Early childhood educators rally for system change as they reach breaking point

Source: Canberra Times
By Sarah Lansdown – Updated September 7 2022

Early childhood educators declared they wanted pay rises, not cupcakes, during a national day of industrial action.

More than 1000 centres closed as part of the nationwide strike on Wednesday where educators called on governments to increase the award wage as workers leave the sector in droves.

At a rally outside Parliament House, Majura Early Childhood Centre director Laura Kesby said the staff shortage was the worst it has been since she began working in the sector 18 years ago.

“I’ve never seen such a crisis in staffing. It’s really difficult. Finding quality, experienced, qualified people is really difficult.”

Ms Kesby said it was very hard to live on an early childhood educator’s wage in Canberra.

“The cost of living is going up but our wages are not going up. We’re lucky because we work for a not-for-profit organisation that does pay us above the award but I don’t know how people can live on $24 an hour.”

Treehouse in the Park educator Aisep Woodruff said he was considering doing more study in early childhood education but wasn’t sure if it was worth it for a marginal pay increase.

“I want better. I want to be able to do this job for the rest of my life and I can’t afford to. It’s kind of the breaking point for so many people.”

Anglicare community services executive manager co-chair Simon Bennett said the workforce of 96 per cent women were underpaid for the complex work they did.

“When you look at early learning educators being paid for a full time basis of just over $1,000 per week, compared to the average wage of $1500, that’s just under $30,000 less,” Mr Bennett said.

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