United Voice, the early childhood union, welcomes the announcement from the ACT Government of the new policy that will provide free, universal childcare for three-year-olds.
Lyndal Ryan, ACT Branch Secretary of United Voice, says “We welcome this announcement, no-one knows better than our educators how important early learning is.
“Workforce participation in the ACT has always been high. ACT parents have a high level of need for childcare and have high expectations of a quality early learning environment for their children. Yet, at the same time it’s been difficult for centres to attract and attain staff. It is an area of policy that needs great care and understanding to get it right. It is refreshing to have a Minister focusing on quality improvements for the sector and who recognizes that early learning begins at such an early age, and in all centres. This policy is not repeating the mistakes that happened under the NSW model.
“We also welcome Minister Yvette Berry’s commitment to seeking further Commonwealth investment in early childhood education. At present, Australia underspends on early childhood education compared to similar countries and spends significantly less than the OECD average.
“We look forward to working with the sector and the ACT government on how best to deliver the scheme. We are pleased that the Minister has a depth of knowledge around these intersecting issues.”
ACT educators will continue the fight for equal pay. Qualified educators are some of the lowest paid professionals in Australia. Despite studying for 18 months to 4 years, rates of pay are around $22.00 an hour and these low rates of pay are a major reason behind the high workforce turnover in the territory.
Lyndal Ryan says “We hope that Minister Berry will also take the message to the Federal Government that a vital part of further federal investment in the sector must also include the funding of equal pay for educators. Any calls for additional funding have got to include the component that address the sector’s wage crisis.”
Media comment: Lyndal Ryan, 0411 643 982