Dear friends and supporters,
We have some good news. The Parenthood has received a 'golden ticket', an invitation from the Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, to attend the Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra next week.
The Summit is being organised by the Federal government who have invited 100 Australians from across business, unions, civil society, community organisations and government, to come together to address the economic challenges and opportunities we’re facing as a nation.
That we’re able to attend and ensure the voice of parents and carers like you are heard in this forum is a privilege. It’s also critically important.
In recent days members of the government, including Early Childhood Education minister Dr Anne Aly, the minister for Finance and Women, Senator Katy Gallagher, and the treasurer, have all specifically highlighted that early childhood education and care is a huge piece of the puzzle that the Jobs Summit will seek to place.
It makes sense on every level.
A strong and resilient early childhood education and care system is the foundation of a strong and resilient economy - and thriving communities.
Children having access to quality early childhood education and care is crucial to their healthy development which is, albeit down the track, crucial to their ability to participate in work. In the short-term, parents being able to access quality, suitable early childhood education and care is crucial to them being able to participate in work.
As the Grattan Institute CEO, Danielle Wood, says: 'It is economic insanity that we spend billions on roads to shave minutes off commute times but we haven’t made the necessary investments to ensure an entire group of willing workers can make it to work at all.'
That Danielle Wood is a keynote speaker at the summit bodes well for early childhood education and care being a major focus. It also bodes well for the defining challenge in early childhood education and care being tackled: that the workforce is in crisis. And that the workforce crisis poses a very real threat to the benefits - to children, parents and the economy - that can be realised from totally affordable, high quality early learning and care.
"A qualified early childhood carer can earn less per hour than someone working at Bunnings, McDonald’s or in road-traffic control. We will not be able to deliver the services we need or boost workforce participation unless we improve the pay and quality of these crucial enabling roles."
That's why on 7 September, a matter of days after the Job Summit is held, early childhood educators and teachers around the country are going to shut down and take to the streets. They’ve had enough.
The reasonable needs of early educators have been overlooked for too long. The shut-down is a call for better pay, better conditions and more respect for the life-changing, nation-building early childhood educators and teachers undertake.
There is no doubt that children and parents not being able to access early learning and care on 7 September will be disruptive. But if early educators don’t get the respect, support and decent pay they deserve, they’re going to continue to leave the profession and that will be far more disruptive than a day-long shut down.
It’s estimated that Australia needs at least an additional 39,000 early educators by 2023. But right now instead of growing this workforce is shrinking.
We need to act now to stem the loss of early educators and do everything we can to attract Australians into this profession.
That’s why we’re supporting the action and call from early educators for better pay and conditions. We’ve put together a kit with suggestions for how parents and allies can best support educators.
We need an early childhood education and care system that delivers for children, for early educators and for families. That starts and ends with a strong and sustainable workforce of early educators and teachers.
Fixing the workforce crisis in early learning will mean:
- more educators can be securely employed in the sector
- more places available for children so that parents can choose to return to work and ease other workforce shortages in teaching, nursing, aged care and more;
- more learning opportunities for children in the first five years.
At the Jobs and Skills Summit next week we’ll do everything we can to make the case for early educators getting the respect and recognition they deserve. Children, parents and families are depending on it.
We’ll report back.