About Big Steps
Big Steps is the campaign to win professional wages in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. It is led by members of United Voice, the ECEC union, who work as teachers, directors, educators and workers in ECEC.
ECEC is in the depths of a workforce crisis, with 180 educators leaving the sector each week due to low wages and conditions. With a chronic lack of qualified staff and no ability to retain existing staff, the sector faces ongoing instability for educators, children and their parents unless something changes.
The solution is higher wages, but we know parents and employers can’t afford to pay more. That is why Big Steps is calling on the Federal Government to make up the shortfall between award and professional wages in ECEC, to the tune of $1.4 billion in recurrent funding. A ‘professional wage’ is akin to that of a tradesperson who holds the same level of qualification as someone working in ECEC. Currently, an educator with a Certificate III earns just $18.58 per hour.
About the website
The website has been divided into three portals, educators, parents and the sector, to provide you with tailored and relevant ECEC information. See the section don’t know? if you’re not sure which portal is for you.
In 2012 the Government introduced a package of quality reforms for the ECEC sector. One thing to come out of the reforms was the recognition that long day care serves a higher purpose than just caring for children: it educates them. This is not the sit-at-a-desk rote-learning type of education, but rather play-based early learning skills. For example, children develop their cognitive capacity to sit and listen with an attention span, and their social and emotional capacity to share with friends.
The reforms changed the language from ‘child care’ to the more-accurate ‘early childhood education and care’. It changed ‘child care workers’ to ‘educators’, giving these hard-working, dedicated professionals the recognition they deserve. The only thing that didn’t change was a professional wage to match.
Meet the Big Steps National Convenors
Above: some of the National Convenors at the recent Lobby Day in Canberra.
The Big Steps National Convenors is a group of early childhood educators, directors and owner/operators from a mix of private, not-for-profit and community sectors. They are at the forefront of the Big Steps campaign, and come together nationally to coordinate campaign activities. The Convenors also facilitate local Big Steps campaign activities in their respective states and territories.
Qld: Kelly Harte, Coralee O’Rourke, Rebecca Swainson
NSW: Alice Voigt, Emily Donnan, Marian Rakosi
ACT: Judy Kuzma, Timothy Toogood, Avis Kerr
Vic: Tamika Hicks, Natalie Harris, Kerrie Devir
Tas: Rebecca Hayes, Julie Dowling, Libby Verhay
SA: Nikki Baker, Cheryl Shigrov
WA: Kerry Pelajic, Michelle Baker
NT: Alice Branco, Cecile Briscoe