Group of educators stacking hands

Media release: New pay deal process can deliver a better future for children and the early learning workforce

A better paid early education and care workforce could be just around the corner, under a 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.

“The application to the Fair Work Commission today will kick start the process towards a professional and better-remunerated workforce that can deliver even better results for our youngest Australians and their families.”

“Paying minimum wage does not reflect the importance of the early education and care workforce,” CELA CEO Michele Carnegie said.

“The quality of care and education for our children should not be determined by where a family lives or how much they can afford to pay.” Ms Carnegie said.

“We need to attract and keep the best staff for early education and care. Children and their parents deserve highly trained educators and teachers to ensure the best start in life,” Ms Price said.

“Many community services and small providers have been locked out of enterprise bargaining because of the cost and complexity of doing it independently.

“In Victoria, we’ve seen small early education and care services can improve wages and conditions through multi-employer bargaining. With 80 per cent of providers operating just one service, these laws will open up that benefit many more services across the country,” Ms Price said.

Ms Carnegie said the potential of the multi-employer bargaining process is reflected by the collaboration across unions, employer groups and the Federal Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations, the Hon Tony Burke MP.

“We all understand these new laws are a unique opportunity for the education and care sector to work together to tackle low wages and conditions,” Ms Carnegie said.

“This process is a real opportunity to improve wages and solve staffing shortages without increasing costs to parents,” Ms Carnegie said. “Better wages and conditions are the key to ensuring early education and care is a rewarding and valued profession.”