Passion led us here written on the footpath

Media release: First step towards fair pay deal for early childhood educators

A better paid early education and care workforce could be just around the corner, under an historic pay negotiation plan of unity and cooperation launched today.

Early education and care peak bodies will embark on a collaborative process with unions to demonstrate how increased workforce professionalism can deliver the best opportunities for Australia’s children and their parents.

Under new federal industrial relation laws taking effect today, peak bodies Community Child Care Association (CCC) and Community Early Learning Australia (CELA) will represent community-run and small providers in the first national application for multi-employer bargaining in the early education and care sector.

“There’s nothing more important to people than the care, education and future of their children,” CCC Executive Director Julie Price said.

Fair pay and conditions for early educators is one step closer, following today’s decision by the Fair Work Commission.

The move to allow employer representatives and unions to negotiate under new multi-employer bargaining laws has been welcomed by peak bodies as a first step towards
paying early educators and teachers a professional wage, without increasing out-of-pocket costs for families.

Employer peak bodies Community Child Care Association (CCC) and Community Early Learning Australia (CELA) say the Secure Jobs, Better Pay laws make it easier for 80 per cent of early education services to access collective bargaining.

CCC and CELA are representing small and community early education employers in negotiations. Their goal is to ensure early educators get the pay, support and recognition they deserve without increasing costs to families.

Quotes attributable to CCC’s Acting Executive Director Daniela Kavoukas:

“Paying minimum wage does not reflect the value, qualifications or responsibilities of the early education and care workforce and the sector is united on the need to address this.”

“We know that multi-employer bargaining can help make our sector a career of choice, based on current successful Victorian agreements that have significantly raised wages and conditions.”

“Today’s decision allows our sector to come together to negotiate the professional wages that early educators and teachers deserve.”

Quotes attributable to CELA’s CEO Michele Carnegie:

“Professional wages are the key to unlocking the potential of early education for children, families and our broader economy.”

“Attracting and retaining more qualified educators and teachers will open up tens of thousands early childhood places currently unavailable due to staff shortages.” 

“This is an historic opportunity to take an inter-generational handbrake off our economy. This agreement can finally deliver professional pay to thousands of educators and improve access to quality early education for children and families.”


  • The Fair Work Commission’s decision approves the application for a Supported Bargaining Authorisation made by the United Workers Union, the Australian Education Union (Victorian Branch) and the Independent Education Union
  • Early education employers are represented by Community Early Learning Australia, Community Child Care Association, the Australian Child Care Alliance and G8 Education
  • The process includes 64 long day care sector employers with 12,000 educators nationally. Its aim is to build a model which can be extended across the entire sector
  • Negotiations for the first national multi-employer bargaining agreement commence in the coming weeks.

Federal Government Funding

  • As primary funder of the long day care sector, the Federal Government can be requested to participate in facilitating discussions
  • Employers and unions want to negotiate a new agreement supported by government funding to deliver professional wages for early childhood educators and teachers.

− This will mean families won’t pay additional out-of-pocket costs.

Workforce Shortages

  • Low wages and conditions have created unprecedented workforce shortages, with over 7,000 advertised vacancies for educators and teachers in June 2023
  • Workforce shortages are forcing caps on enrolments and are preventing thousands of parents from accessing early education places.

− This is preventing parents from working or taking on more hours.

Access to Collective Bargaining for Small and Community Services

  • Small and community providers make up 80 per cent of the early childhood education and care sector
  • Negotiating individual enterprise agreements is a lengthy and expensive process, meaning most early education providers must rely on minimum wages set by awards
  • A new multi-employer agreement will cover employers who are part of the bargaining process.

− It will provide a model that can be extended across the early childhood sector, including outside school hours care and state government-funded preschools.