Today marks a historic professional pay win for early childhood educators across Australia, 96% of whom are women.

Bill Shorten has announced that a Labor Government will fund a 20% pay increase for early childhood educators. Educators are some of Australia’s lowest paid professionals, earning as little as $22 per hour, and they are almost all women.

The pay increase, which will be phased in over eight years, will see average total wages for educators increase by an estimated $11,300 per annum. This is on top of wage increases made by the Fair Work Commission that occur as part of their annual wage review.

This announcement marks a record investment which, alongside Labor’s other reforms – including investing in significant fee relief for working parents, will secure a world-class, high quality early learning education sector for every Australian child. Labor’s vision will mean that parents across Australia can rest assured knowing that their young children are getting the best possible early education delivered by skilled and professionally paid educators.

Kirsty Fildes, an early childhood educator from Redbank Plains in Queensland says, “This is a huge moment for early childhood educators, like me, across Australia. Educators are key to unlocking a child’s potential. We are shaping the foundations for learning, behaviour, thinking, communication and social skills every day. These foundations last a lifetime. We deserve to be valued but instead we are some of the lowest paid professionals in Australia. Today the Labor party has committed to valuing our work. Professional pay means educators like me can stay in the sector we love.”

Helen Gibbons, Assistant National Secretary of United Voice, the early childhood union says, “This truly is a significant day for Australian educators, parents and children. This commitment marks a historic win. Funding for professional wages will address the outrageous situation we face now – that Australia’s early childhood educators earn as little as $22.00 for the responsibility of educating Australia’s youngest children in the crucial early years.

“The fact that 96% of the workforce are women and wages are so appallingly low, is no coincidence. The announcement today is as much a win for pay equality, as it is a win for the sector’s undervalued professionals.

“Today the Labor party has demonstrated that it is the only party with a vision for world-class early learning that values every child at no additional cost to parents.

“It is a commitment to delivering the best outcomes for Australian families. Almost one million Australian families have young children in early childhood education. Professional pay will stop educators leaving the sector at an alarming rate of 37% annually, which is roughly double the national average. This turnover impacts thousands of children and families every day. Professional pay means educators can develop close, ongoing and engaging relationships with children in high quality learning environments. Parents know that continuity of care is crucial for our youngest learners.

“Labor has announced today a vision for the whole package: professional wages for early childhood educators, higher quality early learning for children and more affordability and accessibility for parents. Labor’s early education policy will make early learning more affordable and accessible for the children who stand to benefit most. Educators will support this record investment, especially the way it is targeted to low- and middle-income families. Prioritising world-class early learning is what clever governments are doing around the world and Labor’s vision will put Australia at the forefront.

“Early childhood educators will be supporting the party that supports early childhood education. Between now and election day, thousands of educators will be talking to over one million Australian parents about why a vote for Labor means a vote for world-class, high quality early childhood education. Following this announcement, every parent casting their vote on 18 May will be taking note –  they know how important their child’s educator is and that Labor is stepping up to fund a wage increase for educators and committing to world-class early learning.”

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