Monday, 18 June 2012
Statements by Members
This morning I had the pleasure of co-convening with Senator Lisa Singh and Minister Kate Lundy the second meeting of the Labor Friends of Early Childhood Education and Child Care which was attended by early childhood educators and childcare centre operators from all around Australia who came together in support of the United Voice Big Steps campaign to achieve better conditions for educators in this sector.
There is no question that child care and early childhood education is one of the most valuable kinds of work done in our community. It is a foundation stone for the education and socialisation of kids, which is essential for their development. It is also an essential part of providing the support framework that allows women to remain engaged in the workforce. The fact that educators are drawn to do this work and motivated by their commitment to the children in their care should not be exploited through the holding down of pay and conditions—which happens far too often in areas of vocational employment that tend to involve very high proportions of women, like child care, early childhood education and aged care.
Poor pay and conditions for workers in these roles is forcing them to leave the industry in droves because they cannot afford to stay despite the fact that they love their jobs. This is leading to a crisis in the industry with parents, childcare centre operators and workers calling for further reform and funding to deliver appropriate professional employment conditions for early childhood educators. I fully support the Big Steps campaign and pay tribute to all those working in the vital area of early childhood education.