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Wednesday, 7 September 2022
Page: 35


Senator WALSH (Victoria) (13:30): Today, early childhood educators are walking off the job, and their message to us is clear: give us a reason to stay in our jobs and pay us what we are worth; value early learning properly as part of our education system and put children before profit. To the early educators who are taking this action today I want to say that I stand with you. I stand with you because the work that you do is completely essential, I stand with you because you are completely undervalued for that work and I stand with you because I know you've tried absolutely everything to be respected for the work that you do and that this is the only action that you have left to take in order to be heard. Let me tell you that right here in the parliament today we hear you loud and clear.

Early educators are absolutely essential. Early educators are qualified. You are dedicated. You are professional. You provide a play-based learning experience that is tailored to the unique needs of every child. You are incredible, you do incredible work and you are completely undervalued and underpaid for the work you do—completely; $22 an hour is an absolute joke. To literally hold the nation's future in their hands, we cannot ask educators to continue educating our nation's children when they can barely earn enough to support their own, so I stand with educators who are walking off the job today. I know it's a tough decision that you have taken, I know our industrial system is completely broken for you and I know this is the only way that you can be heard, and we hear you loud and clear.