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Childcare investment must include workers’ wages and training.

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Sarah Hanson-Young

Childcare investment must include workers’ wages and training

Media Release | Spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young

Wednesday 22nd July 2009, 2:45pm

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has pointed to low wages of childcare

workers as a key problem that must be resolved to improve the early childhood

education and care sector as a whole.

The Adelaide hearing for the Senate Inquiry into the provision of childcare is being

held today, following hearings in Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart and Melbourne, and two

more to come in Perth and Canberra.

“Childcare workers are paid unfairly, unacceptably low wages at the moment, and

this must change,” said Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for Education

and Childcare.

“The evidence we have heard today directly from those working on the ground, with

children and parents every day in centres, has also pointed to the need for more

support in gaining qualifications in early childhood education.

“Because childcare has been undervalued for so long, we’ve heard about centres

which lack qualified staff.

“Lifting workers’ wages and helping them gain qualifications will lift the quality of

Australian childcare.

“We must ask ourselves as a nation: what value do we want to place on the

education and care services of our youngest children?

“If we say that yes, we do place a high value on these essential services, then we

must invest properly in them.

“We place a high value on primary and secondary education in this country because

we think it is important for children of that age - why should early childhood

education be thought of any differently, for our youngest children?

“Referring childcare funding models to the Productivity Commission would be a good

start in making sure we are properly targeting the millions of dollars that go out into

the community each year in childcare benefits and rebates.”

Senator Hanson-Young said that early childhood education and childcare aspects of

the Council of Australian Governments’ agenda would only be met if centres were

staffed with properly paid, qualified staff.

“The ‘Investing in the Early Years’ national early childhood development strategy

agreed to this month by COAG will remain a hopeful blueprint unless the issues of

childcare workers’ pay and qualifications are addressed,” she said.