UWU snap poll of 500 educators says half are ready to walk
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > UWU snap poll of 500 educators says half are ready to walk without action on wages

UWU snap poll of 500 educators says half are ready to walk without action on wages

by Jason Roberts

February 26, 2024

A survey from the United Workers Union (UWU) has shown that nearly 50 per cent of respondents in a snap poll of 500 educators would be willing to leave the sector within 12 months if there is no meaningful movement on wages in the next three months.


“There is an urgent need for immediate action to address the workforce crisis in the early education sector. Educators are being forced to make the hard choice between the job they are so dedicated to, or leaving to find a job that can pay their bills,” Helen Gibbons, Early Education Director, United Workers Union said. 


UWU conducted a snap poll of 500 educators to highlight the impact of staffing shortages and high workloads, with 85 per cent of respondents saying that staff have left their service in the past year as a result of burnout. 


Other key findings from the snap poll include: 


  • 48 per cent of educators say they will leave their jobs within a year if the Federal Government does not meaningfully address wages in the sector in the short term.


  • Staffing shortages impacting quality of care: More than 99 per cent of respondents said staffing shortages in early education are impacting the quality of care and education children receive.


  • Staff attrition due to stress: 85 per cent of respondents reported instances where staff left their centre in the past 12 months due to stress and burnout.


  • Impact on wellbeing and safety: 94 per cent of respondents admitted that in the past 12 months their wellbeing or safety had been compromised as a result of stress and burnout, including reactions such as crying, panic attacks and medical issues.


  • Forced actions due to staff attrition: Respondents indicated high workloads and a lack of staff have forced them to take drastic measures including:


    • Moving children between rooms to ensure educator-to-child ratios.
    • Closing rooms due to a lack of educators.
    • Taking work home to keep up with programming.


“We are losing amazing, skilled, experienced educators and our children are losing. Spirits are low, motivation is sinking and so is quality,” one educator shared, “I am tired of being taken advantage of, being underpaid, overworked and undervalued.”


The union conducted the snap poll ahead of its planned shutdown of the sector on March 8.


“The Federal Government as the primary funder of early learning still hasn’t given educators any certainty, with no commitment to increase wages in the sector,” Ms Gibbons said. 


“As we approach International Women’s Day on March 8th, it is paramount that these workers’ voices are heard because without educators, Australia would stop.”

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