Union critical of PM’s “broken promise” saying it will threaten ECEC jobs

by Freya Lucas

May 19, 2020

The United Workers Union has responded to signals from the Government that a return to CCS is likely to come sooner than expected, saying the Prime Minister “must keep his promise to protect the essential service of early education,” and that a premature end to the emergency early childhood education and care (ECEC) funding could cost thousands of jobs and threaten the financial viability of early learning services across Australia.

 

Such a measure, the Union continued, would place thousands of educators’ jobs in jeopardy. 

 

Speaking on behalf of the Union, Helen Gibbons, director for early childhood education said a withdrawal of emergency funding would be “painful and chaotic” for the sector. 

 

“The Prime Minister declared that early learning is an essential service in our community. An essential service that parents and the community rely on. Urgent funding was injected into the sector to save it from imminent collapse. This funding made child care free for parents but now that emergency package is under threat,” she added. 

 

Should emergency support be withdrawn before the economy and community bounces back from the economic threats posed by COVID-19, she continued, enrolments could once again plummet, leaving services and staff, as well as parents, in a precarious situation.

 

“The early learning sector’s workforce nurtures our children at the most critical stage of life development. This isn’t something to be played with. Without a stable sector and workforce children miss out on important learning opportunities and parents miss out on accessing employment.”

 

Ms Gibbons acknowledged that “ the funding arrangements haven’t been perfect”, discussing the “significant confusion” faced by operators in terms of navigating JobKeeper eligibility and other funding guidelines. 

 

That being said, she continued, now is not the time to “trash the scheme”, but rather to work with the sector to fix the issues. Increased enrolments will require an increase to the base funding, Ms Gibbons said, saying this would be a short term adjustment which would also provide an opportunity to “examine if our structure and system of provision is serving our children and families well.” 

 

“The imminent collapse of the sector exposed deep flaws in how we provide such an essential service.”

 

To learn more about the work undertaken on behalf of the sector by the Union, please see here

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