BHP contributes $2.5m to Educator Recognition Program to boost ECEC in the Pilbara
Mining giant BHP will continue to build on the success achieved through its support of Child Australia’s Thriving Futures program by contributing $2.5 million over a three year period to offer early childhood professionals generous wage subsidies, professional development, scholarship opportunities, supported mentoring, career pathways, and more.
The program aims to improve staff attraction and retention, strengthen educator’s capabilities, increase childcare availability for families, and ensure a robust sustainable childcare sector in the Pilbara region for years to come, something Child Australia CEO Tina Holtom said was sorely needed.
Chronic shortages of childcare places throughout Western Australia continue to impact many working families, with regional, rural and remote areas particularly affected. Recent statistics indicate that Western Australia has the lowest overall childcare accessibility in the country, and Ms Holtom said these shortages have an impact on the workforce also.
“It’s difficult to progress professionalism without the appropriate conditions to attract and retain a suitably skilled workforce,” she said.
Understanding the profound importance of having a high quality workforce available to educate and care for the children of its workers, BHP has committed to creating meaningful change within the struggling sector through the Educator Recognition Program.
The Educator Recognition Program (ERP) is designed to be the catalyst for a new benchmark in raising the professional status of the ECEC workforce and to address the realities and requirements of the educator role, while ensuring professionals are adequately compensated and supported toward a journey of continuous improvement and upskilling.
“More than a third of candidates applying to be part of the Thriving Futures program identified cost of living in the region as a significant barrier to considering the Education and Care sector as a career choice,” Ms Holtom explained.
“It was important to address this while simultaneously recognising the critical importance of sector professionals more broadly.”
Speaking on behalf of BHP Head of Corporate Affairs WA Meath Hammond said the ERP provides “an opportunity to set a new standard in supporting the childcare workforce in the Pilbara.”
“It is vital we support our educators – we know that by doing so, it has a positive effect for all working families in our communities. These professionals make a real difference in the lives of not only children, but their families. We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Child Australia for the benefit of the entire Pilbara community.”
Ms Holtom said Child Australia was really excited about the possibility presented by the ERP, and keen to see what it would do for Educators at the participating Thriving Futures centres in Hedland and Newman.
“We look forward to working alongside each of these Centres to codesign something we hope will truly transform this profession.”
“We hope that by building these foundations, we will see broader Government and corporate investment enabling expansion of the Educator Recognition Program into other regional or metropolitan locations. Ultimately, we hope to see a positive shift for all educators.”
Image features (left to right): Sara Hinchley (Executive Director, Programs and Services at Child Australia), Claire Canton (Centre Director at Newman Day Care) and Natalie Ianacci (Principal of Corporate Affairs at BHP).
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