OAC appeals for family support as acute staff shortages impact daily operations
The Sector > Provider > General News > OAC appeals for family support as acute staff shortages impact daily operations

OAC appeals for family support as acute staff shortages impact daily operations

by Jason Roberts

October 25, 2022

The East Brighton Campus of Only About Children (Oac) in Victoria, has become the latest early childhood education and care (ECEC) service to call on families’ support to help mitigate the operational and financial consequences of an educator workforce shortage that is causing major disruption for providers, their teams and their families.  


In a letter to families Oac has asked them to consider where possible that they take the opportunity to reduce enrolled days and/or hours of attendance until the end of December in a bid alleviate the operational restrictions that workforce shortages are placing on their ability to operate effectively.


In addition, Oac has confirmed that casual days will not be offered for the foreseeable future, that the service will not be enrolling any new children until the end of the year and offering of places for 2023 have been paused until such time as the team have secured enough members to support the service’s enrolled licenced places.  


Educator shortages, heavy agency reliance proving unsustainable 


The news comes amidst repeated and persistent workforce related challenges being experienced by providers of all sizes, across all locations, in Australia. The challenging decision to ask families to pare back their children’s enrollments is widespread with Oac being the latest to take such steps. 


“To continue to operate the campus each day we have relied heavily on external agencies (temp staffing),” the letter read. 


“Unfortunately due to lack of candidates in the market, both those seeking permanent and casual employment, despite all attempts, we have been unable to secure enough team to comfortably support the requirements of the Oac Brighton East Campus.”


The combination of the risk to program quality, health and safety maintenance, and parent feedback have contributed to Oac being placed in a position where the provider feels it has no choice but to call on families’ understanding and support. 


Difficult decision comes despite major efforts in recruitment space 


Importantly, Oac’s call to families does not only articulate a request for help with clear reasons why that help is being requested, it also highlights a long list of actions the Group has been taking to address the workforce shortages currently being experienced including: 


  • Offering fully paid study and training support
  • Building relationships with schools, colleges and universities to attract trainees
  • Extensive professional development programs for ECTs and educators
  • Sign on bonuses for new team members
  • Financial incentives for team members to refer a friend of up to $3,000
  • Travel allowances and funded Uber rides in around the Oac Brighton East area


In addition, the Oac in-house recruitment team continues to work with a wide range of recruitment agencies across Australia to try and secure new team members where they are able to.


These actions are not limited to Oac and reflect the challenges the broader sector, both large and smaller providers, are facing and are representative of the initiatives being implemented to address them. 


Policy landscape yet to provide any tangible solutions to this very real problem 


Despite understandings from leading politicians that the workforce crisis is very real, emphasis of ECEC support thus far has largely focused on reducing the affordability burden for families. 


Paradoxically, although well intentioned, this increases the pressure on the ECEC provider community and their educators materially as it boosts demand for early learning without a corresponding supply increase in educators.   


That being said, a notable interim report released recently by the bi partisan Senate Select Committee on Work and Care highlighted a series of recommendations that underscore the growing appetite for change of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) system in Australia amongst legislators. 


Specifically in Recommendation 2 the committee called for changes to the Fair Work Act  that would systematically address underpayments and lift wages in the care sector acknowledging that Australia needs to lift the floor of wages across the care services sector to properly value care sector workers and ensure the sector can meet growing demand.


In addition, a new wave of funded qualification pathways by the Federal Government will also add support with early education likely to be a key focus at the upcoming Federal Budget. 

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button