigo have said ‘love doesn’t pay the bills’.
“Despite having qualifications, there are early childhood educators in this country who are paid less than half the average wage. That is not good enough.” Chesters said.
“If we want quality outcomes and professional standards, then we need to pay early educators as professionals.
“Labor acknowledges that parents and providers can’t afford to pay more, out of pocket Childcare costs are already too high for some families.
“It’s time for the Federal Government to pay its fair share. Labor will strengthen the ability of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in female dominated industries.
“The evidence shows this is the time in life when children’s brains do their most development, so the quality of their educators is important.” Chesters said.