United Voice, the early childhood union, criticises the government’s changes being implemented today for failing to address the early childhood education and care (ECEC) wage crisis. Today is a missed opportunity for big picture reform and to address the sector’s urgent need for professional pay.
Helen Gibbons, Assistant National Secretary of United Voice, the early childhood union, says, “This is merely tinkering around the edges. It is a missed opportunity for bigger, bolder reform and investment.
“The Government’s changes do not address the wages crisis in the sector. They leave too many families worse off. And they continue to leave Australia below the OECD average level of investment in early education. Australia is a wealthy country, we can and should do much better. Everyone agrees: early childhood education is the answer to tackling inequality and future proofing Australia’s education system, economy and society.
“Educators are just so angry and fed up. They, and the children they educate every day, have once again been left behind by this Government.
“The Government clearly just does not get it. Making sure every child gets the best start life comes down to making sure their educators aren’t living on poverty wages. Educators can no longer subsidise the early childhood education system.
“It can no longer be tolerated that a professional workforce is being paid around $22.00 an hour.”
United Voice is concerned that the new system supports inequality. Inequality for educators and inequality for the families left worse off.
Ms Gibbons says, “Education is about fighting inequality and early childhood education is where the most gains can be made.
“The activity test is harsh and complex, cutting access to early learning for children who stand to benefit the most. Disadvantaged, low income and families in insecure work are negatively impacted by the activity tests. The changes also cut quality ECEC access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which United Voice vigorously opposes. A child’s life chances should be shaped by their innate abilities, not where they were born or how much their parents earn. Strong investment in ECEC can break the cycle of disadvantage and set children on a strong educational course for life.
“Our early childhood education system is broken if it fails to deliver to children that need quality education. The new system is unequal for parents, just as the government ignoring the funding of professional pay continues to make the system unequal for educators.
“At the heart of our early education system should be quality – a system where every educator is valued and paid accordingly, and where no child is left behind. Australia can do so much better.”
The Government’s continued refusal to acknowledge the professionalisation of the ECEC workforce by funding professional pay in today’s changes will lead to further action from the sector this year.