Additional responses to Federal Budget as ECEC comes to understand more
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Additional responses to Federal Budget as ECEC comes to understand more

Additional responses to Federal Budget as ECEC comes to understand more

by Freya Lucas

May 11, 2023

A number of additional responses to the Federal Budget were put forward yesterday, including commentary from G8 Education, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), UNICEF Australia, and the Independent Education Union NSW/ACT (IEU).


Formally announced on Tuesday evening, the Budget has been described by one commentator as “falling short of the fulsome changes advocated for across the sector,” with some additional workforce and accessibility related measures. 


Crippling workforce shortages and wages must be addressed


G8 Education called for more to be done to address what it termed “crippling workforce shortages” in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector to ensure that families have access to quality education and care. 


“We welcome the upcoming increases to the Child Care Subsidy and the relief that will bring to family hip pockets, however I believe there is more that can be done to improve accessibility by addressing sector-wide workforce shortages,” said Andrea Christie-David, Founder of Leor, and Managing Director of Specialised Care at G8 Education. 


The ACTU agreed, with ACTU President Michele O’Neil saying real wages have fallen for the past two years and that, while the Budget predicts real wage growth by early next year, there is “a long way to go” for workers’ real wages to recover fully. 


Singling out the care economy, Ms O’Neil said that while the Union welcomes the 15 per cent fully funded rise for aged care professionals, more must be done to deliver wage rises in the care economy as a whole, including in ECEC, and for the Government to lead the way by lifting public sector wages.


Professional development welcomed by union 


The IEU welcomed the $72 million in funding which has been allocated to support the skills and training of early childhood education professionals, a move which the union said “recognises the critical importance of this sector”.


In addition, IEU representatives have been vocal about the limited support available to those in small and remote ECEC services, and as such, the union also welcomed the Government’s additional focus on regional and First Nations ECEC services, something it believes “is also long-overdue”.


“The Labor Government has taken important steps to restore early childhood education and schools as a national priority,” a spokesperson said.


Focus on children welcomed by UNICEF Australia


UNICEF Australia welcomed the explicit focus on children in the Budget – particularly those experiencing disadvantage – but urges further continued commitment and investment in social protection and access to early learning to ensure no child is left behind.


“Building on the existing and landmark commitment to an Early Years Strategy for Australia, the significant $199.8 million investment in addressing entrenched disadvantage announced by the Treasurer, including the Investment Dialogue for Australia’s Children, is a welcome boost,” said Nicole Breeze, UNICEF Australia’s Chief Advocate for Children.


“This will help make meaningful change to the wellbeing of children, young people, and their families in areas of ingrained disadvantage.”


Ms Breeze also welcomed the $1.9 billion investment in Closing the Gap which aims to drive positive change for First Nations children, young people and families, across health, education, mental health, and family violence – particularly for those in remote areas.


Despite those welcome measures, UNICEF Australia are concerned that the Government “has not gone far enough” in ensuring access for all children to ECEC. 


“The Activity Test continues to unfairly penalise children based on the circumstances of their carers, with those who need early learning the most remaining locked out,” Ms Breeze said.


To review the key ECEC relevant highlights from the 2023 /24 Federal Budget, please see here

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