Early Childhood Education

21 March 2017

Across Australia there are almost two million children who attend child care. The

vast majority of these are aged between zero and five and they attend childcare centres before they are old enough

to begin school. The first five years of a child's life are the most important, as they lay the foundations for health,

safety, development, learning and happiness for the rest of the child's life. Yet early childhood educators are paid

one-third less than those teaching and caring for children just a few years older.

It is for this reason that on 8 March I was proud to stand alongside early childhood educators from the Swallow

Street Child Care Centre in Inala to show my support as part of the Big Steps campaign. I joined the centre

director, Kym Cook, Big Steps' equal pay and leave coordinator from United Voice Queensland, Linda Revill,

and dozens of other childcare educators, families and supporters as we marched in unison with over 1,000 other

educators across the country to demand a better deal. In particular, despite the incredibly important work they

do, many early childhood educators are paid as little as $20 per hour—half the national average wage. Making

matters worse is that 97 per cent of educators are female, which only further widens the gender pay gap in

Australia. Helen Gibbons, the Assistant National Secretary of United Voice, says:

Educators are walking off the job on International Women's Day to tell Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull it's

time he valued their work by funding equal pay for educators.

I am 100 per cent committed to ensuring that we further improve the education and training opportunities for

our kids. In particular, it is crucial to make sure that we value early childhood educators as much as we value

every child. In my electorate of Oxley, there are 7,000 families whose children are in child care. That is 7,000

families who place their trust in early childhood educators to care for and teach their children, yet educators' pay

and wages do not reflect the true value they add to families and society. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder

with early childhood educators, not only at the Swallow Street Child Care Centre in Inala but right across the

south-west of Brisbane in my Oxley electorate and throughout the country. All of our early childhood educators

do a fantastic job, and it is time we recognised them and paid them what they deserve. We must make sure that

child care is both affordable and accessible for Australian families but also recognise the incredibly important

work of our early childhood educators by ensuring they are paid a fair and just wage. It is time for the wages of

early childhood educators to reflect the essential role they have in shaping the future, one child at a time.