PM says “yes” to more pay for local childcare workers

PM says “yes” to more pay for local childcare workers

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The PM was treated to a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle

The Prime Minister made a quick stop in at Goodstart Early Learning in Mt Nasura on Tuesday.

It was the only domestic visit on his whirlwind diplomatic tour with Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

 

Children were interviewed about their favourite colours

The Prime Minister sat down with local member Matt Keogh, Early Childhood Education Minister Anne Aly, and a gregarious group of three and four-year-olds to discuss pressing political matters like favourite colours, and sing nursery rhymes.

Afterwards, the PM was ambushed by the centre’s staff who were keen to impress upon him how long they’d been waiting for a significant pay rise.

Reeann Andrews has been working at the centre for eight years and said she’s seen qualified educators leave the sector “in droves” during that time.

“We’re just not getting paid enough,” she said.

“The workload is too high, the amount of paperwork we have to do is insane, and we’re still not recognised for the valuable work we do. People still consider us to be glorified babysitters.

“A 25 percent pay rise would be a good start to fixing a lot of the problems.”

Childcare centres all over the country are struggling to find enough staff to fill demand. And when Reeann goes on maternity leave in August, she will leave a gaping hole in the Mt Nasura centre.

Centre director Sharee Dunnet said the reality of the nation-wide early childhood educator shortage means she knows she won’t be able to replace Reeann.

“I already have five spots to fill, which have been open for months,” she said.

“It’s horrible, but what it’ll mean is that we’ll have to reduce our numbers of children.

“For every one educator who leaves the industry, it affects 15 children.”

She said low pay and staff burnout were the two biggest contributing factors to the growing problem.

“We just really need to know when we can expect the pay rise that we’ve been promised,” she said.

The Big Steps’ oldest campaigner has been waiting a long time for a pay rise, staff said.

In September last year the Fair Work Commission authorised for collective bargaining of 64 early childhood employers and 12,000 educators. The United Workers Union called on the government, as the funder of the sector, to come to the table and “come prepared to fund a real wage increase”.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Albanese acknowledged their concerns.

“Yep, we need to fix the pay,” he said.

“It’s no accident that the most feminised of industries have fallen behind. We want to make sure that the valuable work that early childcare educators are doing is paid properly.

“There is an increase for everyone, of course, on July 1 – all people on award wages will get that.

“But what we’re doing now is negotiating.”

The Examiner asked if Mr Albanese could promise there would be an increase to early childhood educator pay before the next election.

“Yes,” he said, before being whisked off to his next engagement.