International workers ease ECEC stress in Moranbah
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Moranbah embraces international workers as ECEC shortages continue to impact

Moranbah embraces international workers as ECEC shortages continue to impact

by Freya Lucas

June 11, 2024

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) service Simply Sunshine, in the small Queensland town of Moranbah, has embraced a spirit of multiculturalism, welcoming educators from Zimbabwe, the Philippines and Oman in a bid to ease extensive waiting lists for families, and to boost the capacity of the service to offer a full complement of care. 


Speaking with the ABC recently Simply Sunshine director Amanda Stephan said the service had gone from servicing 80 families per week to 120 thanks to the support of an innovative pilot program launched in central Queensland’s Isaac region, which aimed to attract more ECEC employees to local towns.


Being run by the Childcare Leadership Alliance, the pilot aims to address staff shortages through a campaign targeting international workers, offering support to the Queensland towns of Moranbah and nearby Dysart as they work through a range of strategies to address these shortages.


Founded in 2022, the Alliance has support and funding from BHP Mitsubishi Alliance, with consultant Astute Early Years Specialists appointed as the lead project delivery partner.


The campaign to attract international workers has been the strategy with the highest success rate thus far, garnering expressions of interest from more than 130 educators globally.


Educator stories


Rabeca Denhere is one educator who headed the call, moving to Moranbah from Oman after growing up in Zimbabwe. She is now one of 27 international employees who call Moranbah home. 


With a population of less than 10,000, and being located far from the traditional ‘tourist draw cards’ attracting and retaining a workforce to the town has been a longstanding issue. 


For Jodi Schnack, who manages the town’s other ECEC service, Moranbah Early Learning Centre, the pilot has been a saviour, allowing the service to increase the number of places it offers from 70 to 102.


“We have mums that will cry because they’ve been on the waitlist for two years,” she shared.


“It means they can get back in the workforce.”


Marisel Ronquillo is another educator who has taken the chance to move, relocating with her husband from the Philippines, and gaining a Diploma after her arrival. 


“I’m so lucky I found this job. We’re here and we’re complete and I love Moranbah so much,” she said.


Jessica Boshoff relocated from South Africa, seeking better opportunities for her own children, and a different quality of life. 


“There’s a lot of crime unfortunately [in South Africa], so your premises, your housing, is not open and you have everything behind six-foot walls,” she said.


“But it’s nice [in Australia] that you’re able to have that freedom and children are safe, and they can live life the way they’re supposed to.”


Infinite potential


Astute Early Years Specialists, and Childcare Leadership Alliance project manager, Mel Comerford thinks international recruitment could do wonders for the rest of Australia when it comes to addressing workforce shortages. 


“We need more funding because it is a solution that’s going to work for everybody — we just need the help for us to get the solutions into place,” she said.


To bring 25 educators to Moranbah cost approximately $800,000 – not a small sum. Ms Comerford said the Alliance would like to see more support from the Queensland government to meet those costs.


“In Victoria, the government’s paying for all of the Department of Immigration fees for early childhood services to do this,” she added. 


To read the original coverage of this story please see here

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