The Greens have thrown their support behind an interim wage supplement for early childhood education and care workers, as proposed by ECEC peak bodies, centres and educators to multiple Senate inquiries.
Centres and educators have warned that there is a workforce crisis in early learning, and without swift action to tackle workforce attrition and vacancies, the sector would not be able to meet the uptick in demand expected following the boost to the Child Care Subsidy the government plans to take effect in July 2023.
The Greens say the interim wage supplement could be substantially funded by the $900 million difference between the original costing of the Government’s childcare affordability measures ($5.4 billion) and the final cost ($4.5 billion).
The interim measure would fund a pay rise before new bargaining and industrial relations laws were in operation and a longer-term strategy to boost pay and conditions for ECEC workers were implemented.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Deputy Leader and Education spokesperson, said:
“The treatment of early childhood educators is a national shame. ECEC staff continue to be paid well below what would be expected of those with their responsibility and skills.
“The government should act immediately and provide an urgent and interim wage supplement, while a long-term solution is developed for a permanent wage increase.
“Centres and educators are basically united in their view that without urgent action to tackle wages, the affordability measures proposed in the government’s legislation simply won’t work.
“Labor’s bill does not tackle the workforce crisis in early education. Educators must receive better pay and conditions that reflect the skill and responsibility of the work they do.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for a Productivity Commission inquiry to conclude that ECEC workers are underpaid and undervalued. Nor can we.”