Member for Bendigo calls on Federal Government to do more to keep ECEC open

Member for Bendigo calls on Federal Government to do more to keep ECEC open

by Freya Lucas

January 20, 2022

Lisa Chesters, Federal Member for Bendigo in Victoria, has called on the Federal Government to act quickly to help keep local early childhood education and care (ECEC) services open, safe and viable.

 

Ms Chesters said that parents, educators and centres are worried about the impact of the current COVID-19 wave on local services, while also having concerns about the scale of the problem nationally, with reports that over 500 centres are now closed due to staff shortages caused by COVID-19 exposures.

 

Locally, parents at some centres are being asked if they can keep their children at home because of staff shortages, she continued, while others are worried about long term viability with so many children and staff away. 

 

To address the challenges, the Federal Government “must urgently develop a plan to ensure children and early educators are safe, and to prevent the collapse of the early learning sector.”

 

Suggestions made for the Federal Government include:

 

  1. Early educators to be defined and recognised as frontline essential workers and therefore, will have access to priority PCR testing and Rapid Antigen Tests.
  2. Ensuring educators have access to pandemic leave or paid leave entitlements if they are sick or isolating.
  3. Centres that need to close for periods because of staff shortages to have access to financial support.
  4. As frontline essential workers, early educators to have priority access to vaccine booster appointments.

 

“Without early learning services, our economy will grind to a halt as parents are unable to go to work including nurses and healthcare workers,” Ms Chesters said.

 

“If we want nurses and healthcare workers with young children able to attend work, we need centres open. The sector has been calling out for clarity and a plan.” 

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