*Speech delivered on 27th March 2023.
My email has been flooded with messages from early childhood educators.
They’re understaffed, under-resourced and underpaid. And we give them one of the most important jobs in the world to do.
They’re teaching our children manners, how to read and write, to do basic sums.
They work just as hard as teachers.
For people like me who depended on childcare to support us as working parents, you need to trust the person who’s looking after your child.
You trust them with your child’s education, safety and wellbeing.
You trust them to help raise your children as good human beings.
I still see the women who looked after my kids around Ulverstone today. I love to stop them and have a chat.
Sometimes we talk about what ratbags my kids were, or that time one of them fell through a glass door.
Sorry to Rebecca for all the trauma that day. It was worse for you than me or Liam, I’m pretty sure.
Early childhood educators aren’t paid enough for the work that they do.
You could work at Woolworths or on a spud harvester and be paid better than they are.
No wonder we have a shortage of workers.
In my patch of Tasmania, there is a childcare centre that has 140 children on the waiting list.
They can’t operate at their licensed maximum capacity because of the lack of staff.
The flow on effect of this is huge. Parents end up having to choose between working or caring for their child.
Employers miss out on staff because parents need to stay home.
The loss of income contributes to cost of living pressures.
It really is a ripple effect.
I think the pay for early childhood educators should reflect the work they do. And that’s far more than they’re getting right now.
They give our kids a home away from home.
And that shouldn’t be undervalued.