Fair Work Australia to Review Childcare Wages
United Voice, the union which represents childcare working, has lodged a complaint with Fair Work Australia to increase early childhood educators wages by $10 an hour. Currently early childhood educators with a Certificate III are paid just $19.07 per hour. The recent $300 million Early Years Quality Fund provided pay increases of $3 an hour for 40% of childhood workers has been described as being “a good start, but it is not enough”
For myself, as a mother, and as a qualified early childhood educator, this is a particularly important claim that the United Voice have put forward. As a mother with a child in preschool, with wonderful educators, who I believe absolutely, should be paid fairly for the work they do, I think this move is so important. When I do return to work, I also want what I do to be valued.
I’m not going to ignore the elephant in the room here. I want it both ways. As it is if I put both my children into childcare and returned to work as an early childhood educator, I would be paying the centre for the privilege of working for them. At $19 per hour, my wage would not even cover my children’s fees. In fact the only profit to be made would be paid to me by the Australian Government in the form of the Childcare Benefit and Childcare Rebate. The increase to wages cannot be paid for by parents in the form of a fee increase, childcare is already prohibitively expensive for many parents, even with Government Rebates, so that in my mind is not an option.
So – who is going to pay for this? The union estimates in order to pay 68,000 underpaid educators it will cost $1.4 billion a year. Ultimately, I think this is a good investment for the Australian Government to make. Attracting and retaining qualified, quality staff into Childcare is a good thing for everyone. By providing fair wages for qualified educators, there will be more families able to make the decision to put their child into care to be able to return to work – and pay tax – which keeps the whole system ticking over. I know it’s a bit more complicated than that, but I really hope that they find a way to make this work without an increase in fees paid by the parents.