BHP teams up with Child Australia to ensure Pilbara children thrive
BHP and Child Australia have announced a partnership, under the banner Thriving Futures, with the intention of developing career pathways for the Pilbara workforce into early childhood education and care (ECEC), and provide more opportunities for local children to be engaged in high-quality early learning.
The unique project is being funded by BHP and will support the workforce in Hedland and Newman to engage in career opportunities in the ECEC sector, encouraging career pathways with a focus on retention, sustainability, and enhanced professionalisation.
BHP, a major employer in the region, said the benefits of developing a regular, familiar and consistent early childhood workforce in the Pilbara will provide continuity to both the children and their families, inspiring long-term use of facilities and services.
As well as supporting the immediate needs of families employed by BHP to access ECEC allowing them more flexibility in their work roles, the project will “deliver add-on benefits in the Pilbara region for years to come,” BHP’s WA Manager Communities Chris Cottier said.
The project has a long-term vision, with BHP and Child Australia developing a sustainable workforce strategy for the local sector, based on Child Australia’s long-term involvement in supporting regional communities throughout Western Australia and in remote communities in the Northern Territory.
Five core aims sit at the centre of the partnership, namely:
- increase the number of qualified educators in the region who have access to career development pathways;
- increase the number of people seeking to establish a career with early learning services;
- develop a co-ordinated approach to continuing professional development;
- improve business practices, workplace relationships, stability of the workforce; and,
- increase the number of children engaged in high quality early learning.
Scholarships will be offered to assist eligible candidates in the Pilbara region to obtain the skills and qualifications required to begin a career in ECEC. The local recruitment strategy will encourage the Indigenous community and workplace programs, school leavers, parents re-entering the workforce, and mature-age workers looking to reinvigorate their careers to consider ECEC.
Speaking on behalf of Child Australia, CEO Tina Holtom said there is “something quite powerful” about a mining giant partnering with a small not-for-profit organisation to effect genuine change and improve opportunities for children, saying the organisation is “very proud” to partner with BHP.
“A career supporting children in their early years is incredibly rewarding on many levels. There are very few professions where your impact can help to shape and nurture the future of generations of children. COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated the importance of this ‘essential’ workforce and the critical role this sector continues to play in economic recovery. There has never been a greater time to be an early childhood educator,” she added.
For more information please visit the Thriving Futures website, here.