BHP and Child Australia team up to expand Thriving Futures program
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BHP and Child Australia team up to expand Thriving Futures program

by Freya Lucas

September 13, 2022

BHP and Child Australia are working together to ease the difficulties in attracting and retaining residential early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff in the Pilbara region of Western Australia through the expansion of the Thriving Futures program. 


The Thriving Futures program was established in July 2020 in response to the shortage of childcare availability in Newman and Port Hedland, Western Australia, and works to improve outcomes for children by recruiting, training and focusing on retaining a qualified, sustainable early-learning workforce. The initiative is also strengthening professional practices giving children access to high-quality early learning opportunities. 


Five early learning centres are now participating in the program – three in Port Hedland and two in Newman. Since July 2020, 29 Thriving Futures candidates have been employed in participating centres with a retention rate of over 72 per cent. In addition, the program has: 


  • delivered 46 professional development sessions and 142 hours of onsite consulting with staff across participating centres;
  • provided 53 candidates with formal mentoring (one-on-one support from a dedicated mentor);
  • supported 18 scholarship recipients; and,  
  • seen students graduate from the Thriving Futures Academy (entry level job readiness program). 


In 2022, the program expanded with the launch of the Thriving Futures Educator Recognition Program which is focussed on attracting and retaining a quality childcare workforce and ensuring sustainability within the sector for generations of families to come. 


With an initial focus on supporting Goodstart Early Learning in Somerville and Leinster Community Day Care, the Thriving Futures program will work alongside the two services to help stabilise staffing levels. In addition, there will be a series of professional development learning opportunities offered to the broader childcare sector within the region to support strengthening the capacity of sector professionals.


Provision of ECEC in the regions is “a complex issue,” Child Australia’s CEO Tina Holtom said.


“Quite simply, the focus needs to be on developing a highly qualified, capable, supported educator workforce, to ensure a long-term sustainable approach to childcare provision in the region”.


“It’s designed to be the catalyst for a new benchmark in raising the professional status of the workforce entrusted with the critical role of caring, nurturing and educating our children in their early years,” added BHP Head of Corporate Affairs WA Meath Hammond.


“It’s also providing an opportunity to set a new standard in supporting the childcare workforce in the Pilbara.”


BHP has made a $2.5 million commitment over a three-year period to support educators to access professional development, scholarship opportunities, supported mentoring, career pathways and more. 


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 sector as a career choice, and as such the additional funding also provides generous wage subsidies, which are directly linked to the individual educator’s commitment to uniquely tailored continuing professional development opportunities.


The Thriving Futures Educator Recognition Program aims to help improve staff attraction and retention, strengthen educators’ capabilities, increase childcare availability for families, and ensure a robust sustainable childcare sector in the Pilbara region for years to come. 


Due to the success of the program, it’s now being extended to the Nickel West Goldfields communities in Western Australia.


Learn more about the program here

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