Morrison must act to help local early education sector

Today the Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters MP is calling on the Federal Government to act quickly to keep local childcare services open, safe and viable.

Parents, educators and centres are worried that impact of the current COVID-19 wave is having on local early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.

Nationally, the child care sector is in crisis, with reports that over 500 centres are now closed due to staff shortages caused by COVID exposures.

Locally parents at some centres are being asked if they can keep their kids at home because of staff shortages. Others are worried about long term viability with so many children and staff away. 

The Morrison Government must urgently develop a plan to ensure children and early educators are safe, and to prevent the collapse of the early learning sector.

There are few things the Federal Government could do today to help:

  1. Early educators to be defined and recognised as frontline essential workers and therefore, will have access to priority PCR testing and Rapid Antigen Tests
  2. Ensure educators have access to pandemic leave or paid leave entitlements if they are sick or isolating
  3. Centres that need to close for periods because of staff shortages to have access to financial support.
  4. As frontline essential workers, early educators to have priority access to vaccine booster appointments

Without early learning services, our economy will grind to a halt as parents are unable to go to work including nurses and healthcare workers.

If we want nurses and healthcare workers with young children able to attend work, we need centres like Jenny's Early Learning at the Bendigo Hospital open.

The sector has been calling out for clarity and a plan from this Government, in particular on an issue facing so many vital sectors – lack of access to rapid antigen tests.

We are into the third year of this pandemic. The Morrison Government has had ample time to prepare the early learning sector but has failed to do so.