Australian Greens Senator and Education spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi has called on the federal government to protect the jobs of educators and child care workers. Child care is an essential public service and as enrolments fall and children are kept home, the government must intervene to ensure early learning and child care services survive COVID-19.
The government must:
- Guarantee wages for early learning staff for the duration of the pandemic, whether they are required at work or not;
- Give centres the resources they need for additional health and safety measures for children and staff;
- Ensure essential workers, such as health care workers, and others who need it, have access to care for their children, while working with the sector to ensure work from home options for carers and educators are available;
- Scrap the Child Care Subsidy Activity Test.
Senator Faruqi said:
“The last few weeks have been extremely destabilising for early childhood education and care in Australia. Child care and early learning services have been rattled by this public health crisis.
“As many families pull children out of care, the Government must intervene with funding and resources to ensure these essential education and care services survive this crisis.
“As funders of the sector, the federal government now must urgently intervene to save early childhood education from a complete disaster.
“The government must guarantee wages for child care and early learning staff for the duration of the pandemic.
“It’s also absolutely critical that workers’ health and safety is protected. Centres must have the resources they need for additional safety measures for workers and children alike. Both the government and employers must take responsibility for this.
“When this pandemic is over and families go back to work, we will need a ready-to-go workforce of carers and early childhood educators. Without guaranteeing the wages of those already in the sector, we cannot assume this will happen.
“I call on Minister Tehan and the government to work with early childhood educators to ensure the long-term viability of our education and care system.”