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Monday, 29 November 2021
Page: 11081

Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (16:19): This morning I met with early childhood educators on the lawn of Parliament House to discuss the report that they've released today—'Where does all the money go in Australia's early learning sector?' The report is quite damning. This report highlights the amount of money that goes towards big business and into shareholders' pockets.

It is a vital industry. It is a vital sector. Early childhood education and care in Australia has a turnover of $14 billion annually, and 80 per cent of the funding flows from government. Those are taxpayers' dollars, which we all want to go towards the education and care of our youngest Australians. Yet, sadly, because of the way the sector is structured, hundreds of millions of dollars are distributed annually to shareholders and to CEOs' salaries, not towards the care and the education of our young people. This money, rather than going to shareholders, should flow into the care and education of our youngest Australians.

The government needs to do better. We need to look at early childhood educators' wages. They should be paid a better wage for what they are doing. We need to look at the resourcing to the sector. It's time the government listened to these workers and to their union and acted. We need more money into education and care and less money into shareholders and CEOs' salaries.